Dear Educator…just yesterday I learned an entirely different perspective from my 7-year-old grandson about the 100th Day of School activity of dressing up like an ‘old’ person. Please know I mean no disrespect to any of you reading this who have already done this or are planning to do this activity. Seeing Instagram or Facebook posts with you all dressed up as a centurion has given me a few giggles. So, I ask you, please read with an open mind because this lesson on perspective comes from a first grader. 🙌💙
Yesterday would have been my grandson’s 100th Day of School celebration. My daughter even bought a few items to help with making him look like a 100-year-old man. On Sunday evening, Tyus told his mom he didn’t want to dress up. She said that was okay.
Monday morning before heading to school, my grandson told his mom one more time that he did not want to dress up. She said that was fine, but she would put the items she bought for him in his backpack just in case he changed his mind when he got to school. He assured her, “I don’t want to bring it with because I don’t want to dress up. I’m sorry, Mom, that you wasted your money.”
My daughter told him he didn’t need to apologize and that she will make sure to ask him next time if he wants to participate in the class activity.
Monday evening, he shared with his mom why he didn’t want to dress up like an old person. Below is the text message I received from my daughter last night…
My grandson shared with his mom, “Mom, dressing up like old people is sad. It made me think of Great Grandpa Eddie and he died when he was old.”
Tyus has an old soul and doesn’t like teasing or causing heartache or making fun of others with jokes. He has a kind heart, and I love that about him.
And that, teachers, is why my 7-year-old grandson chose not to dress up. Isn’t this an interesting perspective on dressing up for the 100th Day Celebration? I did read an article asking for this to stop. Some comments at the end of the article bashed the authors because ‘they’ve never been in the classroom,’ or to ‘lighten up, they are just kids.’
I get it. I’m a teacher and I’m positive I would have joined all of you in this activity. Goodness, I just helped my niece find items for her daughter to dress up on February 13 for her daughter’s 100th Day of School celebration. It’s just now I have been handed a different pair of glasses and will forever see this activity differently. I told my teacher candidates today to remember not all students will want to participate in all activities and that is okay. Respect that.
This kind of makes me want to ask the elderly what they think. I’m confident most elderly won’t care one bit. They will think it is hilarious. However, maybe, just maybe others won’t find the humor in it because they do not want to be reminded of their unwanted aging. Hard to say. The only way to find out is to ask.
Tyus…thank you for teaching Grandma an important lesson, and for reminding me to listen to and respect different perspectives. Big hugs, buddy!
Are you having a rough day? Go hang out in a classroom filled with kindergartners for a little while, and I guarantee it will cheer you up exponentially! Those little ones are full of awe and wonder and innocence and unconditional love…most of the time.
My daughter is a SPED Professor and she teaches college students how to become effective SPED teachers. One of the highlights of being a professor of educators is being able to go observe them when they are at the end of their prep program and are finally student teaching in a real classroom. This is their time to shine!
My daughter walked into the Kindergarten classroom and took a seat to begin her observation of her student teacher. A sweet little blonde-haired boy who was sitting close to her turned and looked her square in the eyes and asked very seriously, “Who is you?”
She whispered to him, “I am Professor Juhl, who are you?” He politely answered her and when he was done, she asked him to please turn and listen to what the teacher was going to share. He obeyed.
Who is you? This is a fantastic question to ponder. How do you think most of us would answer if asked that question? I am guessing we would give our common view of who we are and not get too personal.
Who is you?
I am Wendy.
Kyle and Jamie’s mom.
Warren, Sibyl, Tyus, and Lucy’s grandma.
Education professor at SMSU.
I am ________________ (how would you fill in the blank?).
I wonder what the little boy would have said if my daughter would have answered his question with a question.
Little boy: Who is you?
Professor Juhl: Who do you say I am?
Okay, that question reversal would most likely confuse a kindergartner. Or…maybe not. Those little 5-year old children are creative creatures. Answering a question with a question might launch the conversation on a completely different trajectory. I guess we will never know unless we give it a try.
In the bible, we find Jesus asking his disciples a similar question. He asks them, “Who do people say I am?” (Matthew 16:13).
The disciples answer Jesus’ question with the common view answer just as we might. They say John the Baptist. Elijah. Jeremiah. Some prophet. (Matthew 16:14).
Then, Jesus turns the question back to his disciples. “What about you?” he asked them. “Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). Simon Peter does not give the common view answer to Jesus. Read what he says in Matthew 16:16…Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, The Son of the living God.” He acknowledged that Jesus is divine and is the long-awaited Messiah. Simon Peter gets a little more personal about who Jesus is.
I wonder how I would answer if Jesus were to ask me, “Who do you say I am?” I believe I would lovingly tell Him, “I believe you are my Lord and Savior who chose the cross. You chose that cross to give me and others the gift of eternal life in Heaven! You chose to sacrifice your life on that cross, Lord. You chose to suffer for me and for all others because you love us that much.”
How about you? How would you answer Him if He asked you “Who do you say I am?”
What if we asked Jesus that same question? “Lord, who do You say I am?” Without a doubt, I know the answer to that question. How about you? If you aren’t sure, open up your bible and read the book of Ephesians. It clearly states who we are, who we is.
Back to the student teacher in the kindergarten classroom. When Professor Juhl had a follow-up conversation with the young teacher-to-be, she mentioned how cute the little boy who asked her the question was. This future teacher agreed and said she really loves that little boy. Then she reminded Professor Juhl about the boy who had punched her in the face the week before. This cute little boy who had asked my daughter “who is you” was him, the same kid, the one who smacked the student teacher. BUT…it did not matter! It did not matter because the student teacher just loves that little boy so much.
That is how it is with Jesus. Who is you? Who do you say I am? Jesus is love. We mess up all the time. ALL.THE.TIME. But, it does not matter because Jesus just loves us so much. We are who He says we are. We are loved. We are forgiven. We are redeemed. We are set free. That is who we is!
Tonight at dinner, my almost-adult son, who is set to graduate from high school in just a few weeks, asked me, “Mom, do you know what holiday it is today?” I immediately wondered… well, I think it’s past May Day, and I don’t remember it being Cinco de Mayo yet. The days are sometimes hard to keep track of lately it seems. “Hmmm… Oh, I know… It’s Educator Appreciation Week!” My son just looked at me and smirked, “May the Fourth Be With You!”
Okay – so maybe great minds do think alike. The Star Wars analogy is not lost on me when I think about it being Educator Appreciation Week. Teaching and learning made the jump into the hyperspace of remote learning with almost no time to prepare. Amazing.
Stick with me as I further consider the parallels between education today and Star Wars.
Every parent everywhere… “Help me, [educators]. You’re my only hope.” ~ Princess Leia
Naysayers who thought remote learning could not be done?… “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” ~ Darth Vader
The possibility of remote learning not working… “Never tell me the odds!” ~ Han Solo
Where are we learning the rest of this week… “Chewie, we’re home.” ~ Han Solo
Getting our learning on tomorrow and the day after… “Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
When we move on after this unprecedented time into a new future of teaching and learning… “When gone am I, the last of the Jedi will be you. The Force runs strong in your family. Pass on what you have learned.” ~ Yoda
With the unrest in our world…”We must keep our faith in the Republic. The day we stop believing democracy can work is the day we lose it.” ~ Queen Jamillia
Tomorrow when I think there is just too much to possibly accomplish… “I’m one with the Force. The Force is one with me.” ~Chirrut Imwe
When we see our friends at school again… “Oh, my dear friend. How I’ve missed you.
To all the educators and students out there… “The Force will be with you. Always.”
~ Obi-Wan Kenobi
And each day… always have “Hope.” ~ Princess Leia
Even if you aren’t a Star Wars fan, you have to admit there are some positive takeaways for those of us, all of us in Education today. There continues to be a lot of wisdom and life lessons to share.
Take time to thank an educator this week. Or how about thanking more than one? It takes a village, and now that most parents have experienced a glimpse of the life of a teacher, it would make sense to thank the entire village. Thank you!
Thanks to my son’s teachers for stopping by to say hi – from a distance – and share some learning treats! The COVID-19 journal is awesome! JR enjoyed the pretzels, too!
Although educators – teachers, support staff, and administrators may come and go – their impacts last a lifetime. Thank you, educators, for all that you do!
Oh – and May the Fourth Be With You!
Hello? Hello? Are you out there? Oh – now we can see you! Zoom. Just like that. We shared our partI of Virtual teachingSOS!
Before going any further, take a breath and know that you can do this! Then, watch this Youtube video: I Will Survive, Coronavirus version for teachers going online
What to do now that you have taken a much needed deep breath? We want to share some incredible ideas with you as you charter these educational waters virtually. Tossing some lifesavers your way to help you and your learners navigate the virtual waters of learning. We asked our teacher educator colleagues from the SMSU School of Education and across campus to contribute resources to share out with you. A quick shoutout to our talented SMSU colleagues for responding to our request: Drs. Rhonda Bonnstetter, Sarah Huseby, Kandy Noles Stevens, Frankie Albitz, Kris Cleveland, Debbie VanOverbeke … thank you for your efforts to support our teacher candidates and educators everywhere! Before checking out the list of resources, we want to share our support and thank all the healthcare and emergency workers on the front lines and all essential workers who cannot stay home with their families in order to care for the greater good. Thank you and our continued prayers go out for your safety!
What awesome ideas do you have to share? Please let us know! We need each other and our creative ideas now more than ever. Take care!
It is a quiet sound…the soft sound of a music box. The one in my hands is not mine, but it brings me back to a time when I held my own music box as a little girl. Imagine – a satin-lined, pastel pink box that could be held in the hands of a young girl. Inside is a ballerina who spins to the music when gently opened. Holding this music in my hands that is not mine brought me back to being in the middle of my yellow-accented bedroom more than 30 years ago. This instant time travel was simply from the chime of a few beats of this quiet music. My mind picked up the memory, and started telling a story within seconds.
Amazing what a memory can do – it can tell our stories. Recently this past week, author/speaker, Tracy Nelson Maurer, spoke on the campus of Southwest Minnesota State at the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council’s Fall Conference. Tracy shared three keys to writing success: inspiration, information, and imagination. She sparked our memories and helped us see our stories. We all have stories to share.
This past week was full of stories at SMSU sparked by memories as we celebrated Homecoming 2017. It was not a standard week of Homecoming festivities at SMSU this year, however. We are celebrating our 50th year as an institution, a community, a family. This week allowed us a time to share memories, tell our stories, and make new memories to share in the future.
Here are a few highlights of the memory-sharing and memory-making week…
The 50th SMSU Charter Signing
Door Decorating Contest — School of Education was awarded second place!
Guest Author/Speaker Tracy Nelson Maurer
School of Education Alumni Tent, Parade, and Football Game Festivities
We all have a memory and a story to share. Continue to share them – as we connect with the past and storytell in the future. Let us inspire, inform, and imagine together. Listen to the soft music, and let it play.
Collaboration is a key ingredient to success. We can do so much more together than we can alone. Recently, SMSU Provost Dwight Watson shared a text with us – Top 20 Teachersby Paul Bernabei, Tom Cody, Willow Sweeney, Mary Cole, and Michael Cole. We had seen this book once upon a time, but its message was one to be renewed for us. According to the authors of the book, success is the summation of great results and a great ride.
“Great Results are those outcomes we desire when we go to work each day… Great Ride means we want to enjoy the experience. We want to enjoy what we do and have meaningful relationships with our colleagues. We wouldn’t consider it a great success if we attained great results in our work but hated going to school every day. Nor would it be a great success if we enjoyed hanging out at school every day but never accomplished anything worthwhile” (2010, p.1).
Teachers can make the learning experience both – a great ride with great results. “In essence, teachers have power to activate the potential in their students to make a positive difference in their lives” (2010, p.2). The authors point to being part of the Top 20 when potential explodes into great results and a great ride. We are all top 20. We are all bottom 80. Sometimes we are the best self we can be. Sometimes we are not the best self we can be. It is how we handle situations – how we think, how we learn, and how we communicate that determines where we place ourselves – in the top 20 or bottom 80. “The Top 20 and Bottom 80 labels in this book are not intended to be a comparison between people. Rather, they are simply a way of understanding two dimensions of our own selves” (p.4). Where do you choose to be?
The authors share a variety of topics as they consider Top 20 Teachers. A few areas of focus include: seeing things differently, creating a positive environment, creating connections, and listening to understand. We thought quite a bit about our teaching and learning and what we do to positively impact our learners. We are in the business of promoting and modeling the art of being reflective practitioners. Considering this, we decided to invite some of our colleagues to respond to the following question. How do you make a positive impact on your students and build a culture of curiosity in the teaching and learning process? Their responses were thoughtful, and showed us their Top 20 qualities to help students experience great results with a great ride. This is what they had to say…
“I draw extensively from the work of Ellen Langer, Harvard social psychologist, related to mindfulness. The forty plus years of work she has done on mindfulness focuses on how to foster flexible, creative and critical thinking processes in the classroom, business settings, delivery of physical and mental health services, etc. (The construct of “mindfulness” that Langer has evaluated is not the same as what is described in the mental health literature that draws from Eastern traditions such as meditation, yoga, etc.) I have used four of her publications as texts in various psychology and LEP 100/400 classes since 2004 and students consistently note the content in Langer’s publication to be the most transformative for them among readings I assign in class with regarding enhancing curiosity, increasing their openness to new experiences, enriching their personal relationships, increasing their willingness to take risks, and enhancing their creative thinking capacities (for example).”
~Dr. Christine Olson
SMSU Professor of Applied Psychology
“At the age of 15, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to England to study, and there she encountered Mademoiselle Marie Souvestre, who would mentor her for three years. Together, they traveled to Europe, visiting places of poverty and spender. Eleanor studied literature, art, history, languages, and in the process she gained self-confidence and confidence in her ideas. In her autobiography, Roosevelt wrote of this experience: ‘Mlle. Souvestre shocked one into thinking, and that on the whole was very beneficial.’ That is what I do to build a culture of curiosity in the teaching and learning process. I try to shock my students into thinking.”
~Dr. Jeff Kolnick
SMSU Professor of History
“I like to think I make a positive impact and build a learning culture by first teaching students about social skills. I like to make sure I learn each kid’s name and where they are from, and I constantly challenge them to do the same with their fellow classmates. If they feel like you care about them, then they are more willing to learn and curiosity will come naturally. I encourage social interaction that doesn’t involve technology, small group communication during class, make them debate a topic, and take a side even if they don’t agree with it. I make them be involved in the community, more than just the campus of SMSU, it forces them to talk to strangers.”
SMSU Asst. Football Coach & PE Instructor
“Set a comfortable tone to the classroom. I begin each day with a corny joke and a ‘thought to ponder’ on the board. I also work at learning the students’ names and something about them. These may seem like silly little things, but I have found that students look forward to coming to class and remain engaged. Also, interjecting personal stories and experiences to bring the information into real-time for them.”
SMSU Assistant Professor of Special Education
“In my courses I allow for student choice in completing and designing projects. In the end, I want the project to be part of the bigger final outcome so the assignments or projects leading up to that are scaffolded ideas that should easily fit into the end capstone project. I have received positive feedback indicating they like this format that provides them opportunity to actually prep for the final project, while building understanding of the topic and content. Generally, we discuss in the classroom then move to an open room where students collaborate with peers and work together. As they work I provide feedback or clarification as needed. This format works well and engages student’s curiosity as they work toward their final goal.”
~Dr. Mary Risacher
SMSU Assistant Professor of Education
“How does a teacher create a positive climate to optimize students’ learning? Through the demonstration of unconditional positive regard (Rogers, 1959) a teacher forms the foundation upon which exhibited elements of invitational theory and practice: Respect, care, optimism, intentionality, and trust (Purkey & Novak, 2015), sows a fertile learning community. This emotionally nourishing environment then produces a bounty of student exploration, innovation, and critical thinking!”
~Dr. Chris J. Anderson
SMSU Assistant Professor of Special Education
“To build a learning environment that fosters creativity, thinking, and the development of curiosity, I have embraced constructivist practices and create learning experiences based on learners’ passions. This has been remarkable in the online classroom as I watch students develop relationships, understanding, and knowledge with classmates that they have never met.
Currently, there are English, ELL, reading, math, and more instructors creating magic together, not in isolation. Everyone has a powerful voice. Their ideas and their passion are giving insight not only into content, but to practice. This has been a joy to watch unfold as learners embrace ideas and cheer for each other.
This has been facilitated by “being there” – all the time. Not only merely assessing, but adding and questioning. Joining in the joy and the passion that drives teachers. I am excited for them and for their students. Education is changing. I am surrounded by brilliance.”
~Dr. Toni Beebout-Bladholm
Marshall Senior High School English Teacher
SMSU Adjunct Professor
What did we learn from all of this? We teach alongside rockstars, who are shaping the world one student at a time, one day at a time. It is not just great results that lead to success. Great results and a great ride equal success. Teachers can make all the difference. We choose our Top 20 selves to guide, mentor, and care for our learners.
Springtime! It’s almost here. Can you feel it? Okay – maybe not so much today since it is the coldest day since February 9th, 2017, but spring is indeed on its way. That means new life …and new legislation are on the way. Hopefully writing this won’t turn away any of our blog fans (including Dr. Wendy), but it is purposeful. It is meant to inform, which is part of our educonnections mission – “sharing about teaching, learning, leading, and life.” Eek! We can’t complain about laws and rules if we aren’t willing to be fully invested – to be engaged in our own story as it is being written. So here goes based on my humble understanding of government…
Currently, there are some legislative proposals that will impact educators.
A few highlights regarding MN legislation to consider:
There is a proposed change of governance in education. In the HF1079.0 Teacher Licensing and Standards bill in Article 1 Sec. 21 Transfer of Powers, “the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards board shall be considered a transfer by law of responsibilities of the Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education with respect to licensure and credentialing of teachers and school personnel to the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board for purposes of MN Statutes, section 15.039.” This is also in the Senate bill SCS0004A-4 Article 1, Section 19. MDE’s responsibilities regarding school administrators is to be transferred to the Board of School Administrators.
Student teaching may look different. Year-long student teaching experiences are included in proposed legislation. This may create hardships for teacher candidates, however. The specific rules on the implementation of this would be set by the proposed PELSB – Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.
Tiered licensure is part of both bills. Both bills propose allowing untrained teachers in the classroom, which may address the teacher shortage, but may not provide the best education for our learners. Tiered Licensure begins at line 23.7 in the Senate bill.
Tiered Licensure begins at line 33.7 in the House bill.
There is much more to consider both at the state and national levels. This is just a short summary of MN proposed legislation. Find out what is happening in your state, your nation. Be informed. We will try to be.