What makes a successful teacher? Over the past two decades, Concordia's Dean of Students Dr. Steve Gerner and Assistant Professor of Education Eugene Pitchford have evaluated educators in both urban and non-urban environments in search of the answer. Throughout their efforts, certain identifiable qualities for successful teaching surfaced repeatedly.
They’re calling the people who possess these qualities “superhero educators”, and their latest book, “Superhero Educator: How to Teach with Superior Skills and Success,” provides the blueprint for teachers to become one.
From beginning educators to expert teachers, childcare providers to university professors, and anyone in between, Gerner and Pitchford’s self-published book will prompt readers to reflect upon their strengths and weaknesses; where there are weaknesses, their book will be a roadmap for success, and where there are strengths, their book will help maximize outcomes.
An author talk will take place from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. March 1 in the Concordia University Wisconsin Lakeshore Conference Room, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon.
Q. What led you to publish this book?
A. A lack of research-based and practical roadmaps to become great educators. Our students deserve better than “average” educators or school leaders. Education is a life or death situation for many students. It’s urgent and necessary that we train educators to be the best that they can be for students.
No other educational book ties in business principles, compelling graphics, superhero connections, our vast experiences, and debriefing questions to transform students’ lives. Few authors have imitated our success of providing great research content and practical real life experiences.
Q. What sort of research went into publishing this book?
A. This book is really a combination of a number of things. We infused our professional and personal experiences as teachers, school administrators, college professors, and parents. We reflected on similarities and differences in our educational journeys and leadership styles. We also researched “high-performing schools”, leadership excellence, and “best practices” and transformations in business.
Together, we’ve witnessed the deficits and low expectations that exist in schools for students of color in particular. The fact that we had an African American educator team up with a white educator allows us to approach this with a broader perspective so that we could reach all audiences and engage in bold conversations for positive outcomes.
Q. What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
A. The idea of superheroes flourish in movies and merchandise (“Superwoman” and “Black Panther” are two recent box office hits). People yearn to have hope, a reason to dream. Positive energy and confidence fill the mind when a superhero takes action and brings order to the chaos. Superheroes restore justice and achieve results. They are not perfect, but they always improve the situation.
That is why educators can so easily be compared with superheroes. Teachers must use their many talents to bring hope, high expectations, and positive results to today’s students. Teaching with superior skills and success is a process that requires hard work, dedication, and continual learning. The content in our book provides the framework for any teacher to become a superhero educator. These heroes create a better world for us all, one student at a time.
Q. At Concordia, we are ever-striving to prepare our students in “mind, body, and spirit for service in the Church and world.” How does your writing hit on this theme, and how might it seek to similarly challenge or equip readers?
A. Our book addresses this theme of service directly as we explore the necessity of understanding your calling. In addition, superhero educators live a life of service – being excellent teachers to transform students’ lives. We equip readers with a difficult task, to constantly improve to become the difference-makers in our challenging world.
Q. Your book dropped in December 2017. What has been the response thus far?
A. Immediately, we are seeing the impact of our book through reflective actions. Teachers are changing their daily practices, school leaders are improving their environment, and relationships are being strengthened. These examples are constant and wide-spread. But we need more superhero educators!
Q. Where can people who are interested learn more?
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Dr. Steve Gerner is a professor, educational strategist, author, and driven leader passionate about developing high-performing educators that directly impact all students’ success. Relentlessly driven to improve student performance, much of his work centers on teacher quality, city education, and classroom management. Dr. Gerner started his career as an elementary school teacher and principal. He still influences the field of education as well as the business community through powerful presentations and relevant teaching.
Professor Eugene Pitchford III is a professor, scholar, leader, author, husband, father, and the #1 sports fan in America. He is passionate about helping educators become equipped to meet the challenging demands of being successful in a school environment. Eugene often speaks on urban education issues as well as motivational speaking for schools, community organizations, and parent groups.