Archive for the 'Lessons I've learned' Category

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Tyanna McLaurin

This fall, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Tyanna McLaurin, one of our Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate students and the Assistant Director of Service Learning at Marquette!

tyannaI was born and raised in Milwaukee, WI. I had the pleasure to going to a variety of schools when I was younger so I’m can adapt quickly to new spaces and I’m unafraid of change (well, somewhat). My favorite educational experience was living overseas as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer. While the experience was not part of a “formal education,” it was indeed a life changing time for me. I learned so much about community work. Much of what I learned stays with me today.

I’ve been out of school for a long time, so the start of every semester is exciting. I’m challenging myself to be open to growth and to do my best. I know I got this! I work as the Assistant Director of Service Learning. I love working in higher education and want to continue on this career track. The Student Affairs in Higher Education Program was attractive to me. I like the relationships I can build with faculty and the support of students.

Outside of the classroom, I do so much. I work with Milwaukee Film-Black Lens Program as the Community Outreach Coordinator. Milwaukee has the 9th largest film festival in the country and I get to spread the word within and among my networks about this gem. History, specifically, African/African American History, tends to be my inspiration for my work and passion. I’m never surprised by social unrest or ‘isms that plague American society. This was all foretold through history. I use history to remain knowledgeable and keep going.

Want to learn more about our graduate education programs? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!


Reflections on the 2019 MUSCLES Camp

Marquette offers a summer camp addressing literacy and social communication skills for children on the spectrum, aged 6-11. The MUSCLES (Marquette University Summer Communication, Literacy, and Enhanced Socialization) camp occurs during three weeks in summer. An interdisciplinary initiative of the Colleges of Education, Health Sciences, and Arts and Sciences, the camp not only serves local children but also employs students. We caught up with Megan Smith, Class of 2019, to find out more about her experience.

MUSCLES 2019 meganBy Megan Smith

As a student, I connected with Dr. Walker-Dalhouse in class through her course and my work experiences in the College of Education. She invited me to participate in the camp two years ago, but it didn’t work out given my work schedule. What overall drew me in was through working with students on the autism spectrum, I had observed the fact that there are so many misconceptions about what student on the spectrum can and cannot do. Through my own curiosity, I discovered that there is not a lot of research out there, just speculation and was concerning to me as an educator. Thus, when I was told about the research, I was eager to participate.

My favorite part was watching the kids make friends and accept on another and not see differences. They look at the world through their eyes and see only similarities (an aspect that we as humans forget to see). The most challenging was learning each of their personalities in such a short period of time. I felt like I just ‘really’ got to know them, and camp was over.

I feel this will help me teach ALL young scholars. Through understanding how a variety of learners see the world and how they learn, I can better meet all students where they are and help guide them to success. This practice helps me see there are multiple ways to succeed at one task.

Prior to the program, I had always taught social skill and academic skills such as reading in isolated time periods I knew that cross-curricular teaching was possible, but I had never felt confident but now I truly see the benefits and that children grow and prosper when taught via a cross-curricular curriculum.






My Trip to Washington, D.C.

Capitol ViewBy Kathryn Rochford

Happy July, everyone! I don’t know about you, but I love getting patriotic when the Fourth rolls around. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel with my family to our beloved nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. It was a trip full of many tourist activities, delicious food, and most importantly, amazing learning opportunities. It allowed me to reflect on how far we’ve come as a nation and how far we can go in the future.

Here are my thoughts on my trip to Washington D.C.

It is our job as educators to teach our students the curriculum of course, but also to instill values and skills in them that they can use throughout their lifetime.

Day One

The first day of my family’s trip, we went to Mass and then to the Smithsonian Museum of American History. This first day there left me a bit dumbfounded as I marveled at the architecture style and the massive amounts of history that occurred in this very city. The Museum of American History was a fun one to go to, especially for me, as I have always had a fascination with history. I also enjoyed this museum a lot because it had a superhero exhibit and anyone who knows me knows that I am a massive superhero fan, especially with Marvel movies and comics. It was fun to be able to enjoy it with my siblings and take in the pricelessness of all the artifacts.

Day Two

On this day, we started off by going to the African American Museum, which is also the newest museum in D.C. It was the most interactive museum we went to, with all the modern technology making it fun for all ages, especially my younger siblings. I really enjoyed learning about the history behind African American culture, fashion and influence on media. My favorite exhibits were those on sports, with all the replicas and videos on practically every famous African American athlete, as well as the exhibit on music, with all the awards, replicas and costumes from the artists. The music exhibit also had an interactive table where you could press a song you wanted to hear and hear it, with some music dating as far back as the early 1900’s.

On this day, we also went to the Air and Space museum. As a person who has never been very into science and engineering, this place kept me interested with the number of artifacts housed in such a historic building. We enjoyed watching the Apollo 11 film by CNN as it held new footage from the moon landing that was nearly 50 years ago. It was almost like I could live it myself; you could feel the excitement, anxiousness and nerves of every person in the video: the spectators, mission control and the astronauts. What a historic day to celebrate here coming up soon.

Day Three

The White House was a fun stop my family had in D.C. since we had planned and gained access to go inside for a tour. The stark realization that so many of our country’s leaders have walked those halls blew my mind. I remember spending almost too much time looking at all the intricate details, architecture and decorations, and soaking in the view from the red, green, and blue rooms overlooking the rest of the National Mall. If you ever get the chance to travel to D.C., I recommend trying to get into the White House as it’s an impressive experience.

The Capitol Building was another unforgettable stop on my family’s trip, especially since we called our local Congressman’s office and were able to get a tour from his interns. This aspect of the tour was a bit different as all the other ones we did had been self-led. I enjoyed having people my age that we ask questions of and getting to know what their favorite parts of the job were. I even thought it was funny since the interns had a bingo list of all the Congressmen and women they would run into throughout the summer. My favorite part of the tour was when we stopped in the center of the building and were able to see paintings of Washington, key moments in our nation’s history, and even unfinished sculptures of Lincoln (symbolizing his unfinished presidency), along with  women who have shaped this country (leaving room for the first female president, of course).

Day Four

My favorite part of the entire trip was touring the Library of Congress. As a lover of literature and an English major, I was utterly speechless throughout the entirety of the time we spent in there. I could write a whole blog alone on what it meant to me to see everything in there, and every fun fact I heard, but I’d like to focus on two things.

First, the statues I have pictured below. If you look closely, you’ll notice one is an older man and one is a younger man: this was meant to symbolize the importance of lifelong learning. What a fitting idea for a library that houses such important works, but also for teachers to understand! I feel it’s important to recognize that we will learn as much from our students as they will learn from us. It is our job as educators to teach our students the curriculum of course, but also to instill values and skills in them that they can use throughout their lifetime. We truly have the most important job as we mold the minds of future generations; what a powerful sentiment and an important responsibility.

library of congress

Secondly, if any of you are fellow book lovers like me, my wildest dreams came true when I found out you can get a Library of Congress library card. It takes about 10 minutes, but then you can go into the iconic Reading Room and hold the history of our country in your hands. To say I was dumbfounded is an understatement. I could hardly speak for thirty minutes after we left; I was too busy processing everything.

So, to sum everything up, Washington, D.C. was one of the most fun vacation spots I’ve ever been to with my family. It truly is a city that can entertain all ages, but the history alone in that one city is important to feel and experience on one’s own. Learning more about our country helped me to go into this holiday week with a deeper understanding of what it took for our country to gain its independence, and an even deeper appreciation to live in such a place. This Fourth of July, I hope you were able to take a moment to reflect on what it means to you to be here, to be in a country that values our freedom, and remember the sacrifice it took for thousands of men and women to keep it that way.

Adios Lima

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Brooke McArdle

Lima, Peru…the Plaza de Armas de Lima by dayI truly cannot believe how fast our time in Lima has flown by. It seems crazy to me that soon we will be on a plane to Cuzco, having completed three of our four weeks in Peru. My time in Peru has been amazing and also challenging for a variety of reasons. I have enjoyed getting to know the culture and the people, as well as picking up on whatever Spanish I am able. In addition, I have definitely felt linguistically inadequate several times on this trip, which is difficult to deal with, especially in settings were everything is in Spanish. With all of these different experiences and feelings, my third week in Lima is drawing to a close and I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about the different educational contexts here and also have been able to connect them with what I’ve experienced not only as a pre-service teacher, but also as a student.

We have been able to partake in a variety of educational experiences, each uniquely structured to fit the context and students which they serve. Two of the different experiences we worked with this week were: Tupac Amaru and Lombriz Feliz. As I discussed in my previous blog post, Tupac Amaru is a public school, geared to prepare their students to work in a trade for the betterment of their local community. Contextually, this approach for schooling is practical because the goal is to help the community flourish as a whole. Having students who can participate in and help their community with their trade has a positive effect on the advancement of the community. One of the things that we have talked a lot about in seminar and that has stuck with me is the idea of creativity and curiosity in education. In the article, “Shop Class as Soulcraft,” Matthew Crawford discusses the importance of manual labor in education and its connection to cultivating creativity. Crawford describes the connection that exists between the self and the product of manual work, specifically how the product of manual labor emulates its maker, a humanizing process. Therefore, Crawford makes the argument that this manifestation then enables the maker to engage creatively with their world. Consequently, he argues that critical thinking stems from manual labor and crafts, both of which we deprive students of in our schools. At Tupac Amaru, the trade is the center of the curriculum and students are encouraged to connect with their trade to explore their creativity and expression. For example, in the metalworking classroom, students welded scorpions, elephants, or bicycles, which were, as Crawford would argue, expressions of themselves. While there is a practical aspect of this type of education, it also enables students to explore their world through their own abilities and interests, making their education even more relevant for the students.

In addition to this experience, we also visited Lombriz Feliz this week. Lombriz Feliz is a community composting organization just on the outskirts of Lima. They were started in 1991 with the intent of minimizing waste and organizing their waste management. A group of German missionaries worked side by side with the community to begin a composting program. Since then, Lombriz Feliz has thrived, producing organic humus that helps plants better grow in the desert climate of Lima. The organization has also been asked to educate other communities, including wealthier communities, about how to compost successfully. One of the things that I really enjoyed learning about Lombriz Feliz is how the community came together to recognize and solve a problem. With the help of the missionaries, the community worked democratically to better itself. The Chavez and Soep article “Youth Radio and the Pedagogy of Collegiality”discusses the implications of educational relationships rooted in interdependence. The authors explain that the Youth Media program is meant to encourage shared interest and investment in a final product, which then creates not only a more robust product but also a relationship and community. The experience at Lombriz Feliz is based on this type of teaching and learning experience. The ideology behind Lombriz Feliz is communal advancement not only through participation, but by working together. Their composting requires the active participation of community members to continue the process. Consequently, the educational structure of Lombriz Feliz is relationally based and emphasizes the importance of both personal and communal contributions.

The approaches of Tupac Amaru and Lombriz Feliz demonstrate different approaches to learning than the traditional banking system of education that Freire discusses in “Pedagogy of Freedom.” Personally, I believe that a classroom should incorporate components of both. I think that capitalizing on student creativity and curiosity is essential, which Crawford suggests can be accomplished through manual labor and crafts. Allowing students to actively participate in their education through creative engagement is crucial in helping the students to maximize their full potential. Additionally, redefining the relationship between teachers and students is also important for allowing this creativity and potential to take shape in schools. Education should not be about menial bits and pieces of information but about creating confident and capable learners who are able to engage with others and their world. Consequently, teachers should provide relevance, emphasize personal value, and exist to guide students in their own self-actualization.

In connection with my own educational experiences, these are two aspects that I wish I would have seen more of in my primary and secondary education and even at university. Personally, I think younger grades tend to emphasize creativity more. I remember these classes being filled with the type of hands on work that Crawford describes, where I was encouraged to explore and create what I thought was relevant to my education in the context of the given assignment. As I got older, however, rote memorization and templated assignments and essays became the new normal. Similarly, throughout my whole educational experience, I have had few teachers who have treated their classroom as a collaborative space where teachers and students work together to learn. Instead, the teacher is the sole authority and the students are expected to observe and respect this hierarchy. With my experiences in mind, I want to take both of these aspects, cultivating an environment ripe for creativity and working side by side with students, and implement them in my future classroom because I feel that these are two key components for helping my students thrive.

Dear Future Teacher

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Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Hannah Lubar

This summer, we are continuing our series getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Hannah Lubar, one of our Student Affairs in Higher Education graduate students!

IMG_2913Hi and thanks for your interest in getting to know me! I’m going into my second and final year as a graduate student in the Student Affairs in Higher Education (SAHE!) program, working as a Graduate Assistant in the Business Career Center. I’m also a proud alumna of the College of Ed.

I grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, but including my undergraduate years at Marquette, I’ve lived in Milwaukee for around nine years now. After getting my Bachelor’s Degree, I knew I wanted to stick around Milwaukee, and I taught high school English in the city for four years.

I come from a family of educators: my dad is a middle school music teacher, and my mom and sister both teach special education in the Chicago area. I’ve also got two very cool brothers and an incredibly loveable nephew and niece. I met my kind and hilarious husband, Eric, at MU.  He and his sister both just graduated with their master’s degrees from MU, so you can say the three of us are big fans of our school and of Milwaukee (and very blessed).

Major highlights of my educational experience include being part of the Dorothy Day Social Justice Living Learning Community and then my time teaching, which gave me invaluable memories, experience, and relationships. Both my extracurricular time at Marquette in undergrad and my time teaching high school sparked my interest in higher education support services as well as community engagement.

This upcoming academic year, I’m excited to explore new areas of higher education at UW-Milwaukee through my summer and fall practica.  I really appreciate how the SAHE program helps us foster connections with other institutions and gain new perspectives.  It’s something that drew me to the program. Additionally, I chose Marquette – the second time – because of its Jesuit values and commitment to others, and because I felt that my undergraduate teacher training from the College was truly quality.

Outside of education, I enjoy biking, rock climbing, trying new restaurants, watching Parks and Rec reruns, going to concerts/shows around Milwaukee, being in community with my church, gardening, and yoga. I think it’s important to make time for rest and personal interests so that we can be our best selves in our work – so I’m always trying to work on all of the above!

Week 1 in Lima, Peru: What Makes us Human

This summer marks the third College of Education faculty-led study abroad trip to Peru. Dr. Melissa Gibson and 11 of our students are studying and learning in Lima while also traveling the country. Their blogs are originally posted on Marquette Meets Peru, and we’re excited to share them with you!

By Lily Regan

Holy cow…talk about an overwhelming week — from Chicago, to Miami, to Lima! And now even within Lima, moving from Pueblo Libre, to the city center, to El Agustino, to Pamplona Alta, to Miraflores. Within just the past week, I have seen so much more of Peru than I thought I would see in my entire month here. From rich to poor and everything in between. From sitting in hours of traffic and listening to the constant symphony of honking horns to driving up unpaved roads with dogs wandering the streets. From places with no running water or electricity to the bustling marketplaces selling everything alpaca. From the seemingly endless levels of homes housing who knows how many relatives to a small shop that can only fit about three people comfortably. This trip has been a trip of stark contrasts and surprising similarities; every place has had something totally unique to teach me about Peruvian culture but has also shed a light on what it is that connects and unites all of us as human beings despite geographic location or class differences.

The first stark differences that I saw when first arriving to Peru were mostly in regard to the collectivist mindset and the way people live. For example, when I first got to my host family’s house, I was extremely thrown off. As I was getting a tour of the home, I noticed that some of the house was exposed to the outside. As I walked from the living room into the dining room and kitchen, there was an external wall to the left and a roof over my head, but there was only a half wall to my right. I could feel the light mist in the evening air on my face as I walked through the hallway towards the kitchen, yet I was still walking through what they called their home. As I peered over the half-wall to my right, I saw what appeared to be other houses all situated around the central courtyard. This was very confusing to me at first. I wondered who the people were that were living in those other “houses.” I could not wrap my mind around why the wall was not built all the way to the ceiling. Was the courtyard that was in the center of all the “houses” a common area? And where was the privacy? Who would want to live with neighbors surrounding you? In the past week, I have begun to fill in the gaps and now have a more complete understanding of how crucial family is to the Peruvian culture and why exactly the house is laid out in this way.

I have come to understand that there needs to be spaces open to the outside; there is no air conditioning, so having the constant air flow is crucial. Because the temperature in Pueblo Libre rarely drops below a temperate 13 degrees Celsius, there is no need for air conditioning or heating, and the outside air maintains the house’s comfortable temperature. In addition, rain other than mist is very uncommon here in Lima, the second driest capital in the world, second only to Cairo, which means that full coverage of your house is not completely necessary. Also, what I assumed were other houses surrounding the courtyard are all connected to the “main” house and essentially function as different apartments within the house. The different sections of the house actually are homes to many of our host family’s extended family members. This was very much a shock; coming from the United States where independence and individual achievements are praised, I was not expecting to see adults choosing to live with their extended family. However, Peruvians have traditionally valued the success of the community and familial relationships over individual achievement. In addition, while there is not as much privacy in the house, it does not seem to be an issue for anyone living here. Privacy and personal space do not exist here in Peru as they do in the United States, which can be seen based on their typical greeting of kissing total strangers on the cheek and families living together long after they “should have moved out” according to the United States’ standards.

These things were all especially confusing to me because before the trip I was told that I would be going into a middle-class neighborhood with a middle-class family. However, middle-class families living in the United States do not have portions of their home exposed to the elements, and middle-class families do not all live together unless absolutely necessary. Certainly, this was not a middle-class family.

But it was! My host family, and the surrounding neighborhood is considered a “B-” neighborhood. In Peru, the classes are classified by letters, with A being the most affluent and E being the most impoverished, so this was a solidly middle-class family. These people did not necessarily need to be sharing all of their space or having so much of their home open to the air; yet, these were all choices that the family was making based on their culture. That was one of the things that took the most getting used to. It was a difficult hurdle to leap in my mind that independence does not necessarily equate to a better family or a better individual.

But despite all of the seeming differences, I have also seen so much that reminds me of home. The values that people share regardless of geographical location or class and the commonalities that make us all human are so much larger than all of the physical differences that I was able to see.

The neighborhood that seemingly had the most differences from the life that I live in the United States was Pamplona Alta; however, it was also where I was able to see the most connections to home. The “pueblo joven,” or young town, which is situated on the hills in the outskirts of Lima is considered a class E neighborhood. They do not have running water or electricity, and the roads are unpaved. Many people have to make an hours long journey to get simple necessities such as food and water from more accessible parts of Lima to their homes. This, in my mind, gave everyone living in Pamplona Alta the right to be miserable. But I actually found quite the opposite to be true. Every person that I saw on our short visit to the district was smiling, waving, welcoming us with open arms. I saw parents and grandparents working hard so that their family might have the opportunities that they did not have when they were growing up. I saw kids smiling, drawing, and playing with friends. All around me, if I looked past the physical objects that become the center of attention all too frequently, I saw people who reminded me so much of home and so many values that I strive to live out. I saw people that were determined, hard-working, grateful, happy, proud of their accomplishments, loving.

But it did, admittedly, take me quite a while to recognize all of these similarities between my own town and this newly developing community. When I initially saw the physical differences, I was immediately saddened by the “desolate” community that I saw. I wanted nothing more than to donate money to the schools, to help people fix their homes, to pave the roads, to install running water and electricity…but then I had time to reflect on the very long, trafficy bus ride home. And I came to realize how wrong I was about all of my initial reactions to the community. First of all, upon reflection, I was able to identify just how similar the community really was to my own community, and secondly, I was able to recognize the fault in my initial instinct to help the people in Pamplona Alta by making it “better” according to my own standards. I thought back to the article that we read for class written by Jacob Kushner titled “The Voluntourist’s Dilemma” that explains why these well-intentioned thoughts and subsequent actions by “well-off” people may ultimately cause harm to the “less fortunate” community that they are trying to help. Instead of asking the community what they need, volunteers come in and supply the service that they deem to be the most urgent; they take jobs that could be done by members of the community because they naively try to help the community. With these actions, the volunteers place themselves above the people they are trying to help. They do not see the members of the community as humans; they see the community as a project and the people within the community as helpless people that NEED help. I realized that this was my gut reaction to seeing the neighborhood.

Based on Kushner’s article, my own experience with the people of Pamplona Alta and the time I took to reflect, I have come to recognize that these ideas could not be further from the truth. I had to imagine how I would feel if someone that was not from my country or culture and did not even speak my language came into my community and began “fixing” everything they saw wrong with it; they began to go over all of my hard work with what they thought was better. From this perspective, of course these hard-working, proud people do not want me to come in to “fix” their community! It is this simple shift from sympathy to empathy that allows me to be able to truly see the communities that we visit in Peru. Understanding that even impoverished communities are rich in culture, history and relationships and finding the similarities has aided in this transformation.

Despite the language difference, the cultural difference and the geographical difference, it is incredible to me that there is so much that connects us all. This past week in Peru has really taught me how to value the similarities just as much as the differences in communities. From what I have seen from my time here in Peru and my time living in the United States, humans are humans. We are hard-working, take pride in our work, and want the best for our children. Children are children. When they are nurtured and cared for, they are happy; they love to play; they are filled with hope. No matter the number of physical belongings, in the end, we are all humans. No matter the cultural background or longitude and latitude, it is good to be reminded that at the core we have so many similarities that far outweigh the differences.


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