Monthly Archives: November 2018

Giving Thanks for the SMSU 2-Day, Theme Based Elementary Clinical 2018

Blog Clinical Group 2018

That’s a wrap, folks, for this year’s production of the 2018 SMSU 2-Day Elementary Clinical. It was a BIG hit!!! Each year, the SMSU teacher candidates have the opportunity to team teach for two full days and be in complete charge of a classroom. The classroom mentor teacher is close by, however, our teacher candidates do ALL the teaching. Everything from reading to math to social studies to gym and music. They get a lunch break and that is about it. They do have each other, however, which settles down some nerves.

This 2-day, theme based clinical is an experience of a life time. And it is one they will never forget. It is a lot of work for them, but, let’s face it, teaching is a lot of work.

One teacher candidate was overheard saying his feet were killing him. Another teacher candidate was overheard saying she hadn’t been to the bathroom all day. One teacher candidate said directly to me that she was exhausted…and it wasn’t the end of the first day yet. Yes indeed, teacher candidates, these are all realities of teaching.

I asked if a few teacher candidates would describe their clinical experience using the format of the children’s book called The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. Each thing this author describes in her book follows a pattern. It begins with “The important thing about __________ is __________.” Two or three more description sentences are added and then is ended with “But, the important thing about __________ is ___________.” The same exact sentence as the first.

Blog Clinical Important Book

Below are a few of my teacher candidate’s thoughts on “The important thing about clinical was______________.” Enjoy. 🙂

Alexis Streich, Elementary Education Major with a minor in SPED shared the following:

“The important thing about clinical was realizing that students inspire teachers just as much as teachers inspire their students.

Clinical was time consuming, challenging, thought-provoking, tiring, and inspiring. It was full of trial and error, can you help me tie my shoes, muffled giggles of students who should be working quietly, and too many cups of coffee to count.

But, the important thing about clinical was realizing that students inspire teachers just as much as teachers inspire their students.”

Maizie Schacherer, Early Childhood Education Major, shared the following:

“The important thing about clinical was having the opportunity to experience two full days in the life of a teacher.

It is a rewarding experience, it provides new learning for both the students and teacher candidates, it provides an opportunity for growth, it builds a foundation for teaching, and it provided us with the opportunity to better ourselves as future educators.

But, the important thing about clinical was having the opportunity to experience two full days in the life of a teacher.”

Emily Augustin, Early Childhood/Elementary Education Major; Megan Hacker, Early Childhood Education Major; Amber Tietz, Early Childhood Education Major shared the following:

“The important thing about clinical was this gave us the opportunity to truly be the teachers and prepare for our future classroom.

Clinical was the most overwhelming, stressful, and nerve-racking experience we have ever been a part of. However, it was also the most enlightening, informative, and educational process a future educator can go through. It gave us the tools and resources needed for a classroom and the chaotic times which come with it. On our first day, we had to have gym in our classroom which we were not prepared for at all, but teaching is all about rolling with the punches and dealing with anything that might come a teacher’s way. Even though clinical was easily the most stressful part of our educational career at SMSU, it was, without trouble, the most rewarding adventure.

But, the important thing about clinic was this gave us the opportunity to truly be the teachers and prepare for our future classroom.”

Congrats to all of you, teacher candidates. We are proud of the outstanding educators you are becoming. We give thanks for you…and we give thanks for this clinical experience! 🙂 Enjoy your much deserved break!!

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Stay calm and Rest…

Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Make Your Little Corner of the World a Better Place for the People You Serve

Blog rhonda smile

“Something I tell my teacher candidates all the time is that we all get the same 24 hours in a day and days in a year, so I encourage you to use your time the best you can and hopefully to make your little corner of the world a better place for the people you serve around you.” ~Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter

My colleague/friend and I just returned from the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) Conference that was held at Cragun’s Resort near Brainerd, MN. I serve on the board for MREA representing Higher Education. In addition to Higher Education, others who attend this conference are teachers, principals, superintendents, school board members, curriculum coordinators, counselors, and many others. It is a fabulous conference with much learning. If you live in MN and your school is a member of MREA, we highly recommend this conference to you!

MREA includes an Awards Banquet during this yearly conference. Schools are nominated for the Profile of Excellence Award. These schools are selected based on programs that are innovative, benefit students, have collaboration efforts, and are adaptable for other schools to replicate.

Teachers are nominated for the Educators of Excellence Award. The criteria for these teachers are those who have a positive impact on students and student achievement, are a leader in their school and district and community, have an innovative and creative teaching practice that impacts all students, and who collaborate with colleagues, parents, families, and the community.

One last award that MREA offers is the Distinguished Service Award.  MREA asks that these leaders demonstrate one or more of the criteria listed on their website. While I was reading through these criteria, the first person who popped into my head was my colleague and friend, Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter because she doesn’t meet just one criterion, she meets them all. So of course, I nominated her.

Rhonda was chosen to receive this award. ❤

Being an MREA board member, I was offered the privilege of introducing her at the awards banquet. Of course I said yes. I was a nervous wreck getting up in front of 300 plus people, but I survived it. Below is an excerpt from my introduction to give you just a glimpse of who Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter is:

Rhonda is a person who I have come to trust and appreciate and love. She has many diverse experiences and has achieved so much in her life. I’d like to share just a glimpse of who Dr. Rhonda Bonnstetter is and how she got to where she is today.
Rhonda is the mom of 4 children…three daughters and one son. Her son happens to be here tonight with us. Thank you Josh for being here to support your mom.  
In addition to her 4 children, Rhonda and her late husband Jeff were foster parents to numerous children. She shared with me that she lost count after 40. 😀
Rhonda began her career as a paraprofessional as a young mom.
With encouragement from two teachers, Dr. Bonnstetter decided to attend college to become a math teacher.
**She taught high school math at Murray County Central for nine years.
**Rhonda continued on by earning her Master’s Degree in Math Education and then her Educational Doctorate degree in Curriculum and Instruction.
**She then joined us at SMSU as a faculty member in the School of Education in 2005. Four short years later Rhonda was voted in as our Department Chair and held this position from 2009 until 2014.
Among her recent accomplishments was her visioning to create and gain legislative approval for a para-to-SPED teacher program as a non-traditional pathway for mid-career individuals to join the profession.
Rhonda has held a variety of local and state leadership positions to advocate on behalf of Minnesota teachers. She served on the MREA board for 8 years and also served as president. Rhonda is the president elect for MACTE and she has worked closely with PELSB.  
Rhonda began phased retirement this school year however…I know she’s not done yet.
How do I know this? Well…because Rhonda is an “and then some” kind of girl. She does what is required, and then some. She has written a textbook for her Technology class. She has co-authored a textbook with myself and other SMSU professors. She teaches math at Marshall High School during the summer. She plans and presents math workshops through the SW/WC Coop.  She watches her 12 grandchildren to help out her adult children. She has done all of this ‘and then some.’  As Fred Nolan has said about Rhonda, “She is like the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps going and going.”
I’m grateful for Rhonda and her commitment to the teaching profession. She is truly making a difference in the lives of every student she works with…

Readers, if you’d like to watch the awards presentation check it out on YouTube. The video is the whole banquet so skip ahead to 1 hour and 47 minutes to watch Rhonda’s award. Thank you to MREA for Live Streaming it. (Click on the MREA pic below to watch).

Blog Rhonda Awards BanquetOne funny story from the day after the awards banquet. A gentleman approached Rhonda to shake her hand and congratulate her. He smiled and said to Rhonda, “After all those experiences that were mentioned in your introduction, I thought for sure an old lady would walk on the stage. And then I saw you…you are young.” 😀

Rhonda, if you are reading this, we just want to say congratulations again! You are so deserving. As your Granddaughter Abriel Bonnstetter has been known to say… “Grandma, you’re kind of a big deal.” We couldn’t agree with her more. 🙂

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Stay Calm and Make Your World a Better Place,

Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.