- Author, The Power of a Teacher
- Psychologist and Therapist
- Advocate for maximizing teacher impact in the classroom
Travels from Houston, TX
Keynote Fee: Contact Forte Speakers
How did he go from juvenile detention to two doctorates, with training at Harvard Medical School and University of Oxford? Dr. Adam Sáenz will tell you—it was the power of a teacher.
Sáenz will be the first to admit that his journey through life so far has been an amazing one, filled with tremendous highs and profound lows. At every important juncture there have been two common elements, lifesavers that appeared when he really needed it: education and teachers. Along the way, this son of blue-collar parents has not only furthered his education, but most importantly, has found his calling: to encourage and equip educators.
Dr. Sáenz’s The Power of a Teacher is the result of years of research and professional development conducted in school districts nationwide. The bottom line is that educators do have tremendous power to make a difference, and Adam’s presentations are designed specifically to empower educators to maximize their impact in the classroom.
Why Educators Need to Hear from Adam SáenzSáenz is not your ordinary school psychologists. His personal story inspires educators, reminding them that what they do matters. He is living proof that educators shape the future, and his story is the exact remedy for the educator who sits in the campus parking lot each morning wondering why they continue to step foot into the classroom. It is only when a professional is equipped with the right why that the who, when, where and what will fall into place.
This inspiration—being re-connected to the right why—is an important factor in long-term vocational satisfaction. But staying connected to the right why is not enough. Self-care also is essential. Sáenz asks: Are you too busy to prepare to fully engage your students academically or behaviorally (let alone finding time to exercise and eat right)? Are you relationally-isolated at work and carrying emotional baggage from experiences you’ve had on your campus or with colleagues? Are you barely able to get by financially, and, in the end, wondering why you ever decided to become a teacher or whether you want to continue in the profession?There are 7.2 million teachers in public school classrooms across the United States (as of the 2010 U.S. Census). Educators make up the country’s largest professional workforce. And half of them will be employed in another profession after five years.Why?
Three key “dashboard lights” tell us when it’s time to check under the hood of the vehicle we call our vocation: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment (also known as “burnout”). For the teacher, these three dashboard lights show up as the internal voice saying, “I’m always tired, I don’t want to deal with my colleagues, and I’m not making a difference in kids’ lives anyway.”
The teacher intent on a lifetime journey on the road of education is wise to consistently invest meaningful quantities of the oil of his or her attention on the wheel that matters most: the wheel of personal wellbeing. Adam has great news for educators: You really do have power to make lives better, including your own.
Dr. Sáenz’s blog is featured regularly in The Huffington Post. He has also been featured in NAESP’s Principal magazine, Great Day Houston, and the Houston Chronicle. Following are just a few of his credentials: Graduate Theological Foundation, South Bend, Indiana; Doctorate of Ministry in Pastoral Counseling, Oxford University, Oxford England; Summer Residency, Christ Church College; Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island; Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Department of Psychiatry, Bradley Hospital; Specializations: Clinical-Child Psychology – At-Risk Populations; Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts; Master of Arts in Counseling and Guidance, Magna Cum Laude, The University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas; Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in Communications.
KEYNOTES AND WORKSHOPS
The Power of a Teacher: Finding the Right Why
How did he go from juvenile detention to two doctorates with training at Harvard Medical School and Oxford University? Adam Sáenz will tell you: it was the power of a teacher. Dr. Saenz’ story is one the Huffington Post says “will never fail to inspire,” a journey through profound lows and soaring highs. At every important juncture, there have been two common elements—lifesavers that appeared when he most needed it: education and teachers. Whether you’re searching for a reason to believe or you just need a hope-filled reminder, the bottom line is that you do have tremendous power to make a difference in students’ lives, and Dr. Sáenz’ message will compel you to engage your calling with passion, with purpose, with vision, and with faith. Dr. Sáenz’s powerful keynote presentations create a shift in how educators see their profession and themselves in it. Every educator should have the opportunity to hear Adam Sáenz speak!
Beyond Difficult: Dealing With Truly Toxic People
You have everyday the everyday difficult person—the passive–‐aggressive teacher who can’ take responsibility for his actions; the snarky parent who engages only to blame. But the truly toxic person is the one who give rise to the expression “hurt people hurt people.” What is an appropriate response? We’ll discuss what causes this level of impairment in adults, how to identify, set and maintain appropriate boundaries, and how to build empathy for people who are hurting.
The Stages of Community
Consider the following:
Stage One: Psuedo-community. Relationships are a half an inch deep and fake. We act like we all get along, but we really can’t stand each other. There is no sense of belonging here. We know it. The students know it. The parents know it. Stage Two: Chaos. We quit pretending that we like each other, and we finally aired our differences. The hounds of hell have been released. Everyone wants to be off this campus. Stage Three: Brokenness. We’ve accepted that we are stuck with each other, and we’ve proven that we’ve only hurt each other in the process of trying to change each other. Now, I’m willing to surrender my agenda (and all other barriers to our communication) so that I might understand you. This is hard work, but at least now we have hope. Stage Four: Community. We still don’t agree on everything, but we’ve learned to treat each other with dignity and respect. Our campus is a relationally safe environment. We share a sense of belonging and purpose. This is the place where lives are impacted. Everyone wants on this campus. Now, a question: At which stage is your faculty? We’ll explore the stages of community in greater detail, and we’ll conclude with
Relational Readiness: The Four Essential Skills
Most of us already know that relationships matter in any field, but particularly in education. The question is: how? How do I build life-impacting relationships with students? How do I build resourceful relationships with my colleagues on campus? How do I build supportive relationships with my students’ parents? There is a framework—the practice of four essential skills that will posture and position any educator to a place of relational readiness. 1) Reflecting (on why I am here); 2) Directing (the fuel of my emotion); 3) Connecting (building relational bridges across differences) and 4) Protecting (my mind, my heart, and my body from toxic, hurtful people).
Stress Management 101: Moving from Bitter to Better
Most of us are aware of the potential negative effects of stress, including physical and mental illness and eventual burnout. In worst-case scenarios, stress erodes not only our individual wellbeing, but also our ability to create healthy, effective relationships with our colleagues and the students on our campuses. Yuk. The good news is that stress doesn’t have to be the enemy. In fact, if our goal is to live a stress-free life, we are cheating ourselves out of a potentially valuable fuel source. Stress, when understood and managed effectively, can result not only in increased personal wellbeing, but also in authentic community among our colleagues and relational connection with the students on our campuses. We’ll discuss the source of stress in your vocation and explore various coping strategies based on the fight, flight, or freeze response. Leave with practical strategies to increase your adaptive coping and tools for building community with your colleagues and students.
Mental Health First Aid
Most campuses have school nurses—appropriately qualified medical staff that are equipped to manage small–‐scale physical illness and initially treat larger–‐ scale physical illness until appropriate intervention can be found. But what about mental illness? What are we to do when a student begins to demonstrate the initial symptoms of mental illness? Learn the initial warning signs or symptoms of mental illness and how to intervene with any student at any grade level. Special attention will be applied to appropriate intervention for self–‐harming behavior (e.g., cutting) and suicidal thoughts and behavior.
Balance and Well-Being: Be Good to You. You Deserve It!
Are you too busy to prepare to fully engage your students academically or behaviorally (let alone finding time to exercise and eat right)? Are you relationally isolated at work and carrying emotional baggage from experiences you’ve had on your campus or with colleagues? Are you barely able to get by financially, and, in the end, wondering why you ever decided to become a teacher or whether you want to continue in the profession? I have good news: not only is personal balance attainable, but as you nurture it, you will find yourself maximizing your impact—both instructionally and relationally—in the classroom. One of the most loving things you can do for those depending on you is to love yourself well. Let’s explore emotional, occupational, financial, spiritual and physical wellbeing. You will leave with practical strategies to increase wellbeing in each area.
From Conflict to Connection
Stressful events do not necessarily have to destroy relationships. In fact, when handled appropriately, stressful—even traumatic events—can deepen and strengthen relationships. We’ll explore the stages of student escalation and the appropriate staff responses at each stage. Then, we’ll analyze the obstacles that most frequently keep us from resolving conflict in a relationship–‐honoring manner. Finally, we’ll identify the self–‐awareness skills that will allow us to avoid the obstacles.
Well-being: Caring for Yourself to Effectively Care for Others
Dr. Sáenz’s Well-being workshop is a self-care manual for teachers that the Houston Chronicle describes as a “must read for every educator who wants to make a difference.” What is true in families is also true in schools: the first effective intervention for all children is an adult living a balanced, healthy life. Even the best academic and behavioral interventions, when implemented by educators on the verge of burnout, will have minimal positive effect. In this session, you will gain a deeper understanding of emotional, occupational, financial, spiritual and physical well-being. You will leave with practical strategies to increase well being in each area.
As an educator, your profession is wrought with squeaky wheels—students, parents, curriculum, federal guidelines, and on and on. The educator intent on a lifetime journey on the road of education is wise to consistently invest meaningful quantities of the oil of his or her attention on the wheel that matters most: the wheel of personal well being. We have great news for you: you really do have power to make lives better, including your own.
Stress Management and Relationship-Building
Most of us are aware of the potential negative effects of stress, including physical and mental illness and eventual burnout. In worst-case scenarios, stress erodes not only our individual well being, but also our ability to create healthy, effective community with our colleagues.
The good news is that stress doesn’t have to be the enemy. In fact, if our goal is to live a stress-free life, we are cheating ourselves out of a potentially valuable fuel source. Stress, when understood and managed effectively, can result not only increased personal well-being, but also in authentic community among our colleagues.
We’ll discuss the source of stress in your vocation and explore various coping strategies based on the fight, flight, or freeze response. Leave with practical strategies to increase your adaptive coping and tools for building community with you colleagues and students.
“Great teaching is rarely, if ever, based on WHAT I’m going to teach or HOW I’m going to teach it. Extraordinary moments in the classroom are always based on WHY I’m teaching. With a big enough WHY, the WHAT and the HOW always seem to fall into place. Read The Power of a Teacher and allow it to rekindle the why in your heart – both you and your students deserve it.”Hal Bowman, 20-year Teaching Veteran and Author of TEACH LIKE a ROCK STAR
“Dr. Sáenz has a refreshing – even uncanny – ability to merge science with practice… if you’re looking for a tool to get you teaching from your sweet spot, you just found it.” Chris White, Ph.D., Director of Research, The Flippen Group
“Dr. Sáenz is not your typical psychologist. He will inspire you to make a difference and provide strategies to rejuvenate your own wellness.”Kirsten Hund, Former Teacher, Principal, and Current State-level Educational Leader
“Read The Power of a Teacher. It will reignite your passion, and remind you in no uncertain terms that changing the world one person at a time is not such a crazy idea after all.” Bob Beaudine, Author of ‘The Power of Who’
“Beginning with his own inspiring story, Adam has masterfully collected poignant narratives capturing the power of teachers to change lives in profound and lasting ways. The Power of a Teacher will warm hearts, but more importantly, it will illuminate and inform practice.” Trae Kendrick, Ed.D. Former Teacher, Principal, and Current State-level Educational Leader
“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my life it is that I really am my brother’s keeper. Knowing that requires me to make a difference when I can. The Power of a Teacher is a great reminder about the impact we can have when we take the time to care and act. I highly recommend it!”Louis Upkins, President and CEO of Upkins and Co., Author of TREAT ME LIKE A CUSTOMER
“I’ve been teaching for twenty-six years, and this was probably the best and most useful workshop I’ve been to…your presentation was the most ‘teacher friendly’ I’ve heard.” B.W., Master Teacher, Dallas Independent School District
“Our life’s mission in the first place. On those days when all of the “white noise” of the job steals your joy, sit down and spend a few minutes with this book. You’ll be back in the race in no time.”Carolyn Castleberry, Television Co-host and Author of Its About Time