Archive for the 'Summer Series' Category

What I’m doing This Summer

summer-still-life-785231_1280By Elizabeth Jorgensen

I hear in the media, and from professionals outside education, that teachers “have the summers off.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth.

In 2007, I searched WECAN for summer employment opportunities and noticed Kettle Moraine High School’s extensive listings. When I interviewed, I learned about the state’s largest summer school program. With a five period day, students from kindergarten through the 12th grade, attend classes ranging from camping to everyday math and from golf to Disney mania. After an interview, I accepted a position with KM’s Summer Academy. Throughout the next decade, I taught online classes and in-person classes to both elementary and high school students. Learn more about Kettle Moraine’s Summer Academy here.

Working in a different district energized and encouraged me. I saw firsthand the positives of my district and I picked up innovative ideas from KM teachers to help advance my AHS curriculum. This summer, I’m slated to teach two sections of ACT Prep online to KM juniors and seniors.

Then, in 2013, one of my colleagues at Arrowhead asked, “What do you do on Saturday mornings?” She proceeded to discuss Dr. Donnie Hale and his work in the pre-college program at Carroll University. Again, after an interview, I accepted a position to work with Project Pioneer. “Project Pioneer is Carroll University’s Saturday pre-college enrichment program which focuses on helping high school students build the skills, knowledge and mindset necessary to succeed in college and beyond.” On Saturdays, fifty high school students from Waukesha and Milwaukee engage in month-long academies “that will lead them through exploring their community and identifying a challenge within it, researching that challenge and finding solutions, and taking action. During this process, students will address a real challenge that their community faces while also building skills around the 4Cs: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Creativity and Innovation, Communication and Collaboration. Students will learn that their voice matters and that when they speak up and take action, they can make positive changes in the world around them.” Although Dr. Hale left Carroll a few years later (to become Florida International University Faculty Director of the Education Effect at Booker T. Washington Senior High School), I stayed on to work in the pre-college program (now under the direction of Maria Ramirez). Learn more about the program here.

My work at Project Pioneer led me to Horizontes en Carroll: “a program which welcomes upwards of 50 high school students from Waukesha, Milwaukee, Racine, and Harlem (NY) to campus each summer to experience university life and gain academic, social and life skills…During this week long residential program, students in grades 9-12 take part in several learning experiences that allow them to understand all aspects of higher education.” At the week-long summer camp, students develop career and college readiness skills and a better understanding of the college experience. Last summer, I facilitated a poetry reading and Horizontes en Carroll literary magazine. This summer, students will produce and publish the second annual Horizontes en Carroll Literary Magazine: A Collection of Creativity. Learn more about the program here.

This summer, I am also teaching online English classes for Arrowhead Union High School. Learn more about Arrowhead’s summer school offerings here.

My summers are, in fact, busier than my school year. I’m not sure who perpetuates the “teachers have summers off” stereotype, but it surely isn’t me.

What are you doing this summer?

Off to New Adventures in Peru!

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For the first time, students and faculty from the College of Education will travel to Peru and gain experiences with working in school settings outside the United States. While in Peru, students will have the opportunity to work in two schools located in Lima, Peru and travel to the Sacred Valley. Students also will be completing two classes, Philosophy of Education (EDUC 4540) and Critical Inquiry into Contemporary Issues (EDUC 4240), before and after traveling to Peru.

When asked what they are most excited about, the students exclaimed their excitement for being in a new country and experiencing a new culture. “I am excited to observe in a classroom at Colegio Roosevelt and to learn about similarities and differences between their curriculum and classroom management compared to the schools that I have attended or have been placed at for a field placement,” expressed Amy Krzoska, currently a junior. Similarly, Sara Douvalakis, a junior currently, explained her excitement by stating, “I cannot wait to go hiking and sightseeing, but I am most looking forward to new foods.”

In traveling to a new country and experiencing a new culture, challenges do emerge. When asked what they thought would be the biggest challenge, the students replied as stepping out of their comfort zones as the biggest. However, these challenges will not stop the students from having a great time. “I hope to be able go overcome them and enjoy my time abroad,” explained Liz Rivas, a sophomore currently.

With all the excitement of traveling to a new country, it is important to see how this experience will impact oneself. Therefore, students were asked how their time in Peru will impact their future professions. Students, like Liz Rivas and Amy Krzoska, are excited to bring the knowledge gained in Peru to their future classrooms. “[The study abroad experience] will bring new ideas to me and give me the opportunity to incorporate these ideas with my own students,” said Liz Rivas. “ I will be exposed to the Peruvian school system and will learn what they do that could be beneficial to bring back to the United States in my future teaching,” stated Amy Krzoska. Other students are excited to learn from professors and other teachers. “I know I will gain so much knowledge from the professors who are going with us and all of the new friends we make in Peru,” explained Sara Douvalakis.

Study abroad is an amazing and influential experience for education students. To gain further insight, we asked Dr. Melissa Gibson, Assistant Professor and one of the faculty members traveling with students to Peru, on the importance of studying abroad for education students. The following is her response:

“ I think that the most significant is that it helps us expand our pedagogical imaginations. So often as teachers who work within bureaucratic systems and within policy schema and with limited time available, we tend to narrowly focus on “what is” rather than “what can be.” Getting out of the world with which we’re familiar can help us to imagine other possibilities for schooling — traveling, working, and studying abroad is a really powerful way to “make the familiar strange,” which is at the heart of social scientific thinking and particularly relevant for the courses we’re teaching. By visiting a variety of schools, we’ll see varied approaches to what education is and can be; by familiarizing ourselves with a whole new sociopolitical context, I also hope that our own context — its strangeness and its strengths — can come into sharper focus. For me personally, my own experiences abroad have been transformational — whether that be living and teaching in Mexico for several years, traveling throughout India as a Fulbright-Hays scholar, or engaging in a teacher exchange sponsored by the Japanese government. I hope that we can bring a bit of that perspective broadening to our COED students, with the ultimate aim of improving education for our K12 students here in Milwaukee.”

Students will be blogging during their time in Peru; you can hear more about their adventures in their own words

Hitting A Change Up

Frisbee_090719By Carl Anderson

For the last three summers, after I gave up working at Camp Lincoln for the whole summer for good, I have taught at Summer Splash at a Middle School, working with 3rd-7th graders (and for an hour a day this year with 4K and 5K kiddos). Now, I’m a High School English Teacher, so why on earth would I do that? Honestly, it’s because I love hitting the change up.  

During the school year, I teach 9th and 12th grade. For first semester, the freshmen getting used to high school are really hard to deal with. For second semester, senioritis sets in, and the seniors are rough. By the end of the year, I’m totally worn out. But I know I’d be bored out of my mind not working, and I’ve yet to find a job I like more than any job working with kids. So I decided to try Summer Splash. I’ve done reading interventions with students going in to high school (very similar to the school year), taught golf (3rd graders and golf clubs don’t always mix…), lacrosse, and added ultimate Frisbee this year. Working with a variety of ages, in classes that take everyone and especially with age groups I’m not as used to has made me a better teacher. I’ve become more patient (great to use with freshmen), more sympathetic and empathetic to middle and elementary school teachers, and I’ve had a ton of fun. I’m also reminded that while this is a great change up for eight weeks in the summer, I’m definitely meant to be a high school teacher for the full school year.  

For all you teachers out there that might get a chance to work with a wildly different age group that you’re used to for the summer, I’d totally recommend it. You learn plenty, you’ll probably be better with that group than you think, and, hey, you could end up like me and play ultimate Frisbee for two hours a day, which is not a bad gig at all. 

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

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By Dhanya Nair

A large part of my summer is currently being spent on taking a course about counseling children and adolescents; I often walk down memory lane as I read about concepts like attachment and modeling. And, I think frequently about the power vested in adults. People often refrain that childhood is the most carefree period in one’s life, however I beg to differ. Children face the immense task of initiation into the adult world. There are constant pressures on them to toe the line, to be a “good” kid, to get along with peers, to be an all-rounder…the list is endless!

I am reminded of one of my classmates from school in India as I write this piece. The average class size in my school was about 30 and the class would be firmly divided on the basis of grades- the “good” and “poor” students. The “poor” students would consistently remain “poor” and any behavioral indiscretion on their part would mean banishment to the corner spot in the classroom where they would stick out like a sore thumb. I guess the idea behind the punishment was to shame the student into obedience. One of the “poor” students happened to be the aforementioned classmate, who also had the reputation of being a bully as he routinely got into fights and overpowered most of his opponents. He was more often than not banished to the corner spot in the classroom from where he would make faces at the rest of us or doodle idly. However, one day, things changed for him, our seventh grade science teacher announced that he was incredibly bright. We were stunned and stared at her in disbelief when she told us that she had discovered he was a quick learner while coaching him for a test. After that point, he did not seem to get into as many fights. And years later, I discovered that he had secured an engineering degree from an Ivy League school in the States. I can’t help but think that my science teacher’s discovery of my classmate’s “hidden” potential could have well started him off on his journey to academic excellence.

The “self-fulfilling prophecy” concept in social psychology refers to the phenomenon of behavior being influenced by prior expectations. I believe that my classmate’s better academic performance in middle school and high school was positively affected by the altered perception which others had gained of him. Very often, children become victims of the self-fulfilling prophecy not just because others around them expect them to act in certain set ways, but also because they internalize messages received from these external sources. Labeling in schools as well as homes can have a lasting impact on children’s development. A “lazy” child will be seen as a sluggard no matter what she/he does, and the lore will be passed around to everyone in the child’s life leading her/him to internalize that message.

Gender-priming, also, I believe, strengthens the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Why is it that women in developed and developing nations alike are not well-represented in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions? Is it because society keeps propagating the myth of men being good at science and math and women being good at languages? There is optimistic news from the scientific fraternity now about female performance on math and science tests, it seems like in societies where more gender equality exists, females perform as well or nearly as well as males in math and science. And, now, on that happy note, I need to treat myself to some coconut French toast!

Week One “The more you read … The more you achieve”

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By Charlotte Adnams 
Sixty 2nd and 3rd grade students trickled into the Hartman Center Monday morning fresh-eyed and excited for the start of the Dwyane Wade LIVE TO DREAM: Summer Reading Program, the program’s second year at Marquette. The morning started with the students hearing from a special guest, Tragil Wade, the Director of the Wade’s World Foundation and Dwyane Wade’s sister. The students gathered in a cluster on the floor listening to Ms. Wade encourage and emphasize to the young learners the value of reading. Though he was not able to physically join the students, Dwyane Wade supported the students via video expressing his passion for reading and his encouragement for them as they begin the summer reading program.
The 12 “Wade Coaches,” graduated and current Marquette Education students, spent the first week getting to know their students and doing several pretests as a way of gauging where the students are to help them excel in these next few weeks. Each mini-classroom is adorned with its own theme, providing a comfortable and encouraging space for the students to learn, along with the over-arching theme of the program, the “Reading Olympics.”

Throughout the day students have recess, snack, and lunch breaks so they can get all of their wiggles and soccer moves out. This new addition of the morning snack and lunch program is funded by the Summer Food Service Program.

There are many fun things ahead for these 60 students as they embark on their journey of enhancing their reading and writing skills, this first week was only the start!

A Teacher’s Reflection on Mother’s Day

By Claudia Felske – Today was a bizarre day for me – my first Mother’s Day as a mother without my son around. No, he’s not studying abroad; no he doesn’t have a career halfway across the country. Lucky for me, he’s still a teenager and still a member of our household, but he’s on a class trip this week, and Mother’s Day feels more than a bit strange without him. No breakfast-in-bed, no handmade card.

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I missed breakfast in bed this year!

And my Mother’s Day malaise is doubled this year with my husband one day out of ankle surgery, non-ambulatory and sleeping most of the day.

I remember feeling this way at an earlier time in my life: mid-to-late June during my first few years of teaching. After school let out, a certain melancholy took over – life was a little too quiet, too calm, to unharried. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the feeling of not having stacks of essays, tests, and lesson plans looming, but I missed my students: their energy, their goofiness, their joie de vivre.

I can practically hear the response of some reading this (“Are you SERIOUS?! Summer means you survived! It’s the game-winning shot, the final touch down, the hole-in-one!”) But yes I am serious, which I suppose, makes me one of two things: a loser (“Get a Life!”) or a person whose identity is deeply tied to teaching, not unlike motherhood to a mother.

Perhaps it’s no coincidence that Mother’s Day comes at the tail end of Teacher Appreciation Week as now that I think about it, motherhood and teaching have much in common:

Love.  Sit down with a teacher and ask them why they teach. Knowing the formidable challenges in education today, this is a fair question. If it were for money, benefits, status, or respect, we’d have left the profession years ago (and some have). The only logical reason to stay is that we love our students, not unlike the unconditional love celebrated on Mother’s Day. When everything else is stripped away, love of students and love of teaching are what remain.  

Heartache.  The flip side of love is heartache, and any educator worth his/her salt feels it. I don’t know of any teacher who hasn’t lost sleep worrying about students—their home lives, their challenges, their choices. That sick-to-your-stomach feeling you have at 3 a.m. as a mother? Imagine having 125 kids and you’ll have a sense of how difficult it is to “leave-it-at-work.”

Commitment.  No such thing as part-time parenting, right? Welcome to teaching. Students spend more of their waking hours at school than any other place, and so do teachers. We invest our lives in the lives of our students. This commitment bleeds into our nights and weekends. And the commitment of teachers who also advise and coach is exponential as they help students develop a positive future. Sound a bit like parenthood?

Identity: I’ve been asked why I haven’t become an administrator, and the answer is easy, I’m a teacher. As sure as I’m a daughter, sister, wife, and mother, I’m a teacher. And just as I couldn’t drop any of those other titles, I couldn’t simply drop my identity as a teacher. Unthinkable.  

Value: We know what happens to kids when parents check out. We know what happens to classrooms when teachers check out. Likewise, we know what happens to kids when parents and teachers and schools are fully invested them. It is an awesome responsibility and honor to play that role in students’ lives.  

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Interesting that since becoming a mother, my June blues have faded – that withdrawal I felt when school let out? My summers as a mother have enough teaching in them to quell the melancholy.

And when Eliot leaves for college in 5 years, I suspect the reverse will also happen and the fact that I’m still teaching will mitigate my empty nesthood. For what teacher’s nest is ever truly empty?

Henceforth, I shall celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week and Mother’s Day together, a natural pairing.  

Being a teacher has made me a better mother, and being a mother has made me a better teacher.

And both have made me a better person and brought value to my life.

Double bonus. Lucky me.  

When One Door Closes…

2972235208_f249b6a3c4_b.jpgBy Amanda Szramiak – On my last blog, I talked about my rejection from Teach for America. This week I have some more positive news to share.

I was offered to teach summer school with the Center for Urban Teaching, and I am so immensely excited. Though I am not sure what school or grade I will teach, I will be teaching! It is so exciting to finally be able to say I am going to be teaching for longer than a period or two. Others may be frightened by the 7a.m. to 5p.m. time commitment for six weeks, but I am truly overjoyed with the opportunity. I have been reaching out to some of my friends and colleagues who have been affiliated with CfUT, so if you are, please don’t hesitate to give me advice.

The Center for Urban Teaching’s main purpose is to “identify, prepare, and support high performing urban teachers.” Their values of being spiritually focused, respectful, courageous, perseverant, and dedicated coincide with my beliefs on what it takes to be a powerful teacher. I think having an organization instill these values in their teachers helps to ensure that the teachers will also inspire their students. Not only does CfUT want to enhance student achievement, but they also want to aid and support urban teachers to become high performing.

I think this experience coupled with my field experiences will give me all the valuable tools needed in order for me to be considered successful in my future classroom.


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