Steve Midlock is proud of what he calls a “balanced career” of 16 years as a high school teacher and 17 years as a school administrator.
His advice to educators and parents is to “stay in touch with your kids, know their experiences and what is happening in their little lives. Always, always read to them. Share the joy of learning. Make it fun and instill in kids a passion for learning so when they leave school they will still want to learn throughout their lives.”
Midlock, an associate professor of education, holds an Ed.D. from Northern Illinois University . He and his wife, JoAnn are proud that their children have pursued careers in education: Noelle is a speech pathologist in the Oswego School District , and Jason is a social studies teacher at Joliet Catholic Academy.
Research shows novelty is one way to commit something to long-term memory, so Midlock did a little experiment in one of his classes. “I told them about fish—the goldfish in my backyard, my goldfish ponds, how you don’t feed goldfish from November to April and they survive. And then I threw out a Beanie Baby goldfish, a goldfish flashlight and a goldfish stress ball.”
Now, Midlock admits his students really weren’t interested in goldfish and so, according to the research, shouldn’t have remembered anything but the novelty items. However, they remembered everything he had taught them. Why? One student pointed out they remembered because it was important to Midlock and they care about him. “It’s about connections,” Midlock said. “The more students know about and connect to a teacher, the more likely they are to remember things, to commit knowledge to long-term memory.” For that reason, Midlock published a book, Case Studies for Educational Leadership
“My life is all about being a husband, a father and a grandfather. Family is my number one priority. Many of the students I teach are the same age as my children so I understand where they are in life—engaged or married, babies on the way, looking for new jobs, buying homes; these are life-changing responsibilities. We talk. I can relate to them as a father and a mentor.”
From floor to ceiling in his basement is shelving filled with Volkswagen Beetle toys and knick knacks. Friends and family give him beetle gifts. The bug he is most proud of is the 1973 model in his garage that he totally restored. The Texas yellow bug has taken top honors in car shows and can be seen on the road during clear summer days. The rest of the year, Midlock drives a late model beetle.
When not driving a bug, Midlock can often be seen running and cycling. Twice a runner in the Chicago Marathon, Midlock runs 5.5 miles a day and competes in area races, including an annual duathlon (two miles running, 11 miles cycling and two more miles running).
Steve Midlock can be reached at email@example.com
Dr. Steve Midlock teaches: