Tag Archives: #SMSU

SMSU Mustangs Come Together – Homecoming 2020

SMSU Homecoming 2020 was modified this year due to COVID, however, it was still a great time.

Each year a door/office decorating contest is held and this year was no different. Colleague and friend, Dr. LeAnne Syring and I get a little competitive during this contest. Okay…confession. We get A LOT competitive. 😜 Even though we have put much effort into our past door decorating contests, we seem to fall just short of winning…until this year!! Wahoo!!

The Homecoming theme for 2020 was Mustangs Come Together — 6 Feet Apart. So, together, Dr. LeAnne and I brainstormed to come up with our door decorating plan. I love the Beatles and their song Come Together kept playing in my mind. From this tune, our theme of Come Together, Mustangs…6 Shoes Apart was born.

LeAnne had the idea of taking our picture and cutting it out to make it look like we were riding a mustang horse. We found the picture of the SMSU horse in front of our university (created by artist John Sterner) so we used that mustang. The School of Education professors who were on campus a few days before the door would be judged, complied with our crazy wishes to let us take their pictures.

We had great helpers, wouldn’t you agree, Dr. LeAnne? Mariah S. and Amanda M. helped cut out horses and stencils and music notes. Thanks, ladies. We couldn’t have done it without you.

LeAnne also had the idea of rewriting the lyrics to the Beatles 60’s hit Come Together. I gave it a try and came up blank. LeAnne gave it a try and came up with a fabulous tune that was the epitome of SMSU spirit. Dr. LeAnne, Dr. Sonya, our office admin, Jen S. and myself sang the song to a karaoke tune. Give it a listen… 🐴🤎💛😀

🎵 Come Together, Mustangs, 6 Shoes Apart 🎵

We finished our door and song just in time for judging.  You could say we were a tad bit excited when we received the first place trophy. 😍🐴🎉

Saturday was the SMSU Homecoming Parade. The SMSU Education MN Aspiring Educators (EMAE) happily participates in the parade each year. Even though we weren’t able to throw candy to the children, we all had a great time! Kudos to all our EMAE officers for showing up and walking the 1.5 miles of parade route. Y’all are rock stars! 🌟

Thank you to all those SMSU peeps who plan the SMSU Homecoming festivities. We enjoyed all that was offered and look forward to next year’s theme. Just know…Dr. LeAnne and I will be back competing for two wins in a row! 💪💪😉

Stay Calm & Come Together, Mustangs!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

“Love Has a Name” Book Talk

Love Has a Name by Adam Weber

I am an educator.

An effective educator has many traits, and one of them is learning their students’ names as soon as possible.

Before school even started, I knew most of my students’ names. I wrote them on the name tags for their desks, on the name tags for their lockers, on the name tags for their mailboxes, on the squirrels for the bulletin board that said “We are NUTS about School.” 😊🐿

My goal was to know all 30 of my students’ names by the end of the first day (yes, I had 30 third graders my first year of teaching). For the most part, I succeeded.

When I was an elementary principal, I would go to the lunch room every day and say the names of the students who were sitting in their grade levels at their assigned lunch table. The students enjoyed this because they liked testing me. This took a lot longer than one day to learn all the names of the students, but I would generally succeed.

Now as a college professor, I still know it is vital to learn the names of all my students. I find it more difficult when I only see my students once or twice a week. I give it my best effort and yet still make mistakes (sorry Rebecca for calling you Rachel 😏).

Names…they are so important.

Did you know that God knows YOUR name? Isaiah 43:1 tells us it is true “…I have redeemed you; I have called you by name…”

Did you know that God loves you? Jeremiah 31:1 says it perfectly “…I have loved you with an everlasting love…”

I don’t know about you, but I find comfort in these verses. God knows my name and He loves me. My name…Wendy…is important to Him. Your name, ______, is important to him. Wow! Let that sink in for a bit.   

In the book Love Has a Name, author Adam Weber, founder and lead pastor of Embrace Church in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, shares stories about people who have loved him and who he has learned to love.

Pastor Adam begins by retelling the story of Zacchaeus. Remember him? 🎵 Zacchaeus was a wee little man; a wee little man was he.🎵 Jesus knew his name, and loved Zacchaeus before He even met him.

The first name story in this book to resonate with me was about Brett. Brett is one who taught Pastor Weber that love heals through unlikely people. Brett’s story gave me such joy because I am a professor at SMSU and he graduated from there (which I discovered because I read ALL footnotes in the back of the book while I was reading the book. It’s a must. You will be happy you did). We are Mustangs for Life, right Brett? 🐴

Chapter 10 is titled Becky|Love Washes Feet which if you remember, Jesus washed the feet of all His disciples…even the one who betrayed him. And the most amazing thing about that is Jesus knew this disciple would betray him. That takes some serious love to do that.

When I thought about washing feet, Sara came to my mind. She is the one who gives me my pedicure. She pampers me by washing and massaging my feet then painting my toes. All I can say is THANK YOU, Sara!!! Not sure I could do that for others. Could any of you? Pastor Weber will give suggestions on how you CAN do this for others. Read the book.

The stories of those names Pastor Weber has learned to love were astounding. Tony, Mark, Captain, F-Man (yup, that F stands for what you are thinking it stands for), A.C. Kidd (read this story to find out what those initials stand for), and Jillian, the Angel Wings lady (thank you for the beautiful artwork). All are remarkable stories. 

The story that hit my heart the most in this section was the story about Mark. Mark…the know it all. Mark…the one who thinks he’s right about everything. Mark…the one who starts false rumors about us. Mark…the two-faced brat. Mark…the one who makes us angry and frustrated and confused. And, as Pastor Adam says in his book, Mark…the one who we want to body slam!

What do we do about all those people in our lives named “Mark?” (Nothing personal if your name is Mark). Well, Pastor Weber has some great thoughts on this issue. Sorry…my lips are zipped. You will have to read the book if you want to know what his great thoughts are. 🤐

I do have to give away one part though. In Chapter 20, Pastor Adam shares about the mural that was created in the alley by his house. Jillian is an artist who painted angel wings on this backdrop. This beautiful artwork made the news and now people come from near and far to take their picture by the wings.

Because I live within 50 minutes of Sioux Falls, SD, I decided to take my daughter and her family on an angel wing hunt last week, and guess what? We found some. What a treasure. The pictures speak for themselves. Thank you, Jillian. 👼

Each story in this book is beautiful. And so is yours! And so is mine! We need to tell our stories. Who knows who we may help. Love has a name and it is all of ours. YOU, me, ALL of us. Jesus loves us and knows our name. That is a real treasure. So is this book. I highly recommend you read Love Has a Name by Adam Weber.

Angel Wing Hunt

Stay Calm & Share YOUR Story!
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.

 

 

Tweet Like a PIRATE Day

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“AHHHH” (scream). “He just followed me!!!”

“WHAT??? He hasn’t followed me yet! Green monster over here…a little envious. Oh, wait…AHHHHHH (scream) he just followed me, too!!!”

Those were the screams echoing on campus during the first ever ED Social Studies Methods #SMSUtlap live twitter chat held last Thursday at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.  As their professor, I couldn’t help but laugh and then laugh some more. 🙂

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Who is he you ask?? THE one and only pirate of course…Dave Burgess. He jumped in on the #SMSUtlap chat, and the teacher candidates were very excited about that! Dave is the author of the book “Teach like a PIRATE” which is a required read in my class. He joined in on the conversation, and he started following the candidates. That is one of his strong points…Dave believes in building his PLN with “connected educators and meeting the new wave of life-changers!”

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The teacher candidates had never participated in a live Twitter chat before this class. Many of their friends on Twitter were sending them text messages during the chat asking “what are you doing???” One teacher candidate even apologized on her Twitter page for all the ‘random’ tweets she was sending out. Certainly a new concept to these young future teachers.

Fast forward to week #2 of our second-ever #SMSUtlap live chat… And, of course, the teacher candidates became very excited again to see Dave pop in on the chat for a little bit. Thanks for joining us, Captain. You made their day!

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#SMSUtlap teacher candidates were a lot quicker this week with posting their questions that were on creative posters using postermywall.com. YES…they are tweeting like pirates. They even did a little dancing to YMCA. Multitaskers in the making—tweeting AND dancing! They have left their comfort zone! 🙂

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Next week will be our last live chat, and believe it or not, the teacher candidates are bummed about that. Join us if you can! Proud of all of you upcoming teachers!!! Keep tweeting like a pirate.

Below are a few of the posters made by these tweeters…enjoy!

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