Monthly Archives: April 2014

Practice Makes Perfect Practice Teachers


Going for the Gold in 3rd Grade

The best way to become elite teachers, the best of the best, is to practice…so practice, practice, practice, practice teachers! 🙂 Our SMSU teacher candidates just successfully completed a 2-day clinical field experience which consisted of a complete 2-day takeover of a local elementary school. Yes, the classroom teachers leave, the paraprofessionals along with the principal stay (thank you!!), and our “practice teachers” become the real deal!

This 2-day take over is one of our main culminating events that allows our junior level teacher candidates to put into practice all they have learned in their methods classes. They select and write 14 or more age-appropriate lesson plans based on their chosen theme (which can be anything from Construction Workers to Olympics to Dr. Seuss to Detectives), craft a classroom management plan based on their theme, create a welcoming environment according to their theme, and do everything for two days that the “REAL” classroom teachers are expected to do.

Education professors become the supervisors…observing and evaluating each group of practice teachers. This magical two days becomes one of the finest field experiences for our teacher candidates, and it also is the most exhausting—for everyone involved!

Dr. V. supervising the “Construction Crew.” 🙂

Practice makes perfect (when practiced perfectly…otherwise, practice just makes permanent) and perfect gets gold! That’s where we “teacher educators” fit in. We believe our teacher candidates are golden, and we are so very proud of them! Check out a few pictures from our 2-day theme based clinical field experience, and you be the judge. We know you will like what you see! 🙂

Teaching Under Construction


Gold Stars


Guess Who?!


One in a Minion


Achievement: just another ninja skill


Teaching Stars


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

That Is NOT A Good Idea!

Books tell stories—real or fictional. They share their knowledge and wisdom with us as they tell their stories. One children’s book that we want to share with you is That is Not a Good Idea by Mo Willems


You know how the story goes… The sly fox temps the wide-eyed damsel-goose-in-distress. Doesn’t she ever learn? Well, apparently, she actually does learn this go around!

Things aren’t always what they appear to be. The goose and the fox show us that what we expect to happen may not always be the outcome. If you want to know more, you will just have to read the book. 🙂

As we read this and thought more about how it relates to our teacher candidates (because they are always on our minds), we decided that there are many “foxes” out there trying to lead them astray. Here is our take on how to keep our teacher candidates going in the right direction. They do tire of us ol’ profs preaching the rules and high expectations to them over and over and since we love to tell stories… We brainstormed a list of “That is Not a Good Idea” for our teacher candidates or anyone in the professional world really…all of us! Or if you aren’t professional and you just don’t want your goose to get cooked, then read on! We have five “NOT good ideas” to share with you.

1. Avoid Facebook and any social media when having too much fun! Future employers will check you out so be on your best behavior. Posting inappropriate pictures, comments, anything that you do not want your grandma to see is not encouraged. That is NOT a good idea!

2. Avoid interview mayhem! It is interview etiquette faux pas to respond to a classroom management question with a “I’ll get my mom in my classroom to handle discipline problems because she is good at that.” …Unless of course this is a lead-in to a joke. True story…really happened. That is really NOT a good idea!

3. Avoid signing more than one contract for the same school year. Lucky you should you be offered three contracts…that means we did our jobs. 🙂  However, a contract is a legal document binding you to a school district. Signing three contracts could cause alarm, a lawsuit, and a revoked license. That is really, really NOT a good idea!

4. Avoid offensive slang when communicating with parents…especially at conferences. Consider the proper etiquette of euphemisms. Instead of saying “Your kid doesn’t shut up!” try instead “Your child has above average communication skills.” Also, it is important to talk about the correct child to the parents. 🙂 To mistakenly talk to parents about someone else’s child is frowned upon. That is really, really, really NOT a good idea!

5. Avoid toxic teacher lounge talk. Research shows that it only takes seven seconds to become negative. Do not be negative; do not contribute to the verbal vomit, and do not just stand by and say nothing. Always remember that every student is someone’s special “Jackson” or “Warren.” Trash talking in the lounge is not acceptable. That is really, really, really, really NOT a good idea!

A key ingredient is missing in this teacher soup… have common sense and never jump into a pot of boiling water. We told you that is NOT a good idea!

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




How to be Ms. Joy Giver not Mr. Joy Thief

Just last week, I was giving a keynote presentation to an audience of about 100 professors, and the topic was CELEBRATE Success: 9 Easy Tips to Pump up Your People B4 They Deflate You. My husband accompanied me to this conference. He was pleased to hear the compliments that I was receiving from these professors as they passed me by. Many of them thanked me for the uplifting message that I had just delivered. I was humbled by their accolades, and grateful that I had ‘pumped them up’ a little.

That same evening while at a dinner party with many of those same professors, my husband and I quietly sat down at our table of six because a conversation was already in progress and we did not want to interrupt it. After a few minutes of them visiting, the gentleman to my right made this comment, “I thought last year’s keynote was better than this year’s keynote.”

Gulp! I swallowed hard, trying my best to hold back the tears that were starting to sting the corners of my eyes. Of course, when he realized that I was the keynote, he tried to backpedal.

Too late. The damage had already been done.

So much for pumping up people… I was deflated!

I remember listening to a Joyce Meyer DVD and she said we could share a message with 100 people, and 99 of those folks will appreciate our message and will tell us so. But when that one person tells us he/she did not like what we had to share, that is the one comment/person we dwell on. Why do we do that to ourselves?

During dinner, I chose to remain quiet (which is not like me at all) while the gentleman to my right, who had deflated me unintentionally, continued to talk about himself. That is when I made the decision to forgive this guy and not allow him to steal my joy. However, please forgive me if this sounds rude, I was so grateful when it was time to leave.

What is the lesson learned from this little story? We must try our hardest to pump others up and to NOT allow anyone to steal our joy. ~Wendy

Below are 5 ways to arrest those joy thieves in your life so you can pump yourself and others up:

Positive Words: Whoever made up that famous children’s chant Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me had clearly never been stabbed by negative words! Like Hawk Nelson sings in his song, “words can build you up, words can break you down…start a fire in your heart or put it out.” Choose to pump yourself and others up with positive words. Be aware of those people who surround you, and proceed to have a life-giving rather than a life-draining conversation. Start a fire in their hearts!

Realistic Expectations: Unrealistic expectations are quick to disappoint which will zap your joy-filled heart. What happens if you are expecting a diamond necklace from your spouse and you get a can-opener instead? How do you respond if you are expecting a 20- dollar tip from the group you just served, and all they leave you are a few bucks? Ouch to both! Kent Julian mentions in his video that we need to remember events + responses = outcomes. The only thing we can control is HOW we respond to life’s events. Pump yourself and others up by choosing positive responses to realistic expectations.

Sincere Empathy: Lead by example with empathy. You never know what others are going through…until you walk a mile in their shoes. We aren’t recommending that because it could be a smelly situation, but we do recommend one of these days taking a moment to see their perspective and do what is right. If you need to–because we all can’t lead all the time–follow the leader who leads by example and with sincere empathy.

Silver Lining: Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Be your biggest fan. If you do not believe in yourself, who will and why should they? We cannot depend on the accolades of others to make us successful. Sure the nice words can help persuade us, but only we can decide what success is to us. Don’t wait for the silver lining, be the silver lining.

Contagious Smile: Turn that frown upside down and “spread the cheery-cheeries all over the place.” Remember we all smile in the same language. Sometimes a smile will do wonders, and sometimes all you can do is smile and move on. Put a smile on your face and make the world a better place. 🙂

Until next time… smile! 🙂



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

Just Two More Minutes!

Just. Two. More. Minutes. We think it; we say it; we live it…unfortunately. Life is busy and does not pause for us…even if we chant the mantra “Just two more minutes!” We can always use more time to accomplish this and accomplish that…to accomplish “the list.”
The list seems to continuously grow as we try our best to check off items and conquer the list. Maybe it is just one big joke on us to even think we can accomplish everything on our lists. It is the hope of that possibility that keeps us ticking and checking.
As Wendy and I brainstorm our next blog, she shares with me how she was watching a young mother give her undivided attention to her…phone while her toddler desperately tries to get her divided attention. In our world of getting connected, the very “connections” we make cause us to lose connections with those around us. As I am thinking about this, I am looking down at my phone and telling my kindergartener, “Just two more minutes.” I think about this for just a minute longer and realize, I need to look up and give my two minutes now instead of later. My boys—ages (almost) 12, 9, & 6— will be grown up before I know it, and there won’t be a rewind button on life. ~SV


Now that I have truly realized it, what’s next? …and I want to know now and not in two more minutes! Here is our take on staying present.

5 Easy Steps to Remain Present:

1— Put your device to work. Use your calendar and other apps to keep you organized. Set aside specific time(s) during the day that you are connected to your phone or device; otherwise, be connected to people.

2—Put your device down and get connected. Be with those around you in real time when possible. Whether you are a teacher in the classroom, a parent in the kitchen, or a colleague at your desk, talk to someone instead of typing to someone.

3—Walk with your head held high. Smile and greet others as you pass by them whether at school or the store or on your way to work. Take in the environment that surrounds your real person and not your avatar.

4—Get some vitamin N to renew. What is vitamin N? It is nature. Go outside and get connected with Mother Nature, not your phone. Take time to breathe, relax, and be present. Grab a friend and go for a walk and talk.

5—Physical contact is important. Your phone does not give the best hugs so aim to keep them between you and your family and friends. Siri is great, but she just doesn’t have the personality of your loved ones.

We’d write more, but we just don’t have two more minutes for the computer right now. 🙂

Take time to be in the present. After all, the present is a gift. Let your presence be your present to others.


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


Top 10 Teacher Traits by Our Top Teacher Candidates

Blog ED Majors

SMSU Teacher Candidates are EDU Rock Stars.  We get to know our students from the time they arrive on campus in the fall of their freshman year until that final year they make their way across the stage to accept their diploma. Wow!! What a difference in maturity level as these young teacher candidates travel through their teacher prep program. It is inspiring to see their growth—both personally and professionally.

During their freshman year, our education majors are required to take an Introduction to Education course. At the beginning of this course, they are asked to list the top ten teacher traits they believe are the most significant traits to own as a teacher. These freshmen base their answers on those teachers they just left behind in high school or from their elementary days.

Now that these same students are currently teacher candidates and juniors here at SMSU, and have hopefully gleaned a thing or two from us wise ol’ profs, we posed this same question to some of them. Their answers demonstrate to us that they have indeed grown both personally and professionally since that day way back in Intro to Ed. This makes our hearts burst with joy!

Like David Letterman shares his top ten on the Late Show, below we share with you our top ten teacher traits by our top teacher candidates:

10. Prepared – Our teacher candidates are taught over and over and over again that if they fail to plan they plan to fail! In his book, Teach Like A Champion, Doug Lemov wrote “champion teachers excel at planning.”

9. defines compassion as “a feeling of sympathy to alleviate suffering.” This verifies what we tell our teacher candidates—“Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” ~Anonymous

8. Creative – Being creative is one of the four C’s in the 21st Century Learning Skills. Not only is it imperative for our teacher candidates to be creative but the ability to teach their students to be creative is also a big deal.

7. Flexible – Snow days, field placement changes, and even an unexpected broken leg are all reasons our future teachers are learning to be flexible. Curve balls are thrown at them all the time so as they learn to be flexible, they learn to bend without breaking. No pun intended!

6. Patient – Patience is a choice, and because we are professionals, we are expected to make smart choices at all times. When issues cause us frustration, irritation, or pain, we must remind ourselves that we have the choice to stay calm and be patient. The top teacher candidates are perfecting their skill of being patient with students and each other.

5. Respectful – If we give respect, we get respect. Respecting others is a key ingredient when building rapport with students. We have respected our top teacher candidates thoughts and opinions and in return they have respected ours.

4. Leadership – Future teachers must be leaders in their classrooms. Becoming reflective practitioners to self-assess their teaching, influencing their students by the instructional techniques they choose, and completing action research projects are just a few ways our top teacher candidates learn to lead.

3. Organized – “Organization is the key to effectiveness” states Harry Wong in his book First Days of School. Organization is important whether teachers are novice teachers or seasoned teachers. Our teacher candidates learn the importance of organization during the many hours of field experiences they are required to finish along with their rigorous junior methods year.

2. Passionate – We can all agree that passion is contagious. Passion will make lessons more engaging which will elevate student achievement. In his book, Teach Like a PIRATE, Dave Burgess writes that ‘passion is like an intoxicating drug but without the dangers and side effects. Once you get the taste of it, you’ll always want to come back for more.”

Drum roll please—The number one teacher trait that our teacher candidates believe to be the most significant is…

1. Communication – In this era of emailing, texting, Instagram, and Snapchat, we were delighted to read that our teacher candidates still believe in communication and its importance. Communication is one of the substantial 21st Century Learning Skills so we are pleased that they chose this as their number one trait.

Hang on for the time of your life, future teachers. Teaching is THE best profession on Earth! Commit each school day to your students. After all, those children are the reason you are there. Without them, you wouldn’t have a job. Apply your top ten teacher traits in a positive manner and you will become a top-notch teacher! We wish you all the best!!

Blog SMSU ED Majors

Stay Calm & Be Top Notch!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.