Archive for the 'Alumni Voices' Category

One Space After a Period. That’s all. Period.

Full_stop.svgBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

Between sixth and seventh hour, a colleague, at least two decades my senior, sat in a student’s desk. “I was taught it is always two spaces.” She wolfed her peanut butter and jelly sandwich before her next class began.

“That was when people used typewriters and a monospaced font. Now, computers use proportional type, so one space after periods is the rule.”

“What? How do you know this?”

“Modern typographers—The AP Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style and the US Government Printing Office Style Manual—agree: only one space after a period.” Extra spaces add unnecessary geography for the eye, I told her. “You have an iPhone, right? In Messages, hit the spacebar two times in quick succession. The period and one space will automatically be added.” Even iPhone agrees: only one space.

Am I a grammar snob? Maybe. But isn’t it an English teacher’s job to obsess over grammar rules, over evolving style guidelines? Isn’t it my duty to not only know about, but also embrace modernity?

Hoping to find resources to pass along to my colleague, I researched space rules. I found a Business Insider article by Mignon Fogarty: “Why you should never add two spaces after a period.” Fogarty writes, “In HTML and many blogging platforms, no matter how many spaces you type, they get turned into one space. If you want multiple spaces, you have to hard code it in using the HTML code.” Modern writers, publishing on web platforms, follow the same rules as hardcopy publishers, essayists and journalists. HTML, style guides, newspapers agree: only one space.

Am I elitist? Do I care about something trite? As an author and writing teacher, I care about details. I encourage my students to care about details too: how the essay looks, how the words sound, how the language evokes emotion. I want to see a passion that shows in intentional language, action verbs, uniform tenses and varied punctuation and sentence structures. And consistent, single spaces.

I sent my colleague these articles:

Space Invaders: Why you should never, ever use two spaces after a period” by Farhad Manjoo

Nothing Says Over 40 Like Two Spaces after a Period!” by Jennifer Gonzalez

In Gonzalez’s article, I learned that “although APA guidelines at one time reduced the required spacing after a period from two down to one, they returned it to two in 2009 in the 6th Edition (see section 4, first bullet)…In the legal world, two spaces is still the norm.” Gonzalez suggested, “Although both of these exceptions are irritating, they don’t surprise me, as academia and law are not exactly areas where design reigns supreme. I’m almost positive that in both cases, the spacing is being held onto for the sake of tradition.” I know students (especially math and science brained students) find this difficult to grasp. How can the rule be right sometimes, but not always? I am reminded of the colleagues (I wrote about in a previous blog) who sighed at my attention to Oxford comma inconsistencies. The math and science teachers wanted one right answer. But in writing, like art, often there fails to be one. I remind my students that every choice communicates thoughtfulness, research and attention to detail (or a lack thereof).

Do I believe my generation is right and my colleague’s generation is wrong? No. I realize language evolves. I realize what was once commonplace is now an error; what was once a rule is now opposite. And I empathize when students struggle with English “rules that don’t make sense” or “rules that always change.” I also know when I say one space after a period, some students might not realize I also refer to spaces after exclamation points and question marks.

Just like my previous blog about the Oxford comma, one or two spaces after a period (or exclamation or question mark) can technically be right and wrong (depending on the style guide or purpose). But the key is design and ease. How a paper looks impacts how a reader feels. Think of the way a chef prepares a plate. Presentation either excites or horrifies us, meets or exceeds our expectation. Fogarty’s information about HTML alludes to style as well—it matters how text on websites looks, feels, sits.

After reading the articles I sent, my colleague said, “I will have to use find and replace to help me. Using only one space is a hard habit to break. It’s been imprinted in my brain—and fingers—for forty years.”

“Now, if we can only get everyone in our department to do the same…”

 

Getting to Know Dr. Leigh van den Kieboom

VandenkieboomDr. Leigh van den Kieboom is  an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Policy & Leadership (EDPL). She teaches Elementary and Middle School Mathematics as well as Teaching in the Middle School. All throughout this semester, we’ve been getting to know our faculty a little better by sitting down to see what makes them who they are!

 

Tell us about yourself!

I am a mathematics teacher educator with twelve years of K-12 teaching experience who enjoys guiding pre-service teachers as they learn how to teach in our preparation program. I’ve worked in several school districts in the Milwaukee area and have been at Marquette University in the College of Education since 2000.

So where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Milwaukee area and completed an undergraduate and master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee before finishing a doctoral degree at Marquette University.

Sounds like you’ve had many educational experiences! What is your favorite one?

As a K-12 student, I did not particularly enjoy mathematics. I found the subject challenging. I often asked my K-12 mathematics teachers to explain WHY the procedures I was using to solve problems worked. Most often, I received a repetition of the procedure rather than an explanation of the concept involved in the procedure. This was frustrating for me. While in college at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, my views of teaching and learning mathematics changed as I began to study WHY the procedures for problem solving worked. I was fascinated as I revisited the K-12 mathematics scope and sequence with a view toward teaching and learning that included using multiple and hands-on approaches to solving problems. I learned how to use reasoning to explain the thinking involved in the procedures I used to solve problems. I became passionate about sharing what I had learned with others. As a teacher, while most of my colleagues, espoused teaching reading as the favorite part of their practice, I was drawn to teaching and learning mathematics.

Whoa, that’s an amazing change in thinking about math! What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

The focus on social justice drew me to Marquette University and the College of Education. I was particularly drawn to a teacher preparation program that utilized a variety of urban school settings that provide pre-service teachers the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of K-12 students.

We’re glad that the COED was a good fit for you! What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

Revisions to the Marquette University’s common core as well as change to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s teacher licensing has created the opportunity for faculty in the College of Education to reimagine the coursework involved in the teacher preparation program.

Who is your inspiration for your work?

My mom and dad were both public school teachers. They loved their practice and spent years serving the students and parents in the school districts in which they worked. I grew up in their classrooms, first learning about teaching from them! Their passion for teaching inspired me to continue the same journey.

We’ve heard a lot about what you are like as a professor, but what do you do when you are outside of the classroom?

I am an avid sailor. I am part of a family crew (husband Jan; two sons, Pieter and Willem) who race a 38’ sailboat named “Nighthawk” on Lake Michigan. We enjoy weekly course races as well as long-distance races, The Queens Cup (South Shore Yacht Club to Muskegon Yacht Club) and The Chicago-Mackinac Race (Chicago to Mackinac Island). You can find me out on the water most of the summer!

Tell us more about what racing means to you!

Racing on Nighthawk is a beautiful experience that combines time on the water with family. We work as a team in different kinds of weather conditions on Lake Michigan. The most exciting part of the summer racing season is the Chicago-Mackinac race. We join over 300 sailboats in Chicago and sail 333 miles north to Mackinac Island. The race, which usually takes three days, includes weather patterns of every kind, from sunny skies to dark thunderstorms. The crew works 24-7, taking shifts through the night to keep the boat sailing.

Any advice for readers who are interested in sailing?

Marquette University has a sailing club. Interested participants can learn how to sail (on Lake Michigan) with friends from Marquette University!

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our undergraduate and graduate programs by visiting us online!

Reflecting on Loss

digital_graphics_candle_flame_grief_light_dark_mood-1193516By Sabrina Bartels

This past month, I really struggled with inspiration to write something. Our family suffered a heartbreaking tragedy when my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away. My husband’s dad was a proud Marquette graduate; he was happy to be a “Warrior.” He had many great stories about his time at Marquette: Marquette winning the NCAA championship, “camping out” for season tickets, and meeting my mother-in-law, to name a few.

Oftentimes, death makes you reexamine life and get a completely new perspective. You start to re-evaluate many different things and re-prioritize your life. I remember pledging to spend more time with my parents, and enjoying every moment I get with them. Suddenly, things that seemed extremely important were not so crucial. I think everyone in our family walked around in a daze for the week between my father-in-law’s death and his funeral.

Seeing death up-close like this was a major shock. It also provided me with some interesting insight for when I talk to my students about death and grief. Here are some of my take-away points.

What is right for one isn’t right for everyone. The day after the funeral, I went back to work. For me, I definitely needed to get back into that routine. It was comforting for me to wake up early, drive to work, sit in my office, and chat with my students. Not being at work made me disoriented. However, it was a completely different story for my husband. Work was not the distraction that it was for me. When it comes to students, I always tell parents that sometimes, routine is the best thing for a student. But if that routine only causes more stress, we can find a different way to cope.

Grief looks different for everyone. Some people cry. Some do their best to keep busy, while others are more comforted sitting still. Some people choose to block everything out entirely. Some aren’t ready to discuss their feelings; some need another person to just listen to them. It varies. Just because someone in mourning doesn’t react the way you expect them to doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving. Grief can come out in all sorts of different ways, whether it’s crying in the halls or behavior issues in the classroom.

It takes time. Really, it does. Remember that the student you are speaking with has just had their world completely shaken up. Things will not be the same ever again for them. Some of my students bounce back quickly once they are back in school, but there are also those who struggle. My husband describes it as this “fog” that is always present in his mind. Sometimes, he can rise above it, but some days, he’s just in a daze. There’s no set time limit on long you can – and will – grieve. Give everyone the time and space he or she needs.

Questioning isn’t always a good thing. I used to ask my students how they were feeling, what was going through their mind, but after going through this whole process, I’m rethinking my approach. When my husband, his siblings, and all the spouses went with my mother-in-law to the funeral home, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of questions we were asked. They asked about flowers, a casket, the obituary, if we wanted a luncheon after, what we wanted for the luncheon, etc. They needed everything right that day. I never realized how exhausting questions can be after you’ve lost someone. I think going forward, I’ll ask if there is anything they want to share. I’ll do more listening than questioning. I think it’ll work out.

It’s okay to lean on people. So many times, people think they need to be “strong” when someone dies. I see my students doing that too. They don’t want to be sad or upset because their family members “need them to be strong.” It’s really tough to do that! I tell them that it’s okay if they are sad because someone died. I encourage them to talk to their families and friends if they are sad and need some cheering up. No one can be strong 100% of the time, and that is why we have family and friends to support us.

 

Tales of a First-Year Teacher in Alaska: What Happens Next

A 2017 graduate of the College of Education, Michelle Fedran made an unusual choice for her first teaching position: she moved to a remote part of Alaska to begin her career. Reflecting upon the changes that have occurred in her life since last May, Michelle shared some of her story. This is the third of her three-part series on The Marquette Educator.

image 1By Michelle Fedran

The name of the village I am in is Tununak (sounds like two-new-nik). If I had the money and control over nature (nature is a HUGE factor out here and I’ll never stop mentioning that haha) I would pay for anyone who held an interest to fly out here to take a look for him or herself. It’s one thing to hear about it and another to experience it upfront. We are an hour flight out from Bethel and are right on the coast of the sea, surrounded by some mountains and cliffs so the views are breathtaking. A fun thing with being on the coast, I can still say Wisconsin still wins as one of the worst places I’ve been in when winter hits! Although besides the slightly warmer temperatures, the winds up here get pretty rough sometimes, but Wisconsin Avenue definitely help put in some good training for walking against the wind. It’s especially fun when the wind picks up to 50 mph, picking up and blowing snow, and I have to climb a hill up to school because the stairs have already been covered with snow. Some people would think I’m getting ready to climb a mountain if they saw the gear I sometimes have to put on before going outside! The closest village to us is about seven miles away through the tundra, and people normally travel back and forth by snowmachine, honda (ATV), or walking. There are other surrounding villages but when I travel to them it’s usually by bush plane. Something I have found out interesting by traveling to different villages is that it almost seems like everyone knows well, everyone!

image 4.jpgBesides physical characteristics, something I really love about it out here is the simplicity of how things seem to be. Especially coming from a bustling city with a booming market of the next generation car and little devices that control things around your house, it is refreshing to experience simple living. I have met some of the nicest people out here and have been able to experience, as well as witness, genuine happiness. I often feel that people get so caught up with work or media that personal relationships sometimes fall on the back burner, but that isn’t what I see. Up here, the people I have met so far exhibit tremendous respect and care for their loved ones, and it is really refreshing to see the happiness that good company can bring. Coming out here made me realize what I need to be truly happy and that doesn’t involve the latest high-brand purse, hottest sunglasses, or super cool kicks that just came out. I have realized it’s the little, simple things that really count and that loving friends and family are all that I—and anyone—really needs to lead a happy life.

If any of you are considering making a move to teach in a remote location such as Alaska, I would suggest that if the thought is lingering in your mind, take a chance and do it. Even if it terrifies you, that’s a greater reason to do it! I remember it was about a week before I was supposed to leave my home and fly out to basically the edge of the country (no really, look up my location on Google Maps), and I began to panic. Thoughts began racing through my head and my anxiety was about to burst through the roof! However, my friends and family told me if my dreams didn’t scare me, they weren’t big enough. So, I took those words, held them close, and now I’m truly experiencing some of the happiest moments of my life. I’ve created memories and friendships I know will last a lifetime and beyond that I will forever cherish.

Nothing is forever, things can always change, and so now is the chance to take control of your life!

sunset 1

Thinking about my future and looking five years down the road from now, I see a blur. Anything is possible! I could still be up here in Alaska, or I could be in a new location whether it be state, country, who knows! I have been asked this question quite a few times and every time I like to remind people that I’m just taking life one day at a time. You never know what can happen within 24 hours. One day you could be just fine and the next your world could be flipped upside down (good or bad). So for now, I try to focus on what I have in the moment. Although right now I am truly enjoying my time up here and am excited to say I’ll be returning next year!

Getting to Know Laura Bolger

bolger-3The College of Education is excited to continue allowing students to better know its faculty and staff. Ms. Laura Bolger is the Director of Development for the College of Ed. Read on to learn more about Laura!

Tell us about yourself!

I am the Director of Development for the College of Education and the Graduate School. I am also a proud alum of MU’s Grad School as a student in the Master’s level Community Counseling program. I am a “Fur Mom” and a crazy auntie to three nephews and two nieces!

So where did you grow up and how long have you lived in Milwaukee?

I grew up in Crystal Lake, IL, where I lived in the same home for 22 years. After completing my bachelor’s degree, I moved to Milwaukee to start my graduate program at Marquette University. It’s hard to believe I’ve been a Milwaukeean for 12 years!

It sounds like you’ve had many years in school! What is your favorite educational experience?

I miss naptime as a kindergartener… those were the days.

Naptimes were the best! What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

As a student, I loved the Jesuit mission of Marquette University, which was especially apparent in the Counseling program  I would say the same is true as an alumna returned to work at MU.

We’re glad Marquette was a good fit for you! What do you do when you are outside of the office?

I’m a volunteer at the Wisconsin Humane Society -Animal care volunteer- as a cat/dog walker and helper for special events. I am an Alumnae Advisor for my sorority- Alpha Omicron Pi, a beginning knitter, and a fur mom to 3 cats and a miniature dachshund.

That’s amazing! Tell us more about what these mean to you!

I love volunteering, it’s the best!

So you have any advice for readers who are interested in your hobbies?

Find your passion and go for it. Adopt, don’t shop, for your pets.

You can learn more about the College of Education along with our undergraduate and graduate programs by visiting us online!

What Every Author Shares: Rejection

stamp-2114884_960_720By Elizabeth Jorgensen

YA author Erin Hahn (@writer_ep_hahn) tweeted, “Every author you respect was told no. Their email alert dinged and it was bad news. They entered their work into a contest and heard crickets. They cried buckets over a bad review. They felt inadequate. But they didn’t stop writing and you shouldn’t either.”

When my mom and I completed our manuscript, we submitted it to publishers, agents and editors. The rejections continue to flood my email and mailbox, forcing me to ask, Is our memoir good enough? Does it have a place in the market? Will anyone want to read it? Despite rejections, my answers remain yes, yes, yes.

In alternating voices, our memoir follows the story of my sister. It starts in 2010. Twenty-four-year old Gwen rebuffed USA Triathlon when they recruited her for a sport she never heard of. Eventually persuaded, Gwen dabbled in swim-bike-run and surprised herself with success. She quit her job as an accountant to train full time. As she pursued the Olympic dream, our family agonized over her bike crashes, her relocation abroad and her competitive losses. But, we celebrated her new skills, races won and finally Olympic gold. More than a sports tale, our memoir is an inspiring family story about one daughter’s/sister’s quest for the ultimate in sport and our family that supports her in that journey.

I envision mothers, book clubs and memoir fans delving into our family’s story. Gwen is followed by 42,000 fans on Twitter, 65,000 on Facebook and 138,000 on Instagram. Some of them must be interested in reading about the upbringing and support that led her to Olympic gold?

After seeing Hahn’s tweet, I googled “rejected manuscripts famous authors” and saw a list that included Kurt Vonnegut, Ernest Hemingway, Louisa May Alcott, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Stephen King, Sylvia Plath. Many were told their ideas would “not sell” and “I wonder if any publisher will buy it.” I am not comparing myself to Vonnegut, Hemingway or Alcott—or have ideas of grandeur for my own manuscript—but rejection connects all writers.

One rejection letter called our manuscript “delightful” before admonishing: the book won’t sell. Another editor said we submitted “a very worthwhile submission, particularly in memoirs” but reminded us that “because of the limited number of trade and regional titles” he would have to decline.

Each rejection challenges my mom and me to keep writing, keep believing, keep working. And to keep reflecting, perfecting, polishing. Is our memoir good enough? Does it have a place in the market? Will anyone want to read it?

Yes, there’s a place for my family’s story. Women want to read about other women, uplifting, supporting, cheering each other. They want a glimpse inside an Olympian and the family that brought her to the pinnacle of sport. They want to peer inside sponsorship, agents, media tours. They want to know what it’s like to experience the Olympics, your sister/daughter the gold medal favorite.

Yes, our story has a place on library shelves, on Kindles and in book clubs. Hahn reminds me it’s okay to feel inadequate, but I have to keep believing, keep writing and keep working until I find the perfect publishing house who believes in our memoir’s story as much as we do. And that’s the message I relay to my students when they doubt themselves and ask, Is my writing good enough? Does it have a place in the market? Will anyone want to read it?

Yes. You just need to find precisely the right publisher who will believe as much as you do.

 

Lower the Stakes and Commit

This post originally appeared on Jake Dagget’s (Ed ’15) blog Prime Time Ponderings.

daggetBy Jake Dagget

A dear friend once reminded me that we can’t scratch every itch. Well, at the same time, anyway. It was in response to a struggle that I’m certain almost every human faces: We always want to be doing what we aren’t currently doing. The Uber driver who really produces a web series, the barista who actually has an album on Spotify that took years to produce, the teacher who is studying for law school. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the President who actually dreams of working for a Neilsen TV Ratings analysis team. It’s not that we want what we can’t have. In fact, I no longer believe in that saying. Instead, it’s that we want what we tell ourselves is not possible. We want what we think would seem ridiculous or out of reach. We worry how it might seem. We want more, but don’t commit.

10 months ago, I dropped everything I ever worked for in a matter of 9 days. Beautiful and loyal friends, a dream job, a quaint and endearing town. In the true Shonda Rhimes “Year of Yes” spirit, I hauled everything I’ve ever owned and left a little room in the suitcase for ambition and celebrated fear. This is not the point of this post, however, so I’m going to quickly move along. It takes a lot for us to do what our idols and role models tell us as they give their acceptance speech or accept their Olympic medal: “Follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tear them away.” You see, this is all good advice. However, what happens when we aren’t sure it is our dream? What happens when we really think it is, but other itches, other desires, make us overthink? What happens when we have multiple dreams?

And here is where I make my point — where I “land the plane”, as my good friend likes to say. We have to lower the stakes. Because at the end of the day, it is your journey. YOU are the one impacted by these risks, these desires, these failures, and these lessons. I remember always wondering: How will it look, running across the country to try this? What will people think? I’m taking all my things, is that silly? Should I just sublet and try it out for 5 months? All of this went through my head. For some reason, it became this huge situation. But I knew I couldn’t sublet. I was not going to scratch an itch HALF-WAY. I was going to go, commit, and realize that everyone else would continue living their own lives, worrying about their own worries. Thus, I lowered the stakes.

Once you the lower the stakes, you can commit to scratching one of your itches. Now you have reminded yourself that it truly matters not if things do not happen as planned. You come to understand that the only negative feedback you might receive will come from people you aren’t actually keen to impress. In that case, DECIDE. Decide, lower the stakes, and commit. No one else is influenced by these risks but yourself. What will people say? What will people think? The fact of that matter is that life will go on for those people in your life. They will continue to go to work, come home, heat up a frozen lasagna, and continue Season 2 of Stranger Things. They will continue to remodel their backyard, visit Grandma on Saturdays, or go on weekend hikes and take selfies while wearing sunglasses. The stakes are NOT HIGH.

In August of this year, I will make a return to the school at which I found a home only 15 months ago. A school run and staffed with beautifully dedicated teachers, some of my dearest friends, and filled with families that want a future for their children. I have accepted a position on an amazing First Grade team, and better yet, I’ll be teaching Theatre (cue the puppet voices, stat!). Is this what I thought would happen a year ago? Not at all, but I scratched the itch. I lowered the stakes again. I’m moving back so soon, what will people say? They always say to give it a year…what will people say at 10 months? I don’t have to worry, however, because this is an individual journey. And itch I will continue to scratch, but on my own terms.

Julia Child once said: “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” For me, that is teaching young people how to read. Did I need to scratch a few itches to discover that? Absolutely. Has anyone’s life really been affected but my own? Nope. Therefore, I commit. I decide, and I open another door.

So, trust yourself. Try things. Find clarity. Sometimes we follow dreams that no longer become dreams. And in that moment, in the present, we find an infinite gamut of choices.

 


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