Friday, June 3, 2011

Why solveforwhy?

Hi there. I'm Alex. I'll be blogging here.

Let's see...the particulars are that I'm 35, a very happily married husband and father of one and one on the way. I've been a full time teacher since 2004, teaching high school algebra, geometry, algebra 2, remediation classes, and leadership classes. After six and a half years at the same school I moved on to my current assignment, Lead Teacher and Math Teacher at ACE Charter High School. We are just a few days away from finishing our inaugural year and already my position is evolving. I'll drop 1/3 of my teaching assignment next year and pick up administrative duties. The plan is to be our full time AP in year three.

Solveforwhy was created because I was reading Chris Lehman and Dan Meyer and knew that I needed to get these thoughts and ideas out of my head and into the existing discussion. Sure solveforwhy is a play on words with math but it definitely describes how I've always been. As a college football player I found myself observing the way that the program was operated and wondering what could be done to allow it, or rather cause it, to run more efficiently and effectively. I was very interested in leadership and made a point to ask myself what I would do if I was in that position, be it head coach, teacher, principal, dad, etc. So understanding the 'why' of what was happening, of what decisions were being made, of the way people were conducting themselves, was constantly (and still is) at the forefront of my observations.

I want to be a school leader. Some places call it that. Other places call it principal. Whatever the title, I do want to be that guy. And, at least right now, I feel that I want to do it for the right reasons. I want to foster an environment that gives kids a voice. I want to lead an organization that forces neither teaching nor learning on anyone. I want to inspire and lead teachers to become the best versions of themselves, which will hopefully lead them to inspire and lead students to do the same. Outside of being a dad and a husband I'm more passionate about this than I have ever been about anything.

But I don't see it happening enough, and that's something else I want to do. Like Chris, I want to show others that it can and must be done. I want to help figure out why it's not happening everywhere and help find solutions that we can all implement. I want to be part of the struggle. It is, in my opinion, not only a worthy struggle but also an enormously challenging one. And for some reason I've always been drawn to those.

That all sounds a bit save-the-world-ish, and honestly that's not me. I'm more of a "be the change you wish to see" kind of guy. I think that blogging is going to help me do that. For as long as I can remember I've reflected and wondered and contemplated. It's been that conversation in my head, and with others, that has slowly shaped me into the educator I am today. But I'm recognizing that to take it a step further I need to put those reflections and wonders and contemplations out there for others to read, talk about, comment on, criticize, even classify as absurd. Someone other than my wife.

So with the end of the school year just around the corner and a list of about 6-7 topics I'm ready to start typing about I kick off solveforwhy. Welcome, I hope you enjoy, and I hope I can learn.


  1. Love the blog title. I look forward to hearing from you. (I'm also intrigued by your school.)

  2. Thanks, I appreciate it. I'm sure at some point I'll be talking a lot about our school and what we're trying to accomplish.

  3. So this is probably not a typical blog comment in anyway, but my name's Courtney and I've been spending the last half hour or so looking for you on the internet to send this message.
    I'm an art student studying in Boston, MA. You taught my Geometry IMP Honors when I was in the 9th grade, and even though I'm pretty terrible at math, you encouraged me a lot to try harder, and I always looked forward to the discussions you would hold at the beginning of each class. At the end of the year, you gave me a book as a gift, The Tao of Pooh, which I've reread quite a few times throughout the years.
    The point of my message is simply that I want to thank you for having been such an incredible and inspiring role model in my life. I've gone on to accomplish some pretty interesting things since I transferred from Hueneme, and I like to think that had it not been for you and a few other teachers and peers in my earlier high school years, I might not have grown so much and learned as much as I did that year.
    I just recently got back from spending a year living abroad in Germany as an exchange student, and I actually brought the book with me and shared it with German friends and my host family there. The book continues to inspire me and encourage me to enjoy life's simple pleasures and go out to experience and try new things.
    So thank you, Mr. Eckert, for having been such a positive and helpful role model in my life. The world needs more amazing teachers like yourself. I wish you all the best at your new school and with your family, and hopefully will have a chance to continue to do well and inspire others myself, passing on the knowledge and guidance you provided me.
    Thank you again; you rock!
    Courtney La Forest

  4. A buddy. Very insightful and well said. Good stuff buddy.

  5. Courtney, what a sweet letter! Email me at alexeckert1975 at gmail so we can talk more. Great to hear from you :)