Jim Heal is Senior Program Director at Deans for Impact. Prior to joining DFI, Jim was Director of Practice at Research Schools International where he developed research-to-practice strategies for schools and school systems. Earlier in his career, Jim worked for an education consultancy firm and as a high school teacher and Principal. He received a Bachelor's degree in English Literature from the University of Leicester, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Education from King's College London, and a Master's in School Leadership and Doctorate in Education Leadership from Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. He is author of How Teaching Happens: Seminal Works in Teaching and Teacher Effectiveness and What They Mean in Practice.
Why did you start working in education?
My first taste of teaching was in my early twenties when I returned to my old high school to teach a course on literary adaptations in film. Not everything went according to plan but my interest was sufficiently piqued that I decided to move to Spain where I taught EAL for two years at Real Madrid Football Club. For me, teaching will forever be the best job in the world because learning and helping others to learn is at its heart an emancipatory act.
What compels you about DFI's mission of ensuring that every child has a well-prepared teacher?
To loosely paraphrase Dan Willingham, we have learned more about how humans learn in the last twenty-five years than we did in the previous 2,500. Despite such progress, there is so much more we can do to better prepare teachers in service of a more equitable and just system of education. I strongly believe that one of the most powerful instruments for that change is the role that learning science can play in helping teachers fulfill their potential.
What do you enjoy most about working at DFI?
One of our core values at DFI is Practice Good Pedagogy. This means we create learning environments where all voices are heard; gather evidence to inform our decisions; and design learning activities with the end in mind -- all of which represent for me the importance of "walking the talk" when it comes to the fundamental aspects of our work.
What's a principle, philosophy, or quote you live by, and why?
If we do what we always did then we will get what we always got.