Marquette Basketball: Bleeding Blue and Gold

20140212-catch-imageBy Aubrey Murtha – That delightful time of year is quickly approaching, my friends.

It’s the time when amped up Fanatics across the country sport their blue and gold on game days, when Marquette alums dress their babies in miniature cheerleader uniforms and commute back to their old stopping grounds for the festivities, when freshmen get excited to see anyone that exceeds six foot on campus in hopes that they may be engaging in a real life encounter with an MU basketball player.

That’s right, Marquette basketball fans.  It’s game time.

Sports analysis is not exactly my forte, that’s for sure.  I will leave that job to the Peter Fiorentino’s and Grant Becker’s of the Marquette student body—those guys are going to be ESPN legends someday, I swear it.  However, I do know a thing or two about school spirit, and I think it is safe to assert that Marquette is not lacking in that area.

I don’t know what it is that keeps Marquette basketball fans so dedicated to their team, but I could venture a few educated guesses.

First, I think basketball may hold a special place in our hearts since we are football deficient.  Instead of forcing ourselves to live vicariously through our friends at large state schools with successful football programs, we save up all of our fanatical energy for basketball season.

Second, what would the Wisconsin colligate sports scene be without a heated basketball rivalry between the Badgers and the Golden Eagles, two of my very favorite woodland creatures (although one is clearly more majestic than the other).  We’ve got to be a powerful fan base for Marquette when our boys go up against schools with student bodies that drastically outnumber ours.  Marquette fans must stand their ground and support their crew.  And we do—every single game day.

Finally, Marquette basketball builds community, unifying current MU scholars with their learned faculty, connecting perspective Golden Eagles to successful Marquette alumni, bonding our beloved Jesuits to the very men that don our Marquette name on their jerseys and take to the court every game day.  Sometimes it takes something as seemingly arbitrary as the game of basketball to establish an unbreakable tie between individuals from all walks of life, with varying connections to and affiliations with our university.

I would argue that MU basketball teaches us to win honorably and lose graciously, to adjust to transition and succeed when the deck seems to be stacked against us, to learn from defeat and flourish in the wake of failure.  For these life lessons, I thank thee, Marquette basketball program, on behalf of your dedicated fan base.

Let’s go Marquette.  We’ll be rooting for you.

We are Marquette basketball.  We are Marquette.

Tuesday Trivia: October 21, 2014

How much do YOU know about Marquette University and the College of Education?
Test your knowledge (and win cool prizes) every Tuesday!

In light of All Hallow’s Eve this Friday, COED Trivia is testing your holiday spirit…

What is the top selling candy in America during Halloween?



Claim your chance to win by leaving the correct answer in the comments section below anytime today between 7am – 11pm. And don’t be afraid to play, even if someone has already posted the right answer! One winner will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers and announced the following day.  The winner will be posted on our Facebook page and notified by email.  Please note that you must have a valid email address listed in your comment or WordPress profile to win.

Teachers: Don’t Overlook Your Most Important Allies

pinkslip-1By Nick McDaniels – As the pressure cooker that is public education turns up, we are forced to face the facts that we, as individual teachers, can all lose our jobs if our number gets called.

Very few, if any of us, can, in the conditions we face, meet the standards of the metrics designed to measure us. So many of us choose to align ourselves with those who control the metrics, or some input thereof. We know these teachers, the butt-kissers, the principal’s pets. These folks, as annoying as they can be, might have the right idea.

We watch as somehow, in systems designed to make teachers look equally as bad as it has made kids look for years, these folks manage to rise above the line of professional casualty.

So you have to ask yourself, is that where you want to be? Do you want to work yourself to the bone doing everything your boss asks you to do and then beg her to be merciful at the end of the year when it comes time to decide what numeric score (and perhaps compensation) you should receive for your performance? Does that plan align with why you got into this business to begin with?

If you are here for the paycheck, then maybe it does. If that is your modus operandi, I’m not here to knock your hustle.

But I am not, nor have I ever been, about that life. When push comes to shove, I’m going to ally myself with my students, with their needs, with their wants, with their hopes, dreams. And if that is contrary to what the Secretary of Education or the Superintendent wants, then that is a conversation that needs to be had with me AND my students.

Students have long known that the era of “prep and test” driven by corporate education reform has been shorting them on their education, but fortunately, they have had great, stubborn teachers who have refused to wholly conform and still provide for students meaningful skills and experiences. What students are now starting to sniff out is how their favorite teachers are being chewed up and spit out by a system that is supposed to “improve educational outcomes for all stakeholders.”

I was inspired to see students rally to the side of embattled Mass. teacher Robert Moulton, whose sharing of a personal, albeit profanity-laden, story to his AP students may be costing him his job. In a 2014 version of the Dead Poets Society “O Captain, My Captain” scene, Moulton’s students electronically stood on their desks in defiance of a system built on censorship and conformity in a nation built upon anything but.

So at the end of the day, knowing that no matter how good we are, all of our jobs are in jeopardy because of a system that has long treated students like products and now treats teachers like assembly-line machines, I am much happier to know that where I have made allegiances with bosses is has been because bosses have in those moments had the best interests of students in mind, and where I have made allegiances without wavering, is with my students, in good times and in bad. They are why I come to work anyway.

In the Field at Veritas High School

romietteBy Amanda Szramiak – I am currently enrolled in a College of Education course covering the introduction to learning and assessment.

I was so excited to finally take this class after declaring my major, and I want to talk about my experience thus far in the semester. I am currently in a field placement in two sophomore World Literature classes at an area high school. I was delayed in starting my field placement due to technical difficulties, and I was extremely overwhelmed with the assignments regarding my field placement experience. I am proud to report that I could not be happier with my field experience thus far.

Veritas High school is an absolutely remarkable place. Veritas is a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee charter school that has received a plethora of awards. When I pulled up to the school, I thought it was a church because it was so small. I was greeted with a warm and friendly smile as I walked through the doors. The secretary, Lola, was as adorable as could me, and I instantly felt at home. I only emailed my cooperating teacher back and forth so I was extremely anxious to meet him.

When I walked into Mr. Neman’s tenth grade classroom, I was absolutely mesmerized. The students smiled and I introduced myself to class. The first day I was simply observing the classroom. The students were being introduced to their next book: the modern day version of Romeo and Juliette, which is titled Romiette and Julio. Mr. Neman asked the students to take out a sheet of paper and answer the incomplete statements on the projector.

The statements were as followed:
I feel gangs are…;
The hardest choice I ever made was…;
I feel interracial relationships are…”

I was intrigued to see how the students’ were going to respond to these rather personal statements. After the students had time to reflect on their thoughts, they were asked to share with the students around them. Following, Mr. Neman brought the entire class together to discuss the statements.

I was surprised to see so many hands jump up at the opportunity to share their opinions about these issues. I was completely blown away by some of their responses. Students talked about their families’ take on interracial relations, and some even discussed their experiences with gangs. The students’ thoughts were riveting.

My first day at my field placement was more than I could have ever hoped to experience. My best friend, who is also an education major, tells me I am so lucky to have been placed with a cooperating teacher that is so eager to help me further my education.

I have been to my field placement six times so far, and I leave every time with the biggest smile on my face. I catch myself tearing up during the classes because I am so excited and passionate about my future career. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but my experience in Mr. Neman’s classrooms absolutely and undoubtedly confirm my dreams. I cannot wait to talk about my experiences at Veritas more.

Tuesday Trivia: October 14, 2014

How much do YOU know about Marquette University and the College of Education?
Test your knowledge (and win cool prizes) every Tuesday!


What year was the College of Education founded as a college?


Claim your chance to win by leaving the correct answer in the comments section below anytime today between 7am – 11pm. And don’t be afraid to play, even if someone has already posted the right answer! One winner will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers and announced the following day.  The winner will be posted on our Facebook page and notified by email.  Please note that you must have a valid email address listed in your comment or WordPress profile to win.

A (Quasi) Rant on the State of Education

By Claudia Felske – Is it still considered a rant if you are ASKED your opinion on an issue about which you have PLENTY to say?

For the past two years, I’ve served on a state educational advisory board. In that capacity, I was recently asked:


If we dismantled public education as we know it today, what would your rebuild look like?

Some general areas to consider:  the teaching profession, the school day, the use of technology, professional development, 21st century learning.

And here was my rant (or rather, my reply):

On Teaching Profession:

  • Until we raise teacher wages and cut the red tape involved in becoming and remaining a teacher, we will fail to recruit top candidates into the profession. (How can a new college graduate entering public education ever expect to pay off his/her student loans, live independently, buy a home and raise a family?) I fear the quality of people going into education is plummeting and will continue to plummet until these conditions change.
  • Respect and reverence for the institution of education has plummeted as well. This, along with questionable mandates and lower pay, prevents me in good conscience from recommending this profession to those who ask. And this makes me heartsick.
  • We need a true mentor / apprentice program with master educators (who must be practicing classroom teachers) guiding new teachers. Few cooperating teachers are master teachers, or even average teachers. I fear that many cooperating teachers are interested in lightning their loads rather than helping develop the next generation of teachers.
  • We need the time and resources for a true apprenticeship system. Ideally, this would be a multi-year process beginning with a full year of methods and observation (small group under the guidance of a tear-down-the-wallmaster lead teacher), followed by a year of teaching a single class while meeting with a cadre of student teachers for group planning, observing, and evaluating. Year three would entail a half day of teaching using the same process and transitioning to a full schedule as a bonifide fulltime classroom teacher in year four. Currently, we “throw them into the fire” upon receiving their diplomas, and then are somehow surprised that most novice teachers don’t last 5 years in the profession.
  • We can’t let data points and crossing t’s and dotting i’s on federal, state and local initiatives diminish the personal nature and artistry of teaching. This is a grave concern of mine. In many districts, creative collaborative time is being turned into data analysis time at the expense of classroom creativity and effectiveness. Many of the best, most creative teachers leaving the profession because they are not being given the time or support to do their best in the classroom. As a result, paperwork and data points are trumping quality instruction.
  • Students are dynamic individuals, not widgets that can be weighed, packaged, and labeled for consumption (data analysis often feels like this).

On Teacher Pay:

  • Simply put, teachers should be paid more than administrators. Administrators, in essence, are support staff while teachers are on the front line. Research unequivocally shows that the single most important factor in student achievement is the quality of the classroom teacher. The most accomplished teachers (master teachers working with novice teachers in the apprentice system described above) should be at the top of the scale while superintendents should be treated as public relations specialists and district-community liaisons rather than instructional leaders and top bread winners.

On The School Day:

  • Matters like length of day, number of days, semesters/trimesters, summer school, etc. are small fare items that should remain local decisions. There are much bigger fish to fry in the state of education today.

On Technology in Education:

  • The key to effective use of technology is meaningful professional development. This means real time to explore best practices for each teacher’s own classes and practices before students have devices in-hand. Too many districts are going 1:1 without adequate professional development or support. This overwhelms teachers and causes classroom disruptions. Technology can be a powerful equalizer and means to personalizing learning. But the “getting there” is a process that requires much time and support.  We must acknowledge and respect this.

On Professional Development:

  • We are told to differentiate instruction for our students but rarely are our professional development opportunities differentiated for us. Much PD time and money are spent on initiatives that are extremely top-down, lacking relevance to individual teachers and their students.  This is a colossal waste of time which could otherwise be spent in rich, collaborative ways. Two requests: 1) Make all professional development directly applicable to immediate classroom practice 2) If a specific initiative must be covered, make the training DIFFERENTIATED. For example, tech novices work on basic skills while tech savvy teachers are given time to incorporate new tools in ways that make sense to their specific classes.  EdCamp conferences (often called “unconferences “ would be a great model for authentic professional development.

On 21st Century Learning:

  • “Standardized tests are useless until we have standardized children”  –  Mike Felske (my husband)
  • The primary evaluation of a child should come from the primary educator of that child, not from a standardized test.
  • Curriculum ideally (by leveraging technology) should meet students individual needs and interests. This takes a great deal of time and requires a different kind of student and structure. Students are not currently equipped, ready, or capable of independently designing their education. We need a new structure from  Kindergarten up. How can this be done?  The Montessori model seems to be one from which we could learn.

On Individualizing Education:

  • While not tracking students, we need to design a diagnostic system which both can identify students where they are and create a path for growth (while not treating them as numbers/data points). This is tricky business, but achievable, I believe, with a smaller teacher-student ratio and the prudent use of a highbred model of education (infusing successful traditional classroom practices with the prudent use of technology).

On Politics and Education:

  • Politics have no productive place in public education. Currently, we are at the mercy of politicians— national, state, local politicians and increasingly powerful school boards—all of whom have varying motives and levels of educational expertise, but collectively have a grossly disproportionate impact on education. Classroom teachers are the experts on student learning, not politicians, not local elected officials. Though I’m an optimist by nature, it’s difficult not to read today’s political agendas by some as anything less than the desire to dismantle public education.

On Funding:

  • Funding simply cannot be tied to property tax. This results in an UNEQUAL free and public education and a majority of citizens who are resentful of teachers and unsupportive of their local schools.

A free quality public education is the key to social mobility for all citizens and essential for a healthy democracy. There’s nothing more important. It’s why I’m still here, and it’s why I’m taking the risk of ranting publicly.

Besides, it’s not a rant…I was asked.

Lessons From My Middle Schoolers

348063_originalBy Clare Hulsebosch – For this field experience, I have been placed in an eighth grade classroom. When I first read that, my initial reaction was negative. Why on earth would I want to go back to middle school?

I know that each age group has its benefits, but middle school just seemed exceptionally challenging. Girls are figuring out who they are, which can cause them to be dramatic and mean, and boys act childish. I was so nervous for my first day—but then I met the students.

Yes, they can be as trivial and dramatic as middle schoolers can be, but at the same time, these kids are hilarious and incredibly insightful. Unlike many of the kids in my own small, middle school class, these kids strive to do better. They are not content with the role society has assigned them as African-American youth, but rather they work hard to demolish that stereotype.

They also take little for granted. As a child, I never thought of the cost of food or clothing, but these students recognize that money does not just appear. They value hard work. Even if it can be hard to see their motivation sometimes, I know they strive to do better.

My favorite part of going to field experience might be when they ask me questions about college, studying, and different professions. They think outside the box of lawyer, doctor, athlete, teacher, businessperson, and parent. They see the future as wide open. One of my students actually applied to be a student ambassador and is now travelling to Whales, Scotland, Ireland, and England.  She motivated herself to make that happen, and I’m so proud of her for it.

Rarely did I see that kind of self-motivation in my own schools—we all knew we were going to a good high school and most likely going to college, so we did not worry about how our grades would affect us in the future. I remember my parents doing everything in their power to help me see the point of certain work. These kids struggle with that, but they do it anyway.

Basically, being placed in a middle school classroom was the best possible thing that could have happened this semester. What I originally dreaded has benefitted me so much because I see how much volition students can have. Plus, I have learned so much from my cooperating teacher who sees the best in students and does not allow students to slack or make excuses.

I would never have guessed a group of 14-year-old kids could have taught me so much; but then again, that is the beauty of teaching.

What is a Marquette Educator?

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