Interview with a Depth & Complexity Expert – Parker Tredick

It is no secret that the J Taylor Education and The Center for Depth and Complexity community is home to many practitioner experts. Join us in this monthly blog series to learn more about how educational professionals use the framework to leverage creative, critical thinking both in and out of the classroom. 
Parker Tredick has been a Depth & Complexity consultant for J Taylor Education since 2017. His creative and energetic approach to differentiation creates a fun and engaging learning experience for educators. Parker is currently a lead trainer and curriculum writer for The Center for Depth and Complexity.

Details

I was born and raised in Southern California. I grew up with Depth and Complexity as a child of a lead trainer, a student in school, and then used the framework as a teacher.
My favorite subjects growing up were social studies and science. I made the decision to be a teacher when I was in the fifth grade. I have had amazing teachers during my educational career who inspired and influenced my decision.
I graduated from California State University Fullerton with my BA in History. I have social science and science credentials in both California and Oklahoma. I have taught: 6th and 7th grade science, 7th and 8th grade social studies, 6th and 7th grade AVID, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade STEM, high school Biology, Chemistry, and Physics and co-taught Algebra and Geometry. 
I am married to my wonderful wife Elizabeth who owns her own Bridal Boutique in Tulsa. We have two Australian Shepherds named Beau and Holly.
After the past few years of everyone being stuck at home, I developed a love of gardening. I spend the majority of my free time in the yard relaxing and tending to plants.

Big Idea

My core belief is that school should be fun. There is so much pressure placed on schools to achieve results, the fun aspect of learning is lost. Learning is and should be enjoyable! My goal is to design rigorous lessons that are also fun and enjoyable.
Every student is unique but the way that school is set up has students all doing the exact same thing. The fact that everyone is different with their own strengths, personalities, and abilities is inescapable. Therefore, differentiation is a necessary and best practice.
Students in my room may not remember all of the content that I taught but if they felt safe, like they belonged, and were a little better of a person by the time they left I felt I was successful.

Over Time

When it comes to influences for the Depth and Complexity Framework, I am in a unique position. I was very fortunate to be raised by one of the leading Depth and Complexity experts (my mom, Kim Tredick). I have literally grown up with the framework. I used this as a student in school, in college, and around the dinner table in the evenings. Furthermore, I have known the owner of J Taylor (John Gould) since 2010.
My major aha moment with the framework was how simple and flexible it is. This IS the differentiation solution. In my first year of teaching, I was very close to quitting and walking out of my classroom because I felt so overwhelmed and stressed by the deadlines and impossible task of meeting the individualized needs of all 200 of my students. What saved me was a conversation over fall break with my mom who simply asked, “Why are you not just using the icons?” I was so overwhelmed with all of the expectations of a teacher, I forgot my most powerful tool – which was the answer to all of my problems. If I needed to get my students to think more critically about something, the answer was to use the icons. If I needed to foster discussion and differentiate based on ability, use the icons. If I was trying to make different activities and worksheets for my students that were taking way too much time, print out a blank frame and use the icons. I credit the Depth and Complexity framework with saving my sanity and my career.

Unanswered Questions

An unanswered question I sill have is how to balance academic rigor, social-emotional learning, and fun. All three of these factors make for the perfect learning environment, but it is a challenge to balance all three.

Multiple Perspectives

My favorite thing about the Depth and Complexity Framework is how fluid and flexible it is. The framework fits into any topic, strategy, grade level, or resource.
The new product I am the most excited about is the Graphic Organizer Subscription. The graphic organizers are a wonderful resource that I wish I had years ago. I love that you can just make a copy of them, make it your own, and then it is ready to go for the lesson. It makes teaching so much easier because I am not searching for a new handout or making something from scratch.

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