Day 10: Now You Know…

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Five random facts about me…

1. I met Frank McCourt, author of Angela’s Ashes, Tis, and Teacher Man. After introducing himself, he asked what I do for a living. When I told him I am a teacher of high school English, he replied, “You’re a saint, but you’ll never own a Cadillac.” I understand that now. 

2. I still play amateur baseball at age forty.  

3. I find it difficult to avoid watching The Princess Bride when it is on television.

4. I believe word play is an expression of intellect, which is how I justify why I could not stop tweeting #teacherbandnames over the last twenty-four hours. 

5. Several years ago, I “starred” in a cheesy, made-for-Youtube commercial featuring Major Leaguer Ryan Braun and supermodel Marisa Miller. A former student asked me to be in the commercial which he organized (but had not part in writing/directing) as part of a college internship with Remington (producer of hair trimmers). Long story, but I’m the second baseman who gets hit in the midsection (1:23). Yes, we filmed many takes to get it right. Yes, it hurt. And yes, new groups of students enjoy resurrecting the video each year. You don’t want to watch, but you won’t be able to look away. You were warned…  (can’t believe I’m embedding the link). During filming, Braun asked if I’m an actor. When I responded, “No, I’m a teacher,” he said, “That’s cool.”

Four things on my bucket list…

1. Write a book

2. Enjoy a Guinness in Ireland

3. Attend a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park

4. Drink a cup of coffee in Seattle

Three things I hope to do this year…

1. Grow as a father and husband–my number one purpose in life.

2. Continue leading educators, students, and parents of our school district to fully commit to a culture of learning.

3. Model and share the positive impact of standards based learning and grading; enlighten traditional, fixed mindsets to see the harmful effects of punitive grading practices and the ridiculous rationale for averaging/percentage scoring. I hope to make grades transparent, meaningful, and truly indicative of what each student knows and can do. 

Two examples of showing emotion in school…

I have never gone a school day without sharing a smile and laughing. I have also cried through the pain of losing students and colleagues. These highs and lows are inevitable when surrounded by a lifetime of wonderful people. But I can share two less complicated examples.

1. The laugh of the day was definitely highlighted by one of my favorite creative thinking prompts:

  1. Each group selects a popular movie/book everyone has seen/read
  2. Review the plot and write a brief synopsis of the movie
  3. Check out several examples (from Buzzfeed Movie Backwards)
  4. Challenge: Now write the synopsis if you were to watch the movie backwards
  5. Share with the class…expect laughter

2. I get a bit choked up when reading The Giving Tree out loud in class and have yet to make it through a class viewing of Life is Beautiful with dry eyes–Guido’s passion for life, self-sacrifice, and devotion to his son is powerful stuff. 

One thing I wish more people knew about me…

I struggle to say “no,” particularly when challenged to find ways to increase my performance and professional expectations. So when empowered to lead, trusted to share, or challenged to write 30 blog posts in 30 days, I accept the call to adventure. 

Now you know…




  1. Jen Houlette (@jenhoulette)

    Ah, yes. The Princess Bride. It’s one of my favorites as well. My kids don’t get it. I can’t help laughing and I love annoying them with the fact I can quote favorite sayings from it even after many years.
    I give you a big HIGH FIVE on your hope #3. We really need to move in that direction.

    • Mr. Brian Durst

      I accept the high five and I know something you don’t know…I am not left handed! So happy to know someone else appreciates a good movie line 🙂

      Number 3 motivates me every day. I am really passionate about putting learning first and get so frustrated when others refuse to see flaws in our traditional mindsets.

      Thank you for reading my post!

      • Jen Houlette (@jenhoulette)

        Yes, just “inconceivable” that we’re doing some of the same things we did my first year in ’95. My passion for kids and their learning though is what keeps me going, and what leaves me “mostly dead” by this time of night. Have a great rest of the week – enjoy your humor.

  2. Matt Drucker

    Really enjoyed reading this. The two movies you mention are easily among my favorites. Hello, my name is Enigo Montoya, you killed my father. Prepare to die! Life is Beautiful gets me every time as well. Thanks for sharing!

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