Monthly Archives: March 2016

Twitter Ya at ASCD


Did you hear the news?  We are excited to see you at the ASCD conference in Atlanta, Georgia this week.  Wait!  You aren’t going?  There is still time!  So maybe we are optimistic to a fault… If you can’t join us in person, join us on Twitter.

Our session, #1257 is titled “Oh, The People You’ll Meet If Only You’ll Tweet” and we present on Saturday, April 2 at 1:00 p.m. in GWCC, Building B, Level 3, Room B310. Wow…if you see two people wandering around who happen to be wearing SMSU gear, please help us find our room. 🙂

Following the right folks on Twitter can help us become better leaders because of the dynamic ideas shared there. Our session will show you who to follow, and how to use social media tools to your professional development advantage. Some awesome folks that we have met are Dave Burgess, Todd and Beth Whitaker, Rick Wormeli, Peter DeWitt, George Couros, and others thanks to Twitter.

Our goal is to share resources and connect people. And the most exciting news is that someone Wendy adores on Twitter is going to be at ASCD. We are hopeful that we will meet her there. Maybe she will stop by our session so we can give her a hug…and we can because we are friends on Twitter.

See you in Georgia!

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

7 Educational Moisturizers to Apply Liberally

Blog cetaphil

When I get ready for bed at night, I complete the same routine that I have been doing for almost 30 years. I wash my face with Cetaphil Soap® (which has been recommended by my dermatologist by the way), then rinse my face at least 10 times with the coldest tap water possible, and finally dowse my face with Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream®. And that cream goes on LIBERALLY! Lots and lots and lots and lots of cream (take that, you bad boy crow’s feet). 🙂

The other night as I was rubbing in that glob of moisturizer, I thought of how applying certain character traits liberally to the education world might help us be better educators. I thought to myself…

Hmmm, what in education do we need to apply liberally?? Lots and lots and lots of?

Well, the best way to find this out was to send out a text message to my educator friends, right? So I sent this message to my peeps:

“Fill in the blank, please.  Just like we apply moisturizer liberally, we must apply ___________ liberally in education.”

Here are the first seven responses I got in the order I received them (thanks to all of you for texting me back right away…especially the male in the group ‘cause I’m positive you lather up every night with moisturizing cream HA! 🙂 ).  This list is by no means complete. Please add YOUR educational moisturizers in the comments below. Can’t wait to read them.

Collaboration:  This is certainly part of my leadership philosophy. When I was an elementary principal years ago, I actually had a kindergarten teacher tell me he didn’t like my collaborative style. He just wanted me to make all the decisions. All I’ve got to say about that is…WOW. Things that make you go hmm???

Passion:  Dave Burgess would agree with this one. Passion is what drives us. If we do not have passion for what we do, it will seem like a chore to do it. I love teaching. My first year as an elementary teacher I made the comment “I can’t believe we get paid for this.” Oh, yes indeed, the negotiating team was a smidgen upset with me that year, but I still have that love today, 29 years later. Yes, I know why we get paid for what we do. I just keep up the passion. Our teacher candidates need to witness it. Our young people need to experience it! Through our passion we remain positive.

Caring: More than one of my educator peeps texted this word back to me. One said a caring attitude and a caring environment. Yes…the teacher candidates in my ED 423 Classroom Management Course have to write out their classroom management philosophy. One criterion they need to address is how to create a positive learning community. Caring is the main word used in their papers. Smile, greet your students at the door, and attend their activities outside of the four walls of your classroom are just a few ways to show you care. “Kids don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” ~Unknown

Common Sense: More than one educator friend texted back common sense. Sadly, I believe this is a lost art. Common sense just isn’t so common anymore. I saw one sign on Pinterest that made me giggle in a gloomy kind of way. It said “Common sense is so rare these days, it should be classified as a super power.” Actually, if you go to, you will find many quotes there about common sense. Some are humorous, and some just make me blue and shake my head in disbelief. Impress your students with your super powers, teacher candidates. Hone in on your common sense!

Wisdom: When I think of wisdom, I think of life experiences. We certainly get wiser as we get older. I wouldn’t trade this wisdom for my youth (but I sure hope all this moisturizer I use takes care of these wrinkles 😉 )! May I add a little biblical truth here, please? The book of Proverbs states that wisdom is WAY better than gold. Wisdom is a hidden treasure. Through wisdom a house is built. Search for wisdom. And, if we lack wisdom, we are in trouble. Gain wisdom, educators!

Compassion: At my very first job interview, the elementary principal asked me “Can you put yourself in someone else’s shoes?” The answer he was looking for was empathy. For compassion. We have NO IDEA what another person is going through. Students may come to school with baggage we have no clue how to unpack. Colleagues may have issues that are unknown to us. Coaches may have experiences at practices that we are blind to. Have compassion on others! Compassion is kindness, empathy, and forgiveness all wrapped up into one beautiful gift. Educators must radiate compassion!

Optimism:  Some days it feels like the educational world is a lion out to devour us. The wind and sun drying out our drive. We may feel defeated. We may throw the white flag of surrender. Standards. Budget constraints. Technology changes. Department of Education expectations. It can be grim trying to keep up. Do NOT let life get you down. Choose to be optimistic. And remember, the best is yet to come.

Slather on these seven educational moisturizers daily, and I’ll guarantee that our educational wrinkles will become a little bit smoother. They won’t disappear, but they won’t be as deep either.

blog superhero (I couldn’t resist. My grandson LOVES super heroes). 🙂

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

Teacher Candidate Job Interview Prep

Blog Teacher Prep

At the @smsuemsp (Education Minnesota Student Program) meeting yesterday, the EMSP officers decided to share a little teacher candidate interview preparation with the members. HILARIOUS beginning. 😉

Several of the officers and officer-elects modeled a variety of teaching outfits, and the audience had to decide if the outfit was professional and appropriate for wearing in the classroom. Well, take a look at the picture above…what do YOU think??? 🙂

Professional Dress! Yoga pants, flip flops, blue jeans, drink t-shirts, gum chewing, cell phones, open skirts, sleeveless shirts, tattoos, khakis, suit jackets, department name tags, and lovely accessories were modeled for the audience. Right or wrong???

Once the fashion show was over, each model stepped forward and the audience was asked to share their thoughts on WHY they believed the outfit was okay or not okay to wear while teaching in their future classrooms. GREAT conversations arose from this activity!

The main message…if you want to be treated like a professional then you ought to dress like a professional. What do YOU think??? Please enlighten us with your thoughts to this in the comments below.

One Page verses Two Page Resume! Every principal is different on his/her opinion for a one page verses two page resume. Some personally want to see what the teacher candidate has accomplished. Each resume page will be carefully combed through. Others won’t read beyond page one. Yet others say one page, front and back, unless the teacher candidate has a wealth of knowledge or experiences to add.

Teacher candidates, we say do what you believe will showcase you in the best way possible. If the principal chooses not to look at the completed resume, you have no control over that. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Interview Questions! Preparing for interview questions is a tough job. Teacher candidates have no idea what will be asked. What one principal believes is important; another may have a different opinion on, and that is okay.

Wendy sent out a Tweet asking principals what they believe are important interview questions for teacher candidates to be aware of. Below are the responses she received back:

Interview Questions via Twitter Principals:

Describe an example of adversity in life that you’ve overcome.

How do you create an atmosphere of relevant and real world learning?

Most important be genuine, passionate & enthusiastic.

Technology as part of learning…integration.

Collaboration, differentiate, discipline, experience.

Be able to talk first week about culture (climate) building

What is collaboration to you? What do teams need to be successful?

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing teachers today?

Define professionalism and what it means to you.

What book are you currently reading to show you are growing as a professional?

What is something you would not compromise on?

What distinguishes you from others?

Tell me about a lesson you taught that you could sell tickets to! My favorite question for sure!

If you show up to school and your lesson plans are gone and you have a Banana, Apple, and kiwi…what do teach?

The power of story! Whenever you can answer a question with a story, do it! Don’t just give facts or buzz words.

How will you help to make us a better school?

How would you allow students to solve a real problem?

How do you incorporate student voice and choice in the classroom?

Student data and how it drives instruction.

Guided reading, differentiation, student engagement, and behavior management questions.

How will you meet the needs of diverse learners in your classroom?

Thanks to all the principals who responded. Appreciate your input!!!!!  And our teacher candidates REALLY appreciate your input.

One principal, @moritzwendy, sent us the following link to many great interview questions. Thanks to @blankenship_s for sharing all these great interview questions! Check out his blog, teacher candidates! Practice up…

Teacher candidates…we wish you all the best as you pursue that future teaching position. Minnesota has a teacher shortage going on right now so do great things and be guaranteed a job. Work hard. Go above and beyond. Be fabulous in your student teaching. We believe in you. Get that job! Make us prouder of you than we already are! Good luck to all of you!!

Blog teacher prep2

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

Once a Pirate, Always a Pirate


BLOG pirate DB 1

Beg, borrow, and steal. That’s what teachers and pirates have in common. That…and a whole lot more.

We had the privilege of joining an elite pirate crew on Monday, March 7th, 2016 at the Pipestone Area Schools in Pipestone, MN. Which crew? Well, Dave Burgess’ crew – that’s who!

While Dr. Wendy has been a full-fledged member of the pirate crew for quite some time with multiple Dave dialogues, Dave skype sessions with her social studies methods classes, live Dave Twitter chats, attendance at Dave’s speaking engagements, and even a guest author in the P is for Pirate book written by Dave and Shelley Burgess, I have just recently jumped aboard the ship.

So what are some of my takeaways from the Pirate’s presentation? Hmmm… here are my top 7 that you may have witnessed while I was tweeting about it from my Twitter account, @drvteacher, while attending Pirate Dave’s workshop:

7.  Content passion may need our personal passion for life to kick it up a notch. If I am not crazy about the content in today’s lesson, then I need to find a way to dig deeper for my learners. How can I connect the lesson to my life? Learners want to connect with their teachers and know they are authentic and real-life.

6.  Collaboration is about making us all better. It isn’t about making us all the same. Thank goodness. Only each of us is truly a natural at being ourselves.

5.  Stop being boring – teach like a pirate! We all need some excitement in our lives. Why not bring excitement into your own classroom?

4.  It’s not necessarily going to be easy. It needs to be worth it. Hopefully by now you have realized that teaching is not about having summers off… we’ve heard that rumor once or twice before.

3.  Turn failure into feedback. Make your classroom, your office, your workspace, your home places where you and others can give something a try and maybe not succeed. Just learn from it and move on.

2. Don’t just teach a lesson. Create an experience. Nike’s “just do it” tagline is not for your classroom. Learning could be and should be so much more than checking something off the list.

1. We are in the life-changing business. Raising human potential. Sometimes it’s not what you do, but how you do it.

Teach Like a Pirate is a good place to start to glean more powerful teaching ideas. Dave authored this book to increase student engagement, boost your creativity, and transform your life as an educator. Check out his book – or any of his published works. This is good stuff.

I am excited to join this crew and pretty sure that I will not be jumping ship or walking the plank. Beg, borrow, and steal all the great treasures that Pirate Dave has to offer and share them with your mates.

Warning though – pirating is contagious and once you are bitten by the Pirate bug, there is no turning back…Once a pirate, always a pirate. 🙂

BLOG pirate DB 2

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

Enablers, Deniers, and More – Oh My!

BLOG apple tree.png
You’ve heard the saying, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” It is a true statement. After all, have you ever seen a tree fall across the yard from a tree –without a tornado moving it? Probably not – but we would love to hear your stories if have so feel free to comment. 🙂

Recently, our Provost shared a book with the School of Education faculty. What book are you wondering? Really? Apples don’t fall far from the tree. Understanding the behavior of parents and students by Bea Lewis. It is a great, quick read that we recommend; we also recommend not walking too fast if you are “reading and walking” at the noon hour. Right, Dr. Wendy? 😉

Right, Dr. V. It only took me an hour of walking around and around the IL ‘square,’ but I got the book read. The gal who was eating her lunch in IL 214 might have thought I was a bit crazy as I walked in circles and would laugh out loud as I read the author’s stories. (Actually a lot of us think that from time to time, and still think you are brilliant so no worries there! 🙂 People thought the same thing about Albert Einstein, you know?! Sorry – continue on…) Some of those stories made me feel like I was back teaching elementary school. And, many of Bea’s stories made me shake my head in agreeance. The book is great. Be ready for some laughs as this real-life story unfolds.

The author, who was a teacher, middle school administrator, turned Hearing Officer, mentions in Chapter 1 four different types of parents that she dealt with during her educational tenure: 1). Enablers, 2). Deniers, 3). Angry Battlers, and 4). The Perfect Storm.

Lewis also goes on and shares with us in Chapter 2 four different kinds of students she came across during her career: 1). Explainers, 2). Enabled, 3). Blamers, and 4). I Don’t Even Know I Need to be Saved.

Finally, in Chapter 3, Bea Lewis gives us educators a glimpse at the four different varieties of teachers, yes teachers, that she put up with in her 36 years of being an educator: 1). Book Sayers, 2). Gotchas, 3). Not Me, and 4). I Don’t Even Like Children (a.k.a. Serial Dream Killers).

A few earmarked pages from Chapter 3 that had mind-provoking statements on them were page 28 where it stated, “I took off the rose-colored glasses and faced the reality that not everyone in the school did was in the best interest of the kids. That was a very sad truth, but a truth nonetheless.”

Then on page 31 she shares what a friend had said to her years ago, “The police ought to be at the teacher’s credit union on payday to arrest some teachers for stealing money they have not earned.”

Lastly, on page 36 Lewis gives some classroom management advice, “Managing student behavior is like playing a baseball game. You’re not going to hit a homerun every time you’re at bat. Sometimes you strike out.”

Parents, students, teachers…thank goodness 90% of them are awesome. The other 10%, well…

We used to tell our students’ parents at conferences – “I’ll only believe half of what your child tells us about your home life, if you believe only half of what your child says about school life.” And believe us when we say, we’ve heard some unbelievable stories over the years about families and what goes on in their homes.

We hope we’ve sparked your interest to read the book. Thank you to our Provost for the gift!

BLOG apple tree 2

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