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I Don’t Love My Job Anymore

love-your-jobBy Peggy Wuenstel – I’ve changed the way I talk about my job.

I used to be able to say unequivocally that “I love what I do”. I still eagerly anticipate the start of each school year, relish buying new supplies, and planning how this year will be better than the last one. I look forward to the open faces and minds of my students. The grateful looks from their parents as they now release their darlings to our care after a summer of family togetherness.  I enjoy the collaboration and companionship of my colleagues, catching up on what has happened in their lives while we have been apart.

For the first time that I can remember in my public school career, there are no new hires in my building this year, even though there are almost 25 new staffers district-wide to get to know.  Each of them brings something different to the table and enriches the practice of teaching. What I can continue to say is that I love the people that I do this job for and do this job with throughout the year.

The other way things have changed is how I talk about my job outside the education community I used to be able to say with great pride in any company that “I am a teacher”. Now, sadly, I need to know my audience. Politics, tough economic times, and the increasing polarization of our society have painted a target on my back for some individuals that I encounter. Even those who don’t live in my community, and therefore are not responsible for my salary, often feel it necessary to weigh in on how they believe that I am overcompensated and underworked.  They expound on the failures of the American education system, the horrors of the common core, and the decline of America’s youth with absolutely no accurate information on the subject.  Everyone feels qualified to outline what is wrong with teaching in America even if they cannot offer any ways in which to reverse the decline.

Several outstanding educators that I know were asked to play “WHAT IF?” this summer, to re-imagine the state’s education system if we could start from scratch. Their comments were insightful, sad, but also inspiring. It is difficult to generate corrective measures for things that you are not invested in, that you do not truly hope to see succeed.  These teachers care to their cores. It is next to impossible to keep toiling at something that you do not think has any hope of success.

These educators do not think that the situation is hopeless. This is a lesson classroom teachers learn early. Kids are easily discouraged when the tasks set before them are too difficult. For elementary students, there needs to be about an 80% success rate to maximize learning and internalization of a skill. The child, the teacher, and the system that is consistently confronted with failure will accept that as the inevitable nature of things. It appears that this may be by design in today’s education system.

We have systematically withdrawn funding, public support and respect for the profession of teaching. We have added record-keeping, high stakes assessments, value-added evaluations of teacher performance that hold educators responsible for things outside of their control, and a “customer is always right” model of schools. We have for-profit privateers waiting in the wings to take over the most promising students, receiving government encouragement through voucher funding, tax breaks, lobbyists, and preferential treatment in testing and evaluation procedures. All this has significantly eroded the admiration of the teaching profession.

I, and nearly all of the teachers I have worked with over the years, did not become teachers for the hefty paycheck or the ease of the job. I did want to be respected, and sometimes even loved by the children and families that I serve. I wanted to be valued by my colleagues, sought out as a resource, and remembered as someone who cared. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was required learning for most of us in the teaching profession. There is a second tier of needs that most human beings need to have filled in their existence, beyond the basic food, water, and shelter. Included in that list is to be of service in the world. I have always felt fortunate that I could fulfill that by going to work every day.

That is one of the main reasons that I continue to look forward to going to work. The rush I get inspires me to be active beyond the classroom in my union, my community, my world. So very often the people I meet there are teachers as well.  Their collective mantra seems reliably to be “How can I help?” I am proud to be in their company.  We have got to find a way to make it possible for the most insightful, compassionate, creative, and hard-working among us to see teaching as a viable option for their futures. We have to insure that the old guard can retire knowing that their replacements on the parapets are up to the task.

We have to believe that they love the job as much as we did and that they will have a world in which they can say it loud and proud, “I love my teaching job!”

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A Toast to President Lovell and the Humanities

LovellFeatureBy Aubrey Murtha – I attended Dr. Lovell’s Inauguration this past Friday, and it was tremendous.

Not only did I leave looking forward to what the future holds for this great academic institution, but I also left with an overwhelming sense of pride in Marquette University, the most fantastic epicenter of intellectual growth and exploration on both sides of the Mississippi (a new phrase I have recently adopted to essentially say that MU is the greatest university in the country, no biases obviously).

For me, one of the highlights of the ceremony was when President Lovell announced the University’s new initiatives—specifically, the Center for Advancement of the Humanities. Thank you to the anonymous Marquette alumna who is making this project possible, and thank you, Dr. Lovell, for expressing your commitment to the humanities:

“Most importantly, I am fully committed to deepening and enriching the study of the humanities in the Jesuit tradition. With the foundation provided by this commitment, we will become a beacon for scholars both nationally and internationally to teach, research and exchange ideas alongside our talented students and highly respected faculty.”   — read more

As a secondary education and English major, I am deeply committed to the humanities.  I am excited by the prospect of research in the humanities occurring right here at Marquette.  I mean, we do tremendous research in science and engineering.  Why not enhance our studies of literature or anthropology?

So here’s to all of you history majors, theologians, word nerds, philosophes, and learned artists out there who contribute valuable work in the various fields of the humanities.  Marquette is finally toasting you!  You deserve it.

Tuesday Trivia: September 23, 2014

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

TuesdayTrivia

How many years has Dean Henk served as the

dean of the College of Education at Marquette?

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.

You’re Invited: Celebrate Teachers & Teaching

logo-highres-wide-031113We all know that teachers do some of the most important work in our society … but perceptions about teachers and teaching are not always so kind.

The central importance of teachers to the success of our youth and our region’s continuing economic and social development is misunderstood or, often, overlooked.

As a result, the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee (EDGM), a collective comprised of deans from nine area higher education institutions, has instituted a celebration honoring the work of teachers in the Milwaukee area. The event is open to the public and all who support the work of teachers are encouraged to attend.

Join us for an evening of celebration honoring outstanding teachers in the Greater Milwaukee area.

Celebration of Teachers & Teaching
Thursday, October 16
Alverno College Conference Center
3400 S 43rd St
Tickets: $25*

Festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. with heavy appetizers and a raffle-style auction
Brief awards ceremony will take place at 7:30 p.m.
Cash bar will be available

*Each admission includes appetizers and 10 tickets for our Celebration of Teachers & Teaching silent auction, which includes gift cards and items donated by: Afro Fusion Cuisine, Alverno Presents, Becky’s Blissful Bakery, The Chef’s Table, Comet Café, Evolution Gastro Pong, From Milwaukee with Love, Great Lakes Distillery, Harley-Davidson Museum, Indulgence Chocolatiers, Marcus Hotels & Restaurants, The Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee Food & City Tours, Nueske’s, Patricia O’Brien & Co., Present Music, Purple Door Ice Cream, Rishi Tea, The Ruby Tap, Skylight Theater, SURG Restaurants, The National Café, Transfer Pizzeria and Cafe and Wolf Peach Restaurant.

ALL PROCEEDS from this event will help to establish an EDGM fund to promote teacher professional development and advancement of the reputation of the teaching field.

Myers-Briggs: A Method for Differentiated Instruction

MyersBriggsTypesBy Clare Hulsebosch – As a high school student, I always struggled.

I did not struggle with understanding content or the difficulty of material being taught. On the contrary, I never could stay engaged or understand the point to getting a good grade. The issue was not my teachers. I actually had tons of amazing teachers in high school that engaged most students.

I struggled with something different than them.

The summer in between my freshman and sophomore years at Marquette, I took the Meyers-Briggs test. My whole family decided to take it when my older brother came home from his first day of work, and he told us how scarily accurate it was. At first, I thought it sounded kind of ridiculous. I thought no 72-question test could accurately pinpoint who I was—but then I took it.

Every description was spot on. It explained why group work was only ever detrimental to me, but was very helpful for my twin brother. The test explained that I work best with a goal in mind, which is true, because I find the idea of grades, bonuses, and promotions arbitrary. I do work because I want to do something that benefits other people, not because I get something out of it.

It completely changed how I studied and looked at school, but it also helped me see how the field of psychology can help me in my classroom.

Tests, like the Myers-Briggs, could be a great way for teachers and students to get an idea about how differential learning could be applied in the classroom. The teacher knows which student will be an INFJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, and Judgmental) versus an INTJ (Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judgmental). These students may both seem similar, but INFJs are actually people-oriented introverts, so they often learn best by observing in a group setting. INTJs are idea-oriented introverts, so they get very intense about different ideas or theories.

My mom explains it by differentiating between the nurse and a doctor in a room. Both are vital to the workings of a hospital, but different types of people are suited for different jobs. The nurse wants to help the person and make their time in the hospital as comfortable as possible, while the doctor wants to solve the problem – their patient’s illness. One works to help the person, and the other works to complete an idea. They are both working towards the same goal though—the patient getting better.

This difference could be instrumental in teaching students. It could help a teacher decide how they approach a book when describing a concept, or how they group students. Instead of grasping at straws when looking for various methods of differential learning, personality tests could give a teacher a solid base of where to start.

Going Along for the Ride

from the blog www.stuckincustoms.comBy Clare Jorgensen – Preparing for my field experience feels like I’m preparing for a big trip.

I’m making up appropriate outfits, I’m mentally picturing what the classroom will look like, and I’m getting any supplies ready that I might need. Like any “trip,” I have a mental itinerary showing how everything should go, and I know I must get as much as possible out of this experience. Any trip should be fun and fulfilling, and I should be able to experience something new.

This mental image is of course the ideal situation where I have a grasp on everything when I get there, but I know that will not be the case.

The truth is that I have no idea what is going to happen when I am at the high school I have been assigned to this semester. While I may dream of an absolutely perfect classroom where all the students will be attentive and have halos over their heads, I must grasp reality. After all, I am going through field experience so I have the opportunity to visualize what I must do when I become a teacher. This may include how I deal with students or how I teach certain lessons. It would be amazing if I knew what was going to happen this semester at the high school, but time machines do not exist yet.

I need to have an open-mind and use what I have been taught in the last year in order to get the most out of the experience. It is important to prepare for many mistakes and to learn from those mistakes. This will be a fun and fulfilling experience, and like the trip I imagined, I know I will experience something new and exciting, but there is of course more to it.

Instead of imagining myself going on a planned trip, I should think of this experience as an unexpected road trip. I will not know what turns I will take, and there will be some bumps along the way. However, I will enjoy the ride and realize at the end how important and fun the experience was.

All I have to do now is get in that car and start the engine.

Insights From a (Second Year!) School Counselor

second-yearBy Sabrina Bong – This time last year, I was sitting in my brand-new office, highlighter in hand, studying a map of the school.

That makes me sound a little crazy, but I had just spent half the morning running around with my then-6th grade students, looking for different classrooms. Even though my students were aware that I was just as new to this building as they were, it was still embarrassing walking down random corridors before announcing, “Oops! Doesn’t look like it’s this way,” and doubling back down a main hallway. Hence, the map. We had just gotten maps of the school for Open House, and I had been able to snag one a few days early.

Fast forward a year. This year, my students (and I) are much more at ease with the building. All of us can walk around the building and, for the most part, know where classrooms are. Let’s just say that my students have developed some sort of confidence over summer. Maybe I have as well.

The funny thing for me is that we have a new counselor at my building. She isn’t a novice to the counseling thing, but she’s new to the district. A lot of my coworkers have been saying, “Oh, it must be weird seeing a person’s first year from THIS perspective,” meaning that I am no longer viewing that first, terrifying year from a first-person point of view. And to be honest, it is a little strange. I am watching Katie try all of these new things and learning all of these concepts in a strange, deja-vu sort of way.

I know exactly what it was like sitting through my first staff meeting. I clearly remember sitting down and learning how to use some of the computer programs. I remember meeting with someone about the curriculum we deliver in class. Only this time, I am the person teaching these things. I am teaching computer programs and curriculum. I am not only participating in staff meetings, but I get to help run a meeting once a month.

But the biggest change has been how much I’ve grown (not physically — although I still dream of the day I will be over 5 feet tall!) Over the summer, I have seen how much my students have matured. Many of them are now beyond the drama. They problem-solve on their own and move around the building with more confidence and assurance. But I’ve realized that I am the same way. I no longer walk through the school in a tentative, hesitant manner. I walk with confidence, because I know where I am going. I give more eye contact. I find that I am able to talk to staff much more easily than before.

And the best part? I feel more confident. I can make decisions without analyzing every single nuance.

This year, I am sure, will be a journey. It is the dawn of my second year, the year for me to make my mark and really come into my own. I hope I will get the chance to see my students do the same. I am really looking forward to it!


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