High energy. Hands-on. Peak engagement. That’s what you’ll find in Dr. D’s classroom at Head Elementary.
“I think the best teachers change frequently and change immediately,” explains Dr. Doug Doblar, Gwinnett County Public Schools 2018 Teacher of the Year, who teaches fourth and fifth grade math and science. “The kids’ attitudes will tell you a lot. They’ll tell you when they’re bored. Or when they’re not engaged.”
Dr. Doblar’s goal is for his students’ excitement to mirror his own. “I want the kids I teach to be really excited about math and science. I want them to go into math and science careers. I hope their excitement lasts forever.”
A math major at the University of Georgia, Dr. Doblar took that path and began his career 15 years ago teaching middle school math. “I wasn’t even certified yet.” He completed his certification while teaching and has also earned a master’s degree in Mathematics Education from Georgia State University and a doctoral degree in Instructional Technology from Indiana University.
Since he loved math as a student, Dr. Doblar assumed he’d love teaching it, he recalls. With hindsight though, he says, he “lucked out.” “It’s more important to love who you teach, than what you teach.”
During his career, Dr. Doblar has taught all ages, including college students, but has particularly found his calling working with students from fourth grade to middle school. With them, it’s all about creating memorable teaching experiences. “Memorable experiences are the learning that you never forget, because you did it, you saw it, you touched it and you were a part of it.”
His students teach him how to be a better teacher, he says. “I care a lot about how interested they are. I don’t want the process of learning to be stifling. I want them to be mentally involved in a way that compels them.”
But while Dr. Doblar is all about engagement, he’s very specific about his intent. “Engagement is not the same as entertainment,” he reminds. Engagement, he believes, is by far the best path to learning.
How does he know when it’s working? Testing gives important feedback, he says. “We have to know our students are learning. It’s hard to know if they are getting a good education if we don’t test. But education doesn’t have to be boring because we do test. Teaching can still be inspiring, imaginative, and energizing.”
In his parent-teacher conferences, Dr. D has received some memorable praise. “One parent told me — my child doesn’t say ‘nothing’ when I ask them what they did in your class.” That’s when you know it’s going well.
The Teacher of the Year honors have certainly brought lots of praise and attention Dr. Doblar’s way — none of it anything he was accustomed to or comfortable with. “Teachers don’t generally get a lot of recognition,” he laughs. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
“I’ve met so many incredible teachers and peers. I’ve learned so much.” For Dr. Doblar, learning, growing and advancing his craft are what drives him. “I’m never not learning. There are endless opportunities to get better.”