About Me

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I've been an educator since 1995 where I've served as both a teacher and administrator. I believe that serving others is the key to success and make it my goal to be a servant leader for students, teachers, parents, and the community. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Web 2.0 Tools

Over the past several works I have been exploring Web 2.0 tools for a graduate course in Educational Leadership.  While I have used some of these tools before, I am just now realizing their potential in education and life in general, for that matter.  For instance, last week I spent over an hour remotely working on my father-in-law's computer using https://join.me/.  He is over 3 hours away, but with this tool I was able to not only view, but also take control of his computer screen allowing me to solve several problems he was having.  I was also able to create a 5 minute training session using http://www.screenr.com/.  For more examples of these tools, visit my Google site (also created during this course) at https://sites.google.com/site/breckquarles/. Or, for a more comprehensive list, visit the Livebinder (another web 2.0 tool) page Web Tools for Teachers by Type. 

These tools are being used by teachers more and more.  Just this morning, I walked into a summer school class and the teacher was using Edmodo to present lessons and track progress.  The tools named above are just a few of the myriad of free or low-cost web 2.0 applications available for educators.  Now, I would like to find out how others are using these tools to impact learning. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dream of my Dad

My father passed away a few months back of heart failure while battling lung cancer.  He entered the hospital and never left.  I was there when he died, holding his hand. I also spoke at his funeral, both of which  helped greatly in the grieving process.  The other night I had a dream that I was at a camp and when I went to turn in my luggage, there he was, helping people get settled in.  We talked for a while and he told me about the places he was going to be going next.  Then, I gave him a big hug, told him I loved him, and walked out to go to my cabin.  When I turned back, he was gone.

I woke up shortly after this at about 5:30 am and sat in the bathroom and cried uncontrollably for about 20 minutes.  I realized at that moment how much I miss him and that he is gone for good, at least from this earth.  I also realized that he is now where he wanted to be, with Jesus, and is no longer in pain.  That is a comfort, but its still hard and I guess it will be for some time.  I miss you,

3 more days

It is hard to believe that there are only three days of school left.  This is one of those years that I really don't want to stop.  It has been a tragic year, as I lost my Dad in March. It has also been a great year in that I am halfway through my masters in educational administration.  Plus, I really like my students this year.  While that should always be the case, sometimes its just not so.  This year it is, though, and I will miss them when summer comes.  We are finishing up the year with a dissection unit.  The students are excited and working hard even with just a few days left. 

Just the other day, I saw one of my former students who was graduating.  It reminded me of why I do what I do.  As a middle school teacher, I have the chance to impact kids at a vital time in their life.  Hopefully, I do in a positive manner.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Two lives?

Galations 5:22 says, "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, PATIENCE, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such there is no law."  One of the adults in my classroom commented to my wife how patient I was with one of my classes, a group of boys who are, as most boys tend to be, moving constantly, squirming, tapping, you know the drill.  That was certainly a compliment, as I don't see myself as patient at all, especially with students.  But, then, I get home and my patience drops.  I realized the other evening that, while I am patient with other people's children, it is very difficult to be patient with my own.  My wife, who told me of the compliment, was also good enough to point this out as well. 

This got me to thinking.  Am I following two standards: one at work and one at home?  Or, am I the same person in both places?  As a follower of Jesus Christ, there should be no disconnect between who I am in any situation.  My character should be the same even if my responses are not.  So, my work for the time being is to ensure that how I am at school is also how I am home is how I am at the grocery store is...you get the picture. The goal is to be one person, no matter the situation.  Ultimately, the goal is to reflect the nature of Christ in every situation.   

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Reflections on Reflecting

  Here is a reflection on reflecting that I did recently as part of a grad school assignment.  It got me thinking about the need to incorporate more reflections into my daily life and in all areas of life, not just work. Great skill that is often either overlooked or avoided altogether by educators.

In 1999, in my first attempt at an Administration degree, the focus was on reflective leadership.  It was during this period that I began to keep a journal and regularly reflect on my experiences.  This practice has served me well and I still review journal entries from past years when I am facing problems.  Self-evaluation and reflection allow people to learn from experience and acquire skills through a combination of theory and practice (Martin, Wright, Danzig, Flanary, & Brown, 2005).  As a leader, reflective practice has allowed me identify areas of strength and weakness.  It has especially helped me to recognize the skills where I feel least competent and find ways to increase my abilities in these areas.  One of the ways I do this is through reading leadership books and periodicals in order to glean ideas and insights.  I then apply these to problems and evaluate the results.

Costa & Kallick (2000) describe using two voices, internal and external, in the process of reflection.  Internal reflection involves using “self-talk” to reflect on issues and prepare for future actions.  External is the practice of sharing reflections with colleagues and others.  For years, I thought that my habit of talking to myself was a hindrance.  Now, I realize that, when done properly, this practice is a tool for self-reflection, especially when thoughts are recorded and reviewed.  I still need to perfect the art of external reflection.  I also need to help students and colleagues learn to use these two processes to enhance their learning and professional practice. 

Sentence stems and questions can serve as stimulators for producing more thoughtful reflections (Costa & Kallick, 2000). I have found that it is helpful to have some prepared questions to use during the process of reflecting.  For me, some of these are:

* What did I do well today? 
* What do I need to change to be more effective and what steps can I take to make these changes?
* What problems or barriers do I anticipate and what can I do to reduce or eliminate them?
* What is one thing I did today to reach my major goals?  What was the result? What is one thing I can do tomorrow that will help me move closer to my goals? 
* How did I do as person today?  Would I be proud of my behavior?  How can I work on myself to become better?

Reflection is a tool that can be used to help grow and improve as a leader.  While I have taken steps to implement reflection as a regular practice, I still have much room for improvement.


Costa, A. L. & Kallick, B. (2000).  Getting into the Habit of Reflection. Educational Leadership, April 2000, vol. 57(7), 60-62.

Martin, G.E., Wright, W.F., Danzig, A.B., Flanary, R. A., & Brown, F. (2005).  School Leader Internship: Developing, Momitoring, and Evaluating Your Leadership Experience 2nd edition. Larchmont, NY: Eye on Education.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meeting my wife

Tonight at Men's Bible Study, we talked about love from 1 John 4:7-21.  These are great verses on why we, as Christians, are called to love God and others.  It's pretty simple.  We love because God first loved us.  We love others because God first loved us.  We are able to love because God first loved us.  So, what does this have to do with meeting my wife?  At the beginning, some of shared how we met our wives and knew that it was "love."  Sheryl and I met in a Calculus class.  The interesting thing was it was my last class for my bachelor's degree (which took me ten years to get, by the way).  Sheryl was out of work and trying to get into medical school.  She had to have the class before she could take the MCAT.  So, we just got to talking between classes and hit it off, sort of. Between classes, she would look at me and cross her eyes.  I thought, "She's kinda cute, but her eyes are a little off."   Really, we were just friends and study partners at the beginning.  Somehow, though, she figured out how to come to my college graduation with my parents so I would have to drive her home.  That night, we had our first "date", Snow White at the dollar theatre. Actually, I had called several people to come, but no one else could make it.  About a week later, my parents took me to California for a graduation gift.  While walking along one of the beaches one night near San Francisco, I thought to myself, "When Sheryl and I get married, I am going to bring her here on our honeymoon."  Wow, where did that come from?  Somehow I knew she was the one.  We started dating shortly after I returned and I asked her to marry me about eight months later.  She was totally surprised.  In fact, she made me wait a week so she could pray about it and then made me ask her again.  What really got her was that I had already asked her parents if I could marry her.  I had decided that, if she was the one, I was going to do it right.  I even bought the wedding ring before I asked her dad.  That was 17 years ago.  Before we married, one of the tenets of our marriage was that divorce was not an option.  No matter what, it was never to be an option. And it never will.  

I enjoy sharing this story with others because I believe beyond a shadow that God brought us together for a purpose and his purposes are perfect.  I sure am glad I was listening. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Parent night with a twist

Tonight, I just completed an academic family night that myself and three others have been working on for several weeks.  Last night, I didn't sleep as I thought about how I was going to cook the 300 hot dogs that Wal-Mart donated to our cause.  We did get it done with Crock Pots and Sterno heaters.  About 68 parents plus around 75 kids showed up.  They went through a series of stations where parent and child worked together to complete activities in each of the core subject areas: Science, Language Arts, Math, and History.  What excited me most was seeing parents finally getting a glimpse at what their children are expected to know and be able to do to be successful in school today.  One told me, "I'm really dumb," after failing to grasp a concept in Language Arts.  We talked and came to the conclusion that what kids today are learning in middle school was, in my day, not taught until high school or college, if it was taught at all.  Honestly, what our kids today are expected to be able to grasp and the level of thinking they are required to demonstrate is far beyond what was expected of me back in the 1970's (I'm dating myself here).  At the same time, they are the generation that has the greatest amount of information, both good and bad, at their fingertips.  But, back to the event.  This was the first time we had done an event like this for some time and I was satisfied at the turnout and the fact that every student participated and seemed to enjoy showing what they knew.  Some even got impromptu tutoring from their teachers.  As a teacher, when I get to see parents involved with their children's education, it makes me excited and happy because I know that the child whose parent is involved will perform well beyond the ones who aren't.  So, parents, while you may never read this, thanks for coming out and making all of our hard work worth it.


Just a little background.  I am a 7th Grade Science teacher who is currently working on a Masters degree in education.  My goal is to be a principal.  I have been teaching for around 15 years, most of those at the middle school level (6-8th grade)..  I have determined I am either crazy or dedicated.  Most days it is a little of both.  I hope to use this blog to reflect on what I am learning which is something I have been needing to do for years.  By putting this down here, maybe I can help myself or even someone else as they work to help children succeed.