About Pete

About Pete


I’m an English teacher. Right now, I teach 10th graders in a small, independent school. I’ve also taught at two colleges, a huge regional high school, and in an SAT-cram school. And I’ve tutored everyone from seventh graders to senior citizens.

But I also write science fiction and poetry. And I’m a painter, cartoonist, and designer. I tinker around with music, and play several instruments.

For a while, I kept these two lives separate. My teaching life and my creative life. But these two lives kept bleeding into each other. And I didn’t know which I “truly” was — a teacher, or a creative.

Now I see things differently. I see myself as a creative professional. In fact–

I believe all teachers are creative professionals.

Sometimes I think our society doesn’t know how to think about teachers. Are we like nurses? Are we like personal trainers? Accountants? What?

Much of so-called Education Reform is premised on the notion that teaching is a kind of customer service industry. That’s bonkers.

In my thinking, teachers should be classed with graphic designers and novelists. In fact, I believe every teacher should identify as a creative professional. We’re all writers. We’re all designers. We’re all artists.

Hear me out, teachers.

“Sure,” you say. “Some teachers are creative. Some English teachers do writing on the side. Some art teachers paint at home. But that’s not me; I’m just a teacher.”

Look at it another way.

You develop lesson plans, don’t you? Well, lesson planning is a form of writing. A damn creative form of writing. You are a writer.

Think about all the design involved in teaching. You design things every day. Whether it’s a handout or a class website, or a poster, or your classroom bulletin board — you are a designer.

And let’s not forget that teaching isn’t just about putting those final grades in a spreadsheet. You’re trying to shape the next generation. You’re trying to change the world. Culture itself is in your hands. You are an artist.

It took me most of my 12-year career as a teacher to really come to embrace all this. For years, I actually tried to keep my writing and art interests separate from my “day job.” Teaching paragraph structure, calculating quiz averages, advising students–I didn’t see how I could integrate my professional responsibilities with my personal creative interests.

But something finally clicked.

And I want to help it click for you. If you’re a teacher, you’re a creative.

Being creative means embracing many disciplines.

And teachers are naturally set up to do this. We all have specialized content knowledge. But we also have to be specialists in a science called pedagogy, which borrows from psychology, neuroscience, design, and even engineering.

When I realized that my art, design and writing interests could enrich my teaching, it transformed my practice. It taught me how to take risks, to fail well and improve. Seeing teaching as a creative profession allowed me to bring painting, design, and other disciplines into my English classroom, to the benefit of my students.

This change in approach didn’t just make me a better teacher. It also made me a better writer, artist, and designer.

I want you to create stuff, too.

And finally, I realized that being creative was the wrong goal. We typically think of creativity as being this vague state of being. This quality that some people have, and some people don’t. We want to be more creative.

What I’ve learned is this. We don’t need to strive towards creativity. We simply need to create. This involves discipline–acknowledging, accepting, loving, and learning from failure. Which is harder than it should be, since our culture only celebrates success. But creating doesn’t mean always creating brilliant things. It just means creating — getting the creative work done. You might create garbage. But you are creating, and therefore, creative.

So, what it all comes down to is this.

I’d love to help you discover the same potential within yourself. Especially if you’re a teacher, like me. But I believe anyone trying to boost their creative output can learn from my experiences and struggles.

So, I’d like to invite you to subscribe for weekly updates. You’ll get an email on Wednesdays, keeping you up to speed on any new content here. And in the future, I hope to be able to offer you more. Tools. Tutoring. A kick in the creative pants. Who knows?