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Daniel Potter: Living in Two Worlds

Daniel Potter has a unique position in education, he is a part time English teacher at Westlake High School, but he also serves as an Instructional Coach for new Language Arts teachers in the Alpine School District.  Living in both worlds has given Mr. Potter some diverse perspectives and allowed him to challenge his own teaching practice, as he works with other teachers.

 Daniel has been a Language Arts teacher for the past seven years, but this marks his first year as an instructional coach.  Mr. Potter loves the opportunity he has to reflect upon his teaching practice while helping others.

I don’t want to brag, but I have one of the best jobs in the world.  I get something that most teachers don’t have - time.  Time to reflect.  Time to observe.  Even though I am attempting to help new teachers with the practice, I’m the one who is really benefitting the most.

One of the most important lessons Daniel has observed in his new role is the need for setting goals and clearly explaining them to students.  Collaborating with the new teachers has given him new insights into his own teaching and helped Daniel communicate more effectively with students.

While working with one of my teachers I noticed that students seemed a bit lost on the objective for a particular lesson.  Through our conversations it hit home with me the need to communicate effectively with our students so they know what’s going on in class.  It helps students realize what progress they’re making on a daily basis.  One of the things I’ve done this year is take a few minutes to debrief with the kids at the end of each lesson.   It’s been crucial to improve our learning.

Connecting with students is an important part of what makes Daniel a successful teacher.  He found that using collaborative groups provided him with the time he needs to talk to students one-on-one. 

With over 40 students in many of my classes it can hard to make individual contact with each student, every day.  I found one way to improve my ability to connect is having the students work in collaborative groups.  While the kids are busy learning from one another in their groups, I can take a moment to connect with individual students and see how they are doing in class.

Technology plays a central role in Daniel’s Language Arts classes.  He encourages students to use devices responsibly so they can take advantage of using the tools to help in the learning process. 

I strongly believe in helping students realize that technology devices are learning tools.  When I’m working with teachers I try to show them how tweaking our lessons can help students see how to use their devices for purposeful ways.  Finally, we’ll be speaking a language the students know.

 Spend a few moments with Mr. Potter and it's clear to see he loves his job.  Daniel's positive attitdue is contagious and his students can feel his passion about being a teacher.

There's never a boring day.  I love the energy students bring and I love watching them grow and develop.  I thrive on their energy!

Listen to entire interview with the Daniel below.

Contributed by Jared Covili

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