Tag Archives: #livelife

Opportunity Today & Legacy Tomorrow

 

BLOG 3.13.17 Opportunity and Legacy

Opportunity is everywhere we look.  Do you see it?  Look closer. Our attitudes provide our lens – our outlook to see the opportunities around us.  Sure – hindsight is 20/20, but if we start looking forward for it, we may just find it out in front of us in our very path. Opportunity today can impact our legacy tomorrow.

If you recall a few posts back, Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The story of success, was mentioned.  Well, for those of you on the edge of your seats waiting for more, here is your opportunity to read and learn more.  It brings to light so many thoughts on so many levels, and can be part of each our legacies if we seize the moment – seize the opportunity.

Let’s start with the basics – the definition of two important terms: opportunity and legacy.

Opportunity can be defined as a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something. According to Merriam-Webster, opportunity is a favorable juncture of circumstances or a good change for advancement or progress. Also, according to Merriam-Webster, legacy is a gift by will, especially of money or other personal property or something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. These are two positive, powerful words.  I say we set them free and employ them every chance we get.

In Outliers we come to understand that “success arises out of the steady accumulation of advantages: when and where you were born, what your parents did for a living, and what the circumstances of your upbringing were… all make a significant difference in how well you do in the world”… as well as traditions, attitudes, and cultural legacies (p.176).

Gladwell provides various and multiple stories to support his theory. He weaves his narrative to tell the story of opportunity in Part One by considering the Matthew Effect, the 10,000-Hour Rule, and more. From there he progresses to Part Two where he addresses legacy with personal stories to demonstrate how our ancestors’ legacies and our own legacy plays a major role in our success.

Outliers says that “success follows a predictable course. It is not the brightest who succeed. Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities – and who have the strength and presence of mind to seize them” (p.267). Hmmm… seize the day? That is a quite common phrase about capturing oopportunity.

One particular focus in the book raised my eyebrows as an educator. Summer vacation. Love-hate relationship here as an educator… So, what does he say?
Gladwell notes the unchallenged mindset of summer vacation in the United States. We point fingers when it comes to low test scores without seeing the big picture.  Our learners are “out-houred” when it comes to education. We focus on the faults of schools when in fact, they are mostly pretty good with some fine teachers.  What is missing?  The extra days and hours that other countries provide. The author compares “The school year in the United States is, on average, 180 days long. The South Korean school year is 220 days long. The Japanese school year is 243 days long” (p.260). Year-round schooling may be unpopular to many – especially to those of us who grew up with a long, care-free summer – but it makes sense. Sorry. Again – hope not to lose any of our fabulous blog followers with my open comments about summer… Don’t get me wrong, I love summer! I do need to take this moment to share my thoughts, however. What if? … What if we tried a trimester-system, where engaged learning happens in schools for a term with an extended break of maybe 2-3 weeks before starting up again and repeating.  July holiday? Sure – it should still work and not diminish student retention.  You have to admit there is some validity in this way of thinking. What if? Okay – back to the book…

Life is hard.  Life is harder for some. Life is even harder for others.  How is it decided whose life will be especially tough while others experience what seems like smooth-sailing?

“We are so caught up in the myths of the best and the brightest and the self-made that we think outliers spring naturally from the earth” (p.268).  Gladwell continues “To build a better world we need to replace the patchwork of lucky breaks and arbitrary advantages that today determine success – the fortunate birth dates and the happy accidents of history – with a society that provides opportunities for all…The world could be so much richer than the world we have settled for” (p.268).  Why do we settle? Why do we think it is okay to leave behind any of our neighbors? Why don’t we offer a hand to help everyone up and to do better each day? We are only as strong as our weakest link, right? Let this be our legacy – that opportunity is truly a possibility for all.

Gladwell closes with his own family’s history, and the thought that the success of outliers being attributed to history, community, opportunity, legacy, advantages and inheritances. “The outlier, in the end, is not an outlier at all” (p.285).

If you get the opportunity, read Outliers. And consider year-round education and our legacy

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

 

Sleep Now … Or Forever

 

“Sleep is overrated.”  You have probably heard this statement before once or twice…or an outrageous number of times from individuals…like me. Guilty. Hands down. In attempts to be held accountable for change, we are here to tell you that opening line is false.  It simply isn’t true.  Sleep is how we recharge. Not getting enough sleep is like charging our phone batteries partially, and then expecting them to last all day just as if we had fully charged them.  Crazy concept, right?

Sometimes we need to be reminded we are not invincible. Sometimes we just need to sleep.

Easier said than done for some, however. In fact, we wrote about sleep in a January post after attending a session at a conference on the importance of sleep. What part about needing sleep is so difficult to absorb? Sleep is a necessity – although we often confuse it as a luxury.  In pursuit of adding to our shut-eye formula, we began looking for ways to find more sleep.  There is a plethora of resources available online and in print.  Where to start? Well, why not start with family and friends to begin gathering some information and importantly, support.  Dr. Wendy’s daughter shared this blog – Great Kids Therapy – with us, and we now share it with you. Check it out as it notes sleep’s impact on children…and all of us.

As my doc said to me this week, sleep is a habit just like anything else. Some habits are good.  Some habits are bad. We need family and friends to support us in this sleep venture.
Colleagues are not exempt from this responsibility.  In this busy, fast-paced world, we can get caught up in challenge to do more, to sacrifice more… Sleep becomes almost a competition.  “I didn’t go to bed until well past midnight, and had to be up early today for ________.”  You fill in the blank.  You have heard it. You may have said it. What drives us to so easily forsake sleep – our bodies’ time to refuel in efforts to accomplish more.  When in fact, we accomplish less – OR quite possibly not up to the caliber it would be minus the sleep deprivation – OR it ends up taking twice as long. Yikes – guilty of this – and have been for years.  My family reminds me frequently of my bad habit. I have always figured it was how I was wired – and that I didn’t need as much sleep as others.  Somehow I was a superior built model that requires 4-5 hours of sleep on average to perform mental and physical tasks without waver.  Guess what? I was wrong.  I mean – don’t tell others that I was wrong.  But it is true…so tell others if it can help you and your family and friends – then do tell.  We need to be supporters of each other – to sleep more!  Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our health.  Why would we want to be competitive about our lack of sleep and poor health choices?

If you haven’t dozed off already, get some shut-eye. Don’t worry – You have the teachers’ permission. 😉

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

 

 

Embrace the Struggle

 Get real. No one really wants to struggle. It takes a lot of energy, drive, and focus to persevere through the struggle in efforts to find success. That – and a good amount of sleep.  My goal was to post this on Monday – or at least earlier in the week… but here it is – Friday!  Finally Friday.  What a week or two it has been!  Would I change it?  Well, maybe some things and maybe not some things….What I have decided along this journey of life is I can either spend my time and energy looking backwards to the past for “what if” moments or embrace it and make right now work…embrace the struggle!

I recently attended the NCAA Convention in Nashville, Tennessee.  I had never been to Nashville before – and I highly recommend visiting!  As a friend and colleague once wrote, “Nashville didn’t disappoint.”  You just never know when you might stumble upon an impromptu jam session with Lady Antebellum.  Who knew?  Well – we certainly didn’t.  We did see a big charter bus outside The Stage.  I asked a few folks standing in line about who they were going to see.  Their responses?  One said, “Carrie Underwood.”  Another confidently yelled, “Free hot dogs.”  This made us laugh of course.  The idea of standing in line for a hot dog? Well – if it is a really good hot dog then maybe.  Once inside we learned it was Lady A.  The show soon started, and it was incredible.  Did I mention the price? Free!  Did I mention where I was standing? Front of the stage!  Okay – so no struggle there!  It was a struggle to decide to wait in line or keep on keepin’ on.  We waited – and it paid off!  It did cut into some shut-eye time, however.

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Speaking of missing sleep…while attending the conference, there was a session on mental health awareness, which highlighted the need for sleep and how our world is functioning in a sleep-deprived state regularly.  There were a lot of lessons learned from the session, but one main thought is that lack of sleep causes us to make poor decisions.  If we add caffeine into the mix to keep us functioning, it simply allows us to make those poor decisions quicker. Yikes!  Decision-making under the influence of sleep deprivation is a struggle.  I was about to reach for another cup of joe at that moment, but opted for a quick 15-minute snooze instead.  And you know what?  I felt pretty darn good after that. Maybe the sleep researchers are truly on to something.

Additionally there were timely sessions about inclusion as well as mindsets.  As I listened to the speakers share their stories as well as research, I kept hearing and thinking to myself – Attitude can make a difference. I’ve heard it before, and I am sure you have as well.  You will probably continue to hear it – because it is true. Attitude can do a lot of things. Attitude can make a struggle manageable. 

The Presidential Inauguration took place while at convention. Let me tell you it was a struggle not to skip the day’s events to be glued to the television. My thought it that no matter a person’s political position, there needs to be a respect for the Office. Considering this, I would want to watch the day’s events unfold because it is our history. People joined together to watch the future unfold. Indeed, attitude can make all the difference.

Continuing to reflect upon attitude, I revisited the thought about attitude making such a big difference when aboard Southwest Airlines. They are just friendly people, aren’t they? From the gatekeeper to the flight attendant, they can really “just smile” when doing just about anything – handing out peanuts and all.  They seemed really happy and having a good time. Are they really that happy though?  Attitude can be contagious. I thought, “Could I do that?” Why yes – yes I could.  New mantra – “Fake it until you make it.”  Okay – I will give it a try! It may be a struggle, but I will aim to embrace it. Spread the contagious attitude.

While at the airport, I found myself with extra time.  Rare, I know!  I found a book called Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell.  Perhaps you have read this #1 National Bestseller’s David and Goliath. I found myself engrossed in this reading. The author tells the story in an easy-to-read narrative fashion. I have not quite finished the book yet, but I will soon and will share it with you. Lots of takeaways from the reading so far…

So what are some take-aways from my visit to Nashville and living the past few weeks?

Smile. Laugh. Take in your surroundings. Enjoy the journey; it’s the only one you’ve got.

Everyone has his or her own struggle.  Support me with mine.  Support you with yours.

Don’t judge mine, and I won’t judge yours. Struggles are real – so embrace them and carry on.

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Stay Calm & Embrace the Struggle!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

 

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.

 

 

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates…Until It’s Not

Just like Forrest Gump and his momma say, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Yum! Well – sometimes anyway.  Other times not so much.

It’s that time of year when we reflect on the past and look ahead to the future and really, really try to live in the present while on winter break.  We LOVE Christmas time and Christmas vacation! 🙂

So what have we learned from this year…

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Just like Forrest and his wise momma said… life is indeed like a box of chocolates.  Each day brings something new and unexpected.  Some of the days are like the best pieces of melted caramel in milk chocolate that one can imagine.  Other days are a little more like the dark chocolate with some jelly something or other inside.  What?  You like those chocolates?? Well – we each have our own opinions and perspectives.  Just consider the most recent Presidential election… or not – depending on your outlook.  We are all different, and we all help make the world go around.  With that in mind, what will you do with your chocolate in 2017?  Eat it? Give it up? Share it?

We’re still working on the list of lessons gleaned from 2016.  We are living up each moment until we ring in 2017.  Hope you find time to live it up with your family and friends as 2016 draws to a close and we welcome in 2017!

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

What Motivates You?

“Let it drive you or defeat you… only you can choose.
No one owns your attitude but you.”

These one-day-famous words were once said by Mama Bear to her Baby Bear.  Okay – I may just be the Mama Bear in this story.  You see… Baby Bear was facing some adversity and the porridge was no longer just quite right.  School, teams, responsibilities, …the tug-of-war of it all can be consuming.

It is hard to see our kids struggle – whether it is our children at home or our children in our classrooms or our children in activities or our children out in the world.  There is not necessarily an age limit where it stops hurting when the challenges come knocking and are no longer at bay.  You may have heard this one before… “Knock, knock.”  “Who’s there?”  “Life’s challenges that’s who.”  ….and I forget how the rest of the joke goes, but I know how the story ends.  We either finish it the best we can or start fresh or walk away.  Well, in most situations, it should only be option A.

“I get knocked down, but I get up again… you’re never going to keep me down.”  These lyrics randomly pop in my head when life gets overwhelming and the going gets tough.  It all started back during my undergrad work when I was challenged beyond my imagination juggling life away from home, my studies, my internships, my responsibilities, and of course my social obligations.  Were these events life changing?  You bet.  Were they world ending?  Not so much.  At the time, I wasn’t so sure, however.  That is the beauty of facing challenges and conquering doubts.  Although we may feel in over our heads, we can tread water and eventually swim back to shore. …Now back to the song – I am not quite sure if these are the true lyrics to the tune, but they certainly were and remain true for me.  Get back up and just keep swimming.

So what motivates us to “keep on keepin’ on” each day?  Some ideas based on thorough research… or rather, Deep Thoughts by Dr. V.  (I apologize that only a certain population of SNL viewers will understand that last statement.)

Finding clues to the next stage of the game…

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Helping others find their clues…

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Finding enjoyment and passion and life…

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Witnessing the strength of others…

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Pushing ourselves to do better and be better…

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Being a part of something bigger than ourselves…

Family & friends…

…and of course furry friends with BIG brown eyes!

What motivates you?

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade… or just let the sour stuff ruin your day.  We choose how we live and what we do with the lemons headed down the aisle of life our way on any given day.

Stay Calm & remember…where there’s a will, there’s a way!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Adventures in Student Teaching … with Dr. V

A wise teacher once said at parent-teacher conferences, “I will only believe half the stories I hear at school if you do the same at home.”  Was that me? I may have used that line a time or two. 🙂  There is usually some truth to each story, however.  With that in mind…

This week we have a guest blogger, Ms. Alyssa Prior, teacher candidate from Southwest Minnesota State University.  She happens to be student teaching with me while I am on sabbatical assignment teaching English learners, and Alyssa is collecting many stories to share… Without further ado and in her own words (mostly) uncensored, Ms. Alyssa Prior:

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Student Teaching at Park Side Elementary School only has one rule – What happens at Park Side Elementary with Dr. V, stays at Park Side Elementary. Luckily, I will disclose just a few exciting excerpts from this week’s adventures! Unfortunately I do not yet know all of Dr. V’s deep dark secrets, but I will share two small secrets of teaching.

Secret #1- Teaching ESL is NEVER just teaching.

Unlike most teachers, we do not have a classroom inside the building. We are located in the mobile learning lab, just out front of the school. Since we are not located inside the school, we normally find a corner to work with our small groups of 3-6 students.
On our way back to the mobile learning lab from one of our classes inside the school, we came across a student standing in the hallway. This student was dripping wet. He was just standing there, dripping from the waist down. As many of you can guess, this student was not just wet from the rain and snow. This was pee, running down his legs all over the floor in front of his locker. Of course, being the super teacher she is, Dr. V took this student directly to the bathroom as I tried to find some extra clothes. This was just our first adventure Tuesday, our next adventure was magic.

On top of teaching, we had our EL Family night this week. On Tuesday, we invited all ESL families in the Marshall School District as well as a few surrounding schools. We had Jett Skrien, a Marshall High School student perform a magic show for the families. This event was the talk of the week with our students, and it had a great turn out! One of our second grade students even went on stage with Jett! Dr. V so kindly volunteered us to ride the bus to and from the show, to ensure that all families got on and off at the correct stops. During this time, I was directing traffic as the bus waited for families, and I  visited with families on the bus! I felt like a superhero as I told the cars sitting in line waiting for the bus to move that they could simply drive around the bus.

FUN FACT- If a bus does not have their stop sign out and does not have the red flashing lights on, you may pass it!

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On Wednesday our kindergarten students had a Thanksgiving feast. This was a very exciting event for staff and students! We saw some turkeys trotting down the hall- to their feast. Dr. V and I agreed that these were some lucky turkeys! They were attending the feast and not part of the feast. During this time we walked around visiting with our students. After the feast was over, Dr. V also became a custodian! Being a teacher is not just teaching, you become well diverse in many jobs!

Secret #2- Hosting a student teacher involves more than being just his or her mentor, you also become a chauffeur.

This week I have had some unfortunate car troubles. After our wonderful snow day on the previous Friday, I was cleaning the snow and ice off of my vehicle, and I smelled something funny! I opened the car door with a giant cloud of smoke streaming out of the vehicle. Since I was unable to drive a flaming vehicle to and from school, Dr. V kindly drove me home from school a few days and offered to pick me up if I ever needed a ride! Luckily, my roommates were able to drive me to school every day, but Dr. V took on the job of bringing me home after school! Since EL family night was the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, my roommates were out-of-town and unable to bring me there. Dr. V so kindly offered to pick me up, knowing my car was still not in tip-top shape. At 5:05pm, Dr. V pulled up at my house. We were scheduled to meet the bus that we would be riding at 5:20pm. We were riding peacefully to Southwest coaches when all the sudden Dr. V hears a weird sound.

“Is that my tire? Do I have a flat tire?!” Dr. V anxiously said as she pulled over. “Alyssa, get out and see if that’s my tire”.

As it is still raining, I jumped out and see it’s a flat tire. JUST OUR LUCK!

As I was ready to change a tire, Dr. V calls for backup.

Needless to say, I do not have good luck with cars. However, we did make it to our EL family night and had a great turn out! Multiple test drives later, shopping for the perfect fit, and five days after a small car fire, I have a new car. Hopefully one that won’t start on fire or get a flat tire anytime soon.

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My adventures with Dr. V have been crazy and fun, but they have also been very eye-opening. I have known Dr. V for three years now as my advisor and professor, but I have never in these three years seen her smile or laugh as much as I have at Park Side Elementary School. If I have learned one thing from this experience so far, it has been to always do what you love and laugh a little along the way, even if you have a flat tire. ~A.P.


Well said, Ms. Prior, well said.

Stay Calm & Enjoy the Adventure!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.

Fairy “tail” Fall

“Today was a fairytale. …Time slows down whenever you’re around… can you feel the magic in the air…”  ~Taylor Swift

This fall is like a fairytail.  Warm temps and sunshine.  It can’t possibly be November in Minnesota, you say?!  Well, it is indeed!  Usually the most overcast month of the year, this November has been sunshine with little rain.  It is hard to believe that the magic of the holiday season is approaching with these unseasonable temps!  Winter is right around the corner – er, maybe the corner after that, but still, you get the idea.  It’s no tall tale.  Old Man Winter is on his way!  With it, we say good-bye to fall and hello to winter …and soon a new year.

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This has been an autumn of firsts and celebrations and living life…even as the leaves fall and flowers die; there is so much living to be done.

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We are thankful that the harvest season has drawn to a close for most – or almost finished for some.  That means it must be hunting seasons for others.  This is a time when they tell a tale of a tail or two.  My husband and sons have discovered that they enjoy the hunting experience together.  I secretly know it is because they enjoy napping in the wilderness (the fairy”tail” part of the story) and sporting blaze orange fashion.  Actually some of it isn’t even that bad… 😉

 

Quarter one has wrapped up and quarter two is underway.  Conferences have taken place, and new goals have been set.  We are ready for more learning and discovery…hooray!  With the start of this second term, a teacher candidate began her student teaching experience with me.  It has been a joy to see her grow in the profession as I had the privilege of teaching her during her time on campus and mentor her now in the classroom while I am on sabbatical.

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Discovery can be magical!  My middle son discovered his fondness for goats as he played the biggest billy goat gruff in the school play of Rapunzel.  What a fun experience!

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It’s not always just fun and games, however!  My youngest son earned five stitches from a serious game of lightning at recess.  His knee is still quite tender, but he will be just fine – and now has another story to tell about the “good ol’ days” in the future.

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After several successful football seasons thinking about the glory days, the Marshall Tiger Football team is advancing to the semi-finals at the state football tournament for the first time in school history.  Go Tigers!

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Sounds like a busy fall right?  Absolutely! There is so much life out there to be living.

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Oh – and how about those Cubs?  … And the supermoon?!  😉

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Great excuses all around us to live life…and wait until spring to wash the house windows.

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

Curious Minds Want to Know

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These past few weeks of the school year have simply flown by.  It is officially fall, and the school year is well underway.  One of the focus topics with the start of a new school year is… social norms.  We need to know what behaviors are socially acceptable.  This is critical now as the “honeymoon” period of the school year is almost over as well as for new students just entering school for the first time.  Desired behaviors can be learned by most on most days.  Who said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  We can all learn something sometime, right?

This past week while working on social norms, one of the English learners in my care greeted his teacher on his own one morning and another learner told her teacher “You’re welcome” while finishing up some math work on the board and politely handing the smartboard marker back to the teacher.  Both cases caused the classroom teacher to be pleasantly surprised by the learning that has taken place in such a short time – and has been applied. (Yay!  I played a part in that!! 🙂 )  These two individuals are motivated to learn and curious about the English language and culture; they want to learn.

“Learning is what we humans do best.  We learn throughout our lives by wondering and exploring, experiencing and playing” (Ostroff, 2016, p.1).  In Wendy Ostroff’s book, Cultivating Curiosity in K-12 Classrooms, we are reminded that curiosity is essential to being human, living well, and being happy.  Curious to know more?  You are encouraged to read the book to learn more.

So how can teachers encourage curiosity without killing the cat? “Fostering curiosity involves listening to the myriad of voices and perspectives of the class community members and respecting each other enough to put oneself ‘out there'” (Ostroff, 2016, p.6).  The power of a positive growth mindset remains unchallenged.  We can accomplish almost anything that we believe.

Learners should be involved with both content and technique.  They should be engaged in the learning and active participants instead of being told what to know and how to think.  If involved, motivation to learn cultivates curiosity, which can bring out the child in all of us.

Allowing learners an opportunity to grow during unstructured times with choices, provides a safe place to make mistakes… to learn from them, and grow from them.  This can be a hard one to let go and grow with, but it is essential to curiosity leading to creativity.  If learners cannot be tasked with the charge to be curious and learn, we have failed.  This doesn’t mean it will be an overnight success without guidance.  We need to model and mold – all the while knowing the mold is meant to change.

A little respect can go a long way – in life and in career; this includes how we treat and challenge others.  Create curious habits and habitats for learners.  Enlist the help of Curious George and other characters who live a life of curiosity and never stop learning and growing.

Life and learning are a journey; enjoy the adventure!

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

Fill It Up!

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“My cup runneth over.”  Although I haven’t seen the movie in some time, I immediately recognize the line from, Hope Floats, where the grandmother in this 1998 film kindly shares, “My cup runneth over.” Although there are various ways to interpret this phrase, I have always thought she meant it in an endearing way to say that she has everything she needs with the love of her family.

You might be thinking “that is not the only place you can find that quote” – and you are correct.  It may be found elsewhere…including the Bible, which is probably where it all started. 😉  Psalm 23: 1-6 reads:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

My cup runneth over. So I wasn’t quite sure what it meant at the time I first watched that film almost 20 years ago or when I read it in scripture, but I know what it means to me now.

Today standing in-line – it happened.  I could feel my bucket (or cup in this case) filling up.  As I helped an English learner with her fingerprints for lunch (Yes – that’s how modern day school lunch lines go for those of you wondering), we were chatting.  What did we talk about?  Shoes.  Sparkling, silver shoes to be more precise.  Although the little girl and I were not fluent in the same language, we were able to communicate about something we had in common – loving rockstar shoes!  During this time, I was able to connect with one of the precious ELs who I will have the opportunity to teach and learn from this fall.  My cup runneth over.

Opportunities are everywhere.  The bucket can hold all kinds of energy.  We just have to see the opportunities and seize them.  Last week at teacher workshops, I had the pleasure to hear two fabulous speakers.  (Yes – I know that might be crazy to say.)  The time simply flew by and my bucket was overflowing…gushing maybe.  And I might be a groupie to both Willow Sweeney and Dr. Luis Cruz now…. My cup runneth over.

Willow Sweeney, partner in creating the Top 20 Training, fired us up to connect with our students and each other. There is potential in all of us.  Take ownership for the energy that we show up with each day and keep each day.  Not everything will go our way but how we react to it is up to us.

Dr. Luis Cruz was the first in his family to attend college – and become a doctor!  (Even if his daughter thinks he’s not a real doctor, I say kudos to him!  It takes a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to make that happen.)  His message for us is to never give up on our kids, on each other, on hope.  I won’t give up. Hope floats after all.

If you have the opportunity to experience either of these two speakers in action live, go for it!  You won’t regret it!  I absolutely LOVED the speakers!  They reminded me that we can make a difference.  I realize that I am optimistic person, who is an idealist almost to a fault.  🙂 I am continuing to learn to be a pragmatist and realist each day, but it seems to start over every morning with the same “let’s change the world and make it a better place” mentality.  I just can’t help it.  Everyone has a vice… mine include: reading, writing in run-on sentences (hard to believe since I am a language arts teacher at heart, but I have so much I want to share with you), fountain pops with lots of ice, a glass of cabernet now and then, fun pens, and of course shoes (if you weren’t paying attention earlier)…and being an idealist.  As the Marshall Public Schools mission statement reads, “MPS develops the potential of each learner for success in a changing world.”  Let’s do this –together!

I love my profession – teaching young students as well as my teacher candidates.  That fills my bucket.  Although I greatly miss my SMSU peeps, I am truly enjoying my adventure at MPS.  My goal this semester is to bring great ideas back to the SMSU teacher candidates from my experience at Park Side and enhance our rapport with schools throughout our community.  Taking time away from my university family has made me fully realize the impact that we have on the community and what more we could even do.  People and authentic relationships make us who we are and how we can help each other.  We truly can make this world a better place.  My cup runneth over.

Cheers to the weekend and making this world a better place and to you… May you find something to fill your bucket that is perfect for you!

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