Tag Archives: #teachercandidates

Mental Health Monday

May is Mental Health Awareness month. I know a handful of my students were struggling spring semester and still are even though school is out for the summer. In fact, just today I visited with one who is having a hard time dealing with life. She talked, she cried, I listened. She said she is getting professional help and is getting better (so thankful for that).

Dr. V. and I had the privilege of watching and listening to Gerry Brooks, well-known Kentucky elementary principal, give an hour online ASCD Mental Health Summit presentation on how he has uses object lessons to encourage his staff and build up their mental wellness.  

When googling the definition of object lessons, you are given several choices. The Oxford Language website defines it as a “striking practical example of some principle or ideal.”  Dictionary.com explains it as “a practical or concrete illustration of a principle.” My favorite definition is the one found on Wikipedia (I know, I know…not the most trustworthy, but hey, it’s my favorite!)… “An object lesson is a teaching method that consists of using a physical object of visual aid as a discussion piece for a lesson. Object lesson teaching assumes that material things have the potential to convey information.” (Carter, 2010).

Below are a few of the mental health object lesson ideas I found extremely beneficial:

Light Switch: Principal Brooks gave his staff a light switch. This object is a reminder to his school family to switch off their professional lives and turn on their personal lives when they leave the school building and go home. His professional switch goes off Friday and switches back on Sunday afternoon. His advice to his teachers is you are no good to anyone if you are stressed out so it is okay to turn off your professional switch! Many of his teachers liked this idea so much they went out and bought all their students a light switch. Teachers will ask their students to pull out their light switches and turn off their math brains and turn on their science brains…a simple but yet powerful tool for all to destress!  

M & M’s: Gerry likes to gift his staff with tasty treats. He especially appreciates M & M’s because of all the different flavors (for his diverse staff). If we were to give our colleagues these same treats would we know which kind to give to others? If we know one of our colleagues has a peanut allergy, we certainly would not give them a bag of Peanut M & M’s. We are told to know our colleagues on a personal basis. They can be a support system. Gerry encourages us to send a friendly text to five people a day and just imagine the joy you would have if YOU received such a text:

                                3 friends

                                1 acquaintance

                                1 whoever you need to track down his/her number

Reading Glasses: Principal Brooks gives all his teachers a pair of reading glasses whether they need them or not. He wants us to try our best to look through other people’s lenses so we can be the best we can be in our profession. By doing so teaches us empathy, sympathy, and understanding. Imagine you are teaching your math lesson. It is a very important concept your students MUST know for the test. You are interrupted by the school counselor asking to have one of your students come with her/him. You may be thinking…absolutely not! This child cannot miss this important lesson. What you don’t realize is this counselor has two sets of very angry parents in the office and the only child who can help resolve this issue is the one she needs to take with her. We must try our best to see situations through the lenses of others.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: This object lesson was eyebrow raising for me. I’ve known about it all 34 years of my teaching career, however, this was the first time to ever hear someone point it out and say it out loud. P in peanut butter helps Gerry remember professional, and the J in jelly reminds him of jealousy. OUCH. Truth right there. Honest to goodness truth. Professional jealousy is real!! He admitted he experiences this when he compares his school’s test scores to others. Or a teacher is asked to present at the staff meeting about something wonderful he/she is doing in the classroom and the colleagues become jealous.  A little jealousy rears its ugly head when we start to compare ourselves to others. We may begin to have a little conversation in our head that goes something like this… “what did they do to earn that score? Why did that teacher to get to talk at the staff meeting? I’ve done amazing things too.” I know I’ve made these same types of comparisons, and I’m confident you have too! We must stop this!! We cannot grow if we start to allow professional jealousy.

Valentine Heart Candy: Jerry picked out Valentine’s Day heart candy because they are seasonal. He also shared he has a freezer full of Girl Scout Cookies because once the season for those cookies is done, he cannot get them until the next year. BUT…the good news is, those cookies and those Valentine’s Day candy hearts will be back. The season without them will come to an end. We all have been in a crazy season. Our pandemic the past 14 months has taken a toll on many.  It is seasonal and let’s remember the good news is “this too shall pass!”  It WILL end.

Thank you, Gerry Brooks, for sharing your education wisdom with us. Your presentation is one I will always remember.

The last object lesson I’d like to share is a pillow. The craziest school year in history is coming to an end (thank goodness). To all of you, my fellow educator rock star colleagues…may you be blessed with sweet rest this summer. Lay your head on your soft pillow and smile when you close your eyes.  You did extraordinary things for your students this year and for that we applaud you.

Even though this blog is written from an educator’s perspective, it truly applies to all!!! Turn off your professional switch when you are done working for the day; get to know your colleagues on a personal level; be respectful of others’ perspectives and try to understand the situation by looking at it through a different set of lenses; keep professional jealousy out of your heart and mind and workplace; and when you are experiencing tough times, know it’s only for a season…this too shall pass!

Take care of your mental health, everyone! Your mind matters!!

Stay Calm & Be Well!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V.   

Carter, S.A. (2010). An object lesson, or don’t eat the evidence. The Journal of History and Childhood and Youth. (V. 3, Number 1). John Hopkins University. Retrieved May 23, 2021 from https://muse.jhu.edu/article/370309

Storm Home Love

As I sit here gazing out the window watching the snow fall and whip around in the 25 mile per hour winds, I remember a fond memory of when my son, Kyle, was in first grade. The elementary school my son attended was also the same school where I taught third graders.

An expectation at our school was the parents of students who lived out in the country on the main highways or the gravel roads were required to sign a form listing a safe place, or storm home, located in town where their children could go just in case they weren’t able to make it back home. Even a few town kids were required to have a storm home listed.

One blizzardy day in January (kind of like today but worse) a winter storm came upon us. Even though the district had made the decision to let the children go home early, it wasn’t quite early enough. Busses weren’t able to travel on the gravel roads so those kids who lived out in the country were being rerouted to their storm homes.

One little boy was quite worried about my son. With great trepidation, he kept repeating to his teacher “Kyle doesn’t have a storm home! He NEEDS a storm home!” Miss Wolff, a wonderful first grade teacher, gently reassured this little boy, “Kyle will be fine because his mom works at the school. Kyle doesn’t need a storm home.” That concerned little classmate didn’t buy it. He demanded Kyle go with him to his storm home so Kyle would stay safe.    

Don’t you just love that story? The innocence? The purity? I sure do. That little boy might have been anxious about my son’s safety, but his insisting on Kyle going with him to his storm home was noble, kind, admirable, and genuine love.  

Our nation…our world needs that kind of love more than ever! We need that little boy’s innocent, genuine, pure love and concern for others! Philippians 4:8 says, Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Dear friends, let us love one another! Let us challenge each other to intentionally think about such things. Let us focus on being honorable, righteous, wholesome, commendable, extraordinary people who care for human beings because it’s the right thing to do.

Whatever is true...(hand lettered) Philippians 4:8 8 by 10 print

Stay Calm & Find a Storm Home!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

It’s Gonna Be Okay

Photo credit: https://slideplayer.com/slide/7367403/

Yesterday in my Classroom Management course, teacher candidates were discussing the Three Dimensions of Discipline found in the book Discipline with Dignity: New Challenges, New Solutions by Curwin, Mendler, and Mendler (2008). The first dimension, The Prevention Dimension, has 7 key points. One key point mentions how to handle conflict with students.

Together, we brainstormed how they see themselves handling conflict with their future elementary students. They tapped into all the information gleaned from this course and gave excellent examples. It was a proud moment for me. 😊 Then, the discussion landed us on a chat about the teacher’s lounge. You can about imagine where that conversation took us. Yikes…

I mentioned to them I believe THEY are experiencing conflict in their lives right now. This turned the focus of the discussion onto them, so I asked these teacher candidates how THEY are handling their life conflicts. How are they dealing with their stresses?

One stressor they are coping with this semester is worrying about getting their field experience hours completed. COVID is playing havoc on their field experiences with schools closing down for weeks at a time.

“What are we going to do if we can’t complete our hours?” they question with sincere concern in their voices.

Another stressor they are dealing with is they are in their methods year, which can be quite intense with several assignments from each methods class…sometimes all due on the same day. They have lessons plans to write and lessons to teach and research papers to write and presentations to give and articles to critique and edTPA commentary to review. They begin to doubt their abilities.

Dog pile on top of all that, the majority of my teacher candidates work an outside job to help pay tuition. That’s a lot. That’s a lot for any of us.

So…back to my question directed at my teacher candidates. How are they handling all this personal conflict? The number one answer from all of them in this class was…

They vent! They vent to each other (and sometimes to their mom).

They talk it out and when they realize they aren’t alone and know others are going through the same thing, it surprisingly helps them calm down. They have become family. I told them it was okay to vent.

One of the teacher candidates shared with the class she cries a lot. I told her it was okay to cry. And then I said to them: “It is going to be okay.” This same teacher candidate who said she has been crying a lot, asked if she could get that recorded for proof. I smiled and told her of course she could. She pulled out her phone, and I said it again only this time with a little more power…

IT’S GONNA BE OKAY! (Maybe I made it on Tik Tok??). 😉

Tasha Layton’s song came into my thoughts after I spoke those words out loud, so I started to sing these lyrics to my teacher candidates…

It’s gonna be okay

It’s gonna be okay

You’re gonna be okay!  

You got this, teacher candidates. 💪💪 Air hugs for all of you! 🤗 It’s gonna be okay. 🤎💛

Stay Calm & Go Ahead & Vent & Cry!
Profs Dr. Wendy & Dr. V. 

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. 

Virtual teaching SOS! – Part II 

Hello? Hello? Are you out there? Oh – now we can see you! Zoom. Just like that. We shared our part I of Virtual teaching SOS!  

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! 

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

Art Work:

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free online art lessons

Literacy & Teaching English as a Second Language:


This site is great for elementary teachers and reads books in English & 43 different languages!
This site, much like Rosetta Stone, teaches students new languages – set the language to English and our English learners can continue their language learning.
Great for a variety of subjects – and for our English learners with a primary language in Spanish, Kahn Academy in Spanish!
Great for a variety of subjects!  For English learners, use the English Language Arts tab.
A site that allows you to create quizzes – both for individual practice and for a game-like atmosphere. 

Variety of Ideas and Websites:


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Online Learning At Home

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Image may contain: people sitting and text

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Films and Videos:

Virtual Field Trips: 

National Parks


Movement and Phy Ed: 

Making Videos & Web Conferencing Tools: 

No photo description available.

Emotional Learning:

PD:

Additional links to even more resources… 

Universal Design for Learning:

UDL: http://udlguidelines.cast.org/?utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=none&utm_source=cast-about-udl

UDL Strategies: https://www.understood.org/en/learning-thinking-differences/treatments-approaches/educational-strategies/5-examples-of-universal-design-for-learning-in-the-classroom

CAST UDL Resources: 
http://www.cast.org/whats-new/learning-tools.html#.Xm6Z_ahKg2w 

STEM: 

Tom Foley, SMSU Alumnus – https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1UAvlVkmRvL5LllSw1XIpLRX2ubxAk2CIN1h2MWLuiik/edit#gid=623973979

Kandy Noles Stevens, ABD – Online Resources.docx

Need more? Check out this amazing list of educational resources… http://www.amazingeducationalresources.com/

Need even more resources? Additional resources are available at the bottom of the MN Learning Commons page: https://ccaps.umn.edu/minnesota-learning-commons/educator-resources as well as at Minnesota State: https://careerwise.minnstate.edu/education/onlineresources.html

Detailed Google doc, written by Jenae Cohn and Beth Seltzer:https://docs.google.com/document/d/1ccsudB2vwZ_GJYoKlFzGbtnmftGcXwCIwxzf-jkkoCU/preview

Going Online in a Hurry: What to Do and Where to Start: https://www.chronicle.com/article/Going-Online-in-a-Hurry-What/248207

Please do a bad job of putting your courses online: https://anygoodthing.com/2020/03/12/please-do-a-bad-job-of-putting-your-courses-online/?fbclid=IwAR1KYrnmEX2-Hk-NR9jIJH_ygG5lA_tJFgUCt0M18VJtpj_ltHEqRD_cS9E

Project-Based Learning: https://www.pblworks.org/what-is-pbl

Differentiated Instruction: https://www.slideshare.net/edutopia/teacher-tested-strategies-for-differentiated-instruction

Center on Online Learning and Students with disabilities: 
http://www.centerononlinelearning.res.ku.edu/

AMTE Webinars
https://amte.net/webinars

Everything I Need to Know I Learned on Sabbatical

Amazing how quickly time flies by… just wow! This was a year ago already – my experience serving as a teacher for English learners. Today, I was privileged to be part of the Reading in the Content Areas classes, and share about culturally responsive teaching with the K-12 and secondary teacher candidates and about my sabbatical experience.  Joining me today were two EL experts from our community with years of experience working with English learners and integrating Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) into their teaching.  Culturally Relevant Pedagogy is another term for Culturally Responsive Teaching. CRP can be defined as… “A pedagogy that crosses disciplines and cultures to engage learners while respecting their cultural integrity. It accommodates the dynamic mix of race, ethnicity, class, gender, region, religion, and family that contributes to every student’s cultural identity. The foundation for this approach lies in theories of intrinsic motivation” (Wlodkowski & Ginsberg, 1995, para 2).

Today was a wonderful opportunity to engage in dialog around CRT with our future teachers, who – no pressure – are responsible for changing the world one learner at a time. Best of luck to all – and enjoy! Life is short – so share it with others.

Wlodkowski, R.J., & Ginsberg, M.B. (1995). A framework for culturally responsive teaching. Educational Leadership, 53(1), 17-21.

edUconnections

blog-1-12-17-sabbatical-reflection-n
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…

View original post 953 more words

This is NOT a Cat Lesson

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You can’t always be certain.  Sometimes what it appears to be just isn’t so.  Sometimes it is something entirely different.  Sometimes it is what it is.  Most times this is the truth.
It either is or isn’t – a cat.  Right?


Recently, Minnesota author/illustrator Mike Wohnoutka addressed the Southwest Minnesota Reading Council hosted on the Martin Luther College campus in New Ulm, Minnesota.  I was privileged to attend with a former student-teacher gone teacher and two teacher candidates.  It was an evening filled with learning, laughter, reading, reflecting, doodling, and discussion.  What does a cat got to do with it, you ask?  Let me tell you….

Growing up with three older brothers, Mike Wohnoutka loved to draw, and he was determined to do well. From early on he would go to his room to read to get away from a little of the noise. He displayed talent early on, and his Headstart teacher noticed right away.  She wrote a note on his report card indicating that he was an artist and that he should continue to draw. Later on in life his high school teacher suggested that he go to the library to learn about and study others’ works.  He then went on to enter a contest in high school with a portrait of his dad, which drew him on the path to an art school in Savannah, Georgia with a 4-year scholarship.

Fast forward to today, and you will find that Mike had multiple opportunities to try out his talents – sometimes noticed and sometimes unnoticed.  His talent is obvious and telling. He drew a cartoon masterpiece within seconds right before our eyes. It was incredible.


Throughout his time as a write and illustrator, Wohnoutka has had opportunities to work with a plethora of talented folks.  He shared about his life as an author/illustrator and how each day starts with sitting in his study and thinking. It usually involves some coffee; sometimes there is music, sometimes there isn’t.  “Think about who. Think about what.”  That is telling lesson right there, and one we agree with as a principle.  Dr. Wendy & I tell our teacher candidates that we teach learners, not subjects. We teach who, not what.  When writing This is Not a Cat, Wohnoutka started with character development. That makes sense and is where we all should start – with the who, with us.

He talked about one particular work that we loved to hear about, to read about, and now to share with our students.  This is Not a Cat. It reminded us that what we see is not always what we should believe.  It also made me think about not being too overly confident with a decision; there is room for error in that suit.  The mice in this picture book are pretty scared when they see a cat, which turns out to be a rat in a cat suit.  Later, a real cat hunts that rat.  This made me think of the phrase “what goes around, comes around.” Karma.

So many lessons in that simple but awesome book.  Maybe I am grasping at straws but so be it. I saw the talent first hand. I am no literary award granter, but I like a book that can hook a reader and share a lesson or two.  If it can cause a little suspense and some laughter, even better.

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Southwest MN Reading Council Executive Board Members with Author/Illustrator Mike Wohnoutka

In closing… recently our SMSU colleague family has experienced deaths that have caused us to reflect on what is important.  What is important to you? Find out and stay the course… Life is too important and too short not to know.  Know what is a cat and what is not.

Stay Calm & Draw or Write On!
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.

 

 

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.