Permission to Let My Tears Flow

Blog Tears Flow Mercy Me

Photo credit: Rise Ministries

Dear Bart Millard:

I need to express my gratitude to you and your contemporary Christian band, MercyMe, for giving me permission to release my pent-up tears of 28 years, and to let them pour down my cheeks during #RiseFest17.

For almost 30 years, I have not said much about my daughter being diabetic…she was diagnosed at the young age of 4. I have not wanted people to think or say I was being dramatic or feeling sorry for myself. I also know that some of God’s children have it much worse—cancer, ALS, MS, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, accidents that cause paralysis, and the list could go on and on—thus, I have always believed that the proper thing to do is to remain silent so other people would not think I was whining.

Your message at the concert changed that for me, Mr. Millard! You shared your story of when your son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the innocent age of 2. From that life crisis you wrote the song Jesus Bring the Rain.  Hearing this story at RiseFest last Friday night had me shedding a few tears knowing you understood my journey as a parent of a diabetic. Knowing we share a bond.

A little later in the evening you shared the reason why you wrote your new song Even If, which is also because of your son’s diabetic life sentence. This story released the flood gates of my tears. I have tried to keep it together for almost 30 years, and on Friday night, you gave me permission to just let it go, to let the tears flow. And flow they did!

To your son…you CAN change the world as a diabetic. Believe it, buddy! My daughter has been handling her diabetes for almost 30 years, and she IS changing the world in spite of being diabetic. Please read some of her story below, and maybe you will find some encouragement in her journey. In addition, if you ever want to visit with her, I know she would be happy to listen. You can find her on Twitter @coachjuhl.  Go out and be awesome, Sam. 🙂

THANK YOU, MercyMe for a great concert!  Thank you, Bart, for sharing your life stories through music. I love ALL of your songs, but the two mentioned above now have new meaning for me. From here on out when I hear them I may be shedding a few tears…but it’s okay because I know I have permission to let those tears flow freely.


What’s a little rain? 😉

P.S. I am beyond excited for your movie I Can Only Imagine to hit the theaters around Easter 2018. Keep up the good work! 🙂 Hugs…

Stay Calm & Cure Diabetes!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

You’re Not a Bad Mom

This is a guest blog post by friend and colleague, Dr. Mary Risacher who is an Assistant Professor of Education for Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. Her background includes teaching Early Childhood, Kindergarten and serving as the Director of an Early Childhood At-Risk Program with an emphasis on pairing young children and families to needed resources. She currently teaches introductory educational and Early Childhood licensure courses for the School of Education at SMSU, as well as serving as Director of the Early Childhood Extended Learning 2+2 Program. You can find her on Twitter @MaryRisacher.

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My Mom used to tell me, “You’re a good Mom.” I miss hearing that and wish at the time I had taken it in the spirit in which it was said; sincere and from the heart. I didn’t take it that way at the time because I thought she had to say that because she was my Mom and she was probably trying to talk me back from the edge of an “episodic mother breakdown.” What is that? A condition that new young mothers suffer from when they have met their match and feel overwhelmed and inadequate, usually accompanied with tears and occasional sobs. Been there, done that!

It has been 25 years since the birth of my first-born. I still remember that out-of-body feeling and thinking… is this for real, as I held her for the first time. It hit me, I was now responsible for the life of another human being. I took all the classes, had a degree in early childhood, surely, I knew what I was doing…right? After all, how hard could this be? I had been told all the wonderful stories of how it such a beautiful time and you feel so great being pregnant. It sounded euphoric. Although I teach an Infants & Toddlers course to undergrads, I now know the little shared truth about being a mother, it is one of the hardest things you will ever do and there is no training manual or course that can prepare you. It is on the job training.

I traveled back in time in the past weeks as I went to visit a friend who had just had her first child. The memories came flooding back the second she met me at the door- her eyes told me the story…exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, I could even see a hint of, “oh my, what have I done?” While the pain of child birth has faded, I can still remember those feelings…exhaustion, overwhelmed, inadequate. Everyone had kept telling me how great this experience was and I knew when I met my friend at the door it was time to share the truth with her—motherhood is hard.

Before delving into a deep conversation, I could see the first thing my friend needed was a nap and selfishly— I wanted to hold that baby! I did not have to offer twice, when I asked if she wanted to go rest for a bit. So off she went and I commenced to rocking. Now this was euphoria, a baby in my arms and all I needed to do was rock. True peace is the only way to describe it. I knew, however, that for “first-time” moms this is far from how it can feel for them. I remember being scared to death that something would go wrong and it was not peaceful. It was up all night for what felt like around the clock feedings, with no break in-between, as one feeding would end and you would begin to settle back in hoping to sleep …and the lovely little babe was hungry once again. It felt like the cycle went on with no end in sight. On top of that you worried… is she eating enough? She cries a lot-should she cry that much? Why doesn’t she poop more? Yes-pooping became very central to the existence and happiness of our home. Gas too for that matter. Every question you had, became a nagging worry! No one ever told you any of this. Not to mention what has just happened to your own body! Looking back to when my own children were babies, I realized I was too consumed with the duties of motherhood to enjoy the moment. Well not today! I am rocking, walking, and chatting with Mr. C! I loved every second.

My friend stumbled from her slumber after 3 hours stating, “Wow I can’t believe I slept for 2 hours!” I didn’t even correct her. 🙂 My heart was joyful and my bucket full!! As she retrieved Mr. C from my reluctant arms we talked. We laughed about her worries and I reassured her that she too was, “a good Mom” in spite of her doubts. She too was a good mom even if she was not experiencing full-on joy at every second that she is being sleep deprived, serving as a feeding factory, and not always feeling so wonderful. I also explained that anyone who tells her that motherhood is a completely euphoric experience is on medication and should share it or is lying. There is so much pressure to do this perfectly that it is difficult to find the joy.

Not all education comes from a book. Some of my best teachers were my own children. They taught me how to be good at mothering. I now accept that accolade that my Mom tried to share with me so long ago and I do realize that I am skillful at being a mother. “Skillful at being a Mother”…when I wrote that line I edited about 10 times because it seems so arrogant-but I will try to embrace the title. That is not to say I am without fault, just ask my children ;). As my instructors, they have seen some epic-mothering-bombs; meaning there were times I just blew it with them, but as good teachers do, they gave me second chances. Today I look at my adult children and feel pretty confident saying that I raised them to be good humans. My children are the best of me!

Moving forward I want to share the message with newcomers to the scene of motherhood;

You are a good Mom and it is okay to not do this perfectly. This is hard and there will be stumbles, even fall on your face moments, and that is okay. Being a good Mom is enough! Give yourself a break, enjoy the moment when you in it-don’t wait 25 years like I did to be proud of what you have done. When someone says, “You are a good Mom.”…just smile and nod.

In my Infants & Toddlers course, I am teaching my undergrad students about the developmental stages and milestones of this very first stage of life. We review theory and best practice for the early childhood settings for which my students one day will be licensed teacher. While this course provides a solid foundation for those students seeking licensure in birth through age eight, it does not teach about becoming a mother. Unfortunately, the only real preparation for that is when it happens.

Stay Calm & Parent On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.


Be Teacher Geeks Who Tech

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Did you know that Johnny Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska? I didn’t until I recently visited Norfolk for a Summer Technology Institute (STI). I learned a little bit of history along with a lot of technology. Time well spent! 🙂

My colleague had invited me to attend this conference with her because she knows what a geek I am when it comes to Dave Burgess Consulting books. I couldn’t say no to this opportunity to meet one of the DBC authors.

Wow…so many ideas shared during our time there. I’m eager to get my classes started this fall so I can implement some of these tech ideas.

Want to know some of these digital ideas 🙂 Please let me share a few…

Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook  (a Dave Burgess Consulting book) kicked off the conference with his keynote. He presented several breakout sessions as well. If you get the opportunity to hear him speak, take it. He has so much passion and enthusiasm to share about technology. And, he will autograph your book for you too! 🙂

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My favorite of all the breakouts was Matt’s session called “The Lightning Round: 60 Great Digital Tools in 60 Minutes.”

One of the tools Matt shared was Piktochart.  Here is how I have used this tech tool in my courses: My students are required to watch a TED talk then summarize it by creating an infograph that is colorful and chock full of information.

Another tool that Matt shared was Aurasma. Here is how I have used this tech tool in class. Last year, when Poke’ Mon Go was all a craze, Aurasma became the go-to Augmented Reality tool. I created Stanger-mon Go using this tool with the help of others in my PLN on Twitter.  Students went on a treasure hunt and had several Stanger-mon Go stops to make. Students reported back to me that they enjoyed this activity and thanked me for introducing them to Aurasma.

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There were several digital tools in this 60 x 60 presentation that I had not heard of, and I look forward to playing with them over the summer. Check them out for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find ONE that looks interesting to you. Click on the title link above for all 60 tools.

The session that ranks as my 2nd favorite was titled, “The Digital Pirate: TECH Like A PIRATE” also presented by Matt Miller. This was technology plus Dave Burgess’ hooks from his book Teach Like A PIRATE which equaled really good stuff!

One example of this was The Safari Hook. Use the camera app on the iPad and have students go explore and take photos of things that represent their vocabulary words. I have had my Social Studies Methods students take photos using their phones to represent their family history or the history of their communities.

Blog Tech Safari Hook

A second example was The Costume Hook. Use Voki to create dressed up characters. I have used this in my Children’s Literature class by having students create an avatar that represents who they are and then use the recording options to introduce themselves to the class (yes, that cowgirl is me 🙂 ). Great to use for an icebreaker on my online courses. I’ve also had students create a book character using Voki.

Thinking about the costume hook…I’m sure Snapchat could be incorporated into lessons as a Costume Hook. Please share in the comments if you’ve used this idea in your classroom somehow. I’ll be working on ideas for this one during the summer.

If you want more of Matt’s great ideas, check out all his stuff by going to No, for real. Go there. You’ll uncover hidden treasure!

Embrace technology, folks. As Matt Miller told us…be maverick teachers. Be teaching geeks who tech not tech geeks who teach.

Listen to this voice of an active learner. Then go learn a few new digital tools yourself. 🙂

Stay Calm & Tech On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Where Does the Time Go?

Today is the day.  Not yesterday and not tomorrow.  Today is the LAST day of school for this academic year for my three sons. What happened? Where did the time go? The year just flew by!  They grew in many ways over this past year as we all have. I almost blinked and missed it.  Ms. Stella grew up, too!  She turns 2 years old today.

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Stella, the family St. Bernard dog

So as the school year ends… It is that time of year where we hear and give life speeches at graduation commencements and receptions about this is not just an ending but a beginning; a new chapter as we look to the future.  Words of advice are shared and some may be remembered.  My nephew, Samuel Dieken, is graduating from high school and will be headed to college in the fall.  I remember when he was just a little guy.  Where did that time go? He was just starting school – both shy and ready to take on the world, right?  He is again.

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Dr. Wendy knows this feeling all too well with the preschool graduation of her grandson.  Where did that time go? He was just born; he was just learning to walk and talk.  Well, he is all “grown up” and ready to take on kindergarten.  He is about to walk his own path.

It isn’t just the school year that has flown by. Everywhere I look I see life’s milestones marking time.  We recently celebrated my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary.
L. Joe & Betty Ann Claeys along with their children and families threw a party to celebrate this milestone.  Amazing the legacy they have created with their bond of love that started so many years ago!

Cheers to a life of love and longevity.  May we all know that.  May we not blink and miss it. A thought for this time as we wonder where the time has gone?  Don’t blink…  Remember the last moment as it has helped shape who you are today. Enjoy this moment and then the next moment.  Don’t blink.

This summer and for the rest of your days – enjoy the little moments, enjoy the big moments; remember the past, dream of tomorrow, and live life today.

Stay Calm & Live Life!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Dreams Work … Go the Distance

Remember that film – Field of Dreams?  “If you build it, they will come.”  I loved that movie when I was younger.  My optimistic, idealistic self still believes it to be true. “Go the distance.” I think it can happen.  I ask why not? Even after days that I feel beaten down with negative situations, negative responses, and negative people, I get up the next day, and am ready to change the world.  One would think I would eventually learn my lesson, right? I do love to learn, but maybe I don’t want to learn that lesson – to believe the negative and be a pessimistic person. I’m not alone, am I?  Most certainly not… it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round, and it takes surrounding ourselves with people who help make our mindsets positive to keep moving forward. We need each other to motivate and be motivated. We are a team!  Lately, I’ve been thinking about a motivational speaker who I heard speak earlier this semester.  With the world spinning faster than usual lately – or so it seems, I am feeling the need for some positive motivation to help build that field of dreams and to continue to go the distance.

With motiviation on our minds, I have a question to pose to you…
Will you work harder for something required or inspired? 
This simple question caused me to ponder momentarily.  I knew the answer without a doubt, but also knew all too often how “being required” is a way of life for many. Perhaps it is the only way for some things, which we will not debate today, but it tends to provide a veil for a lack of trust and should we dare – deceit.  For example – you are required to take/pass this standardized test because you are not competent without it. Okay – maybe that is not a perfect analogy, but I have standardized testing on the brain.  How about this one? You are required to complete 125 hours of continuing education because you won’t want to grow as a teacher without being required to do so.  Before I continue on my soap box, let’s get back to the simple question to start. Will you work harder for something required or inspired? This phrase was shared by Rob Bell at a conference session entitled, “Teamwork Makes Dreams Work.”

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This upbeat and motivational presentation made my nerdy notetaking self jot down some highlights to share with all of you as well as some of my reflections.

So what’s really important in the work place or school environment – or anywhere really?

  1. Appreciation.
  2. Feeling of being “in on” things – inclusivity breeds buy-in.
  3. Sympathetic help with person problems – life is not always about work.

Provide constructive yet kind feedback – SIP – Specific. Immediate. Personal. Warm fuzzies are wonderful, but they need to be paired with comments for growth.  Even perfect can be better.

The way to motivate is to validate. And be authentic when validating and in all of life really. Who is better at being you than you?  Consider the important characteristics identified in being authentic and real with colleagues and friends in aims to lift each other up:

– Sense of Humor -Reliable  -Optimistic  -Timely -Thoughtful  -Honest –Happy –ABCD: above the call of duty -Empathy

Remember the power of conditioning and that actions speak louder than words.  We are what we think and what we say. I’m alive. I’m awake. I feel great! We have to start with ourselves and then reach out to others. You know the phrase – “I don’t care what you say I care what you do.” It tells a story as does body language. If your words are not consistent with the language you choose, people will believe was they see. How do we grow in our language? Consider keeping a gratitude notebook and listening – silent listening…be in the moment. Refrain from the word “but” when responding.  Let’s Plan a vacation. Yes but… yes but… But shuts down opportunity.  Another phrase often used is “It’s against our policy.” Instead try this: “Let me tell you what I can do.”

More than not – use this simple phrase:  “Thank you.” It will amazingingly change your world and mine.

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In closing –

Enjoy the moment.

Change is uncomfortable. It is inevitable. Growth is optional.

What is a wow today is standard next year. Keep growing.

Plant seeds not weeds. Apple seeds…or your favorite seeds…make your world great.

It’s a lot more fun to be excellent than mediocre.

Let’s make them say wow!

Build that field of dreams! Go the distance and make us go with you!

Stay Calm & Dream On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Dare to Soar, Teacher Candidates

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An eagle sighting is a rare occurrence around here, but when it happens, people tend to get a little excited. Did you know the wingspan of an adult bald eagle can range from five to seven feet?  That is incredible.

You know what else is incredible? You have graduated from SMSU, teacher candidates!!! 🙂 At graduation time we like to tell our SMSU students that it is time to ‘spread your wings and fly.’

You were like eagles during your teacher preparation program, teacher candidates. Now, as you spread your wings and fly towards your first teaching position, continue to be eagle leaders. Continue to be:

Tenacious:  Like an eagle soars against the storm, you saw past the intensity of the expectations of the program. You were persistent and stayed the course.

Confident: Like an eagle stays to itself, you knew to stay true to yourself to do your ultimate best no matter what others were saying or doing. You assured yourself that you COULD accomplish your goals…and you did.

Vision: Like an eagle that can spot its target miles away, you kept your eyes on the prize. You kept your education degree in sight with your vision on your future classroom.

Courageous: Like an eagle stands up to risk, you faced all the requirements with bravery. Although some assignments seemed to be daunting (edTPA), you attacked them with boldness.

Vitality: Like an eagle never gives up on life, you never lost your passion while you were completing all necessary class projects. You kept your sparkle.

Nurturer: Like an eagle trains its young, you will be teaching students who will be under your care and depend on you. Remember…students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Congratulations, 2017 graduates. Go out and change the world…one student and one classroom at a time. Dare to soar, teacher candidates. Spread your wings and fly!

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Stay Calm & Soar On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

This is NOT a Cat Lesson

You can’t always be certain.  Sometimes what it appears to be just isn’t so.  Sometimes it is something entirely different.  Sometimes it is what it is.  Most times this is the truth.
It either is or isn’t – a cat.  Right?

Recently, Minnesota author/illustrator Mike Wohnoutka addressed the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council hosted on the Martin Luther College campus in New Ulm, Minnesota.  I was privileged to attend with a former student-teacher gone teacher and two teacher candidates.  It was an evening filled with learning, laughter, reading, reflecting, doodling, and discussion.  What does a cat got to do with it, you ask?  Let me tell you….

Growing up with three older brothers, Mike Wohnoutka loved to draw, and he was determined to do well. From early on he would go to his room to read to get away from a little of the noise. He displayed talent early on, and his Headstart teacher noticed right away.  She wrote a note on his report card indicating that he was an artist and that he should continue to draw. Later on in life his high school teacher suggested that he go to the library to learn about and study others’ works.  He then went on to enter a contest in high school with a portrait of his dad, which drew him on the path to an art school in Savannah, Georgia with a 4-year scholarship.

Fast forward to today, and you will find that Mike had multiple opportunities to try out his talents – sometimes noticed and sometimes unnoticed.  His talent is obvious and telling. He drew a cartoon masterpiece within seconds right before our eyes. It was incredible.

Throughout his time as a write and illustrator, Wohnoutka has had opportunities to work with a plethora of talented folks.  He shared about his life as an author/illustrator and how each day starts with sitting in his study and thinking. It usually involves some coffee; sometimes there is music, sometimes there isn’t.  “Think about who. Think about what.”  That is telling lesson right there, and one we agree with as a principle.  Dr. Wendy & I tell our teacher candidates that we teach learners, not subjects. We teach who, not what.  When writing This is Not a Cat, Wohnoutka started with character development. That makes sense and is where we all should start – with the who, with us.

He talked about one particular work that we loved to hear about, to read about, and now to share with our students.  This is Not a Cat. It reminded us that what we see is not always what we should believe.  It also made me think about not being too overly confident with a decision; there is room for error in that suit.  The mice in this picture book are pretty scared when they see a cat, which turns out to be a rat in a cat suit.  Later, a real cat hunts that rat.  This made me think of the phrase “what goes around, comes around.” Karma.

So many lessons in that simple but awesome book.  Maybe I am grasping at straws but so be it. I saw the talent first hand. I am no literary award granter, but I like a book that can hook a reader and share a lesson or two.  If it can cause a little suspense and some laughter, even better.

Southwest MN Reading Council Executive Board Members with Author/Illustrator Mike Wohnoutka

In closing… recently our SMSU colleague family has experienced deaths that have caused us to reflect on what is important.  What is important to you? Find out and stay the course… Life is too important and too short not to know.  Know what is a cat and what is not.

Stay Calm & Draw or Write On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.




Mirror Mirror on the Wall

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Hello there! That’s me…sitting on my porch swing, taking a selfie with the ‘pretty filter’ on Snapchat. Observe carefully, please. What do you see? I’ll give you a minute to form your opinions…

Are you ready for this? Care if I expose myself? That picture is me, trying so hard to put on my happy face for those of you who know me and believe I am happy ALL.THE.TIME. Truth be told…some days I’m just not. Raise your hand if you know what I’m talking about.

ME: Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?

THE DEVIL IN MY HEAD: Not you, you loser! You are old. You are wrinkled. Your teeth are icky. What is up with those stupid sagging eyelids? Bag…baggy eyes, old woman. Stop frowning, moron. You can’t do anything right. You are so dumb for saying that. Suck it up, loser.

That is the ugly, scary monster I hear in my head sometimes. And, frankly…I am sick and tired of it. Just when I believe I’m deep in a pit that will imprison me forever, along comes a song that tells me I’m priceless…irreplaceable, unmistakably, incomparably beautiful. Thank you, for King and Country for throwing me a rope and rescuing me from that pit of lies!

Mistakes. I mess up a lot. Failure. I fail at meeting everyone’s expectations. Can you relate?

It seems I am always saying sorry to someone for something. Sorry, I didn’t mean to leave you out of the email. Sorry, I didn’t mean to give him the mint. Sorry, I didn’t know I wasn’t allowed to encourage student voice. Sorry, I didn’t think I was talking out of both sides of my mouth. Sorry, I forgot to invite you. Sorry, I am not happy all the time. Sorry, I didn’t mean to forget to call you back. Sorry, sorry, SORRY!!!

Mistake after mistake and failure after failure makes me ponder what my purpose really is? Thank you, Mandisa, for reminding me. It’s because I’m not perfect, but God loves me anyway. God is still working on making me a masterpiece. I’m going to celebrate the truth! His work in me isn’t through. I’m just unfinished.

Guilt. Such a dreadful word. It seems to consume me. When life hands me unfortunate situations, I feel guilty when I am sad because my circumstances aren’t anything compared to what others have gone through.

Others have it worse. I’ve never lost a spouse or a child, or suffered from cancer or any other severe disease of any kind. Yet, I have sad moments. Moments that crush my heart and make me sob uncontrollably. Then the guilt smothers me like dense fog because others have it worse and I have no right to be feeling this way.

A viscous cycle!

Well, it’s time to let go of the guilt and step into the light of God’s grace. It’s time to let go of the guilt, say goodbye to where I’ve been, and tell this heart of mine to beat again…minus the guilt. A new journey is just beginning. Thanks Danny Gokey for giving me permission to let my heart beat again.

Loneliness, sadness, weariness, rejection, insecurity, defeat, betrayal, guilt…feelings we don’t want to admit we experience. These feelings don’t have to control us though. Let’s choose to defeat them and rise above them. Let’s shut the door on yesterday and let’s rise!

Everyone has struggles. Music is the ministry to help me right now. I hope these tunes help you too. Tomorrow’s a new day. Hang in there with me, okay?

Stay Calm & Press On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

The Joy of Action Research

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Action Research are two words that add a bit of trepidation to our SMSU Teacher Candidate’s hearts and minds during their Junior Methods year. They hear the stories…but then, when they actually get to class and hear it and see it for themselves, they realize it has significance in their future teaching (well, that’s what I hope anyway 😉 ).

What exactly is action research (pay close attention to this, upcoming teacher candidates)? According to Richard Sagor (2000), author of Guiding School Improvement with Action Research, action research…

…is a disciplined process of inquiry conducted by and for those taking the action.  The primary reason for engaging in action research is to ‘assist’ the actor in improving and/or refining his or her actions (para. 2, chapter 1).

Or, to paraphrase in my own definition that I tell my teacher candidates…action research is finding issues that elementary students may be having with their learning; researching teaching methods or instructional strategies to help the struggling students overcome these issues; putting these research-based strategies into action; and finally, analyzing the data while hoping for a desired outcome.

Simply put, action research is making learning the best it can be for the students we teach so we can watch them grow academically.  All educators want this for their students. It brings us great joy to see our students succeed.

Yes, teacher candidates, I am joyful! I had the pleasure of seeing you succeed when presenting your action research findings at the 2nd Annual Education Action Research Conference held Friday, April 7 at the Schwan’s Regional Event Center on the SMSU Campus.

I’ve heard countless accolades about your professionalism during your presentations. I guess all of those IGNITE challenges paid off, didn’t they. 🙂 You certainly have grown professionally as well as personally over the course of the past 9 months in Action Research, and I applaud you for that!

To our colleague and friend, Professor LeAnne Syring, thank you for walking through that door of opportunity and kicking off our conference with your outstanding keynote. No lemonade for you, friend…just lemon meringue pie! 🙂

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One gentleman who attended our Action Research Conference wrote these kind, encouraging words in an email:

“…I wanted to let you know that it was a fantastic conference and tremendous success. I attended six different presentations on varying topics.  All were wonderfully presented and the research was applicable to everyone in the audience. Again, it was a wonderful morning and I am extremely glad that I attended!! I look forward to next year!”

Continue to grow and learn, teacher candidates, by using action research to assist you with any challenges you may face in your future classrooms. It will benefit your students, and it will make you top-notch teachers. And the bonus from here on out…you won’t have to write the 30+ page paper to go along with it. 😀

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(For more pictures, please check out our SMSU School of Education’s Facebook page)

Stay Calm & Research On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

Twas The Night Before Clinical

This is a guest blog post by Dr. Mary Risacher who is an Assistant Professor of Education for Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. Her background includes teaching Early Childhood, Kindergarten and serving as the Director of an Early Childhood At-Risk Program with an emphasis on pairing young children and families to needed resources. She currently teaches introductory educational and Early Childhood licensure courses for the School of Education at SMSU, as well as serving as Director of the Early Childhood Extended Learning 2+2 Program. You can find her on Twitter @MaryRisacher.

Blog Mary Clinical

It is spring – one of my most favorite seasons. We have come out of the dark, dreary days. The birds are back…the sun is with us in the evening…the worst is behind us. Well, at least that is my perception.

I know a group of students who might be wishing this week away. It is clinical time when my online students travel from across the state to show off the skills they have gained while completing their year-long method courses.

I teach the online section of ED 423 Classroom Management. The culminating event is a clinical where students take over a classroom for two days. For my online students, this is most often their first trip to campus and first time meeting instructors. That alone can be nerve wracking, but couple that with having to teach in a new setting, and you have a very nervous group.

I remind them at the start of the course this is a moment in a life time, make the most of it. Life is made up of moments some good, some bad, but it really is just a string of moments that when faced with one you don’t think you can survive – take it for what it is worth for another moment will be right around the corner. In a short time, this will be a memory and you will be facing all new moments – challenging or rewarding take what you can from them and continue forward.

I am writing this prior to meeting my online students for Clinical. Here is a bit of prose…I am not a poet and I do know it… so as you read this please know that writing poetry is not one of my gifts 🙂  I will follow up and share how the Clinical experience went for my students – until then….

It was the night before Clinical and all through the school the pre-service teachers were calm, collected, and cool.

Lesson plans had been prepared, schedules were by the door in hopes that supervisors would give a high score.

The countdown had begun, in just a few hours the kiddos would arrive…would the SMSU students survive?

Then down the hallway there arose such a clatter Dr. Risacher went to see what was the matter.

There before her stood 20 pre-service teachers and a copier up to no good!

It had been churning out copies without a hitch, then suddenly there was a glitch.

“Have no fear!” said Mary. “I know what to do when a copier is contrary.”

Then as quick as a wink and before the students could blink the copier was fixed without another hitch.

Back to their classrooms the students did fly to finish all last-minute details before the kiddos arrive.

Rooms at the ready and binders complete, it time to begin this great feat!

The kiddos arrive not knowing the thrills that await them. The days fly by with little abatement. (not sure if this is correct usage – but it rhymes 🙂 )

Adjustments were made here and there, and lessons were done with little time to spare.

At the end of day two the students wondered, “With no planning to complete what will we do?”

“For now,” Dr. Risacher said, “get off your feet and go to bed. It’s time to rest that weary head!”

Tomorrow you will find these moments in time are a treasure and only just one measure.

Clinical is over and the course nearly through—be proud of all you’ve accomplished at SMSU!

The results are in, it was a huge WIN! ~Mary

Stay Calm & Teach On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.