Interview with Andre Daughty
What got you interested in education?
I had my first minority male teacher in 6th grade. He noticed I learned best through music. Watching him inspire a group of inner city students and giving us the opportunities to create “beats” helped develop talents I didn’t know I had. I wanted to replicate that for many other minority boys who learned differently. Yes, movie stars, entertainers and popular sports players influence students. I wanted to show students that teachers can be just as cool and meaningful too, so I decided to teach elementary.
Who or what inspires you most?
Educators inspire me the most. Some of the best teachers and administrators in the world are right in my community. You’d never know it though because they do the work in the background, hardly ever getting the credit they rightly deserve… and truth be told, many could care less about the credit anyways.
I see educators at schools two hours early everyday only to leave two (to three) hours after school is over at night. Working throughout the summer trying to perfect and differentiate lessons. When I ask, “How do you keep your momentum and energy each year?” The answers are, “Do you see our students? They are the reasons. We must fight for them daily! If not us, then whom?”
What are your hopes for the American school system?
I hope our school systems realize today’s students learn differently than previous generations. If we (educators) are teaching in the same style of our heroes from 10 years ago, we’re doing a disservice to today’s generation. We’ve got to be creative in our teaching, understand that we’re not the only source to answer their questions, and realize they learn differently. In other others, we’ve got to “Bust a Move” and rethink how a classroom, school and district should look, feel and sound!
Do you have a favorite experience from your career?
Yes, my last years inside of the classroom were amazing. I had over 70 students in one 4th grade room. This story gets told many times at conferences and events! What do you do when you have seventy 4th grade students and you’re the only teacher? You roll up your sleeves o your shirt, grit your teeth, tie your shoes tighter and teach! That was the most challenging but most rewarding time of teaching. With hard work, new ideas/strategies and out-of-the-box teaching, that 4th grade class helped our school get off the “bad school” list and won the “most improved school” in the state!
Could you name three tips for individuals struggling with engaging their students?
- Use Everything! If your students love music, you use it! If it’s art, use it! If it’s social media, use it! I would have the students watch kid movies or read picture books and analyze the deeper meanings/metaphors from it.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That doesn’t make you a weaker teacher, it makes you honest. Every teacher has been there. Some or us are still there. There are educators worldwide willing to help you, but if you never ask for it, we’ll never know.
- Observe! “If you observe students, they will teach you how to teach them.” Watch how they learn. Analyze what they like to do then make genuine connections of their world to the lesson/objectives. The main thing is to be authentic. Everyone can tell when you are going through the motions pretending to care about their world. Authenticity matters to students. Observe them. They’ll lead you in the right path.
You are not only an educational consultant but also an educational technology instructor. Which new educational technologies do you think are the most promising?
I could list the latest/greatest finds in educational technology but what I am finding is that it’s not about the technology but the person/teacher who is using the technology to get the most out of their students. The technology is an additional key unlocking more doors to their future, but the teacher is the master key!
How much does humor factor in your keynotes and other speaking engagements?
I’ve always been an animated educator with high energy and laughs. My classroom was set up that way. Students would come inside the classroom having a bad day and after a few laughs, their days were brighter and better. That translated well outside of the classroom. The audience wants to learn strategies as well as be entertained and humor has fit in well in those spaces. The keynotes keep a nice balance by providing information with raw realities of today’s students and share funny stories and experiences along the way.
How did you get interested in the topics that you cover as a speaker?
The topics came from making connections academically and professionally with my life’s experiences and the stories told from others. Those adversities inside the classroom provided opportunities for me to think differently about education. Using everything and sharing stories have helped encourage and inspire others to engage students.