Tag Archives: #teachers

Let’s Do Something!

BLOG Let's Do Nothing!
True story (not that all of our stories aren’t true
🙂 )… Young Jedi, my son JR, walks up to me while I am busy grading away at my laptop and says to me, “Since you aren’t doing anything, could you read me this book?” After several long blinks at the youngling, and considering that life does not slow down so I should take this moment since he will be 18 before I know it, I took the book from his hands and responded, “I would love to read to you, son.” He then hands me the book that has been patiently waiting to be read from Wendy’s children’s literature bookshelf to mine called,
Let’s Do Nothing! by Tony Fucile. ~SV

This topic of ‘Let’s Do Nothing’ came up for us because twice in one week, situations presented themselves to DO SOMETHING…

  • A former student of ours (who was/is outstanding by the way) is dealing with some legal issues right now. She is currently unemployed, but not by choice. While visiting with her and listening to her story, she made a profound statement. She said: “While I was working, I always thought to myself that it would be great to have a month to do absolutely nothing. Now that I have no choice, I hate it. I can’t do anything and it is awful. I need to do something!” -CW
  • Our colleague and friend presented on the loss of her son a few weeks ago and one of her comments during that presentation was: “It’s almost worse to do nothing for others rather than do something even if it seems wrong. Do something for those who are grieving.” –TMY

Are you thinking about doing nothing still? Or maybe something now?Are you still thinking about doing nothing? Or maybe something now?

 How often have we wished to just do nothing? In Tony Fucile’s book, “Let’s Do Nothing,” Sal and Frankie have been busy playing games, reading comic books, and baking cookies (sounds like a great time to us 🙂 ). They decide to try a new activity…doing nothing. Frankie is not so good at doing nothing (and neither are we). He gives in every time and so Sal has a new suggestion…let’s do something. We can certainly relate to Frankie. We LOVE to be doing something.

To our former student and friend: BELIEVE that justice will be served and you will soon be doing something.

To our colleague and friend: BELIEVE that people mean well, and we guarantee that WE will do something for those who are grieving.

Well, it’s time for us to go do something now. Until next time, do something or do nothing – however you want to approach it. Just promise us to do it well. BELIEVE and best wishes!

BLOG boys doing something

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

Coming Home: SMSU ~ Where You Belong!

SMSU Homecoming ED Alumni EMSP 2014

Homecoming…the great American tradition. According to several hits on Google, the tradition of homecoming started in Missouri when Mizzou’s Athletic Director invited all alumni to ‘come back home’ for the football game in 1911. Some say that homecoming dates back to the late 1800s with the Harvard/Yale football game. Whatever the case may be, homecoming still dominates high schools and universities across the nation today. The main focus for all homecomings—to reconnect with people and places.

We certainly did just that! We reconnected with places and people and what a great weekend it was! Time flies by when you are having fun – and we did! Homecoming is always a blast. As one alumnus tweeted today: What a fun weekend in Marshall for @SMSUStangs homecoming ’14. Great seeing the friends again. Makes me miss Marshall a lot! What a blast.

Between the two of us, we hit just about every event. Wish you could have been here with us at all these great activities:

University Gala Ball: Our first major discussion between the two of us was how to pronounce gala. GA-la long a or gah-la short a? It doesn’t matter…from our pre-gala gathering to the silent auction, exquisite dinner, live auction, and finale of dancing the night away, this event raises dollars for our SMSU students. What a fun way of contributing to SMSU scholarship funds and being able to hang out with friends.

SMSU Gala group 2014      SMSU Gala friends 2014

First Annual SMSU School of Education Alumni Event: Calling all Education Alumni: Donuts, coffee, and apple cider were served along with a sign-up for the $50 dollar door prize to our book store. Congrats to Mrs. Howie who was our first ever door prize winner this year. Who will it be next year?

SMSU Homecoming ED Alumni event 2014

Parade: The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for a parade. Our students participated in the parade to support the Education Minnesota Student Program (EMSP) Organization. The theme of this year’s homecoming was “Rise of the Mustangs” so as future teachers, we tweaked the saying to “Rise of the Future Mustangs” and many little ones rode on the float with us.

 SMSU Homecoming parade 2014

 SMSU Tailgating Festivities & Football Game: Inflatables, food, and fun! Great chance to see friends and a great American football game. This is how it all started after all! By the way – the Mustangs beat the Upper Iowa Peacocks 28-25. (A little birdie told us they were undefeated before this game.) Way to go, Mustangs!

SMSU Homecoming 2014 alumni

Dueling Pianos: Just in case we didn’t have enough celebration and fun – the SMSU Alumni Association hosted 176 Key Dueling Pianos at the Mercantile located at Bello Cucina. All who came to join the fun received a glass mug with the homecoming logo – Rise of the Mustangs. Great keepsake and reminder of a memorable time had by all!

Rise of the Mustangs

Celebration of Excellence awards ceremony: There were many student-athletes recognized at the annual awards ceremony. These student-athletes have earned great athletic and academic achievements this past year, and represented SMSU well. Important to note there were 72 scholar-athletes recognized for their academic scholarship. This was the largest group of student-athletes in a year to ever to be recognized at SMSU for their accomplished studies with the highest average GPA.  We are proud of them!

 SMSU Celebration of Excellence 2014

 Soccer Match: With the sun shining, why not catch a soccer match?! It was a bit windy, but the Mustangs won 2-0 against U of M – Crookston. We did not grow up soccer players, but those ladies seem to sure know what they are doing. Wow – can they run!? We were wiped just watching them. 

SMSU Homecoming soccer 2014

Vacuuming: The last event for the weekend was not grading or school work. It was… vacuuming. It was the grand finale to “coming home” for the weekend after being out and about for most of it. We disputed this event because only one of us did this. 🙂  “Vacuuming can wait ‘til later…much later! –Wendy’s words of wisdom (Don’t worry, Mom, I was the one who vacuumed! –SV)

                             google images

There were so many wonderful homecoming events to attend; this list identified just a few as we could not physically make it to all of them. We are pleasantly exhausted. We do need to leave you with a final homecoming remark, however.

Happy Homecoming everyone!  🙂 Enjoy your time –wherever you are. Remember it is the people and places who make all the difference in life. Now – it is time for a nap! 🙂 

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

Perspective: The Lens We Choose

google images
google images
BLOG perspective
google images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30-Day Challenge Update: 3 Ways to Be Successful

google images Blog about a squirrel? Maybe...
google images
Blog about a nutty squirrel? Maybe…

WAHOO…we are half way there. Not time to celebrate yet, but as of today, we are doing very well on our 30-day SACS challenge this month. If you did not read our blog a few weeks ago, we challenged ourselves to 30 days of low to no Sugar, Alcohol, Caffeine, and Salt (SACS.) We did not find this challenge in a book anywhere; we just made it up and dared ourselves.

Wendy has been more on the low end of this challenge. Of course when you are trying so hard NOT to indulge in birthday cupcakes, birthday cheese cake, wedding wine, and family gathering potato chips, all of these goodies show up to taunt you. Wendy has done well, though…she has only had a little bit of the wine, chips, and one small bite of banana pumpkin bread—she has stayed faithful to continue on the low end path of this challenge. As for caffeine…so far so good. That culprit has been the easiest for her to ignore. She still drinks her coffee in the morning; however, it’s decaf. The salt is the most difficult for Wendy. Salt is in everything. We need some salt to stay healthy so reading labels has become a must during this challenge. Wendy chooses the lowest salt-content foods possible. Her favorite new product after reading these labels…1/3 Less Sodium & Sugar Skippy Peanut Butter ®. As of today, Wendy has lost 4 pounds.

Sonya has been aiming for the no of this challenge… at first because she just didn’t realize the low was an option. (This really has something to do with following directions and selective hearing.) So far, so good… minus the small pumpkin bar slip up because her mama makes the best there is! Back in college this bar recipe almost caused a meltdown of world war status with college roomies because someone (to this day unknown) decided to consume more than the allotted roommate amount. Anyway – you get the idea of how simply divine these yummy bars are… Sonya caved. There is still no in the alcohol and caffeine categories respectively. It is now just a mission to make it happen, and it is amazing how socially tied these two are and how often. It takes 30 days to truly appreciate this challenge. The toughest part by far is staying away from salt simply because it is in almost everything. We do need it so low is the route to go. As of today, Sonya has lost a little over 6 pounds but most importantly, feels good with energy to spare despite the no cup of Joe.

(If you feel like this has a “weight watchers anonymous” feel to it and are concerned, read on to move on….)

Has this challenge been easy…not one iota. We have found that we are determined, focused, and have our colleagues and spouses cheering us on. These three traits could help our SMSU teacher candidates go from ‘good’ teaching to ‘great’ teaching. These three traits could help all of us to be more successful, really.

Determined: As you enter the field of teaching, future teachers, be determined to be the best you can be, and then continue to work at it every day! Those great teachers have worked hard to become great. If you want to be like them, you have to work as hard as they did to get there. Believe you can get there and strive for it each day.

Focused: A cute scene from the movie Up, Dug the dog is easily distracted by squirrels. 🙂 We just love movies, don’t you? Oh wait… what were we saying? Oh yeah – Try to stay as focused as you can, future teachers. Focus on what is really important…the students and their learning. Stay away from those focus stealers like negativity, high stakes testing, and stinky feet.

Support: Having our colleagues cheer us on has meant so much to us. We appreciate their support. Find at least one person in your building who will support you in your teaching, future teachers. It may be your grade level or content co-worker. It may be the music teacher. It may be your paraprofessional who is your right-hand woman or man. Also rely on your spouse or significant other or even your mom or dad to support you and cheer you on. Even though the challenge is for only 30 days…it seems a lot longer than that when you are right smack dab in the middle of it. Find those people who bless you, not stress you. [Click 2 Tweet]

Good luck to you if you have joined us in this challenge. Wahoo—only 15 more days to go. We CAN do this!

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

Detours

google images
google images

The path doesn’t always follow a roadmap. Currently on highway 212 near Eden Prairie, GPS tells us we are not on a road but instead in a field. That is one good example of our path not following a roadmap. At one time there was no road here until someone decided there needed to be one. The change was made, and it is better than it once was.

The same is true about life. We are where we are today because of roadmaps and changes in the path. It doesn’t always make sense when we are on the road, but maybe from the sky it does. The original detour of this post was going to be about the SACS challenge… and how it wasn’t maybe going according to plan. (Don’t tell Wendy, but I had the blog titled last week before we even started the 30-Day Challenge. Nice positive thinking, huh?) Turns out that the SACS challenge is going according to plan –post caffeine headaches resolved of course. (Don’t tell Sonya, but I knew we could do it without a doubt and a little prayer.) Well, this post is about life’s detours unrelated to the SACS challenge and instead is about what we do when life and learning throws a curveball or a big, giant boulder. 

We are no longer on highway 212 and instead at the University of Minnesota to see an orthopedic specialist – a spine doctor to be quite medically precise. Mr. V., who recently had foot surgery, is now being challenged with some serious back issues. We don’t know much about this path yet, but we are on it. We will figure out the roadmap along our way. The phrase “stay the course” might be optimal for some situations but not for all. For this one, we will figure out which course is needed and go from there. We need to take the detour.

Doesn’t this happen each day in the classroom? Teachers make plans and more plans considering what the day might bring and what the weather is doing outside. (FYI -Teachers are seriously gifted with meteorology skills when observing their students.) When plans need to be altered, effective teachers do that – change plans mid-course as needed and take detours along the way. (We just realized that course is one letter longer than curse. Hmmm…)

Flexibility is key to teacher survival. We can prepare for possible paths and detours, but we can’t control everything. So what is a teacher to do? Take a look at the path and what happened to the path. Map where you have been including detours you had to take so you know where you might want to go. Mapping learning is the end product of lesson planning. It is taking a look at where a teacher planned to lead their students and where they actually went. Hind-sight is always 20-20, right? Detours are usually not fun but eventually we get where we need to be. And…sometimes the scenery on the detour brings unexpected wonder, beauty, and awe. We might even be thankful for the detours at the end of the journey.

So for today – think about where you are going and then consider where you have been. The roadmap might have a few scribbles, but if we are flexible, we will be just fine on the detour. Our scribble for today is not posting this blog when we wanted to…yesterday. So… remember yesterday, enjoy today, and plan tomorrow. Sometimes the scenery on the detour brings unexpected wonder, beauty, and awe. We are thankful we were detoured.

One last detour for this reading… Have you considered the 60-for-60 pledge? Check it out… and it has nothing to do with giving up caffeine. 🙂

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

Cheers to Launching a Great School Year

 

 blog balloonblog balloon2 

We observed our first hot air balloon launch last weekend, and one word that best describes it is…spectacular. Balloons clumsily bumping into each other as they first took flight and then soaring into serenity…lovely. It was a hectic launch that led to a peaceful flight.

This scenario reminds us of when we taught elementary school age children, and we would have our Christmas program practices. These practices always seemed chaotic, unruly, and left us with the feeling that the kids would not be ready when it was the real deal. When the evening of the program arrived, we were always apprehensive about whether or not it would go on without a hitch. It always did! The students made us so proud. Like the balloon launch, the Christmas program was a hectic launch that led to a peaceful flight. Kind of like the beginning of the school year, wouldn’t you agree?

The balloon launch and all the steps the pilots were required to take were similar to steps educators have to take to start their year (or start a Christmas program 🙂 ). Below are our ideas for you to have a peaceful flight this year. And as the last step suggests…cheers to launching a great school year! 🙂

Preflight Preparation: The pilots must stay informed about wind and weather conditions prior to flying. Helium-filled balloons were being sent into the air every few minutes to check wind direction. Educators need to make sure the conditions are just right in their buildings before the students get there. (So make sure the A/C is cranked…or fans are on for those poor souls without A/C.)

Lead Balloonist: (By the way…be sure to read that heading correctly or the balloon won’t fly.) This balloonist was marking the target for all the rest. Once his burner was lit, then all other balloonists could begin to inflate their balloons with air. Educators are the leaders and set the tone for the rest of the year by being passionate, positive, and enthusiastic. Once these traits are accomplished, all others will begin their year on the same note.

Take Off: When those hot air balloons took off, we were a bit skeptical. Some bumped into each other. Others took a little longer, and we thought the burners would burn the material of other balloonists. Not so. Even though the takeoff was a bit hectic, once those balloons all rose into the air, it was a spectacular view. The school year may take off a little chaotic, however, remember that once you get going and get those around you fired up to be there, the view will be remarkable.

Chase Crew: Once those balloons were up in the air, vehicles were leaving the launch site left and right. These folks in the vans and pickups and trucks were the chase crew. They stay in contact with the pilot of the air balloon and followed the path of the balloon. They make sure that the landing area is okay, and then once the balloon has landed, the chase crew helps the pilot with all chores. The pilot may get the glory, but without the chase crew there would most likely be no flight. The leaders of the school may get all the glory of what’s happening, but without the students, teachers, and support staff, there is no school.

Landing: Hot air balloon pilots land their balloons in a safe place with little wind and few obstacles. Sometimes the basket may tip over when landing. Once the school year is over and the educators have landed another year, sometimes there may be a few rough spots along the way, however, generally, the landing ends up with all stakeholders moving forward with a sense of accomplishment.

Toasting: After safely landing the hot air balloon, it is a tradition for balloon pilots to recite the Balloonist’s Blessing with a champagne toast. At the end of your first day, first week, or first year, start a new tradition in your building and make a toast to a great school year – the people, the places, and the possibilities. Thanks President Gores for those words! 🙂

Whether your school year starts out hectic and bumpy or calm and smooth, we wish for you a peaceful flight this year!

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

 

 

Readers Are Leaders

Okay…so they graduated last week and are now ready to conquer the world. Okay…so maybe there is a little time for that for our newly graduated kindergarteners, but what do they need for the next step in their lives? What will they need to be dynamic first graders? READ! Readers are leaders! Here are a few reading ideas that we have used in our teaching careers and reading life (but really—what other kind of life is there?! 🙂 ).

 

Putting a book into the hands of a kid is a sacred act. #IRA14 @wimpykid

Image
Reader Warren

 

Here are just a few ideas for our young learners and teacher candidates:

Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. No matter where we live or what we do, we all will have a bad day now and then. And that’s okay because tomorrow is a new day. Alexander will be coming to the big screen in October!

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. This is a great book for rhyming and choral reading with your first-graders. Read it early in the day then serve green scrambled eggs. Visit Seussville.com to fill your toolbox with Dr. Seuss ideas.

Eating the Alphabet by Lois Ehlert. Warning…this appetizing book may leave your first-grader hungry after reading it. One simple way to satisfy this hunger could be to go on a scavenger hunt looking for foods in the newspaper. Find more activities for this cute book at Fabulous First Grade.

Max’s Words by Kate Banks. This is an enjoyable story about Max who collects and organizes words. Have your soon-to-be first graders collect and organize words that they enjoy and then put those words in a book just like Max’s.

Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin. The moral of this story… no matter what you step in, just keep on walking along and keep on singing your song because life is good.

Frog and Toad Are Friends by Arnold Lobel. Even though two people may be very different, they can still be friends forever. Follow Frog and Toad on Pinterest.

More books to share with your students: IRA Teachers’ Choices Project shares those great books that reach out and tap us on the shoulder to get our attention as author Chris Van Allsburg illustrates so well for the 2014 Teachers’ Choices.

And just because we LOVE books…here are a few more for you to check out:

The Day the Crayon Quit by Drew Daywalt

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

The Dot by Pete Reynolds

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Happy Summer Reading! May you find the sunshine on your back and a book in your hand (and probably sunglasses would be helpful along with a glass of lemonade) this summer! 🙂

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

Top 10 Teacher Traits by Our Top Teacher Candidates

Blog ED Majors

SMSU Teacher Candidates are EDU Rock Stars.  We get to know our students from the time they arrive on campus in the fall of their freshman year until that final year they make their way across the stage to accept their diploma. Wow!! What a difference in maturity level as these young teacher candidates travel through their teacher prep program. It is inspiring to see their growth—both personally and professionally.

During their freshman year, our education majors are required to take an Introduction to Education course. At the beginning of this course, they are asked to list the top ten teacher traits they believe are the most significant traits to own as a teacher. These freshmen base their answers on those teachers they just left behind in high school or from their elementary days.

Now that these same students are currently teacher candidates and juniors here at SMSU, and have hopefully gleaned a thing or two from us wise ol’ profs, we posed this same question to some of them. Their answers demonstrate to us that they have indeed grown both personally and professionally since that day way back in Intro to Ed. This makes our hearts burst with joy!

Like David Letterman shares his top ten on the Late Show, below we share with you our top ten teacher traits by our top teacher candidates:

10. Prepared – Our teacher candidates are taught over and over and over again that if they fail to plan they plan to fail! In his book, Teach Like A Champion, Doug Lemov wrote “champion teachers excel at planning.”

9. CompassionateDictionary.com defines compassion as “a feeling of sympathy to alleviate suffering.” This verifies what we tell our teacher candidates—“Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” ~Anonymous

8. Creative – Being creative is one of the four C’s in the 21st Century Learning Skills. Not only is it imperative for our teacher candidates to be creative but the ability to teach their students to be creative is also a big deal.

7. Flexible – Snow days, field placement changes, and even an unexpected broken leg are all reasons our future teachers are learning to be flexible. Curve balls are thrown at them all the time so as they learn to be flexible, they learn to bend without breaking. No pun intended!

6. Patient – Patience is a choice, and because we are professionals, we are expected to make smart choices at all times. When issues cause us frustration, irritation, or pain, we must remind ourselves that we have the choice to stay calm and be patient. The top teacher candidates are perfecting their skill of being patient with students and each other.

5. Respectful – If we give respect, we get respect. Respecting others is a key ingredient when building rapport with students. We have respected our top teacher candidates thoughts and opinions and in return they have respected ours.

4. Leadership – Future teachers must be leaders in their classrooms. Becoming reflective practitioners to self-assess their teaching, influencing their students by the instructional techniques they choose, and completing action research projects are just a few ways our top teacher candidates learn to lead.

3. Organized – “Organization is the key to effectiveness” states Harry Wong in his book First Days of School. Organization is important whether teachers are novice teachers or seasoned teachers. Our teacher candidates learn the importance of organization during the many hours of field experiences they are required to finish along with their rigorous junior methods year.

2. Passionate – We can all agree that passion is contagious. Passion will make lessons more engaging which will elevate student achievement. In his book, Teach Like a PIRATE, Dave Burgess writes that ‘passion is like an intoxicating drug but without the dangers and side effects. Once you get the taste of it, you’ll always want to come back for more.”

Drum roll please—The number one teacher trait that our teacher candidates believe to be the most significant is…

1. Communication – In this era of emailing, texting, Instagram, and Snapchat, we were delighted to read that our teacher candidates still believe in communication and its importance. Communication is one of the substantial 21st Century Learning Skills so we are pleased that they chose this as their number one trait.

Hang on for the time of your life, future teachers. Teaching is THE best profession on Earth! Commit each school day to your students. After all, those children are the reason you are there. Without them, you wouldn’t have a job. Apply your top ten teacher traits in a positive manner and you will become a top-notch teacher! We wish you all the best!!

Blog SMSU ED Majors

Stay Calm & Be Top Notch!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.