John Watkins

Co-Director Deeper Learning Dozen
John Watkins has over thirty years experience in consulting, coaching, designing, facilitating, researching, and evaluating in school and school district improvement efforts. Currently, he is Co-Director with Jal Mehta, Professor at Harvard, of the Deeper Learning Dozen, creating a community of practice for superintendents who are committed to the transformation of their districts to support equitable access to deeper learning. Recently, he was the Pathway Coach Coordinator in the Linked Learning Office of Oakland Unified School District, supporting a community of practice for site-embedded Pathway Coaches, and before that a Pathway Coach with ConnectEd. John’s first career was as an Outward Bound instructor. He later became a high school art teacher before attending and earning his Doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy. His BA is from Amherst College in Art History. Along with his wife, Jessica, who is an English teacher in the Public Health Academy at Oakland High School, he loves to backpack, practice meditation and yoga, and garden.
I love going on long walks, I mean really long walks, with my wife, Jessica. Last June we walked 230 miles on the Cape Wrath Trail, that ends at the farthest northwest point in Scotland. That kind of long. I am intensely curious about this amazing, huge universe we inhabit, and the ways that humans make meaning, culture, and society. I deeply believe in public education, as without it we have no capability to be agentive citizens or even civil, much less learn to take care of our most vulnerable fellow humans, and our planet. I’ve a lifelong commitment to social justice and equity, starting when I was a little kid and accidentally went into the wrong door in a restaurant in Virginia on the way to visiting my grandparents in North Carolina. I started my career as an Outward Bound instructor, taking young people and adults into the wilderness to learn who they were and could be. Went on to be an art and technical theatre teacher. Got my doctorate, worked on high school and district redesign. I love coaching, facilitating, seeing how adults and young people learn and take charge of their learning. I am devoted to social and organizational transformation, so we might have a world where each and every person can thrive, be healthy, be joyful, and passionately seek and fulfill their own purpose. I have a deep respect for teachers! With my wife, I love to backpack, garden, cook, and talk about learning and teaching. Read poetry. Watch sunsets. Get wet in the rain.