Archive for the 'Teacher Education' Category



The New Normal

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Street art in Miraflores, 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 Melissa Gibson

Temblor: A new word in my repertoire to describe my experiences in Peru. Temblor: tremor, or what you feel during an earthquake. In the wee hours of Saturday-into-Sunday, Peru’s Amazon jungle was struck by an 8.0 earthquake, and here in Lima we woke up to a minute of door-rattling, bed-shaking temblores. To me, it was terrifying. My Peruvian friends have told me too many times about how Lima is overdue for a major earthquake and how damaging it will be to the poorer parts of the city, so when the temblores started, my heart raced to keep pace with the shaking—even though, by earthquake standards, the shaking was pretty mellow. When it stopped and Google’s disaster alerts told me everything I needed to know to be reassured, I still couldn’t sleep. Every rattle of a door, every creak in the mattress jolted my heart back to racing.

The next night, as I turned off the lights for bed, I felt a wave of anxiety wash over me, and I had to talk myself down: There was nothing to be nervous about. Go to sleep. Deep breaths to calm my racing heart. It’s not earthquake season. The epicenter was hundreds of miles away. Probability is in our favor. Eventually, I gave in to an uneventful night of rest.

So imagine my surprise when, Monday night, I am sitting in my bed finishing up my preparation for the next day’s seminar and: temblor. No more than ten seconds, but the shaking was now unmistakable. A 4.6 on the outskirts of Lima, barely perceptible to Limeños because, as my friend Marisol says, they happen all the time with the change of season. (In fact, I am reminded of my first time in Lima when the toilet started shaking, and I only realized it was an earthquake the next day when people were talking about it at school.) Yes, more precarious neighborhoods evacuated their houses Saturday night just to be safe, but on my street? The neighbors partied through the whole thing, cumbia band and all. And on Monday night, I gave myself a little pat on the back that my heart stayed at a normal pace and I was able to fall asleep, earthquake anxiety at bay.

This is what it is to spend time in a foreign country not as a tourist. So many things are anxiety-producing when you first encounter them: The traffic. The piles of ceviche. The fresh fruits and salads. The toilet paper situation. The jumble of Lima’s streets. The conversations in Spanish. The walks through crowded market streets with a group of 30. The visit to a pharmacy. The mysteriously uncooperative ATM. The temblores. But then a day passes, a week passes, and without realizing it, you’ve slipped from anxious unknowing to a new rhythm of daily life. New words, new ideas, new experiences.

This first collection of blog posts from our 2019 Marquette University study abroad experience, “Education in the Americas,” lets readers in on what this process of learning a new normal feels like. You’ll hear about the students’ host families, their first impressions of Lima, their muddled conversations in Spanish. You’ll also hear them trying to make sense of it all—because, after all, this is a study abroad experience. And that’s where I come in. Our month is designed so that students acquire the philosophical and pedagogical tools to make sense of what they’re experiencing and then to transfer those understandings back to their home contexts. I don’t just want them to know the word temblor, and I don’t just want them to roll with the experience Limeño style; I also what them to be able to articulate why that experience matters.

In this first week, our conversations in seminar have focused on naming the power dynamics and structures of inequality that we encountered, and trying to locate ourselves in those systems through Ignatian-inspired reflection. While I have assigned the readings and designed the experiences, the students have to bring all the pieces together for themselves, for their own sense-making. This can be challenging for me as the teacher. There’s so much I want them to know! But I remind myself that the purpose of our month abroad is not to make them experts in philosophy or sociology of education but to help them learn how to think critically about unequal social contexts of schools. Our purpose is, yes, to experience a new normal, but in doing so, I hope we will begin to see our own normal through new eyes.

The Jesuits here talk a lot about acompañamiento, the process of accompanying or being with someone as they experience and wrestle with life. Accompaniment is an act of solidarity, of partnership, of being in life together. When done well, from a spirit of humanizing and constructivist pedagogies, accompaniment is also what we do when we teach. In this month, I am accompanying my students on their journey into a new normal, and I am accompanying them as they then navigate back to our home contexts of schooling.

These blogs are an invitation to you, dear readers, to accompany us on our journey, as well. We invite you to read in solidarity with our experiences, however imperfect or partial our sense-making may be after only one week into the trip. Let us know through comments what you’re thinking as you read, what questions you have for us or want us to answer, or what perspectives you might bring to our experiences. Accompany us as we consider justice, education and Peru.

 

Getting to Know Our Students: Jennifer Gaul-Stout

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 Jennifer Gaul-Stout, one of our doctoral students in the Educational Policy and Leadership Department!

RCP_4668My name is Jennifer Gaul-Stout, and I am a doctoral student in Educational Policy and Leadership. I finished my coursework last fall and am getting ready to start working on my dissertation! I am studying how citizens use their understanding of science, specifically surrounding environmental issues, to try to enact policy change.

I grew up in Cresco, Iowa. It is a tiny farming community in the northeast corner of the state. I’ve lived in Milwaukee for 12 years — way longer than I ever thought I would… My husband is an Marquette College of Education graduate! He also has his Master’s degree from Marquette and is currently the Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions. Our family is all MU all the time! We have a son who is 2.5 years old and is the sweetest kid you’ll ever meet.

I took a somewhat untraditional route to teaching. My undergraduate degree is in environmental science and theatre. After graduation I moved to Colorado and worked as an environmental educator for the Gore Range Natural Science School in Avon and for Rocky Mountain National Park in Estes Park. After six months, the Midwest called me back, and I began trying to figure out my next step. After a couple of years of reflection (and working jobs that I didn’t enjoy) I realized that the happiest time for me was when I was teaching people of all ages about the what I love, the environment! I joined the Urban Fellows Educational Program at Mt. Mary University and received my M.A. in Education along with my teaching license. I spent the next seven years teaching science and math to 5th-8th grade boys.

While I loved my time in the classroom, I missed being a student. With the support of my amazing husband, I left my teaching job and began working on my doctorate here at MU. In addition to being a student, I’ve had the amazing opportunity of teaching elementary science methods to pre-service teachers.

When I’m not in the classroom, I have to confess that I am absolutely obsessed with The Great British Baking Show. For Christmas a few years ago my husband got me a cookbook based on recipes from the show, and I’ve been Julie and Julia-ing my way through it since. I absolutely LOVE baking! A lot of the work I do involves abstract, theoretical thinking so there is something very relaxing and satisfying about following a recipe step-by-step and creating something that brings other people (mainly my husband) joy!

Wise Words From Our 2019 Commencement Speaker: Dr. Phillip Ertl

On May 19, 2019, the College of Education and all of Marquette University celebrated the graduating Class of 2019. At our college ceremony, we were inspired by the words of Dr. Phillip Ertl, Superintendent of the Wauwatosa School District. We are grateful for his wisdom and would like to share his speech with you, our readers!

0011_optimizedCongratulations to the Marquette College of Education graduates from the class of 2019 – and congratulations to all the family and friends of the graduates as I know nobody does this alone, and you have all had an impact on these graduates.

I would like to thank Dean Henk and the rest of the College of Education at Marquette University. I am incredibly honored to be here with you today on the most exciting day of the year for any educational institution–graduation day. We all know commencement means “a beginning or a start.” But of what? That is up to each of you and THAT is what makes graduation so exciting.

For me, being able to see what the students of the Wauwatosa School District do in the years after graduation is very gratifying–knowing that in some way we have had an impact. This year’s graduation has an extra special meaning for me- not only is my oldest son graduating from Wauwatosa West High School, but his time in Tosa schools also coincides with my time as Superintendent of the Wauwatosa School District. So, I guess I am the only one the class of 2019 can blame if things do not go well for them!

I have had the good fortune to be in education for over 30 years with 19 of those as a superintendent of schools. My path was certainly not linear. I struggled as a student and, as many that have a similar story, was not encouraged to attend college by some staff in my school that I think should have been doing that. My real motivation for going to college was to play football. It was not until a couple years into my college experience that something clicked–I really wanted to become a teacher. After graduating from UW Lacrosse, I left for Texas for my first teaching and coaching position and loved it. I had some incredible mentors, in particular Tommy Rhea, my principal. He encouraged me to follow my dreams. I guess my dreams took me back to Wisconsin after a year, and I landed in Tomah where I also had the opportunity to work with some top-notch administrators who encouraged me to get my Master’s Degree in educational administration. After completing that degree, I thought I would give my new license a try and applied for two jobs. I interviewed and was offered an associate principal (AP) position in Menasha. I spent one year as an AP and was promoted to the middle school principal position the following year. My superintendent, Bill Decker, saw something in me that I did not. He encouraged me to pursue my doctorate, something that honestly never crossed my mind until I understood that he really believed in me.

Principals and teachers that I have worked with over my time in education have had such a profound impact on me–I could talk about each of them, but I am sure you would like to get out of here today at some point–but I think you get the jist, I had a lot of great mentors and I think it is important for all of us to serve as mentors so that others have the same stories. There are a few challenges we face in education–funding, public perception, declining numbers entering the teacher workforce, testing accountability, increasing demands on our time and energy, and mental health issues. One could argue that most of these are longstanding challenges we have faced for many years in some way, shape or form.

However, mental health concerns have become one of the most prevalent. More and more students are coming to school with significant mental health challenges, that if not addressed, will stand in their way of learning and succeeding. Everything is not known why more and more students are facing those challenges but what we do know is that we must find new and innovative ways to address those needs. I am thrilled to hear that there are a number of graduates here today in clinical mental health and counseling. We need more of you working with and supporting our students. But…with all the challenges in education there are a few things that I have learned that have made a difference in my career to help me overcome those challenges and others.

First: we are in a relationship business. We don’t make widgets or ball bearings—we create relationships that lead to greater learning. Each and every person involved in education is creating relationships every single day–multiple times a day. I believe the most important relationship is the one between teacher and student. The ability to be a great teacher is based on the ability to develop and sustain positive relationships with students. To have the type of impact that we want with students we need to engage with students on many different levels (mentor, expert and friend). The old saying that “students really do not care what you know until they know that you care” is so true. Other relationships in the educational arena are critical as well. Principal leadership matters, and that leadership can only be developed through relationships with many constituencies including staff, students, parents, and the community. Find me a great principal, and I assure you their stakeholders will talk about the relationships they have with that principal. School Boards need to gain the trust of the community and have to have trust in the superintendent. Those relationships need to be healthy for a school district to thrive. There is a reason we have moved to a more collaborative model in education– it is a critical skill that all students need before they leave our doors, and in life–and we must be committed to making sure everyone understands, supports and values strong relationships to help realize that goal.

Next: every interaction will have an impact — you have to believe that! We have all been in a meeting or class or professional development activity where we are asked to think of someone that has had a great impact on our lives. Often times the people we think about never knew that they made a difference in our lives. I, personally, have gone out of my way to make sure that those people in my life, know it. For each of them it was things they said or did that they did not think were a big deal–but really did have a profound impact on me. They were simple interactions with people I looked up to and trusted. I try to think of that when I talk with students—as well as colleagues, parents and community members. You never really know what people take away from each and every conversation or interaction—- I always want it to be something positive.

Treat people with compassion and respect as it will come back to you — In 1992 when I was teaching in Tomah, I also served the school as the head football coach. We had great student athletes that I was able to get to know and work with. I had this one young man that was our starting right tackle. He was also a hockey player, really good student and a great overall kid. That student, Dr. Eric Jessup-Anger, is now my School Board President in Wauwatosa! Of course my first question to him when he came on the Board was “did I ever make you run or yell at you too much–or is that why you wanted to be on the Board?” I really do believe that what goes around comes around with how we treat people. I think that holds MOST true with how we treat students. If we don’t show them respect–those relationships that I talked about earlier will never be as good as we would like.

Be the voice for others – The focus on equity in schools may be one of the most important shifts to ever occur—and one of the most difficult to implement. Everyone says they believe all children can learn but very few schools have been able to raise expectations for ALL students and meet those expectations. Our previous school structure was not set up for all students to be successful, it really was for “many” to be successful. We must raise expectations for all students and do everything humanly possible to ensure they meet those them. We have to change societal beliefs, challenge our own biases, and push like we never have before. It is not easy work, it is not quick work, but it is work that we need to do to be successful. There are too many students that do not have a voice in their education and we need to be that voice for them by believing in them, having high expectations and helping them meet their goals. I am proud to say it is the overriding focus of all our work in the Wauwatosa School District- and it is making a difference.

Know your “why” – We really need a strong conviction and understanding of why we are in this business. For some folks, their why is to make a difference in the world or simply that they love kids. I still have never gone to a day of work: I am still going to school. I love approaching every day with the opportunity to make a difference and that is my why. In education we are tasked with selling the why to everyone. Students say “why do I need to learn algebra?” Teachers will say “why do we need to change the reading curriculum?”, school boards say, “why should be adopt this policy?”, community members will say “why should we pay this amount of taxes?” We spend our days talking about the why so we better be pretty clear on what our “why” is and what our school communities’ is.

Failure is critical for success – This is a statement I make in every interview and ask for a response. Most of the success I have had in life is because of learning from mistakes. We must encourage students to be risk-takers and not be afraid of failure. “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” I am not big on living by quotes, but this is one that I believe is important for living with a growth mindset. Too many students come to us without the willingness to take risks or the ability to deal with adversity, and we have an obligation to teach them.

Celebrate successes – People that go into education generally are humble and want to serve others. Often what goes along with that is an unwillingness to talk about accomplishments. We need to take every opportunity we can to celebrate the great things going on in our schools, whether it is an individual accomplishment of a student, a group of students accomplishing something they never thought they could, a team winning a competition that was unexpected, a whole school reaching a milestone, or a whole district implementing a new policy well. We need to make sure everyone knows the great things happening in our schools. Simple emails to parents about the good things their children are doing may be the most effective communication you make!

Focus on controlling what you can control – There are so many things that we deal with that are out of our control. As I get further along in my career, I understand that there are more things we may not have control over, but we still can impact. There are a lot of state statutes that impact what we do on a daily basis, from minutes of instruction, school start dates, standards, standardized testing, how much money we have to use in schools, as well as what subjects must be taught. I have learned even some of THOSE have flexibility in them! More importantly I think we need to understand that we don’t control who the kids are in our classes – with all the intelligences, attitudes, backgrounds, and beliefs that come with them. We need to meet them where they are and take them to greater heights. All parents send their children to us hoping and expecting us to give them our best. And we owe it to the parents to do just that.

I don’t often take the opportunity to reflect on my career as I still have a long time left, but taking this opportunity to do so has reminded me of how fortunate I have been to be around some great students, teachers, administrators and school supporters – and even better people. I hope all of you have the same experiences as you go through your career.

So, as you leave here today, I challenge you to do one thing: to be THAT person, that person that makes a difference for each and every student —every day. YOU may not know you were that person—but they certainly will!!

Congratulations again and best of luck to you in the future! And if that future involves applying for a job in the Wauwatosa School District, give me a call or shoot me an email to remind me that we met today!

Thank you.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Patrick Witt

This year, we are spending time 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 Patrick Witt, one of our post-baccalaureate students studying to be a secondary education teacher!

E8A99178-4CAC-400A-BD2F-3B5C5B9D1F22I am a first-year post-baccalaureate student. My field is broad field social studies, secondary education. I grew up in Whitefish Bay until I was twelve, when my family and I moved to La Jolla, CA. I pledged to my parents that I’d come back to Wisconsin, and I kept my promise!

As an adult, I spent six years in Milwaukee earning my Bachelors and Masters degrees in History. I also returned in the summers of 2011 and 2012 to work with Marquette University’s Freshman Frontier Program. So, I’ve spent a lot of time here. My wife and I moved back permanently last August. In truth, my heart never left Wisconsin. When I’m not in class or working, I love being outdoors, from doing something simple like working on my garden to hiking with my wife and dogs. Anything outdoors is therapeutic.

My family is wonderful. My wife is my best friend and an inspiration. She serves our community as a social worker. Her selflessness and work ethic pushes me to better myself daily.

I enjoy being in the classroom, where I can see theory in action. I love interacting with students and witnessing learning firsthand. In the upcoming academic year, I’m looking forward to going out and implementing what I’ve learned over the last two semesters. I was drawn to the College of Ed because I believe that teaching is my vocation. I’ve always loved MU’s cura personalis philosophical approach.

My content area is Social Studies, but my true passion is history. I love studying, teaching, and writing about history. The study of history is the best way humanity can come to understand our current condition, our problems and our triumphs.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Kathryn Rochford

This year, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on our blog series. Read on to meet Kathryn, a member of our freshman class!

krHi! My name is Kathryn Rochford, and I am a freshman studying Secondary Education and English and minoring in Spanish. I grew up in the very heart of central Illinois in Morton, a small suburb of Peoria, about four hours away from Milwaukee. However, I was born in Singapore and have lived in Washington, Illinois, Denver, Colorado and Morton. This is my first time living in Milwaukee, or a big city in general, and I’ve been here for about eight months now. My family has always been kind and supportive and as I am the oldest of four kids, it was hard to leave them first semester. I have a brother who is a junior in high school, a sister who is a freshman in high school, and a brother in fourth grade currently. My mom stays at home to manage our super busy family but spends a good majority of her time volunteering in my home parish. My dad is the general manager of gas and medium speed engines at Caterpillar, Inc. I am blessed to have grown up in a family that was so close and helped me pursue my passions, whatever they may be.

My favorite educational experience was during my senior year of high school where I had the opportunity to spend two hours a day, three days a week working at the local grade school to help a Spanish-speaking student in his classes. I would translate his classes for him, help him with his homework, and even helped him to learn a bit of English. It was one of the most rewarding experiences to watch him grow in his fluency and understanding of his schoolwork. I saw how much my work impacted him and his family when his mother came up to me one day to express her gratitude and thanks for helping her son. Just hearing how my simple volunteer work impacted their family was heartwarming. It was also interesting because I conversed with her in Spanish only and my friends that were standing around me were like “What just happened?!” and it was fun to impress them like that.

An exciting opportunity I see for this upcoming academic year is field experience. I am excited to be in a classroom during the day interacting with students instead of after-school programs like my service-learning opportunities have been thus far. What drew me to Marquette and the College of Education is the fact that I would be interacting with students almost immediately with my education major, whereas other universities I looked at wouldn’t have me in a classroom until I was a junior. Marquette’s whole mission statement of “Be the Difference” really struck me as unique in my college search process, and I felt it hit at who I am as a person.

Outside of the classroom, I am quite busy! I am currently on the club rugby team with practices twice a week and tournaments every few weekends. I also am a part of the book club here on campus, so I am usually somewhere reading a book. Soccer is also one of my passions and has been for almost ten years now, so I play intramural co-ed soccer when I can. My weeks are usually packed but it’s so fun to be involved in so many things, especially rugby, which was a completely new sport for me! My advice for readers who are interested in any of those activities is to put yourself out there; I did not get as involved first semester, so at O-Fest for the spring I had a mission to get involved in sports/clubs that interested me. It can be difficult to try a new hobby, especially an established one such as rugby, but it can be so rewarding in the end when you do.

My inspiration for my work is the countless teachers and administrators who made a real impact on my development in grade school and high school. Especially in high school, I became close with a lot of the teachers through my work in student council, participation on the varsity soccer team, and the curriculum advisory committee for the district as a student representative. My teachers and administrators would check up on me from time to time, and even made an effort to come support me outside of school at my soccer games, which made me feel like they saw me as a person, not just as a student. I hope to make a similar impact on my future students one day.

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

 

On the Tenth Anniversary of the College of Education: Thomas Schatz

This year, the College of Education is celebrating its 10th anniversary since becoming a college! In commemoration, our undergraduate students were invited to participate in an essay contest with the following prompt:

Given our rich history, (1) Why do you think it is important that we are designated as a College (for instance, within the University and to our community partners) and (2) Why is our being a College important to you professionally and/or personally?

Read on for our next essay, and you can catch up with all the entries in other posts!

Marquette_University_campusBy Thomas Schatz

Marquette’s College of Education is reaching the ten-year anniversary of its designation as an individual college. A designation worth celebrating because of how it has affected the curriculum, and more importantly, the people who are invested in the Milwaukee educational system and education as a whole. The separation from the College of Arts and Sciences has allowed for countless new opportunities to be discussed and implemented. This includes new educational experiences such as the college’s summer Peru trip and even a new major, Educational Studies, to become part of the College’s offerings. It has certainly been a great ten years, and there is no better time to be a student, faculty, or supporter of the Marquette College of Education.

The world needs great leaders to enter the teaching force more than ever now. Because of this immense need, there also needs to an emphasis on calling people into the vocation of teaching. The individual status of our college has allowed for outreach to ensure this need is met by qualified teachers across the country. Even looking at just my freshman education class, I see students from coast to coast come here looking for a truly unique curriculum that not only will prepare us to teach but prepare us to become transformative leaders for the next generation of students. This means more educators, and well-prepared educators at that, are now schooling in Milwaukee. This effort is only greatened when you factor in how being an individual college allows for more funding for student scholarships. This is something that as a student I am eternally thankful for, and I am certainly not alone in this sentiment. This is a grand gesture in a time where money has become such a strong deterrent for amazing students considering the life of a teacher. The college has been an undeniably powerful source at dispelling this issue.

Lastly, I cannot discount all the ways in which the college has personally affected me beyond even what is mentioned above. I truly feel as if there is one thing that everyone looks at as a beacon of light and hope in a world that can be so dark sometimes. This beacon of light is education. Education is a gift that needs to be shared and given by those best prepared. The College of Education truly buys into this thought of teaching for social justice, a theme very in line with the Jesuit values of Marquette. I come to Schroeder Complex every day knowing that I am being surrounded by professors and students alike that feel the same way as I do. Marquette educators are not mere teachers. No, far from it. Rather, we are leaders that go out to set the world ablaze and change lives everywhere. So, on the tenth anniversary of our outstanding college, I thank the college for all it offers me, and I hope everyone joins me in thanking them for what they do to Be the Difference.

Interested in learning more about the College of Education and our ongoing service to our community? Or our undergraduate programs? Check us out online today!

 

 

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Julia Bigoness

This year, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on our blog series. Read on to meet Julia, a member of our freshman class!

bigonessMy name is Julia Bigoness, and I am a freshman studying Elementary Education and Spanish. I grew up in Naperville, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago and have been living in Milwaukee for almost nine months. I have one older brother who attends Georgia Tech and one younger brother in seventh grade. My mom is a nurse, and my dad is a criminal investigator and an alumnus of Marquette University.

I chose Marquette University because it is super close to the city. I felt a sense of community whenever I took tours of the school. I always felt like it was a home because I could see myself on campus for the next four years. One of my favorite things about the College of Education is that I can jump right into the classroom setting. I also like how there are a variety of schools where I can do service learning and experience different environments.

My favorite educational experience is service learning. I think that it is so cool that starting freshman year, I am able to be in the classroom. Service learning helped me apply what I have learned in the classroom to what I see during service learning. I look forward to going to service learning every week because I love to see how I can make a difference in a child’s day and how they can improve my day. Attending service learning helped me confirm that I am pursuing the right major.

One exciting opportunity that I am looking forward to this upcoming academic year is perfecting my Spanish and being able to start field observations. My goal is to be fluent in Spanish by the time I graduate and to be able to communicate to children and all of those that I encounter in a bilingual school setting.

The people who inspire me are the students in my service learning classrooms. I learn so much from them, and they help me apply what I have learned in the classroom. They are always so cooperative and willing to participate. I am so excited to become an elementary teacher and have my own classroom to inspire students and help them learn!

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


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