This is a guest blog post written by McKenzie Deprez who is the SMSU EMAE President. McKenzie along with other EMAE officers and members attended MEA held on Thursday, October 17, 2019 in St. Paul, MN…
Hello all…my name is McKenzie Deprez I am from Westbrook, MN, and I am currently a Senior at Southwest Minnesota State University. I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Elementary Education with Minors in Special Education and Teaching English as a Second Language. I plan on walking at graduation in the Spring of 2020, and will student teach in the Fall of 2020. Along with these academic goals, I am also active in Education Minnesota. I am currently the Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators (formerly Education Minnesota Student Program) President on the SMSU campus and the Secretary at the state level. I am excited to see where the road takes me after SMSU.
Broken Bus and Lyft Arrival
The morning of October 17th was crisp, cool and dark when the early birds woke up to be on a charter bus at 4:15 in the morning. There was excitement built in all eight Aspiring Educators to see how this year’s Minnesota Educator Academy Conference would go. The crew made it all the way up to Exit 10A in the cities.
Yep, you read that right … Exit 10A, on the side of Highway 212. I decided to all of a sudden wake up at the crack of dawn, 6:58 AM, and popped my head up just in time to see our mini-charter bus smoking from the engine. Our driver swiftly climbed out of the bus and opened the hood. The smell rapidly filled the bus and woke the rest of the Aspiring Educators.
We anxiously waited with our donuts and juice to hear the verdict of our transportation situation. We were told in order to be on time to the conference we should call an Uber. Being the Aspiring Educators we are, we decided that Lyft would be the better option. When requesting for the Lyft, Jacey Hanssen stated … “Bus broke down on the side of the road.” Our rides quickly arrived to our rescue on the side of Highway 212, and proceeded to take us to the St. Paul RiverCentre. Even before getting to the conference, we all learned that it is important to be flexible and to have a back-up plan in place for all situations.
Luckily, this year was a small group, so only two Lyft vehicles were needed. It’s almost like it was meant to be!
Besides the early morning bus lesson, we were all able to take away many things from the sessions which we attended…
- Free things are always a good thing!
- Coffee is important to ensure alertness during professional development sessions.
- There’s always a session that isn’t very engaging; learn from that session!
- Take away and use the tools provided throughout the conference!
Individually, our take-aways consisted of…
“There are simple ways to add yoga to the classroom throughout the day to help everyone have grounding.” ~ Mariah Schuler
“It was a great professional development opportunity.” ~Nicole Evers
“The MEA conference was the perfect opportunity to add tools to my teacher tool belt!” ~Kayla Harwick
“Take responsibility for your own actions.” ~Danielle Olson
L to R: Danielle Olson, Nicole Evers, Kayla Harwick, Mariah Schuler
“What I learned from a session was ‘They are all great kids, some just don’t know it yet.’” ~Erin Stevens
“MEA is such a wonderful thing our state offers because it helps educators so much. There are free resources, tools, and support around every corner to help make life just a little easier.” ~Emily Amundson
“The most important thing I learned and took away from a breakout session was… ‘A good question can create a great conversation, as long as you talk about the elephant in the room and be real with your class.’” ~Jacey Hanssen
“When attending my last session, Where People Live: Using Culturally Relevant Pedagogy with Primary Resources, it gave me a basic understanding of how important it is to utilize other cultures, and have the students do their own exploration before providing them with answers. This gives the students the opportunity to be in the driver seat and the teacher to be the passenger. Learning is an exploration, and this was a direct strategy to give students that opportunity learn about the past and other cultures” ~McKenzie Deprez
L to R: Emily Amundson, Erin Stevens, McKenzie Deprez, Jacey Hanssen (Photo credit Education MN Facebook)
MEA consisted of a general session with a keynote speaker, and five other professional development sessions throughout the entire day. While this was going on, there were also vendor booths and Education Minnesota booths which provided information, resources, and other free items. Each individual who attended was able to select their own sessions in order to tailor to their own specific needs.
At the end of the day, we were able to successfully leave with many tools and ideas to implement not only into our future classrooms, but our own lives too. We were also treated very well with a new charter bus to bring us all the way back to Marshall. Overall, MEA was a great professional development opportunity for all Aspiring Educators, Educators, Education Support Professionals, and Retirees in the state of Minnesota.
Thank you to our dedicated SMSU EMAE officers and members for taking the opportunity to learn and grow professionally at the MN Educator’s Academy! We are proud of you!