Meet Steve Barrett
Steve Barrett is a teacher who directs The Wildwood Outreach Center. He spends most of his time coaching other teachers, both at workshops hosted at Wildwood, and on the road, as an ambassador for the school, sharing Wildwood’s best practices at public and private schools around the country and around the world.
He comes to the work prepared and knows the challenges well. Once a self-described surly teenaged boy out of touch with his own potential, Steve began his 30-year career teaching history at large public high schools outside Chicago, while earning a Master’s Degree in Curriculum Development from DePaul University.
In 2003, Steve started at Wildwood as an upper school humanities teacher and advisor, and found Wildwood to be his professional and philosophical home.
“My ideas about learning are aligned with the Wildwood philosophy and practice so thoroughly that sharing our approach feels completely natural,” says Steve. “And, I know it works.” What works, Steve says, is Wildwood’s un-wavering emphasis on relationships that connect students to their own learning, their peers and their teachers. Much of that work is integral to the Wildwood Outreach Center’s Advisory 101 and Advisory 201 workshops, and Wildwood’s Advisory Toolkit. Relationships, Steve says, are foundational to school success.
He also enjoys coaching teachers engaged in re-thinking and re-formulating how they do what they do every day. “Much of my work is around helping teachers get comfortable with the reality that their focus needs to be on teaching children, not teaching subjects,” says Steve. That approach might seem obvious, but it is still considered very progressive, relative to the traditional teaching models in most American schools. Most teachers, says Steve, appreciate guidance in identifying their strengths and gaining insights about how to grow into a practice that is more satisfying for both the teacher and the learner.
“Being on the road, meeting so many teachers in such a wide range of schools and cultures, I am reminded every time that teaching is a craft, a quest, and a life’s work for most of us,” says Steve. “I am constantly encountering teachers who care about how to make it matter every day. Knowing Wildwood is influencing the teaching and learning of so many excellent teachers and their students honors our entire community and Wildwood’s very founding ideas. We are really a part of making change in education.
Read Steve’s regular blog, The Wildwood Way, about today’s most relevant teaching and learning issues both inside Wildwood and in the national conversation about education.