Archive Page 3

South Africa: Takeaways for a Future Teacher

wil2By Anna Concannon – While studying in South Africa, I had the opportunity to help out with 3-5 year olds in a preschool classroom, which is an age group I did not have much experience with beforehand.

Being at the school gave me some insight about how the education system works there. I also learned a lot about how to be a good teacher.

Unfortunately, I saw a lack of instruction in this particular class, so I thought a lot about how I would improve the teaching.

On my first day at the school, the teacher/principle gave me ideas about various activities to do with the kids and played with them all day. On the subsequent days I was there, she stayed in her office almost the entire time, leaving me alone to keep the kids occupied, and she did not speak with me very much.

This was disappointing to me; it seemed like she was showing off her enthusiasm about teaching the first day to give off a good impression. Another explanation could be that she took advantage of having a helper in the classroom by using that extra time to do paperwork. Either way, there was not enough supervision of the kids. And they were a handful.

Overwhelmed at first, I learned to control the class and keep them occupied as my time there went on. Something valuable that I learned is the importance of transitioning. It can be difficult to motivate kids to clean and line up, so what made that easier was singing songs while we did it. At this young age, I discovered, kids love to sing.

Additionally, I recognized the significance of following a schedule. I am a very organized person, and many teachers I know are. To my dismay, the teacher I was helping was not at all; she just let the kids play all day. On my very last day at the school, I noticed there was a schedule of lessons on the wall that I never realized existed because there was no order of daily activities. The schedule included implementing math and writing skills into every “period” of the day… and I never saw that happen once. I did try doing this in some of the activities I led, which was successful.

Lastly, I learned to relax and let the children have fun. I sometimes get stressed out when kids misbehave, but after a while I learned to step back a little and the kids would fix their problems with each other without me asking them to do so. This helped keep me content during the long schooldays, and I will remember this when I have my own class someday.

Even though there was a language barrier between the kids and me, the school had really few resources, and the teacher did not supervise the kids enough, I fell in love with the kids at the preschool in South Africa. I have a new-found appreciation for teaching the younger ones, and I feel that it could be a good fit for me.

Counseling: It’s All in the Little Things

tumblr_krtj1mBvQb1qzjd8jo1_500By Sabrina Bong – At the end of the school year, the intermediate school I work at has a yearbook signing party.

It’s intense, to say the least. Picture over 350 sixth grade students in the gym, all of them clutching yearbooks or signature books, running up to each other and asking for signatures. The noise itself is overwhelming (for those of you who work at a school, yearbook signing is like working in the cafeteria, but times five. My ears were ringing for quite a while after I left!)

For me, it was a new experience being a counselor. The minute I walked into the gym to supervise, I had seven or eight girls flock to me to get their yearbook signed. I felt like a celebrity! I signed my name, posed for “selfies” with some of my students, and told them all that I was looking forward to seeing them next year.

One student in particular stood out to me though. He was a part of the lunch group that I held every Tuesday. He is an incredibly sweet student, who always made sure to say hello to me in the halls. Once he realized that I liked the minions from “Despicable Me,” our friendship was cemented.

On that particular yearbook day, I asked if he had gotten a yearbook. He said no, that he didn’t see the point in it, and that he wasn’t going to go to the signing party because he thought it was dumb.

“I see,” I said, after he told me this. “Well, how about you still come to see me?”

He readily agreed to this. Knowing that he had not gotten a yearbook, I wrote him a little note on stationery, telling him to have a great summer and that I looked forward to seeing him next year. I drew a minion on the envelope and gave it to him at the party. He was really thrilled!

While checking my work email today, I saw that my student had emailed me. He said that he hoped I was having a good summer, and that his was going okay so far. He talked about the trips he had taken, as well as the time he had spent with his younger brothers and sister.

“I tell my brothers what we talked about at lunch,” he wrote to me. “About how you told me that as long as you are confident in yourself, then no one else’s opinions matter. They are having a hard time right now with some people making fun of them in the neighborhood. Some bigger kids told them that they look funny, or dress funny, and now they don’t want to do anything outside because they are afraid of what the other kids will say to them. But I told them that they are worth just as much as everyone else. That’s what you told me, remember?”

He closed his email by saying he was excited to see me next year, and that he was going to stop by my office first thing on our first day back.

For me, this was such a gratifying moment, knowing that the counseling relationship extends beyond the school year. I’m curious to see if any other student notes come my way! If not, I am excited to see my kids once summer comes to a close.

Follow the Money: ISTE 2014

ISTE graphicBy Claudia Felske – Last year, around this time, I was an International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Conference wanna-be, lurking via #ISTE2013, drooling over tweets I was reading by those educators lucky enough to be in San Antonio at the International Society for Technology in Education Convention.

I went so far as to blog all about it last year, dubbing it The Best Conference I Didn’t Attend.

This year, I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a presenter, and so, I spent four glorious days last week at ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. Long story short: it is all that it’s cracked up to be. Because of the innovative and immense variety of its sessions, because it’s teeming with “aha moments,” because it means networking with 16,000 like-mindeds, I plan on finding a way to attend every ISTE until the year of my retirement, and perhaps beyond.

Now, instead of recounting all the sordid details of four days of edtech euphoria, I will fixate on one idea: “Follow the Money.” Legend has it that the “Follow the money” phrase was the directive from Deep Throat, the anonymous source that lead to the breaking of the Watergate Scandal and the resignation of a United States President. “Follow the money” suggests that to find the truth of a matter, one need simply follow the money trail.

So, what does this have to do with ISTE 2014? What became readily apparent to me last week is that If one is to follow the money in education, one will quickly surmise that American Corporations, specifically tech-flavored ones, are currently courting American schools like a politician at a donor dinner.

ISTE 2013 conference at the San Angelo Convention Center.

I’ve been to my share of educational conferences and seminars, local, state and national, but in my 20 years of teaching, nothing has come close in scope or sponsorship to what I experienced last week at ISTE.

  • Follow the numbers: 16,000 educators and education leaders
  • Follow the corporations:  500 companies and 4,500 industry reps
  • Follow the prestige: a cut-throat 10% acceptance rate for conference presenters
  • Follow the learning: hundreds of robust, inspirational learning opportunities
  • Follow the VIPs: sponsored networking events galore, top shelf ones requiring VIP badges
  • Follow the Expo Hall: ISTE’s vender hall compared to that of most educational conferences is like Times Square compared to Mayberry Square
  • Follow the Ads: for $13,000 your company can have a prime program ad; $4500 and attendees’ hands will touch your logo as they take the escalator between sessions. Advertising is ubiquitous at ISTE.

Clearly there is money to be made and influence to be gained at the crossroads of technology and education.

Just follow the money.

Women’s and Gender Studies in South Africa

gender-lens2By Anna Concannon – So far, my posts have been about playing with kids, going to the beach, and seeing poverty in South Africa. I thought I should address the fact that I’m not just here on holiday!

As my three-week visit to South Africa comes to an end, I want to share a little about why am here and what I have learned so far.

I have been studying abroad with three other students and a professor from Marquette on a Women’s and Gender Studies program, through which we are learning about the many gender-related issues that exist in South Africa. The group and I have visited numerous agencies and non-governmental organizations in Cape Town relating to gender and sexual identity-related rights, roles, oppression, and violence. We have also read many articles and asked questions about as much as we can to get a more holistic understanding of these problems.

The group has also extensively discussed the country’s new democratic government as well as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), both of which have made many positive strides in the post-apartheid South Africa.

Two speakers have come to talk to us about their involvement with the TRC, one of whom is a human rights activist and worked as a psychologist with the TRC. The other was a man convicted of a politically-motivated murder, for which he was granted amnesty through the TRC in the late 90s. He has dedicated his life of freedom to helping at-risk children, like he himself was, with an afterschool program devoted to empowerment. These speakers were very inspiring and I am grateful to have heard their messages about doing right despite the many wrongs in the world.

In addition, as I have mentioned before, I have been doing Service Learning twice a week by helping out at a preschool. Finally, in my free time, I have done a lot of touristy activities and am trying to experience as much as I can.

Needless to say, I’ve been really busy!

Lately, I have been thinking a lot about the connections between gender-related issues here and in the US. I have gained so much knowledge about the condition of this country by being here and talking with experts, learning much more about these issues than I knew about at home. I’ve seen that the inequalities and violence are much more extreme here; however, they still happen in the US. I have become very interested in finding out more about sexual violence in the US; I plan to look into organizations in my community that support survivors and find out how I can become involved.

I am so glad I chose this program and so thankful for the opportunity to be here. It has been an incredible educational adventure, one that has taught me so much about myself and about a country that is working towards gender equality.

A Dandy Decade as Dean

10th anniversaryBy Bill Henk – Good grief, where does the time go? This past Tuesday, July 1, 2014, marked the completion of 10 full years of on-the-job service to my beloved Marquette.

As anniversaries go, it could have been classified as either tin, aluminum, diamond, sapphire, blue, silver, or daffodil.  No matter how it’s labeled, the journey has been both fascinating and gratifying.

On one hand, I can’t believe a whole decade has passed since I began as Dean of the College of Education.  And on the other hand, I feel like I’ve been in my position almost forever — in the most positive way imaginable.

You see, Marquette University is my home; it’s where I believe I’m supposed to be.  To my mind, the first quarter century of my time in the world of the academy, spent at the University of Georgia, Penn State University, and Southern Illinois University, amounted to a prelude to my current destiny.  And eventually, my academic and administrative career will conclude here fondly as well.  Fact is, I can’t imagine myself anywhere else.

Oh sure, I’ve faced my fair share of challenges over the years.  But pretty early on in my time here, I came to realize that my deanship amounted to an extraordinary professional opportunity, an intellectual and social gift, and dare I say, a calling?

For me, it just doesn’t get any better than working for the greater glory of God in a Catholic, Jesuit University of academic renown.   It is an absolute joy to fulfill one’s purpose in an institution of higher education with a soul.  And I could go on indefinitely on how I’ve literally been blessed to have interacted for some 3,652 days with an amazing group of Marquette colleagues — administrators, faculty, and staff,  not to mention our remarkable students and Trustees, a wealth of outstanding community leaders,  exceptional alumni, and benevolent friends of the College and the University.

Reaching this milestone caused me to reflect on what’s actually been accomplished on my watch.  Under the circumstances, it seems only fitting to provide a Top 10 list.  Here are my personal favorites, largely in chronological order:

  1. Our multiple, successful national and state accreditation and re-accreditation efforts — NCATE, APA, CACREP, and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI)
  2. The re-designation of our academic unit from a School to a College of Education
  3. The success of our Hartman Literacy and Learning Center and our Behavior Clinic at Penfield
  4. Our co-founding of the Greater Milwaukee Catholic Education Consortium (GMCEC)
  5. Bringing Teach For America to Milwaukee
  6. Launching the Marquette Educator blog
  7. Service to Milwaukee Succeeds, the Education Deans of Greater Milwaukee (EDGM), the Milwaukee Academy of Science, the Milwaukee Tennis and Education Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Committee Education Committee, DPI, the Milwaukee Partnership Academy, and the Catholic School Commission
  8. The establishment of our College’s annual Mission Recognition Awards
  9. Setting a national precedent by sponsoring a Cristo Rey high school feasibility study
  10. Our first million dollar gift

Looking to the future,  I see many new and exciting possibilities.  Several are already percolating.  Most represent innovative community partnerships of one kind or another.   But they’re not ready for prime time, so I’ll resist the urge to put them on the record.

I have every confidence that our successes with accreditation efforts will continue including our venture into the new world of CAEP, formerly NCATE.  The Hartman Center, the Behavior Clinic, and the GMCEC will continue to shine, and hopefully new resources will accrue to each operation.  Teach For America Milwaukee will evolve as an organization, and the College will adapt accordingly.

The Marquette Educator will continue to enjoy excellent writing from an ever-expanding, diversified bevy of bloggers.  Our annual magazine will dazzle, and we’ll have an even better website and social media presence.

Milwaukee Succeeds will make significant headway in closing the achievement gap in the region.  The EDGM’s new mission and set of guiding principles will position the group to be notably more impactful and relevant in the community. Catholic schools will grow stronger as Cristo Rey Jesuit High School becomes a difference maker for the city.  Our students, faculty, staff, and alumni will continue to rack up professional awards.    And hopefully, more alumni, friends, and benefactors will step up to help the College do its innovative work around educational reform, rooted squarely in social justice.

To sum up, let me just say, “thanks for a wonderful 10 years,” Marquette and Milwaukee.

Independence Day and Education: What our Forefathers Valued

13613446221387663764By Aubrey Murtha – You probably studied the Founding Fathers in your elementary school American history class, but chances are you were unable to fully appreciate the brilliance of these men at the time.

Although modern America definitely has its flaws, take a second to think about where we would be today without the incredibly solid foundation that these talented minds established for our country.  Together, they created a government that aimed to promote the sanctity of the American man and preserve his inalienable rights.

I feel it is my civic duty to write about these guys, especially since we will soon be celebrating the Fourth of July.  And do not worry, for I have not forgotten my audience.  I was browsing the web, and I found a rather extensive list of insightful quotes from the Founding Fathers, each relating to the importance of education and the universal need for a well-educated public.

I picked my favorites and the following compilation was born.

“Educate and inform the whole mass…they are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty.” –Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the U.S.

“The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right education of youth.  Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail.” –George Washington, First President of the U.S.

“Learned institutions ought to be favorite objects with every free people.  They throw that light over the public mind which is the best security against crafty and dangerous encroachments on the public liberty.” –James Madison, Fourth President of the U.S.

“Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” –Benjamin Franklin, Sixth President of Pennsylvania

“I consider knowledge to be the soul of a republic, and as the weak and the wicked are generally in alliance, as much care should be taken to diminish the number of the former as of the latter.  Education is the way to do this, and nothing should be left undone to afford all ranks of people the means of obtaining a proper degree of it at a cheap and easy rate.” –John Jay, First Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

“I read my eyes out and can’t read half enough.  The more one reads the more one sees we have to read.” –John Adams, Second President of the U.S.

“What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of liberty and learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support?”-James Madison

So as you are thinking about fireworks and parades and the Good Old Red, White and Blue this holiday season, don’t forget about our origins and remember to thank the Founding Fathers for validating our profession and our passion—educating the young people of America.

Quotes sourced from here.

What if I Fall? Confronting Fear as a New Teacher

cc2de0ce2142674d97251d3905180506By Lauren Carufel-Wert – This past week was filled with various training sessions for my job as a Program Leader at day camp.

I quickly found out that my job was not what I had expected at all!

Originally, I thought I was going to be more a supervisor, making sure the kids were all in the right place at the right time and having others lead the kids in group activities. Boy was I way out of the ballpark…. like in another state!

Apparently as a program leader I was to be paired with another leader and together we would run a class of 20 kids, coming up with lesson plans and daily activities.  Ultimately, we would be in charge of pretty much everything! On top of everything, our class would be bilingual and contain multiple students with disabilities.

Once I realized this, I immediately began to doubt myself.  I called my boyfriend, crying, and told him I wasn’t sure if I could do it.

Fortunately, after a great deal of reassurance —  and a near panic attack — I realized that this experience was exactly what I needed.

The lesson plans, the daily activities, the classroom —  it was everything I wanted as an education student. And I think that’s what scared me so much. Suddenly, everything I wanted was thrust upon me and I was terrified that I couldn’t do it all, that I would let the kids down, that I would somehow screw up.

But I realized that I had to take a leap and take a chance on myself, because how else would I know if I could teach?

I saw this quote a few days ago and it is particularly poignant in this situation:

“What if I fall?
– Oh my darling, what if you fly?”

I finally realized that I had to take a chance and I had to do this job. I couldn’t give up —  because while there is always a chance for failure, there is also an opportunity for greatness and I won’t know unless I try.

So as I head to my first week of work, I am nervous; but, I am also excited because I can’t wait to see what these next 6 weeks will hold for me.


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