Teaching to Capture and Inspire All Learners: Bringing Your Best Stuff Every Day!


Stephen G. Peters

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  • Chapters
  • Front Matter
  • Back Matter
  • Subject Index
  • Dedication

    Dedicated to Amari Through your eyes, I see the world


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    Special List of Figures


    The passion that comes through when hearing Stephen Peters speak is echoed in this call to capture the students who are most often marginalized. Using an array of statistics and personal observations, Stephen calls on the heart and the conscience of the educator when asking you to “bring your best stuff every day” into the classroom. The most essential elements for success in Teaching to Capture and Inspire All Learners: Bringing Your Best Stuff Every Day! are the relationships formed between student and staff, and to this end, Stephen provides a continuous drumbeat of advice.

    Unfettered by a prescriptive set of “how-to's,” this book focuses more on the underlying values that drive behavior, as well as some of the “what does good teaching look like?” Many of these observations are drawn from Stephen's successes as a former school administrator. As such, this can serve as an excellent primer for discussion around the individual as well as collective values and commitments of the school staff. Addressing core questions such as “If all students can learn, why aren't they learning?” can engage staff for some time in important issues that all schools need to address to be their very best.

    In addition, Teaching to Capture and Inspire All Learners: Bringing Your Best Stuff Every Day! provides numerous “to-do” or “to-consider” lists that may be considered in such a dialogue.

    There are helpful tips for the new teacher who may be struggling with the real challenges of reaching today's students, and insights for veteran educators to consider in better understanding these same students. Overall, the “underdog” in our society is well represented and advocated for in this passionate plea for ALL students’ success!

    September 2007


    It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

    Teddy Roosevelt, April 23,1910

    Public education is facing its most critical times and one would find it difficult to argue with current statistical findings. However, in my travels, I have come face-to-face with teachers and leaders who actually are in the arena, whose faces are marred by dust and sweat and blood. I stand boldly with you as we continue to find answers to many of the complex questions facing us. I am confident that as we face some defeat, we will in the end know VICTORY for our students, ALL of them.

    Teaching to Capture and Inspire All Learners evolved out of numerous experiences of being involved with schools that were first in categories one would want to be last in and last in categories one would want to be first in. Through a collaborative effort, effective teaming, and courageous leadership, we were able to transform these schools into national and state blue-ribbon schools in short periods of time.

    Many years ago, researchers stressed the need for schools and school districts to understand that the change process takes on average three to five years to take shape. This book is written primarily to offer its readers a refreshing look into creating schools of passion and purpose filled with educators who finally realized our students don't have three to five years to wait for positive change. It has to happen now.

    Chapters 13 lay the foundation for understanding the need for immediate change in our schools and the expanded roles of those responsible for cultivating this change process. Chapters 46 offer readers an in-depth look at the apparent reasons many of our students fall short of others sitting in the same classrooms of schools struggling to survive and meet the needs of this generation of learners. Chapters 7 and 8 introduce practical and specific strategies to principals, teachers, and schools that turn vision into operational strategies.

    Throughout this book, each chapter opens with a main concept, statistic, or quote, and ends with a motivational summary. There are numerous reflection questions to assist in examining your own educational practices. By helping you carefully analyze your own philosophy about teaching, this resource will give you the opportunity to bring your best stuff every day.

    This book offers hope to those in the field of education who may have lost hope and is dedicated to every student waiting to be captured, inspired, and taught in ways like never before. Teaching to Capture and Inspire All Learners will help even mediocre teachers become inspired to deliver quality at a higher level and will help leaders develop a deeper understanding of the importance of creating win-win experiences for ALL learners.


    I thank God for another opportunity to capture and inspire educators, our true heroes. Thank you so much for everything you do for our students. A special thanks to my wife, Angela, and our children, Jillian, Jourdan, Xavier, and Maya, for allowing me to do what I do each day. Because of you, I am able to take my rightful place in this world. To Visionary Leaders Institute in Columbus, Ohio, The HOPE Foundation in Bloomington, Indiana, CaseNEX in Charlottesville, Virginia, and The Peters Group staff, may we continue to make much more than a difference in this world. To Dr. Ulysses Van Spiva, Dr. Robert Hahne, and the late Dr. J. Frank Sellew, thank you for everything you taught me about school leadership and life. To my dad, who continues to teach me through action, not words. How I wish the world were full of fathers like you. To Edward, welcome home.

    Last, I wish to thank my editor, Allyson Sharp, and assistant editor, David Gray, for their wonderful ability to see beyond words, for turning my manuscript into a meaningful contribution to education.

    This book is dedicated to my grandson, Amari Seldon. Through your eyes I clearly see that we can never quit or give up on the foundation of the most important gift in life—a quality education.

    In loving memory of my mother, Charity Smalls Peters; brother, Lewis Clinton Peters; and father-in-law, Dr. William Waymer.

    About the Author

    Stephen G. Peters has been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, and director of secondary education. He has been in the field of education for more than 25 years, and most of his experiences have been in schools that made significant growth in short periods of time, thus resulting in both national and state blue ribbon distinction.

    Peters has served on panels as an education expert with former U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Rod Paige, in Washington, D.C.

    He is the author of three books and founder of The Gentlemen's Club, a program for at-risk and borderline males in public schools. Peters shares his practical strategies, philosophies, beliefs, and message of hope with organizations and school districts throughout the United States and Canada. He is CEO of The Peters Group, Inc., and also serves as a consultant with Visionary Leaders Institute and The HOPE Foundation.

    He has been featured on television programs such as America, America and The Oprah Winfrey Show.

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    Corwin Press

    The Corwin Press logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin Press is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK-12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin Press continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”

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