Tag Archives: #encouragement

Fireflies

Like Captured Fireflies
-John Steinbach-

In her classroom our speculations ranged the world.
She aroused us to book waving discussions.
Every morning we came to her carrying new truths, new facts, new ideas,
Cupped and sheltered in our hands like captured fireflies.

When she went away a sadness came over us,
But the light did not go out.
She left her signature upon us,
The literature of the teacher who writes on children’s minds.

I’ve had many teachers who taught us soon forgotten things,
But only a few like her who created in me a new thing a new attitude, a new hunger.
I suppose that to a large extent I am the unsigned manuscript of that teacher.
What deathless power lies in the hands of such a person.

MACTE TotY F2017

“We’re in the business of guiding the future…It’s a serious business” exclaimed Cory Bulman – the 2017 MN Teacher of the Year.  Mr. Bulman recently spoke to MACTE – Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education members to share his words of advice.  His opening lines along with his sharing of John Steinbach’s Like Captured Fireflies told us that we were in for a treat.  So… maybe not too many can get so excited over a poem and a few words of advice, but I know I certainly did and perhaps you will too…

Other words of advice to digest by Mr. Bulman:

“As a learner – as a teacher – I am their unsigned manuscript. I am their legacy.

Model our own sense of curiosity and wonder.

Allow our students to stumble.

Before we can expect them to trust us as teachers, we need to have them trust us as learners.

Most important trait of all – authenticity.

Use life to teach about perseverance and strength.

Teaching feeds the soul and leads you while you think you are leading others.

Teaching is not a part of a one-man or one-person show.  We are in an ensemble.

MACTE Growing in the Profession F2017

Perfect teachers are only in movies written by disgruntled English majors. 😉

Real teachers have no halos around their heads. They just hustle. They try to keep up with the laughable workloads.

Teaching matters…you are the candle in the darkness.

Compare teacher to new driving – judge the risk and take the turn as an experienced teacher.

Own when you stumble – make amends and move on.

You have to be willing to laugh at yourself or you won’t survive. Show students you are human.

Share authentic experiences.  If they have a different background, continue to share personal story and where you come from.  Have the conversation – not the answers.

Go with the skill sets that work for you. Your personality seeps in to what you do.  It’s okay. You have to be allowed to become yourself. You aren’t a robot. It’s alright to be who you are and infuse yourself into what you do.

Educators need to keep our eyes on the real prize – help students catch the fireflies.”

Stay Calm & Model Curiosity and Wonder!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

 

 

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Everything I Need to Know I Learned on Sabbatical

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You may have heard the phrase… “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten.”  It was true… until my sabbatical.  What is a sabbatical you may be asking?  It is a time to reflect, a time to renew, a time to reenergize, and a time to start fresh…
Some spend time during sabbatical researching, writing books, focusing on different work, and/or relaxing on location.  It provides an opportunity to try something new and to stretch professionally in ways that have been imagined during stressful days…or unimagined.  My imagination originally directed me toward writing a book and relaxing. At least that was what I imagined when my sabbatical seemed far off.   As my sabbatical began approaching my imagination had a new image in mind, which would require an intense amount of time, energy, and emotion. You see my sabbatical experience took on a life of its own in a PK-2 school teaching English learners full-time.  Yes, that’s right – full-time.  I became a teacher, a caretaker, an advocate, …  full-time.  There were days that I laughed so much my cheeks hurt.  There were days that I cried so much my eyes hurt.  I became 100% invested in my opportunity to change lives.  I thank my colleagues for allowing me to step away from my position on campus to walk in the shoes of an EL teacher.

What did I learn from my experience?  Well, some of you have been reading updates of my adventures throughout the past few months and want to know – so here goes:

Teaching strategies…sure
Implementing best practices…you bet
Assessments and data mining…check

But there really is so much more…

*Life is bigger than any one person or job.

*Giving to others fills up the soul with joy and sparkles and feelings of nice.

*Learning English can be fun!

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*Go on a letter hunt instead of a bear hunt!

*Be kind.  Everyone has struggles.  Don’t judge theirs…it’s not your job or mine.

*Work hard, play hard.  Enjoy life and work.

*Be with family no matter what you are doing.

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*Not to clean the house sometimes when it is important and to clean it when it is important and to know the difference.  If that doesn’t make sense, it may someday.

*Rest does not necessarily happen on the couch or with a nap.  Energize the soul to feel rested.

*Incremental rehearsal works.

*Take risks – appropriately of course.

*SIOP is for all teachers and learners.

*Don’t be late to the teachers’ lounge on sunshine treat days… you will never get it back.
This is a lesson learned long ago but needed to be revisited.

*Candy is still a tactful way to bribe learners to do their best – whether youth or adults.

*Keep learning, trying, and growing. Stay curious.

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*Field trips are exciting at any age.

*Learn another language – and keep using it.

*Observations do not have to be scary when you are in it to grow and be better than you were before.

*Teaching is more than what the written curriculum is and what the lesson plans say… it is about caring and sometimes saving.

*Forget the small stuff – even though it may feel big sometimes. Learn to let go.

*If I have the necessities and the greatest gift, love, I have all things.

*Professional Development should be lifelong.  Never stop learning.

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*Snow days are nature’s way of giving us a break from the pressure. Still love them at my age!

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*Sometimes kids need a hug.  Sometimes kids need clothes.  Sometimes kids need food.

*Do not be an island.

*Learn about someone else.  Take a sincere interest to learn about him or her – culture, religion, language, …favorite color.

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*Culturally responsive teaching makes a difference.

*Brain breaks and a little dancing can do us all some good. Just move it!

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*Missing addends are important to know but learning manners trumps that. Please and thank you can make all the difference.

*Food on the table each day for each student is not always a true statement.

*Hugs and smiles can fix tons and keep the world going around.

*Be flexible…things may change and that is a constant.  It doesn’t necessarily have to be perfect to be great as long as “I do my best” in the words of a certain kindergarten teacher at Park Side. 🙂

*Be humble and kind.

*Be passionate and positive, not stressed and negative. Change will happen either way.

*Just like the saying, “Students will never care how much you know until they know how much you care.”


I was truly humbled by my sabbatical experience.  I taught children. They are smart. They are bright. They are kind. They want to learn and grow. They happen to be learning English as an additional language to their native tongue. They taught me just as much as I taught them – if not more.

Some of these children had food.  Some of these children did not.  Some of these children had a fresh change of clothing.  Some of these children did not. Some of these children received hugs at home. Some of these children did not. Each day I gave what I could to these children – from the alphabet and numbers to a bag of food and clothes.  I consider all of these children “my kids.”  My own children at home have learned as much as I have during this sabbatical experience about giving to others and resigning from judgment of others.  All of these children have a special place in my heart for the lessons they have taught me.

My goals were so grand in my sabbatical plan…
but I learned so much more than any plan I could create.

Some One must have had this plan for me…
Live – Laugh – Love – repeat… and to share this wise advice with others.

Helping children in need doesn’t have to happen across the globe.
It can happen right here, right now.

During my sabbatical experience, I was often smiling at all the possibilities there were to help others.  I hope to take this – along with all the lessons learned – to campus with me as I return to teach and guide the next generation of teachers.  No pressure but the world is counting on them.

 

A special thank you goes out to Ms. Prior for creating the video and teaching me a thing or two while I mentored her during student teaching. Good luck in your new position as an EL teacher. Take care of “our” kids.

Stay Calm & Live Life, Laugh Often, Love Much!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

 

 

How to Wage War Against Loneliness

BLOG Wendy & mom

Do you ever feel lonely? I do. Please don’t judge me. I have a husband who loves me. I have two delightful adult children who both have charming spouses. I am blessed with two adorable grandchildren with a third one on the way. I have friends. I have a profession that I am passionate about. And yet…I still get lonely.

Loneliness does not discriminate. Young or old, black or white, male or female, big or small…everyone gets lonely. Here is how dictionary.com defines this feeling that can sometimes overwhelm us: Loneliness: Depressing feeling of being alone.

Lonely wears different hats. Sometimes being alone is just what we need. Off by ourselves, praying or meditating or just soaking in the quiet. Sometimes lonely grabs us with her sharp talons and rips our hearts to pieces. Here’s how I became prey to loneliness:

Loneliness grabbed me with her piercing claws in 2004, and it has been a rollercoaster ride of remission, reoccurrence, remission, reoccurrence ever since. Once in a while I think I’m finally done with this silly feeling. And then…WHAAM, loneliness tackles me down again. Stupid stuff!

In the spring of 2004, my friend decided to turn away from our friendship and explore other options. We had been friends for many years and just like that, with no warning, I was excluded from her life. This rejection punched me in the heart and left a huge bruise mark shaped like loneliness.

That same spring also found my baby graduating from high school. She had made the decision to go to college far, far away. Off to Boise Idaho she went. The empty nest crushed my heart leaving it smashed to lonely smithereens.

Beginning in the summer of 2004, my husband had to travel more than usual for his job. He was absent from home two out of four weeks a month. His absence went on for several months and it left me truly alone. No one home. No husband. No children. No best friend. Loneliness slithered in and wrapped itself around my heart and suffocated me.

Thank goodness 2004 has come and gone. The lost friendship has been reconciled, the daughter has moved back to her home town, and the husband no longer has to travel. Still, loneliness tends to sneak back up on me once in a while.

When extreme loneliness begins to slither its way back into my life to smother my heart, I fight back. Here’s how…

*Reading my devotional each and every morning helps.

*Reading scripture helps.

*Praying about it helps.

*Talking about it helps.

*Journaling about it helps.

*Praying about it helps.

*Surrounding myself with those I love helps.

*Being active helps.

*Praying about it helps.

*Chatting with my Professional Learning Network via Twitter helps.

*Laughing helps.

*Praying about it helps.

*Smiling helps.

*Hugging helps.

*Praying about it helps.

*Walking and swimming helps.

*Getting OUT of the house helps.

*Praying about it helps.

If you ever feel lonely, trying one or all of the ideas above might be a good way to help you combat against loneliness. ~Wendy

How have you won the war against loneliness?

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

Perspective: The Lens We Choose

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BLOG perspective
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Is the glass half full or half empty? Is the day partly sunny or partly cloudy? Maybe your answer depends on the day or circumstances… Did you get your list accomplished or did that driver just cut you off? Too often “life happens,” and we have to deal with the hand that is dealt. Do we learn from our experiences – both accomplishments and defeats, and continue to move forward or do we let our experiences define what is possible or impossible and give up?

We listened today to our colleague and friend speak at the Legacy Foundation Luncheon. This extraordinarily strong woman shared about her experience of losing her son almost eight years ago. In her grief, she wrote her book titled No Ordinary Son, which was written to share her story with others; with all of us to help us experience how wickedly brutal grief can be and what we can choose to do with it. Our table was sharing napkins to wipe away our tears because we weren’t prepared with Kleenexes. Then, we had to reapply our make-up once we returned to our offices. In the end, our colleague received a standing ovation and applause that was filled with love and emotion!

In her short 40 minutes of sharing her incredible journey with us, these five points struck a chord in our hearts. Below we share our interpretation of them:

Grief is cruel: Everyone experiences grief differently. It can be the green monster that haunts us to shreds. Anger can imprison us. Grief can come and go, and we can’t be sure when it will hit us hardest or again and again. Lean on loved ones; we don’t have to do this alone.

Do something: When a loss occurs, sometimes people tend to not say or do anything because of fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. Doing nothing seems to be better than doing something that is wrong. She gently reminded us that doing nothing is way worse than doing something that is wrong. She thought people didn’t care when they chose the do nothing route. Do something for others who have experienced loss. Do not worry if it is wrong or right. Do it anyway!

Happiness is a choice: People sometimes wait their whole life to be happy. We make the choice to be happy. As Abraham Lincoln once said, “A person will be about as happy as they make up their mind to be.” Our colleague encouraged all of us to choose happiness each and every day.

Time DOES NOT heal all wounds: Time does not take away the pain of losing someone we love. However, there is hope in knowing that we can and will survive a tragedy. The loved one continues to live on with us. We can be better people when we remember them and live for today.

Family is the foundation to survival: She not only lost her son, she also lost her family and the way it used to be. She lost her parents because she used to go to them for reassurance in life and she no longer felt like she could. She lost her Best Friend who used to listen to her and love her and never leave her. Today, she knows family is what helped her heal. Her family members walked by her side and never left her. And that Best Friend…He never did leave her side, in fact He carried her through her darkest days.

Next time you are speaking with a friend in a coffee shop, in your classroom with your students, or in a line near a stranger, remember the lens you choose to use can make all the difference in your perspective. Thank you, Tanya McCoss-Yerigan, for sharing your story with us and reminding us that happiness is attainable even in the worst of times.

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