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About educonnections

A Tale of 2 Profs... Sharing our stories about teaching, learning, & living... Dr. V & Dr. C (Claussen-Schoolmeester)

Being a Caregiver is a Tough Job

Blog caregiver burnout

Photo credit: https://gentleshepherdbaptist.blogspot.com/2011/01/?m=0

“YOUR DAD IS HAVING AN AFFAIR,” my mom blurted out accusingly the instant I walked into her room.

“I don’t think so, mom,” I reassured her while heaving a big sigh.

“I’ll show you who it is. Don’t look…there she is,” she grumbled under her breath trying to be a sleuth on a mission when we reached our walking-the-hallway destination.

My mom had dementia. She lived in the Lighthouse, which is a locked facility for Alzheimer’s/Dementia residents at the Good Samaritan Village. She was quite independent in spite of not having a memory or an understanding of life.

My dad also had Alzheimer’s but was in a wheel chair so he could not be in the Lighthouse with her (thank goodness). 😮 And, for crying out loud, he could not be having an affair.

The lady my mom suspected of being my dad’s “mistress” also had Alzheimer’s and needed assistance walking. Good grief…

…my poor mother.

I was exhausted from my mom’s peculiar behavior. I visited her almost every day at Good Sam, and after a few years of this bizarre conduct I was exhausted!!! Being the only child still alive, I was her caregiver. And quite frankly…I was BURNED OUT!

New scenario…

“You suck as a teacher,” hollered the 8th grade boy.

“All I am asking, Billy, is that you take off your bandana,” the teacher calmly asked for the umpteenth time. “Our district rule is no bandanas in school.”

“Not taking it off, you bitch!” Then Billy continued to threaten this teacher by writing in his notebook… I know where your daughter lives.

The above educator is a teacher of middle school students, and she is exhausted!!! She is their daytime caregiver. And quite frankly…she is BURNED OUT!

Caregiving is a tough job, but…

…someone has to do it.

Thomas Hoerr shared with us in his ASCD article (2017) that even though caregivers are usually associated with the medical field, caregiver burnout also applies to educators.

To our SMSU teachers just beginning your first time teaching position this fall…don’t let this become you! Be aware of caregiver/teacher burnout. If you think you are being gripped by caregiver burnout talons, there is help to break free.

Prevention is key! WebMD offers several suggestions for caregiver burnout. Learn what causes it and how to prevent it by clicking here:  http://www.webmd.com/women/caregiver-recognizing-burnout#3 (it’s for you guys too).

According to Ben Johnson (2014), writer for Edutopia, here are a few ways to evade teacher (caregiver) burnout:

  • Have fun with the students
  • Take care of your health
  • Learn something new and share it with your students
  • Make someone’s day
  • Lighten up
  • Look for the positive
  • Trust your students

And may I add to this list…

  • Find humor and joy each and every single day

The new school year will be starting very soon, and I have always loved the beginning. Novice and veteran teachers…no matter how much you love it, there will come a time when you feel drained…wiped out…exhausted.

Whether you are taking care of an elderly parent or taking care of other people’s children, caregiving is hard work. Promise me you will take care of YOU.

 

Stay Calm & Prevent Burnout!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

She Didn’t Stick to the Schedule

Blog boss baby

Lucy Lavonne Claussen made her debut yesterday morning weighing in at 5 lbs. 8 oz. As her daddy said to us in his text…this little one did not stick to the schedule. Sorry, son…her being your third child…you KNOW she IS the boss baby! 😉

Welcome to the world, baby girl. You are grandbaby number four and most likely the last. I cried my make-up off when I read what your name was. I am positive your Great Grandma Wussow is smiling down from heaven because your middle name is the same as hers. And…many people told your great grandma that she looked like Lucille Ball. 😮 Oh, yes indeed…your name made my heart happy and made me smile with loving memories.

I want you to know, Miss Lucy, that you are SO loved. Your big brother and sister can’t wait to hold you and give you lots of lovin’. They look through that window and patiently wait with daddy and Grandpa to give you hugs and kisses.

Blog boss baby2

Grandma Wendy adores you and smiles with tears of joy in her eyes as she lovingly gazes through the glass window at you all snug in that little hospital bed of yours. Grandma Wendy silently gives thanks to Jesus for his goodness, because you, little one, are a miracle. All babies are. God’s creation. I praise my Lord, Miss Lucy,  because you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).

Blog boss baby5

Prayers, for you sweet tiny one…prayers for a beautiful life. Prayers for good health: physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally. Prayers for WHOLE child health!!! Prayers for a life filled with joy. A God-serving life. I give thanks and praise to Jesus for you!

Welcome, baby girl. We are smitten!

Blog boss baby1

 

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Stay Calm & Who Needs a Schedule Anyway!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Hey Carter

It is this date again – June 30th. I remember walking with Stella in the early morning sunshine last summer remembering a year before that – in the hospital watching my nephew die.  We prayed for a miracle so that he could stay. We prayed for a miracle so that he would peacefully let go.  It was a struggle that we all shared. It is a struggle that we continue to share.  Today’s blog is in memory of Carter Joseph Boerboom; it is written by his father, Wade Boerboom, for families who are fighting cancer and praying for their own miracles.

Father and Son Carter

Anyone who knew Carter knew how much he liked his gift of gab.  We can’t imagine where he got that from… Have you met his parents and extended family? 😉 These are the real words and raw emotions from his dad in a letter to his son, putting into print the many chats they frequently have.

Hey Carter,

So get this, Aunt Sonya asked me to guest blog for her website.  Yeah I know, homework in the middle of summer, right?  But she asked that I use it as writing a letter to you.  I guess she didn’t realize I talk to you every day.  Oh well, I guess to humor her I will pretend I don’t and write this out to you.

So, what else has been happening you ask?  Well, I suppose we should catch up on everyone.

Freaking Lebron & the Cavs won the NBA title in 16, but the Warriors got them back in 17!  Kevin Durant ended up going to the Warriors this last summer in free agency.  I think just to stick it to Lebron.  They went 16-1 in the playoffs.  Only lost one game to the Cavs.  I wanted the sweep, but losing just 1 isn’t too bad either.

Oh, I feel bad about this one.   When we were told your cancer was back, on June 10th, 2015; you said “does this mean we can go to Duke?”  You were too ill to travel, so Joy and I decided to check it out this fall.  What a cool place!  They beat up on Grand Canyon. The kids/crowd were going nuts the whole time.  You would have loved it.

Katie is on her 3rd college & 3rd car.  Yes, she really is.  She attended Morris for her freshman year.  She did ok, but I think she spent more time in Alexandria with Tom than she did in school.  She wanted to try St. Cloud fall of sophomore year.  She lived in Tom (Geske) and your mom’s house in St. Cloud.  There was a crazy stabbing in the mall where she worked.  Thank goodness she wasn’t there.  I’m thinking that was the turning point, and they both just didn’t really love St. Cloud anymore.  She came home to SMSU, and is a 3.9 now.  Yes, she really is!  She just rented a little house in Marshall.  She’s growing up, I guess.  Tom is working at Action Track Chairs.  As for the cars…  The Dodge basically just died.  Then last week we had hail & it took out the Focus we replaced it with.  Damn kids and their cars…..

Belle went to Mankato last year.  She lived with her cousin Alex and a few other girls.  Interesting year.  They had a gathering that got busted before school started & then got robbed over Christmas break.  She is doing well in school.  She job shadowed a chiropractor and a dermatologist this summer.  Let’s hope she really makes money after graduation, lord knows she likes to spend it.

Sam graduated this year.  Get this, he has a girlfriend!  Yes, our Sam.  She came to the house the other night for venison/b-day picnic.  Our tradition of having those for you kids continues.  We had yours this year too.  Sam is planning on going to SDSU this fall.  I can’t wait.  Division 1 hoops!  They actually made the big dance this year.  Sam and his buddies have a company now –  Average Angling.  They upload videos, and get paid for it.  I think they have made something like 17cents off their fishing videos now.

Maddie is driving now.  Katie and your mom go to lunch with her from time to time.   She looks like she is doing well & having fun in school.  We see on Facebook that she does lots of sports & time with friends.

Sam and your buddies all miss you too. I think they are still up to the same shenanigans – maybe not shooting hoops off the top of the golf cart anymore though.  Sounds like Sam is going to St. John’s University for school next year. Of course we figured he would.  His family brought you to a couple of Johnny’s games.  I think they are pretty big fans of SJU.

Joy is training and coaching full time now.  She left Schwan’s to start a gym at the office.  She started with personal training and expanded to Rock Steady Boxing.  It’s boxing exercises to help Parkinson’s patients with their symptoms.  Her clients seem to really like her, even though she yells at them & beats them up.  The Rock Steady Boxing thing was something we saw on 60 Minutes.  The best part was that her training was in Indianapolis.  Joy worked, and I got to go to the Big 10 Tournament.

Kailen & PJ are workout bffs now.  Both are getting pretty fit too.  I think they work out twice a day.  Sounds like Kailen will be the running back in Cottonwood this fall.  Should be fun to watch.

Lori, Tori, and Tiffy moved to Bloomington.  Lori is a VP or something I guess.  Big time, right?  Tori is driving and will get her license soon.  Tiffy is in basketball, softball and volleyball.  All this summer.  They are pretty busy.  I think the Beer-Straights think they live there, too.  They are up there usually three weekends a month.  They usually bring the dog too.

Jack is going to camp after camp for football.  Sounds like he is headed to Ohio for one in July.  He just got his moped license.  Crashed the other day.  Just a little skinned up.  Not bad enough to come see you.  Jonah and JR both played SW Slam this spring.  We caught a few of their games.  JR seems to favor the 3 pointer.  He is not as proficient as you, but he is still young.

Bill and Missy are doing well.  Still camping & riding motorcycles.  They went to Arizona and rode to Vegas last spring.  No pictures of ass-less chaps have shown up, so we are all good.  They chase Wyatt around a lot.  He is pretty good at hockey now & made a couple traveling teams.  One tourney was up in Duluth.  He lifts weights now at the high school.  I think he is finally starting to grow.  Cody is buying Lori’s old house, and has a roommate-Dylan.  Let’s hope they don’t kill each other.

Braden bought a house in Cottonwood and got engaged to Amy.  20 years old,  going on 30.  He is farming with Ron and building a hog barn.  I bet Ron never thought in his wildest dreams that he would have hogs on that farm again.

Tam is not an empty nester yet.  She still gets one more year of chasing Kailen around to games.  They like to fight a little, but I think they are both going to miss each other.

Grandma Glenda sold the store.  Yep, the days of free ice cream are long gone.  She travels a lot.  She likes the bus trips they do around the different parts of the country.  She lets the kids drive her corvette for prom.  Sam went and then kept the car for about two months now. Nice grandma, huh?

Grandpa Ron and Lois like to camp & travel.  They went to Hawaii last year.  He still farms with Braden.  I think he plans to delegate more of the work soon.  He is just waiting for Braden to get the barn done.  He wanted to see his “home” farm last year in Belgium, but there was a bomb at the airport so we all chickened out.  Looks like we are finally going to get there this fall.

Grandma Nancy wants to retire, but Grandpa Steve doesn’t want her to yet.  Maybe another year.  She has shorter hours in the summer so she can spend more time in the garden and tinkering around the farm.  Grandpa still drives all the time.  He still loves to catch the grandkids’ games and tries to get to as many as possible.  He of course runs a little hot when things don’t go quite right, but he is getting a little more mellow.  Maybe that is where Bill gets it???? 

Grandma Betty and Grandpa Joe have an apartment at Boulder Estates now. They still visit the farm and like to have coffee there. They are as funny as ever. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in May. They are looking forward to seeing you again one day, too.

Your mom & Tom are also doing well.  They like to get to the cabin as much as they can.  I’m glad you got there a few times before you had to go.  They named it Carter’s Cabin.  Lynd just got hammered with hail, so we won’t have to worry about siding contractors for quite some time.  Tom will stay busy!  Your mom started teaching – subbed at Holy this past year.  I think she really enjoyed that.  That gets me thinking of all the homework we tried to make you do your last year.  It’s like you knew you really didn’t need to spend a lot of time with that.

The Pats and Ore & Jenny are doing well.  Morgan is getting married and has a baby. So I guess that makes you a second cousin? Or a first cousin once removed? I don’t know. They are well and miss you.

So now that you are all caught up on everyone, what’s been going on with me.  Get this, in the fall of 2015 I was told I have Melanoma In-Situ.  So cancer, but just on the surface of the skin.  99.5% curable.  Nothing like what you went through, but still cancer.  AGAIN, the same year????

The Agency is doing well.  I just keep plugging away.  After 30 years of eating and drinking, we finally have KB’s as a customer!  Persistence pays off.  You know, you were supposed to come work with me and take over one day.  I still have the letter in my office from when you were in 1st grade.  It said you want to sell insurance and take pictures of houses.  That’s not all it takes, but you had about 90% of it down.

We are repeat “Over 30” city league champs!  I know, my 3 point per game average is not the difference anymore.  It has a lot (everything!) to do with Shuan Wisdom.  I like to golf as much as I can.  Somedays it goes well, some days it doesn’t.  I like to get up early and play.  Gives me time for our “talks” early in the morning.

Carter and his dog

One thing I have been thinking about as your anniversary comes around is that I don’t think I took the time to realize everyone lost you.  I was pretty wrapped up in feeling sick/sad/pissed/poor me, that I sometimes forgot that everyone else lost you too.  The thing that really struck me was even though I was shook up, you took it pretty well, and it was happening to you.  That really helps me believe we will have this talk in person again one day.

Friday is two years since you moved away.  I gotta tell you, it was rough at first.

Carter 123

A couple things I will never forget about that day.  You were all sweaty, so we decided to change your clothes.  We kicked everyone out of the room except Tom, nurse Dan and myself.  We figured we would put you in Duke apparel.  If you are going to go, go in style right?  Anyway, as we are changing you (yes, shorts and all) your eyes popped open and you threw a punch right at nurse Dan’s face.  I guess waking up with ½ your clothes on caught you off guard.  He didn’t get hurt too bad… you were high on morphine after all.

The last two things you said in your first life will remain with me forever.  First, you said “I was chosen, I am going to die”.  What an incredibly profound statement to hear.  Even more so from a 14 year old.  Always wise beyond your years.  I couldn’t believe it.  Was it faith?  Was it God talking to you?  Was it to comfort all of us?  I think it was a little of all those.  I also believe it was your way of telling us that you were going to be okay.  For you to know it and accept and acknowledge the situation was incredible.

You said something about “My babies! Where are my babies?!”  We all leaned in close & asked “What babies, Carter?”  You said, “I have two babies.”  “The dogs?” your mom asked.  “No, I have two babies.”  I like to believe in some life you do. One bit of advice for you.  If your kids want to shoot hoops in the driveway when it is late and cold out, do it anyway.  In April of 2015 when you were feeling good, you wanted to shoot hoops.  After a while I went in the house.  I sat for about five minutes and then said to Joy, “I think I have to go shoot hoops in the cold with the kid some more.”  I thank God all the time that I went back out there with you.  Even though it was colder than shit out.

See you soon,  talk to you tomorrow.   Pops.

 

 

Stay Calm & Shoot Hoops!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

We Do

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etsy.com

I love my husband more than I can describe. He makes me laugh copiously, and I am totally crazy about him. One of my deepest desires is that absolutely nothing come between me and my man.

As we celebrate 25 years of being together, I asked him what makes our marriage work. Why have we been victorious in our quarter-of-a-century time together as one?

Our marriage has been built on 25 years of ‘we dos” and that is why we are still head-over-heels in love…

We do…choose to be “we and ours” not “mine and yours” in everything (well, maybe not our underwear). 😉

We do…compromise rather than try to get our way. We give and take because marriage is a two-way street. It’s what we give not what we get.

We do…bless each other daily with the “little things” that make a big difference such as kind words that are sweet morsels to the soul, walks and talks, quiet time on the porch swing, helping each other with chores.

We do…communicate, communicate, and then we communicate some more.

We do…evaluate our expectations of each other to make sure those expectations are realistic and also shared.

We do…believe we are truly blessed by each other every single day.

We do…spend time together often but realize we do not need to be with each other all the time.

We do…say we are sorry and are quick to forgive when disagreements happen.

We do…love each other unconditionally, no strings attached.

We do…share the same faith and love Jesus.

We do…realize it is hard work to maintain a strong marriage even when it is already a good one.

We do…know ALL of the above statements are not easy; yet we know they are extremely important, and they have worked for us over the years.

We have many good years ahead of us, and we know we won’t be coasting through those years. In addition to our ‘we dos’ our renewed wedding vows for the next 25 years will include…

We will… “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” ~Ephesians 4:2

We willClothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bearing with each other and forgiving whatever grievances we may have against each other.” ~Colossians 3:12-13

Cheers to our next 25 years, Dean! We ARE better together! 🙂

Blog Anniversary Pic

Keep Calm & Stay Married!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Permission to Let My Tears Flow

Blog Tears Flow Mercy Me

Photo credit: Rise Ministries

Dear Bart Millard:

I need to express my gratitude to you and your contemporary Christian band, MercyMe, for giving me permission to release my pent-up tears of 28 years, and to let them pour down my cheeks during #RiseFest17.

For almost 30 years, I have not said much about my daughter being diabetic…she was diagnosed at the young age of 4. I have not wanted people to think or say I was being dramatic or feeling sorry for myself. I also know that some of God’s children have it much worse—cancer, ALS, MS, the loss of a child, the loss of a spouse, accidents that cause paralysis, and the list could go on and on—thus, I have always believed that the proper thing to do is to remain silent so other people would not think I was whining.

Your message at the concert changed that for me, Mr. Millard! You shared your story of when your son was diagnosed with Type I diabetes at the innocent age of 2. From that life crisis you wrote the song Jesus Bring the Rain.  Hearing this story at RiseFest last Friday night had me shedding a few tears knowing you understood my journey as a parent of a diabetic. Knowing we share a bond.

A little later in the evening you shared the reason why you wrote your new song Even If, which is also because of your son’s diabetic life sentence. This story released the flood gates of my tears. I have tried to keep it together for almost 30 years, and on Friday night, you gave me permission to just let it go, to let the tears flow. And flow they did!

To your son…you CAN change the world as a diabetic. Believe it, buddy! My daughter has been handling her diabetes for almost 30 years, and she IS changing the world in spite of being diabetic. Please read some of her story below, and maybe you will find some encouragement in her journey. In addition, if you ever want to visit with her, I know she would be happy to listen. You can find her on Twitter @coachjuhl.  Go out and be awesome, Sam. 🙂

https://educonnections.org/2015/06/05/do-you-have-a-new-normal/

THANK YOU, MercyMe for a great concert!  Thank you, Bart, for sharing your life stories through music. I love ALL of your songs, but the two mentioned above now have new meaning for me. From here on out when I hear them I may be shedding a few tears…but it’s okay because I know I have permission to let those tears flow freely.

 

What’s a little rain? 😉

P.S. I am beyond excited for your movie I Can Only Imagine to hit the theaters around Easter 2018. Keep up the good work! 🙂 Hugs…

Stay Calm & Cure Diabetes!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

You’re Not a Bad Mom

This is a guest blog post by friend and colleague, Dr. Mary Risacher who is an Assistant Professor of Education for Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minnesota. Her background includes teaching Early Childhood, Kindergarten and serving as the Director of an Early Childhood At-Risk Program with an emphasis on pairing young children and families to needed resources. She currently teaches introductory educational and Early Childhood licensure courses for the School of Education at SMSU, as well as serving as Director of the Early Childhood Extended Learning 2+2 Program. You can find her on Twitter @MaryRisacher.

Blog Mom 4

My Mom used to tell me, “You’re a good Mom.” I miss hearing that and wish at the time I had taken it in the spirit in which it was said; sincere and from the heart. I didn’t take it that way at the time because I thought she had to say that because she was my Mom and she was probably trying to talk me back from the edge of an “episodic mother breakdown.” What is that? A condition that new young mothers suffer from when they have met their match and feel overwhelmed and inadequate, usually accompanied with tears and occasional sobs. Been there, done that!

It has been 25 years since the birth of my first-born. I still remember that out-of-body feeling and thinking… is this for real, as I held her for the first time. It hit me, I was now responsible for the life of another human being. I took all the classes, had a degree in early childhood, surely, I knew what I was doing…right? After all, how hard could this be? I had been told all the wonderful stories of how it such a beautiful time and you feel so great being pregnant. It sounded euphoric. Although I teach an Infants & Toddlers course to undergrads, I now know the little shared truth about being a mother, it is one of the hardest things you will ever do and there is no training manual or course that can prepare you. It is on the job training.

I traveled back in time in the past weeks as I went to visit a friend who had just had her first child. The memories came flooding back the second she met me at the door- her eyes told me the story…exhaustion, feelings of inadequacy, I could even see a hint of, “oh my, what have I done?” While the pain of child birth has faded, I can still remember those feelings…exhaustion, overwhelmed, inadequate. Everyone had kept telling me how great this experience was and I knew when I met my friend at the door it was time to share the truth with her—motherhood is hard.

Before delving into a deep conversation, I could see the first thing my friend needed was a nap and selfishly— I wanted to hold that baby! I did not have to offer twice, when I asked if she wanted to go rest for a bit. So off she went and I commenced to rocking. Now this was euphoria, a baby in my arms and all I needed to do was rock. True peace is the only way to describe it. I knew, however, that for “first-time” moms this is far from how it can feel for them. I remember being scared to death that something would go wrong and it was not peaceful. It was up all night for what felt like around the clock feedings, with no break in-between, as one feeding would end and you would begin to settle back in hoping to sleep …and the lovely little babe was hungry once again. It felt like the cycle went on with no end in sight. On top of that you worried… is she eating enough? She cries a lot-should she cry that much? Why doesn’t she poop more? Yes-pooping became very central to the existence and happiness of our home. Gas too for that matter. Every question you had, became a nagging worry! No one ever told you any of this. Not to mention what has just happened to your own body! Looking back to when my own children were babies, I realized I was too consumed with the duties of motherhood to enjoy the moment. Well not today! I am rocking, walking, and chatting with Mr. C! I loved every second.

My friend stumbled from her slumber after 3 hours stating, “Wow I can’t believe I slept for 2 hours!” I didn’t even correct her. 🙂 My heart was joyful and my bucket full!! As she retrieved Mr. C from my reluctant arms we talked. We laughed about her worries and I reassured her that she too was, “a good Mom” in spite of her doubts. She too was a good mom even if she was not experiencing full-on joy at every second that she is being sleep deprived, serving as a feeding factory, and not always feeling so wonderful. I also explained that anyone who tells her that motherhood is a completely euphoric experience is on medication and should share it or is lying. There is so much pressure to do this perfectly that it is difficult to find the joy.

Not all education comes from a book. Some of my best teachers were my own children. They taught me how to be good at mothering. I now accept that accolade that my Mom tried to share with me so long ago and I do realize that I am skillful at being a mother. “Skillful at being a Mother”…when I wrote that line I edited about 10 times because it seems so arrogant-but I will try to embrace the title. That is not to say I am without fault, just ask my children ;). As my instructors, they have seen some epic-mothering-bombs; meaning there were times I just blew it with them, but as good teachers do, they gave me second chances. Today I look at my adult children and feel pretty confident saying that I raised them to be good humans. My children are the best of me!

Moving forward I want to share the message with newcomers to the scene of motherhood;

You are a good Mom and it is okay to not do this perfectly. This is hard and there will be stumbles, even fall on your face moments, and that is okay. Being a good Mom is enough! Give yourself a break, enjoy the moment when you in it-don’t wait 25 years like I did to be proud of what you have done. When someone says, “You are a good Mom.”…just smile and nod.

In my Infants & Toddlers course, I am teaching my undergrad students about the developmental stages and milestones of this very first stage of life. We review theory and best practice for the early childhood settings for which my students one day will be licensed teacher. While this course provides a solid foundation for those students seeking licensure in birth through age eight, it does not teach about becoming a mother. Unfortunately, the only real preparation for that is when it happens.

Stay Calm & Parent On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

 

Be Teacher Geeks Who Tech

Blog Tech Rhonda.jpg

Did you know that Johnny Carson grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska? I didn’t until I recently visited Norfolk for a Summer Technology Institute (STI). I learned a little bit of history along with a lot of technology. Time well spent! 🙂

My colleague had invited me to attend this conference with her because she knows what a geek I am when it comes to Dave Burgess Consulting books. I couldn’t say no to this opportunity to meet one of the DBC authors.

Wow…so many ideas shared during our time there. I’m eager to get my classes started this fall so I can implement some of these tech ideas.

Want to know some of these digital ideas 🙂 Please let me share a few…

Matt Miller, author of Ditch that Textbook  (a Dave Burgess Consulting book) kicked off the conference with his keynote. He presented several breakout sessions as well. If you get the opportunity to hear him speak, take it. He has so much passion and enthusiasm to share about technology. And, he will autograph your book for you too! 🙂

Blog tech

My favorite of all the breakouts was Matt’s session called “The Lightning Round: 60 Great Digital Tools in 60 Minutes.”

One of the tools Matt shared was Piktochart.  Here is how I have used this tech tool in my courses: My students are required to watch a TED talk then summarize it by creating an infograph that is colorful and chock full of information.

Another tool that Matt shared was Aurasma. Here is how I have used this tech tool in class. Last year, when Poke’ Mon Go was all a craze, Aurasma became the go-to Augmented Reality tool. I created Stanger-mon Go using this tool with the help of others in my PLN on Twitter.  Students went on a treasure hunt and had several Stanger-mon Go stops to make. Students reported back to me that they enjoyed this activity and thanked me for introducing them to Aurasma.

Blog Tech Aurasma1

There were several digital tools in this 60 x 60 presentation that I had not heard of, and I look forward to playing with them over the summer. Check them out for yourself. I’m sure you’ll find ONE that looks interesting to you. Click on the title link above for all 60 tools.

The session that ranks as my 2nd favorite was titled, “The Digital Pirate: TECH Like A PIRATE” also presented by Matt Miller. This was technology plus Dave Burgess’ hooks from his book Teach Like A PIRATE which equaled really good stuff!

One example of this was The Safari Hook. Use the camera app on the iPad and have students go explore and take photos of things that represent their vocabulary words. I have had my Social Studies Methods students take photos using their phones to represent their family history or the history of their communities.

Blog Tech Safari Hook

A second example was The Costume Hook. Use Voki to create dressed up characters. I have used this in my Children’s Literature class by having students create an avatar that represents who they are and then use the recording options to introduce themselves to the class (yes, that cowgirl is me 🙂 ). Great to use for an icebreaker on my online courses. I’ve also had students create a book character using Voki.

Thinking about the costume hook…I’m sure Snapchat could be incorporated into lessons as a Costume Hook. Please share in the comments if you’ve used this idea in your classroom somehow. I’ll be working on ideas for this one during the summer.

If you want more of Matt’s great ideas, check out all his stuff by going to GetMattsStuff.com. No, for real. Go there. You’ll uncover hidden treasure!

Embrace technology, folks. As Matt Miller told us…be maverick teachers. Be teaching geeks who tech not tech geeks who teach.

Listen to this voice of an active learner. Then go learn a few new digital tools yourself. 🙂

Stay Calm & Tech On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Where Does the Time Go?

Today is the day.  Not yesterday and not tomorrow.  Today is the LAST day of school for this academic year for my three sons. What happened? Where did the time go? The year just flew by!  They grew in many ways over this past year as we all have. I almost blinked and missed it.  Ms. Stella grew up, too!  She turns 2 years old today.

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Stella, the family St. Bernard dog

So as the school year ends… It is that time of year where we hear and give life speeches at graduation commencements and receptions about this is not just an ending but a beginning; a new chapter as we look to the future.  Words of advice are shared and some may be remembered.  My nephew, Samuel Dieken, is graduating from high school and will be headed to college in the fall.  I remember when he was just a little guy.  Where did that time go? He was just starting school – both shy and ready to take on the world, right?  He is again.

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Dr. Wendy knows this feeling all too well with the preschool graduation of her grandson.  Where did that time go? He was just born; he was just learning to walk and talk.  Well, he is all “grown up” and ready to take on kindergarten.  He is about to walk his own path.


It isn’t just the school year that has flown by. Everywhere I look I see life’s milestones marking time.  We recently celebrated my grandparents’ 70th wedding anniversary.
L. Joe & Betty Ann Claeys along with their children and families threw a party to celebrate this milestone.  Amazing the legacy they have created with their bond of love that started so many years ago!


Cheers to a life of love and longevity.  May we all know that.  May we not blink and miss it. A thought for this time as we wonder where the time has gone?  Don’t blink…  Remember the last moment as it has helped shape who you are today. Enjoy this moment and then the next moment.  Don’t blink.

This summer and for the rest of your days – enjoy the little moments, enjoy the big moments; remember the past, dream of tomorrow, and live life today.

Stay Calm & Live Life!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Dreams Work … Go the Distance

Remember that film – Field of Dreams?  “If you build it, they will come.”  I loved that movie when I was younger.  My optimistic, idealistic self still believes it to be true. “Go the distance.” I think it can happen.  I ask why not? Even after days that I feel beaten down with negative situations, negative responses, and negative people, I get up the next day, and am ready to change the world.  One would think I would eventually learn my lesson, right? I do love to learn, but maybe I don’t want to learn that lesson – to believe the negative and be a pessimistic person. I’m not alone, am I?  Most certainly not… it takes all kinds of people to make the world go round, and it takes surrounding ourselves with people who help make our mindsets positive to keep moving forward. We need each other to motivate and be motivated. We are a team!  Lately, I’ve been thinking about a motivational speaker who I heard speak earlier this semester.  With the world spinning faster than usual lately – or so it seems, I am feeling the need for some positive motivation to help build that field of dreams and to continue to go the distance.

With motiviation on our minds, I have a question to pose to you…
Will you work harder for something required or inspired? 
This simple question caused me to ponder momentarily.  I knew the answer without a doubt, but also knew all too often how “being required” is a way of life for many. Perhaps it is the only way for some things, which we will not debate today, but it tends to provide a veil for a lack of trust and should we dare – deceit.  For example – you are required to take/pass this standardized test because you are not competent without it. Okay – maybe that is not a perfect analogy, but I have standardized testing on the brain.  How about this one? You are required to complete 125 hours of continuing education because you won’t want to grow as a teacher without being required to do so.  Before I continue on my soap box, let’s get back to the simple question to start. Will you work harder for something required or inspired? This phrase was shared by Rob Bell at a conference session entitled, “Teamwork Makes Dreams Work.”

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This upbeat and motivational presentation made my nerdy notetaking self jot down some highlights to share with all of you as well as some of my reflections.

So what’s really important in the work place or school environment – or anywhere really?

  1. Appreciation.
  2. Feeling of being “in on” things – inclusivity breeds buy-in.
  3. Sympathetic help with person problems – life is not always about work.

Provide constructive yet kind feedback – SIP – Specific. Immediate. Personal. Warm fuzzies are wonderful, but they need to be paired with comments for growth.  Even perfect can be better.

The way to motivate is to validate. And be authentic when validating and in all of life really. Who is better at being you than you?  Consider the important characteristics identified in being authentic and real with colleagues and friends in aims to lift each other up:

– Sense of Humor -Reliable  -Optimistic  -Timely -Thoughtful  -Honest –Happy –ABCD: above the call of duty -Empathy

Remember the power of conditioning and that actions speak louder than words.  We are what we think and what we say. I’m alive. I’m awake. I feel great! We have to start with ourselves and then reach out to others. You know the phrase – “I don’t care what you say I care what you do.” It tells a story as does body language. If your words are not consistent with the language you choose, people will believe was they see. How do we grow in our language? Consider keeping a gratitude notebook and listening – silent listening…be in the moment. Refrain from the word “but” when responding.  Let’s Plan a vacation. Yes but… yes but… But shuts down opportunity.  Another phrase often used is “It’s against our policy.” Instead try this: “Let me tell you what I can do.”

More than not – use this simple phrase:  “Thank you.” It will amazingingly change your world and mine.

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In closing –

Enjoy the moment.

Change is uncomfortable. It is inevitable. Growth is optional.

What is a wow today is standard next year. Keep growing.

Plant seeds not weeds. Apple seeds…or your favorite seeds…make your world great.

It’s a lot more fun to be excellent than mediocre.

Let’s make them say wow!

Build that field of dreams! Go the distance and make us go with you!

Stay Calm & Dream On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

Dare to Soar, Teacher Candidates

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An eagle sighting is a rare occurrence around here, but when it happens, people tend to get a little excited. Did you know the wingspan of an adult bald eagle can range from five to seven feet?  That is incredible.

You know what else is incredible? You have graduated from SMSU, teacher candidates!!! 🙂 At graduation time we like to tell our SMSU students that it is time to ‘spread your wings and fly.’

You were like eagles during your teacher preparation program, teacher candidates. Now, as you spread your wings and fly towards your first teaching position, continue to be eagle leaders. Continue to be:

Tenacious:  Like an eagle soars against the storm, you saw past the intensity of the expectations of the program. You were persistent and stayed the course.

Confident: Like an eagle stays to itself, you knew to stay true to yourself to do your ultimate best no matter what others were saying or doing. You assured yourself that you COULD accomplish your goals…and you did.

Vision: Like an eagle that can spot its target miles away, you kept your eyes on the prize. You kept your education degree in sight with your vision on your future classroom.

Courageous: Like an eagle stands up to risk, you faced all the requirements with bravery. Although some assignments seemed to be daunting (edTPA), you attacked them with boldness.

Vitality: Like an eagle never gives up on life, you never lost your passion while you were completing all necessary class projects. You kept your sparkle.

Nurturer: Like an eagle trains its young, you will be teaching students who will be under your care and depend on you. Remember…students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Congratulations, 2017 graduates. Go out and change the world…one student and one classroom at a time. Dare to soar, teacher candidates. Spread your wings and fly!

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Stay Calm & Soar On!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.