Archive for the 'Summer Series' Category

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.

Why I Love the College of Ed

616517482f8b4b61bb5191a369a52166By Aubrey Murtha – My decision to become a teacher has been, without a doubt, one of the single best decisions I have ever made.  I wholeheartedly believe that teachers are the reason that we are students here at Marquette University; sometime during our youth, some teacher encouraged us to reach for the stars, to recognize our full academic potential, and to explore avenues of intellectual and personal discovery that ultimately propelled us to excel in ways we never imagined possible.  One of our teachers told us we could, and so we did.  And now, we are here studying at this amazing academic institution.

I want to that be that person in a young adult’s life.  So, three years ago, I decided to pursue degrees in secondary education and writing intensive English here at Marquette University.  My main home on campus is the College of Education, located over in good old Schroeder.  Since my first class in the College of Ed, Introduction to Education in Diverse Society with Professor Miller, I have felt the profound connection that my professors have with their subjects.  It takes a very passionate human being to teach young people how to be successful, motivated and effective teachers for Milwaukee’s inner-city youth, and the faculty and staff in the College of Ed have been nothing short of fully invested in our growth and development as blooming new teachers.

In conjunction with these meaningful classroom experiences at Marquette, each one of us teachers-in-training gets several opportunities to complete semester-long service learning experiences, field placements, and eventually, a semester-long student-teaching assignment.  For me, these professional experiences outside of the Marquette community have been invaluable.  Not only have I had the chance to learn from teachers who are effectively teaching groups of students in Milwaukee schools, but I have also been able to develop skills that will enable me to be successful at my student-teaching placement senior year and in the work force following my time here at Marquette.  I am very grateful for the relationships I have made with my students and cooperating teachers and the opportunities I have had to experience different learning environments throughout the city of Milwaukee.

So, I guess this is a thank you.  A thank you to the College of Education at Marquette, to my intelligent professors, to my talented and enthusiastic classmates, to the interesting and dynamic cooperating teachers with whom I have had the privilege of working, and to the sassy 17-year-old reason that I am doing this job–my current crop of students.   I cannot wait to see where this goes, and I am so confident that the College of Education will make sure that I am ready to mold young minds and change young lives.

I am a Marquette Education major.  I am Marquette.

Take-Aways from My Summer at the Hartman Center

zZfZWEIFt3OgDFsZuozBA0MJYd9BleSIDMJLPr3_QVU,6hdR0P8saxgOJ_R4juSoFGpeLEXcrYJihz99Kvaiu0A,Cc5P0-eE6owQQjT6zTh4Ej4jU3PxaU40mlHhUm09GAk,cBst4vJdvs4-iXcM6bXkiu5mO-C6fyWDTGWiFCRx9_s,lQTZCuHHbQHjMVxoHoJ3M0vfkInwGujO-wBDg-mXX4IBy Lily Vartanian – Now that the “Live to Dream” Hartman Center program has ended, I enlisted the help of my fellow Wade Coaches to reflect on some of the things we learned both individually as teachers and as a group this summer.

Personally, I feel as though I have grown in many ways this summer. I felt more equipped to handle a classroom, especially when approaching both learning and behavior issues, after a semester of student teaching. In my previous experience working at the Hartman Center, I had completed my final semester and took the Reading Three course in the fall of 2014, but had not yet student taught. Using what I learned in student teaching this summer at the Hartman center made my classroom a lot more efficient and differentiated than the previous semester.

Additionally, this summer taught me a lot about young readers. I was a student teacher in fifth grade, and my previous Hartman classroom had fourth graders, so the last time I had truly worked with beginning readers was in the Fall of 2013 during my first Reading course at Marquette. This was something that was an adjustment for me, as I had to review the processes of Core and Key words and teaching blending and segmenting, in addition to putting myself in the mindset of teaching second and third graders rather than fourth and fifth graders. I am grateful for the opportunity, however, as I will be teaching third graders this fall!

Wade Coach Julia Fornetti observed the confidence in both her students as well as the Wade Readers overall within the six week program. Most of our Wade Readers made gains in reading and confidence, and none regressed in their learning which was huge for some of these struggling readers. As summer is a time when students lose information and skills gained during the school year, this was a great accomplishment. As Ms. Fornetti observed and noted, “This summer really showed that everyone has an innate desire to be able to read fluently. When we provide students with the proper learning environment paired with the right amount of support, they begin to see themselves as the readers they’ve been striving for without realizing it.”

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Wade Coach Emily Wulfkuhle had similar notions regarding her learners. She found that, “Kids are excited about reading if they have a mentor that stresses the importance of reading, and praises even the smallest reading victories, which may be great accomplishments to the reader themselves.” Ms. Wulfkuhle, when reflecting on herself as a learner, found that she knew more about reading interventions than she gave herself credit for and became more confident using RTI (Response to Intervention).

Overall, the Wade Coaches did an excellent job supporting each other as well as their Wade Readers this summer. We drew on our students’ abilities as well as the data to help drive our instruction, while focusing on the areas of need for each Wade Reader. Additionally, our experiences gained during our student teaching semesters exposed each of us to a wide variety of instructional and behavioral strategies we could implement this summer.

The summer has gone so quickly, and I am sad to say that my time as a Wade Coach has come to an end! I am grateful and thankful for not only the opportunity to have been a Wade Coach this summer, but also for the chance to share my ideas, experiences, and students’ progress as a summer blogger. I am off to begin my first year teaching third grade, with the new school year just around the corner!


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