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Q&A with DoSeum CEO Dan Menelly

This month we're happy to introduce you to veteran science teacher and The DoSeum CEO, Dan Menelly. His 20 years in the public, independent, and international classrooms gave him tons of experience and insight into the profession. Here's a few words from Dan on starting a new year, keeping your teaching fresh, and facing challenges.

Q: What's a great way to start the new school year?

A: Face the year with optimism and try to arrive rested and ready. Watch and listen to young learners carefully because they often show you how they learn best. Ask for the help you need when it is needed, and try to allow a few minutes before or after each day to organize your thoughts. Make sure that you have several sources of encouragement that can be called upon on a difficult day, and try to be that source of encouragement to others who may need it. Stretch and take a deep breath between lessons so that plenty of oxygen gets to your brain.

Q: What was the biggest challenge for you as a new teacher?

A: It was a very long time ago, but I remember struggling with the pace of my lessons and over-planning. I also struggled to learn the names of my students, 125 new faces. Teaching in a block schedule meant that I saw some classes only twice per week, so learning their names was hard. In the end, I began doing whole class experiments, and asking students to share their data with the class. Compiling the lesson data enabled me to practice the names of the students as they shared their data.

Q: As you grew in the profession, what new challenges did you face?

A: I feared lapsing into routines and I was concerned that my training as a teacher would “age out”. New colleagues came into the profession with new methods of instruction and often more advanced training in technology than I had at that time. I was afraid of becoming the teacher who was “clever ten years ago”. I found it really important to stay close to colleagues so that we could share and disseminate new ideas, materials and resources.

Q: How can teachers use The DoSeum?

A: I’d like for teachers to see the DoSeum as a very large cabinet of teaching ideas in different forms, and for these teachers to build lessons around these ideas and themes in their classrooms. Find and replicate the processes we present at The DoSeum in a teaching practice that suits your classroom (sorting, sifting, filtering light, sequencing images and words into structured narratives, sketching, sharing, performing, etc. can each be performed in other settings outside of our exhibition halls). Please stay close to our team as we change, grow and expand. We are in this together, and we care about the very same things.

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