All posts by Walter

Making a Change — Flipping Out, Flipping In

“You have to promise me something…” requested a real estate student a few years ago. I remember smiling when he finished, “You can’t retire until I’ve completed all three licensing courses.

Some quick math at the time suggested I would be making at least a four-year commitment. It was tempting. I do enjoy teaching and really had no firm retirement plans but still managed to avoid the promise. After all, life happens.

I’m not sure it counts as a testimonial, but I did consider it a compliment. Unfortunately, I haven’t kept the data, but I do know there are many real estate licensees who’ve taken the three licensing courses with me. There are times when it makes me feel old. But it always makes me feel good.

So, if he’s reading this and hasn’t finished his journey, I’d like to assure him I’m not retiring. A few years ago, I did announce that I was giving up teaching because it’s supposed to be about learning. While I am not retiring I am taking another step in the direction of making it more about learning than it is about teaching.

Starting in 2018, I will become an adjunct instructor with The Real Estate Learning Group. I do so with eager anticipation of teaching “differently” using some exciting technology and what are commonly referred to as “blended” courses. These courses reflect the Kahn Academy model sometimes described as “flipping the classroom.”

Wikipedia describes the flipped classroom: “Flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom.”

Don’t get me started or we’ll also have to discuss the Learning for Mastery (LFM) model—not often easily applied in required learning situations such as pre-licensing courses. We could stay up late discussing that one! In the simplest form, LFM is about student-centered instruction that’s more about learning than teaching.

From a practical perspective, joining The Real Estate Learning Group also means some new course locations and schedules. Stay tuned! I’m currently scheduled to teach the blended “fast track” Sales Agent Course in the Augusta area in January and the blended version of the Associate Broker Course in Bangor starting in January. Click the links for additional information and to register.

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know. Many things will not change, including my commitment to helping students learn and master in a positive, enjoyable way. You can still find “brain leaks and musings” on my blog. I will also continue to publish the occasional issue of my Learning Opportunities E-newsletter.


“Thanks for another successful class! All three licenses have been garnered under your careful educational care!”

Recent Broker Student


Upcoming Courses:

  • Associate Broker in Bangor, January 2018
  • Sales Agent in Augusta, February 2018

Preventing Suicides in School

University of Maine journalism student Kendra Caruso recently joined us for a Suicide Prevention Workshop both to learn about suicide and to gather information for a journalism assignment.  We’re pleased she decided to share her work with us!


Preventing Suicides in School–
Highlighting a growing problem prevalent in Maine schools.

by Kendra Caruso

Walter Boomsma is a substitute teacher for the Piscataquis Community Elementary School.  He has experienced firsthand the reality of suicide among the adolescent in the state of Maine, it’s why he teaches the Suicide Awareness and Prevention workshop that’s free for the public to attend but required for all school personnel.

LD 609 was enacted into law on April 25, 2013 and requires anyone who works for a school system in the state of Maine to receive comprehensive training on suicide prevention that’s research based, from bus drivers to teachers.  Boomsma’s two-hour class meets the state mandate.  The course he uses is a collaboration between the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In Maine suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 34 year olds and 16.14 people die per 100000 residents compared to the national average of 13.26 in 2015 according to the CDC.

Boomsma talks about bullying as one of the leading causes of suicide among adolescents in his workshop and social media has made it easier for bullies to access their victims.  Boomsma talks about how to address a suicidal child being bullied.  Victims of bullying are two to nine times more likely to be suicidal than people who don’t experience bullying, according to a study by Yale University.

Hailey Cipullo of Abbot is an eighth grader at the Piscataquis Community Elementary School and has been the victim of bullying herself. She never experienced suicidal thoughts but lost a friend she went to a summer camp with to suicide because of bullying.  She didn’t even know her friend was experiencing suicidal thoughts.  Cipullo doesn’t blame herself for not realizing what her friend was going through.  Boomsma teaches not to self-blame for losing someone to suicide.

The LGBTQ community had a much higher risk for suicide ideation, 50 percent of bisexual youth experienced ideation and 25 percent attempted suicide, 40 percent of gay or lesbian youth experienced ideation and 21 percent attempted suicide, according to the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey in 2013.  Youth in the LGBTQ community are more likely to become suicidal if they are rejected by family.

Men are more likely to die from suicide but women experience ideation more, for one male attempt there are three female attempts.  Men are more likely to kill themselves using violent means where women tend to us less violent acts such as taking pills according to the NAMI and CDC course collaboration.

Native American youth are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts with an average of 17 per 100000 residents compared to 12.1 for the whole US according to the NAMI and CDC course collaboration.

Boomsma experienced the tragedy of suicide first hand when his brother ended his own life but that’s not why he teaches this class.  He teaches this class because of the affect suicide has on Maine’s youth.

Boomsma spends a few minutes after class when he gets home and thinks about how he may have trained someone who will save a life, “I think to myself, I may have saved a life tonight.”

Press Pause… a great idea and resource!

Here’s one of several great videos recently released…  and this link to a great website called “Press Pause.”  There are more short videos on the topics of dealing with anger and schedule overload.  These are created by “Half of Us.” I’m impressed with both of these sites and their content/approach–easy to navigate, bite-sized chunks of practical support and advice!

Look Out for Children!

DJMAX / Pixabay

The reactions to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas have certainly been varied. Thanks in a large part to the ongoing media coverage, it remains a focal point for many.  It, therefore, seems fitting to share several thoughts, including this paragraph from a recent J.E.D. Foundation blog post:

At a time like this, the simple things will help – don’t hold feelings in, talk to friends, family and loved ones. Turn off the TV,  computer, and phone. Get up and get out – tragedies can weigh so heavily on us that it makes it hard to move. Take a walk, go to the gym, run errands, spend time with friends, volunteer to help. And lastly, everyone should take care of themselves and those around them – physical health and emotional connectedness can go a long way toward making you feel like yourself again.

During last night’s Suicided Awareness and Prevention Workshop we discussed briefly the potential impact events like this have on children.  It is so important to remember they are watching and listening and may be much more aware of news and incidents than we might think at first. If it is difficult for an adult to process the “why” of an incident like this, consider how much more so it may be for young people. This is a time when we should look out for our children.

I published a post from Edutopia (an excellent resource for teachers and parents, by the way) on Mr. Boomsma’s Facebook Page. Entitled “Responding to Tragedy: Resources for Educators and Parents.” When time permits, I will be adding many of those resources to this website.

As a general guideline, I encourage adults to listen and watch for signs that a child is struggling to come to terms with the incident. It is not necessary to “force” a child a think or talk about it, but it is important to be willing to listen and answer questions. You don’t have to have all the answers. Provide reassurance and gently shift the focus to the positives. In children’s terms, “Let’s look for the helpers.”

That’s actually pretty good advice for all of us.