An Interview with Dan Rosin: That’s how I see it!

Jan 27, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) Dan, what exactly do you do, and can you tell us a bit about your background?

I taught for twenty years (Jr. & Sr. High), went back to school and got a Doctorate in Philosophy, major in psychology, then worked for eighteen years at the Manitoba Teachers Society (union of Manitoba teachers in their EAP). I retired a few years ago and presently I am in private practise and employed by Blue Cross in their EAP program, I have written two books, “Finding Balance: 101 concepts to taking better care of self” and “Communication and Relationships” and sing jazz.

2) Dan, teachers are taking early retirement, and leaving for other positions quite quickly. What is going on in the field?

I retired from the education field at 59. I was in the political side of education at the time and found it very stress full to work in such a climate – colleagues stressed and burned out, clients stressed and burned out, more requests for counselling and workshops then time available and the politics.

As a result of my twenty years as a teacher and years of doing counselling and therapy with teachers, I do understand why teachers leave early – “Too much responsibility and too little power to change things.” When something gets added to the pile of jobs/activities/responsibilities – and nothing gets taken off, guess what happens to conscientious teachers under this system?

3) Some teachers adhere to the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND manta, while you and I know that some kids, due to motivation, low I.Q. and other factors ARE going to be left behind. What’s a teacher to do?

I have in the past lost large conference contracts (once or twice) because I had in my vitae “Education is just a job not a calling” I explain that education is an important and worth while job (I have invested 45 years in it and I think it is important) but not worth giving up your life for or making you sick or loosing your relationship over – NO!

Work as hard as you can during your workday but “Kiss the bricks good bye at the end of the day”, compartmentalize work and your “Real Life”/home life” and find that oh so elusive “balance.

4) Often teachers “Burn out” because they consistently are doing remediation of kids who should have been retained. What should a teacher say to a principal or parent about this?

Turn your marks in as you think they are, give your best reasons for your choices or opinion on that student and then live with (no fuss) what the principal/parent think is best for that child. Have your say and then let it go! You may be right or wrong on your perspective but don’t flog it until you get sick or fired! One of my favourite lines is ”I can’t change you (or your mind) but you can’t shut me up”. Just because you (teacher) have an opinion doesn’t guarantee your right either.

5) Dan, I know a lot of good teachers, but they complain about children being inappropriately mainstreamed or included in general or regular ed. when they should be in special education. What should a teacher say at an IEP when they are going to attempt to practice inclusion for a child that requires more one to one instruction?

Absolutely everything they can! Make a case, be passionate and then live with the outcome and don’t get sick about it. There is so much we have so little power over in education – don’t bite very often on the stuff you can’t do much about! If you go looking for a disagreement/fight – it will find you. Do what you can and then go home and run the dog, have your kids jump all over you, paint a picture, and sing a song. Then go back tomorrow and do your best, not perfectly.

6) Many teachers go into the field to ” make a difference”. Is this idealistic or pollyannish?

“Take care of yourself first, then take care of others!” – that is my philosophy (borrowed from Hans Selye).

I believe teachers can make a difference but they need boundaries, they can’t be all things to all people, they can’t be tired and distressed and expect to have the energy to make a difference. They need a “life” with “variety and spice” (Selye).

7) Some teachers do realize that if they do not help certain kids, or at least make the effort, that child is heading straight to ” juvie ” or prison. HOW Much responsibility does a teacher have to intervene?

Do your best and never (hardly ever) give up on a kid. If he/she doesn’t want to cooperate there are consequences that have been discussed previously with that child but we rarely need to get angry or shut down on the kid (see Nobody Gets In My Way of Teaching, p. 132, “Finding Balance”)

My responsibility as a teacher is to teach, be informed, know my subject, show care and concern that my students do well, be consistent in my behaviour, be excited about my own life so I can be exciting in the classroom and model a well balanced life – not take responsibility for others. Remember: teachers are to be helpers not rescuers.

8) How does a teacher, who is also involved in their local church, as well as Boy Scouts, find any kind of balance?

I think you are pointing out someone who is perhaps not just busy but overloaded. When you choose to do everything, be careful you are not leading with your low self-esteem. Trying to please everyone will lead to an unbalanced existence and eventually wanting to get away from education – your chosen profession.

There is a saying, “That if you don’t say how you want your life to be, someone else will tell you (and fulfill their needs instead of yours). You need to make conscious decisions about your time and where your limited energy goes. If you spread yourself too thin and wear yourself out, you will end up resenting your choices instead of being fulfilled by those activities. I hate to repeat myself but “balance” and a “wellness plan” are the keys.

9) What about teachers who coach after school- how can they get some balance in their lives?

They need to negotiate some “class” time off in lieu of after-school time, learn to say no or love what they do and no complaints and when their life changes (have a family) let the extra- curricular go. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and try to do everything.

10) From your point of view, what is wrong with education currently? Are the expectations unrealistic?

I don’t know enough to really answer this question appropriately but that hasn’t stopped me before – yes expectations are unreal! Schools are now trying to do and be every thing and parents have become way to powerful, and teachers who have the responsibility, have little power. Another thing, we have amateurs sitting on school boards. Every body is an expert because they went to a school. They seek easy answers to very unique and deep social problems. Boards and their employees (superintendent and staff) rarely ever ask those in the trenches what they think would work. I know teachers could make just as big a mess out of some of the problems but this constant issue of being responsible with no power is extremely demoralizing.

11) Where can we learn more about you and your book? Do you have a web site?

Dan Rosin is currently in private practice and the author of the book “Finding Balance: 101 concepts for taking better care of self”. Dan can be reached at # 204-299-9399 danrosin@drcounselling.com To subscribe to my free newsletter or to purchase my book please visit: www.drcounselling.com – Purchase On-Line will link you to McNally Robinson, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Author House websites.

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