Monthly Archives: February 2016

Get on the edTPA Bus, Gus

edTPA blog

Teacher preparation programs across the states have adopted a performance based approach to licensure called the Education Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). This approach compliments assessments that are already in place at many universities in many different states.

What is the edTPA? Maybe our bantering back and forth with each other via text messages will help explain it a little bit. (Think of this as a Poem For Two Voices…).

edTPA – Go!

Is confusing…

edTPA was developed at Stanford. Pretty sure red is their school color.

Yes, and I see RED every time I hear edTPA.

It embodies good teaching.

Too much narrative!

Writing it out is better than picking a letter on a multiple choice test.

Not realistic…

edTPA is research based.

Developed by researchers who have never taught??

Can it be shortened?

The real McCoy? No, because it is aligned with the InTASC standards and other important stuff – like good teaching.

What does it teach about teaching?

I like that teacher candidates focus on Task 3 – Assessment.  Feedback is important.

By the time our teacher candidates get to Task 3 they are out of motivation & shut down.

What r u talking about? I lost focus…

Funny lady! 🙂

 AGREE! Task 3 is important!

edTPA scorers have no personal connection with our teacher candidates.

It is scored by qualified and trained teachers. Experts in their field. It still allows room for subjectivity and human error, however.

AGREE! edTPA is subjective.

Did I tell u my oldest played on an AAU team with a brother of one of the Stanford players?

Fun! Did it improve his game? How does edTPA improve our teacher candidates’ game?

Ups their game in planning instruction. Ups their game learning how to differentiate for diverse learners. Ups their Academic Language. Ups their self-reflection by recording themselves.

Watching yourself teach is scary, but…

AGREE! Video recording allows teacher candidates to self-reflect on their teaching.

So for now, get on the edTPA bus, Gus. Make a new plan, Stan. Don’t need to be coy, Roy. Do the edTPA.

Slip out the back, Jack. Drop off the key, Lee. Just get yourself free…free of the edTPA. 🙂

Well, since it is required in MN for program review, you had better just get on the bus – but feel free to protest while in line at the bus stop. 😉

AGREE to disagree?  Absolutely – as long as we make the edTPA fit our teacher candidates, not the other way around. As long as we mold it to our teacher candidates’ learning needs.

For more information about the edTPA, please visit

Blog TPA

edTPA via Live Text, Inc.

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

Fight? Flight? Nope…Frozen With Fright?

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Do you remember the documentary “Scared Straight?” The show that took kids inside a prison to talk with the inmates there? Scared me half to death, and I was an adult when I saw it.

Well…I was ‘scared straight’ a few weeks ago. My hubby and I were traveling to a doctor appointment in a near-by city, and we stopped at the first rest area that we came to while on our way there.

My husband stayed in our vehicle while I went to use the restroom. I entered the rest area and inside to my left was a young man I would guess to be in his late 20s. I have to confess…I immediately got an uneasy feeling and judged him by his looks. Actually by his hair.

I said good morning to him and he responded good morning back as he scrubbed the front window of the rest area; which made me assume he was a worker there. I can’t lie. I was extremely uncomfortable about this and touched my coat pockets. At that moment I realized I didn’t have my cell phone on me.

If my phone would have been in one of my pockets, I would have gotten it out and sent a quick text message to my husband asking him to come into the building and wait for me there.

“STOP IT,” I thought to myself.

“Stop judging and just go use the restroom.”

So, in spite of those little nudges, and in spite of just the worker and me being in that building, I entered the ‘WOMEN’S’ bathroom and did what I had stopped to do.

While I was still in my stall, I heard the door of the restroom open. Again, I confess that I became troubled and thought “please let that be another woman who just came in here!”

I can’t deny it…I got SCARED! I had no idea who was in there?

I flushed and walked out. When I rounded the corner that separated the stalls from the sinks, there stood the young man between me and the door; the only way out of that bathroom.

Fight or flight did NOT kick in. When I saw him standing there, I sucked in my breath and held it…

And literally froze.

Froze with my eyes on him at all times. He was standing between me and the door; his body facing me but his head turned looking at the sinks on his left. What seemed like forever but was probably only a few seconds, he slowly rotated his head and briefly looked at me.

Then turned and walked out the door.


Dazed, I ran my hands under the water before my senses returned. That is when flight kicked in, and I scooted out of that bathroom so fast, and walked 80 miles an hour to our vehicle where my husband was oblivious to what had just happened.



More tears.

What just happened? What was that, Lord? What was that kid thinking? Doing? WHAT was that???

I did report the incident to the DOT in that state. The person I talked with said it was not okay for a man to enter into the women’s bathroom when that man CLEARLY knew I was in there. Um, no kidding.

I have always had a strong faith. This incident has strengthened it even more. I didn’t pray for protection that morning, but obviously I was wrapped in it. Jesus was in that rest area with me that day. He truly is with us, wherever we go! I believe it!

Nothing happened to me that morning. Thank you, Jesus! Thank you!!

I don’t know what that young man’s intentions were. Maybe he is mentally ill? Maybe he wasn’t a worker after all? I don’t know. I do know it terrified me. He clearly knew I was in that bathroom, and yet he did not use the normal que of “anyone in here?” He should NOT have entered that restroom.

Ladies…keep your head on a swivel. Be on the alert. Be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you get that uneasy feeling, pay attention to it! And, have your cell phone close by.

You can guarantee that the next time I get that uneasy feeling, I will act on it. I will always take my phone with me into uncharted territories. AND, my husband will always, ALWAYS accompany me into a rest area!

Blog Fight Flight Blog

Keep calm and stay safe, ladies!

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

Mardi Gras, 40 Days, and Rejuvenate


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So hopefully this post finds you full up to the rim from Mardi Gras and the Chinese New Year – days filled with carnival fun and feasting. Don’t know what we are talking about? Sorry – then that means that with your busy life’s schedule, you missed celebrating the Chinese New Year and Mardi Gras, which is “Fat Tuesday” in French; it is a day to celebrate and feast away before the fasting of the Lenten days to follow.

Whether you recognize Lent in your spiritual life or not – or whether you celebrate the Chinese New Year or not – these days provide a time to reflect on yourself and life … and how we can change for the better. In a way, it is like a do-over for your New Year’s resolutions. Do you remember what your 2016 New Year’s resolutions were? If not, time to reset.

A few things to consider:

Give up chocolate. Okay – maybe that sounds extreme, but it grabbed your attention, right? How about making a concerted effort to make healthy food decisions. After all – it isn’t so much the choices as it is the actual decisions about food that we make. It is fuel – and although it can be pleasure-filled, that should be less often than more.

Be one with a rubberband. Again – just trying to get your attention… do stretch and build your strength, however. Only you can make the decision to do this with your busy schedule. We may not be as flexible as we once were but with all the wisdom in our heads now, we know we need to stretch.

Sleeping Beauty is on to something. She is simply beautiful with all that rest, isn’t she? We need to sleep more than we do. It is true for most of us. Whether it is a 20-minute cat-nap or a health dose of 8-hours, get your Zzzzzzs.

Just be. Take time to reflect and breathe, and just be. We don’t have to be in motion every single minute of every single day to be productive and successful. It is actually quite the opposite if we want to be effective and efficient in our lives – meditate and reflect.

Recently, Wendy heard a presenter at the Minnesota Elementary School Principal’s Association (MESPA) give a mini TED Talk titled “Feed the Teachers so They Don’t Eat the Kids.” Five food groups that this principal felt were needed so teachers don’t eat the kids are: 1) Love; 2) Information that is delicious and nutritious; 3) Freedom; 4) Fun because people will rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing and; 5) Food.

This is for all of us. Take care of us – before we can truly take care of others. Just the flight attendants who tell us to put the oxygen max on ourselves first and then help our family and neighbors, which sounds completely cruel but makes sense because if we pass out in the process, we can’t help anyway.

Taking our own advice… Or at least we are trying. 🙂

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

Snow Day Flurries: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!


Snow Day…that welcomed day off that teachers and students LOVE to have, and yet…hate to have because they know they will have to make it up sometime during the school year. Usually on a day that was supposed to be a planned day off…not an unexpected day off.

The Midwest was smacked by a blizzard yesterday. This blizzard whacked SE South Dakota with about 18 inches of snow and beat up SW Minnesota with around six inches of snow. The weatherman warned us…sent out the ‘blizzard warning’ alarm the day before the 40 mile an hour winds and snow were to hit. Thanks for the heads up, Mr. Weatherman!

Schools were canceled the evening before in anticipation of the storm. The blizzard arrived with a vengeance, but not until about 11:30 a.m. Guess what happened? Social media blew up with complaints.

Complaints? What complaints you wonder? Read on…

“They called off school too early.”

“They should have at least had school until noon so it could be counted as a day and wouldn’t need to be made up.”

One teacher posted on her Facebook page before the storm hit, “There is NOTHING! I can’t believe no one even tried to get a couple of hours in to count it as a day. Dumb!”

Wow! That’s all that came to my mind as I read the posts until…a post on Facebook from a business. My thoughts after reading the first two sentences of their post was: “NO, not them too.” However, as I read further, I realized this business wasn’t complaining. Nope, they actually posted what I was thinking…

“Dear schools:

You could’ve started classes today at 8:15.

You could’ve called your staff in because the snow wasn’t supposed to hit until mid to late morning.

You could’ve filled the kids with a hot lunch and then sent them home before it got too bad outside.

You could’ve.

But, you didn’t.


You put the safety of our kids, our teachers, our paras, our bus drivers, our school personnel first. Yes indeed, you put others first!

You did this in spite of knowing that people would be complaining and bashing you on social media because they thought you jumped the gun.

Well, we just want you to know that we appreciate the choice you made!

We just want to say thank you for showing us how important all those people who fill your hallways really are to you.”

For some reason yesterday’s blizzard and all the Facebook posts made me think of a book I read years back titled The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin. It is a riveting documentary of the disastrous blizzard of 1888 written in novel format. This book describes an unexpected blizzard that smashed the Midwest by surprise, and sadly took the lives of many children who got caught in the blizzard as they walked home from school. It had been a mild January day, unaware of the sudden blizzard that was to sucker punch the prairie. Kind of like our blizzard yesterday…only we had plenty of warning, thank you very much.

A snow day is always a fun day. I’m sure your Facebook feed is filled with pictures of children and adults playing in the snow the day after the storm. I know mine is. Thanks to all for sharing those fun pictures by the way.

All I ask…please, PLEASE be mindful of the tough decision that has to be made on whether to close school or keep school in session. Also remember…it isn’t about OUR wants! The decision is ALWAYS about what is in the best interest of the students! Always!

Hope you ALL enjoyed the snow day, and hope you ALL stayed safe.


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