Archive for the 'Stories from the classroom' Category

Reflections from a Double Alumnus

49502238502_d208a05167_oBy Brock Borga, Ed ’12 and Grad ’19

My name is Brock Borga. Receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Sociology and my Master’s Degree in Educational Policy and Leadership (with license in both principalship and director of curriculum), Marquette University has been a huge part of my life. I have been part off the Archdiocese of Milwaukee for the past eight years at St. Anthony School of Milwaukee. The first seven years of my journey at St. Anthony had me teaching 3rd grade, and I have moved positions this school year to the Dean of Instruction.

In my new role, I observe teachers every other week and have coaching sessions with the teacher after the observation. In these coaching sessions, we reflect on what teaching practices went well and what could have gone better. It is from those reflections that we create an action plan together and I come back to observe the action plan in action. I started off teaching in the Muskego-Norway School District, and while my time there was great, I didn’t feel connected with the students, staff, or community around me. I knew that there was somewhere for me to feel accomplished with my teaching. I remembered my time as an undergraduate at Marquette University and the schools I was able to work with through my courses, and knew that schools throughout Milwaukee were my calling. Because Marquette has instilled faith throughout its courses in my undergraduate courses, I began looking at schools through the Archdiocese. It is there I found St. Anthony School of Milwaukee. My time there has been wonderful. The students are eager to learn, the parents repeatedly state how blessed they are to be a part of the school, and the faculty is eager to continue their professional growth for the community we teach.

Before I was in this administrative position, I was been given additional opportunities to grow at my school that would not have been possible otherwise. I was able to have two student teachers from Marquette University be with me in the classroom (one from August 2017-January 2018 and the other from January 2019 – March 2019). It was an amazing experience not only giving back to Marquette, but practicing many of the leadership skills I was learning about in my graduate courses. I apply many of the practices that were discussed in my graduate courses in my new position, ranging from leadership styles to having effective conversations with teachers.

Marquette has helped me achieve these additional opportunities, outside of helping me achieve my administration license / master’s degree. I am both blessed and honored to say I have been a part of Marquette University for my entire undergraduate career and my graduate career. It is all thanks to the Catholic Schools Personnel Scholarship that I am able to continue my professional growth and achieve the goals I have set.

 

2020 Outstanding Elementary Pre-Service Teacher: Olivia Commer

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Olivia Commer is one of two Outstanding Elementary Pre-Service Award winners. 

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I just wanted to take a little bit of time to say thank you to all the incredible professors who work in Marquette University’s College of Education. I truly would not be who I am today without their help and I greatly appreciate everything they’ve done for me the past four years.

You can also see Olivia’s full remarks on our YouTube channel.

2020 Outstanding Elementary Pre-Service Teacher: Cynthia Zuñiga

Each spring, the College of Education celebrates faculty, students and friends with the annual Mission Recognition awards ceremony. As this year’s event had to be canceled, we wanted to share some thoughts and words from our student winners. Cynthia Zuñiga is one of two Outstanding Elementary Pre-Service Award winners. 

C95FAD23-37F9-4A78-9DC7-7CF4F0564747It is an honor to win this award. I’d like to send a huge thank you to all of the professors, staff and everyone else whom I have met through the College of Education. They are the people who have taught me and truly prepared me for the moment when I get to have my own classroom.

In addition, there are no words to be able to thank my family for the immense support they have given me throughout these four years. There was never a day that my mom wouldn’t remind me of the change that I will make in my classroom. As a minority, there is always that sense of “not being good enough,” thankfully my parents squashed that mindset for me right away. They reminded me that my culture and my background are the foundation of the educator I want to become, and they were right.

As I just accepted a teaching position in a dominantly Latinx school community for next year, I am eager to remind my students of the power they hold and the force of nature they will be in this world. With this award, everything that has occurred during these four years has come full circle. All of my late nights were worth it. All of the classroom observation hours were worth it. All of the twenty-plus page lesson plans were worth it. Every single factor that has made up my four years in the College of Education has led up to this moment. Once again, thank you, Marquette, for honoring me with this award and for everything they have taught me along the way.

Uneven Schooling in Crisis and Beyond

paper-and-a-pencilBy Dr. Bill Henk, Dean of the College of Education

“How well are our schools educating students when their buildings are closed?” As an education dean, that’s a question I get asked frequently nowadays, second only to, “How is it going with all of your university courses now being online?”

Both questions reflect the enormous disruption that has been thrust upon education at all levels by the insidious coronavirus threat. All things considered, higher education faculty and students seem to be taking the hurdles pretty much in stride. But despite the best efforts of K-12 schools of all types, significant variability exists in their capacity to deal effectively with the abrupt and epic change in the way instruction must occur during this crisis.

My recent exchanges with teachers and student teachers indicate that schools are attempting to deal with the setback in many different ways. In schools that did not have much existing infrastructure in place, limited instruction seems to be occurring, even in some affluent suburban districts. Others remain essentially on standby, waiting for more guidance from their leaders.

By contrast, some very well-prepared schools have already made the transition to full day on-line instruction. Many others are dutifully and thoughtfully preparing weekly printed packets of materials with assignments for students to complete. The remainder reside along a continuum somewhere in the middle using a wide range of different technologies.

What is most striking about the situation, though, centers on the number of students who do not have Internet access. It’s no surprise that urban and rural schools would generally be more vulnerable to instruction that relies on technology. A seasoned urban education leader recently noted that it would take an astonishing 10,000 Internet Service Provider installations to bridge the on-line, instructional access gap in the city alone. Another estimated that 40% of Milwaukee families with school children lack connectivity. Even when urban and rural schools manage to provide students with devices like Chromebooks and iPads and arrange for network installations, technical support is often needed to ensure their proper functioning on the new home network.

“But what about the free hot spot offers?” you ask. There’s no question that they are extremely valuable and commendable in our current circumstances. However, many families are fearful of the charges they might incur after the grace period, or believe they won’t qualify, because of an outstanding debt to the provider.

In short, the educational playing field seems far more unlevel than most of us imagined.  Students in urban and rural areas are likely to be disadvantaged in their learning ALL the time, not just during extenuating circumstances like the current pandemic.

On the plus side, the $2 trillion dollar federal stimulus package does include funding to help address these discrepancies. But it is not clear how soon the help will come, how it will be implemented, or if it will be nearly enough.

If the pursuit of educational equity for our school children represents a sincere aspiration for our state, region, and community, then we need to work together to determine actionable and affordable ways to remedy this crippling technological disparity. That will be no small feat with so many related barriers to overcome.  It will take a broad-based coalition of determined stakeholders joining forces to combat this daunting challenge.

Otherwise, the current health crisis will eventually end, but glaring inequities in educational opportunity will not.

Alumna Carrie Hanson Named 2020 Herb Kohl Teaching Fellow

hansonCarrie Hanson, ‘Ed 14 and a social studies teacher at West Allis Central High School, has been named a 2020 Herb Kohl Teaching Fellow. The Kohl Teacher Fellowship “recognizes and supports teaching excellence and innovation in the State of Wisconsin.” Each year, 100 fellowship recipients and their schools each receive a $6,000 grant to help them pursue professional development or realize goals for their classrooms.

“I am so grateful for this opportunity and owe my gratitude to the many mentors who have guided me along my teaching path. So many of my first mentors were the educators I worked with at Marquette who helped me to see the bigger picture of teaching, which extends so much further than the walls of my classroom. To be intentional in my interactions with my students and my community, to give freely of my heart, to see the dignity in people even if they might not see it in themselves, those are some of the things that I think about when I try to reflect on what I learned at Marquette.”

Congratulations, Carrie!

Week 7: The End

Laine Dolan, an elementary education and communications studies student in the College of Education is spending part of her student teaching semester abroad. She is teaching at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, and is blogging about her experience. This post originally appeared on Laine’s own blog

p121The time has finally come: the last week of student teaching in New Zealand is over. However, here is a recap of the final week of this incredible experience!

My class had been working hard at their play of The Rainbow Fish and finally got to perform it for some other classes on Monday. The costumes turned out adorable and the students read their lines very well! I think I might have a few future Broadway stars in my class.

The last week of school we also had a water day where the kids enjoyed soaking me with squirt guns and a huge slip ‘n slide was set up on a hill. Another student teacher and I may have enjoyed the slip ‘n slide more than our students! My class also created their own jandals (sandals) after we read the story Crocodiles Christmas Jandals. I also continued to share my passion of lacrosse with my kiddos as we had some chances to practice their skills more. Finally we ended the week with some well earned ice blocks (popsicles).

Oh! Don’t let me forget about the final assembly! There were awards, each year level sang songs, and most importantly… the American teachers put together a little something for the school. We also were lucky enough to be pulled on stage with the Pacifico group to try to learn their cultural dance moves. It is a Pacifico tradition to bring people into their culture by having them try the dance with them. It was quite the surprise to us to be pulled on stage again but we did our best!

It’s the people that really make the most impact on experiences in life. I am so grateful to have been places with Janet these past seven weeks. She has been so fun to work with and has helped me grow as a teacher in so many ways. On our final day, after the bell rang and school ended, all of us American student teachers headed to Bethells beach for one last afternoon hangout.

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I am so thankful for each and every person that I met while student teaching in New Zealand. There were countless people that went out of their way to make us all feel welcome. Lisa (a teacher at Swanson) hiked and got burgers with us the first weekend. Mike (a teacher) dedicated so much time to help us make traditional Maori bone carving necklaces. Hazel (a teacher and host of Sarah) took us hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. Matt (a teacher) took us surfing. These are just a few of the numerous people that made this trip so special.

Most of all I am thankful for the girls asleep on the beach above. I could not have asked for a better group of girls to be stuck with every day for the past seven weeks. Sarah, Alee, Erin, Maddy, and I made so many memories this trip that I will never forget. I’m lucky to have four new best friends! See you all at St. Norbert College when I visit soon!

Thanks for following my blog!

The End.

Why is Cheese in America Orange?

Laine Dolan, an elementary education and communications studies student in the College of Education is spending part of her student teaching semester abroad. She is teaching at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, and is blogging about her experience. This post originally appeared on Laine’s own blog.
downloadThink about it… milk is white… why do we have orange cheese in America?! I was mindblown when this idea was brought to my attention here in New Zealand. We were sitting in the staff room during morning tea chatting with a reliever (substitute teacher) when this was brought to my attention. She had lived in the United States for about five years in her teen years when her dad had moved there for work. We were talking about differences between the States and New Zealand. She explained the thing that confused her the most in the States was that we had bright orange cheese. At first I was confused by her comment because I’ve just grown up “knowing” cheese is orange. When you put a slice of cheese on your burger it’s bright orange, when you make Kraft Mac ‘n cheese and most kinds it’s bright orange, and if you buy a cheesehead in Wisconsin it’s bright orange! If someone asked me to draw a slice of cheese I would most likely draw it orange.
However, as I say that, I was perplexed by her comment and put it all together: cows make milk which makes cheese. Cows’ milk is white… so why and how is our cheese orange… Milk is never orange! I was dumbfounded. What are the cheesemakers of America not telling us?! So… I did some research to find the answer to this mystery that I had natural believed my whole life. According to a NPR article, certain breeds of cow had a natural yellow-orange pigment when they were being grass fed. Grass fed = greater quality cheese. Well cheese producers decided to make a little more money by skimming off the cream to make butter separately. However, this took away some of the color of the cheese. So they started to color the cheese to make it seem like it was still quality cheese. Then they started getting even more tricky and coloring it brighter and brighter orange because people believed it was greater quality the more orange. This started in England and was carried over to the States. And that is why our cheese is orange! It is indeed colored with dye! There is my spiel about cheese being orange because I was so rattled by the fact the cheese I had grown up with my whole life was not the same color as milk.

Now transitioning to school… school is still good! I have taken over the first blog which has primarily been reading and math. I have really enjoyed the freedom of planning and teaching here. There is not a strict curriculum so I can choose what I want to do and how I want to do it. My teacher I am working for has been really amazing to work with and has helped me grow a lot. Next week I will fully be taking over the classroom.

Over the weekend we drove up north to the Bay of Islands for a few nights. The beaches were incredible and the view was unbelievable. We went sailing on Saturday and enjoyed 6 hours on the water with the most amazing sights. Sunday we relaxed on the beach and enjoyed some good food. We then made our way home. I successfully drove on the left side of the road the whole way so that’s a win.

It has been the most incredible experience here and I cannot wait to see what else we explore!

Week 2: The Big Orange Box

Laine Dolan, an elementary education and communications studies student in the College of Education is spending part of her student teaching semester abroad. She is teaching at Swanson School in Auckland, New Zealand, and is blogging about her experience. This post originally appeared on Laine’s own blog

downloadI have officially been student teaching in New Zealand for two weeks now. I have loved my time so far and have learned so much from my cooperating teacher, class and school. I have finally started to get into the groove of things and am getting a hang of the schedule.

I mentioned briefly in my last post about how students at Swanson have a lot more play time than students in the US do. So here is the average day teaching in my Year 1/ Year 2 class at Swanson school:

Swanson Daily Schedule
9:00 – Learning Block 1 (2 hrs)
11:00 – 1st Break (40 min)
11:40 – Learning Block 2 (1.5 hrs)
1:10 – 2nd Break (40 min)
1:50- Learning Block 3 (1 hr)
2:55 – Dismissal

This totals to about 6 hours at school, 4.5 hours of learning blocks, and 1.5 hours of break/lunch time. In addition o the breaks, we frequently take breaks during learning blocks to take a lap or two jogging around the large bike path or playing a game. We also have fitness once a week where we do track and field activities for 40 minutes. My school I was just at in Wisconsin had 7 total hours at school and only a 20 minute recess and 20 minute lunch. Our brain breaks would be quick and limited because we were always inside. Another difference between Swanson and my school and most schools in the States is that when a students finishes a learning task at Swanson, they are usually free to play until it is time to move on to the next thing. Frequently, in the states when a students finishes a task, they are either directed to another task.

One of my biggest takeaways so far is that it is okay for students to just play sometimes. If they are getting their work done then they deserve some time to just play and be a child. A lot of learning and creativity happens through play, too.

I have learned over my time here that Swanson is a unique school in New Zealand. Not many schools have this much play time or free play (no rules) at breaks. If you have not checked out the tab of my blog about Swanson school, I highly recommend checking it out and watching the Free Play videos. Swanson has a unique policy of allowing kids to do whatever they please at breaks. Teachers are not allowed to say no and do not step in. I had not seen anything too crazy while on duty during breaks until this Friday when the big orange box arrived. This box was added to the field as storage for bikes, however, adventurous Swanson kids saw it as a great big climbing wall. I could not believe my eyes when I saw a herd of children climbing the box and standing on top. I even saw a kindergarten boy make it to the top of this box which was probably 12 plus feet off the ground. Although this was terrifying, it was also amazing to see the teamwork happening on this box. Older kids were helping younger kids make it to the top. I saw two 12-year-olds hoist up a 6-year-old boy while another 12-year-old grabbed him at the top and pulled him up. I also saw lines forming and kids patiently waiting for their turn to use the ladder they had dragged over from the hut building station in the trees. Anyways the big orange box was a wild experience to watch, but I can see a lot of benefits from letting children explore and learn from their own mistakes instead of an adult telling them no.

This week was a crazy week, but I loved every second of it!

On Friday I had a picnic with another American student teacher and her host family at Bethells beach. Never a bad day with food and a beach. On Saturday we ventured off to Waiheke Island and explored some beautiful vineyards. The views were incredible.

New Zealand has been good to me, and I can’t wait to explore it even more!

Getting to Know Our Alumni: Meet Jason Curtis

We’re excited to introduce you to one of our alumni, Jason Curtis, this week in our “Getting to Know… ” series focusing on students, alumni and faculty staff of the College of Education. You can catch up on all of our past features, but read on to learn more about Jason!

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Jason Curtis, along with two alumni currently teaching at Oconomowoc High School

I have been in the Milwaukee area since I started at Marquette in the fall of 2003, but I am originally from Leicester, MA. I live at home with my amazing wife, Pam and my feisty and loyal dog, Linus. My parents, all my cousins and extended family still live in Massachusetts.

Currently I am the Principal at Oconomowoc High School. I LOVE MY JOB. I love working with teachers; helping them be proud of their job and taking their crazy ideas and making them a reality. The biggest challenge is helping adolescents navigate through this challenging world. Between social media, vaping, and other life challenges…it’s hard to be a teenager. I am so excited about our school’s new vision and strategic direction. Our staff has worked hard to establish our identity and this year we are taking intentional steps to helping our students live that vision.

I LOVED my graduate school experience at Marquette. I enjoyed networking with other aspiring leaders from different schools and developing our leadership skills together. I still rely on their friendship, expertise and advice! My journey to Marquette and the College of Education is a long story…However, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and I knew Marquette was the school for me- so it all just came together. When it came time to explore graduate programs, I couldn’t imagine looking anywhere else!

Marquette alumni bring the Jesuit values and social justice lens that defines the College of Education to students, families and communities across the city, state, country, and even the world. The College of Education understands their awesome responsibility to prepare each student to be not only a teacher, counselor, or educational leader, but an advocate for those in need, a voice to speak up with those who have been silenced, and a champion for those who have been marginalized. It’s incredible to think that the values of the college live within these teachers, counselors, principals, and district leaders. As a high school principal, my Marquette education guides my work everyday and I now seek out Marquette graduates to staff my school.

When I am not in school, I love to travel. It’s hard to escape from the day-to-day routine of being a principal. You truly serve a community, and it’s hard to shut it off and walk away. However, when I travel- I escape, recharge and sleep in! Don’t think of traveling as exotic and far distances…it can be as simple as experiencing a new place just miles away!

My students, past and present, inspire me. They inspire me to be a better leader, teacher and advocate.

Adventures in Student Teaching: International Edition

This fall, one of our elementary education pre-service teachers, Laine Dolan, is completing her student teaching in New Zealand. As part of this experience, she’s blogging about her time. Originally posted on her own blog, the following posts will chronicle along Laine’s adventures at Swanson School! 

downloadHello!

My name is Laine, and I am majoring in Elementary Education and Communication Studies at Marquette University. Over my four years at Marquette I have been in various urban and suburban classrooms in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I completed the first two months of my student teaching at a private urban school and am fortunate enough to finish the last half of student teaching in Auckland, New Zealand. Through St. Norbert College’s Global Teaching Program, I will be able to spend two months student teaching in a year one classroom in New Zealand. I am extremely excited for the incredible experience I will have in New Zealand.

Goals

  1. Go out of my comfort zone to make the most of my time.
  2. ​Experience the traditional New Zealand culture.
  3. Live as much like the kiwis as possible.
  4. Try all of the New Zealand food.

​Cultural Development Objectives​​

  1. Embrace new teaching styles and perspectives.
  2. Reflect on how to better my teaching style from what I learn in the NZ classroom.
  3. ​Buy into everything every day.

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