15 things I learned working at Summer Institutes

Most of you will know this but I work for a great non-profit called Great Expectations and I work with some of the best human beings you are likely to find on earth. Each summer I travel the state as we put on conferences to train public school teachers to, succinctly put,  be better public school teachers. So I present to you a list (which we all kinda love – admit it already) of 15 observations from my summer time adventures.


  1. A cup of coffee and a handful of tums makes a fine breakfast.
  2. Wiggling the steering wheel of a 17 foot Uhaul truck while in motion will clear traffic around you for a good 100 feet.
  3. Teachers are goofy, funny, pretty much awesome people – especially when you hand them a koosh ball.
  4. There is no such thing as too many outlets. Ever.
  5. There are a whole lot of bugs and spiders residing beneath the teacher’s desk in most classrooms.
  6. Women use A LOT of bathroom paper products – like all of it in every bathroom in a giant building before noon. Evidently finding an alternative bathroom with paper is kinda normal for them.
  7. The most secluded space is the men’s room. I could take a nap in there and no one would notice.
  8. You point a camera at someone and experience one of these outcomes…
    1. Someone will want to (or try to make someone) lay on the floor.
    2. They pose and smile without trying to look like they are posing and smiling.
    3. They start looking for something sharp to stab your eyes out with just to make really really sure you are not going to get a picture of them.
  9. In a public school one room can be 50 degrees while the one next door can be 105 degrees – somehow this is more desirable and cost effective than just making the whole building say 70. Regardless of the temperature you will find at least one teacher sweating while one is wrapped up in a blanket in almost every room.
  10. School IT technicians likely spend 90% of their time untangling cords. Some computers look to have free-form macrame projects hanging off the back of them. Alternatively some have been attacked by an overzealous “Type A” individual and have about 20 zip ties for about 5 foot of loose cable – this is sufficient evidence to knock the resulting murder down to aggravated manslaughter in any court of law.
  11. Only one school elevator key can exist at any one time and it is made out of platinum, unicorn tears and ground up diamond… I assume. Kind of a public school version of the One Ring.
  12. A restaurant that serves thousands of meals a day and manages to get pretty much all of those orders correct will invariably screw up your catered lunch somehow.
  13. One lady on a diet and vocal about it can cause a desert tray to go untouched and undefended by other ladies… Score!
  14. It takes as much stuff as can possibly be crammed into a large SUV to teach one class.
  15. During any competitive activity placing oneself in between participants and the objective of said competition is pretty much suicidal.

Well there is my list of summer institute wisdom – I hope you enjoyed it! 😉

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