The following is an excerpt from Dr. Steven Witt’s upcoming book, “Opportunities: Transforming Educational and Teaching Practices.” Look for it on his publisher’s website, or in the CUW bookstore on August 20th, 2015.

In this book, Dr. Witt provides a narrative account of his own transformative learning journey. He lays open his experiences in order to encourage other educators to seek answers to profound questions regarding education and their higher purpose within it.

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your thoughts on or personal experiences with transformative learning.

“Do we assume that teaching phonics is the best way to teach reading? Is this because we were taught this method as a 1st and 2nd grade student and this is how we learned to read? Can we convince ourselves that children need multiple approaches to learn how to read? Research demonstrates that we can be guided away from educational misconceptions through a process of transformation starting with our own autobiographical journey.”

“To begin the transformation process and to emerge as an educational leader we need to mine the data of our past and in the process step on a few land mines. How we were taught dramatically impacts our thinking and educational decision making process. Authoring our own life actions rather than playing a scripted role comes from matching our identity and beliefs. This happens over time as we examine our inner being, our outward actions, and the world that has shaped us. This process then constructs the lens through which we view the world and guides our decisions.”

“During this difficult era in education we are reminded that everything in the classroom and in education starts with us and who we are as the educational leader. My identity as a teacher is shaped by past experiences, individual strengths and weaknesses, talents and skills, fears and concerns, past traumas and lingering inner wounds, and the perception of who I am as revealed through my autobiographical stories. The process of writing autobiographical stories is transformational. Out of this transformative learning process our true teaching identity will emerge. We need to understand and often convince the educational community that our teaching strengths and weaknesses do not show up on our students’ tests scores. As we dig deeply into whom we are we more fully recognize the students we teach. Education is not about raising test scores; it’s about raising human potential! This type of transformational thinking takes a shift in our perspective and in the educational community at large. Move forward and write an autobiographical story.”

— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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