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Change is good, right?

-By Claudia Felske

Change is good, right?

That’s what they say.

Well, I’m changing…

I’m changing from a teacher-blogger to a teacher-novelist. I am here to announce that I will no longer be blogging directly about educational practices, policies, and trends not because there’s nothing more to say (not even close) and not because I’ve exhausted all the topics (even less close)!

Let me explain. If you will, indulge me in a momentary forray into my personal life: a trip into the biggest single piece of procrastination in my life. I’ve been intending to write a novel…for the last 25+ years.

Sure, I’ve had fits and starts, ideas and sketches, but nothing resembling a novel ever materialized until this July when I sent an email to a friend.

It all started at the beginning of summer. I was on a walk, listening to a podcast. Gretchen Rubin was describing what she calls the 4 tendencies, a framework she uses to describe personality types. I’ve always been a sucker for frameworks and surveys and opportunities to reflect, so I took the survey and discovered that I’m an “Obliger”: that is, I will go to great extremes to meet the expectations others have for me. Outer expectations (degrees, certifications, presentations, committees, and yes, blogs) are dutifully met. Inner expectations (writing that novel, losing that last ten pounds, daily dental flossing—you laugh, but I’m serious) are a different story. Things I want to accomplish just for my own sake take the back seat, every time.

So that day at the start of summer, while I was walking in the woods with my headset on, a caller (I should find this caller and thank her) self-identified as an Obliger and asked Gretchen Rubin for a solution which would allow her to achieve her personal goals. The answer, Rubin explained, is to create outside accountability. Find someone to hold you accountable, she suggests, a spouse, a friend, a coach—someone to answer to when trying to achieve your goal. Obligers will disappoint themselves 9 times out of 10, but rarely will they risk disappointing someone else.  

It sounded so simple, but it made so much sense. That was me. And so when I returned from our family vacation, it was time. I drafted an email to my friend. I explained my goal—to finally achieve the habit of daily writing, a habit that would allow me to finally write my novel. I asked if she could help.  

Since that email:

  • We’ve met once per week to strategize, and review, and check in.
  • I email her daily about my writing progress (outside accountability).   
  • I’ve turned my fits and starts into….THE FIRST THIRD OF MY NOVEL (excuse me for text-screaming, but this has been a long time in the coming).
  • I’ve simplified my life, bowing out of a number of obligations— worthwhile groups  and activities that I’m confident will continue their worthwhile work without me. 
  • I’ve established and kept the schedule that I’ve wanted for the past 25 years: I write every morning from 5:15-6:15 a.m.; I write every night (usually from 7:00-8:00). Writing now marks the bookends of my day, every day, whether it’s summer, a school day, or a weekend. It’s what I do.

I don’t know why it took me 25 years to reach this point. I don’t know why I heard that podcast on that day. I don’t know why it led me to email that friend (the right person at the right time). I don’t know why my stars have now aligned, and why they hadn’t earlier.   

Now, before you accuse me of delusions of grandeur, let me assure you that I am under no illusions of the difficulties that lie ahead. I do not have an agent, I do not have a book deal, I do not have a completed novel, but what I do have is a daily writing habit, what I do have is one third of a completed novel, and what I do know is that THE most essential prerequisite to writing a novel is ACTUALLY WRITING THE NOVEL!  And that, I am ecstatic to say, is finally happening.

So what does any of this have to do with this blog, with teaching, and with you, my dear readers?

Well, since I’m changing, so is my blog.

I’ve blogged monthly for the Marquette Educator for 6 years; I’ve blogged on my own a touch longer than that. It’s been a good run. I appreciate the opportunity it’s given me to reflect on my field and on my classroom. I love that it’s made some people reconsider the state of education. I love that it’s helped family and friends know more about what I do and why I do it. I’m still humbled that on February 9, 2015, my voice made it to the national stage and I learned what it’s like to have a blogpost “go viral.”

But, as the adage goes, “change is good,” so as I morph into novelist territory, my blogging will morph into a writer’s reflections on writing.

Of course I am still a teacher (I will always be a teacher) so I my posts will inevitably refer to teaching and learning, particularly teaching and learning about writing, but instead of being the thoughts of a teacher who blogs about education it will be the thoughts of a teacher who writes fiction.

My plan is to reflect on writing—-the discipline of doing it, the challenges of teaching it, the frustrations and joys of being immersed in it.  So who might want to read this morphed blog? Anyone who writes, anyone who wants to write, anyone who wants their students to write (not just English teachers), and anyone who is mildly curious about the goings on of this writer.

So now, onto part two of my novel and onto part two of my life.

Change is good.

State Capitol Commemorative Essay and Art Competition

Wisconsin_State_Capitol_Building_during_Tulip_FestivalBy Elizabeth Jorgensen

To commemorate and celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the Wisconsin State Capitol, the Commemorative Commission is hosting a writing and essay competition for Wisconsin students.

Students in grades K-12, are encouraged to “submit an essay or piece of art which details or symbolizes the importance of the Capitol building and what it means to Wisconsin. Essays should be no longer than one page in length and either typed or legibly written. Art pieces should be two-dimensional, made out of non-breakable material, and no larger than 24 inches by 30 inches.”

When I provided this writing opportunity to my summer school students, I encouraged them to do research and cite sources. I wanted to see my students take a risk and do something original, creative and unexpected.

Entries must be received by October 13th, 2017.

If students are unable to visit the Wisconsin State Capitol, information can be found online here:

You can find out more about this writing opportunity here.

If you’re looking for example essays, here are four from my summer school class.



Welcoming Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders to the COED Family

The Knobloch-Fedders Family

An undergraduate alumna of Marquette University, Dr. Lynne Knobloch-Fedders is returning to her Wisconsin roots this fall and joining the faculty of the Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology department. We’d like to take a moment to introduce her so you can get to know her better!

COED: Tell us about yourself!

Lynne Knobloch-Fedders: My husband and I met at Marquette, and we are both proud undergraduate alumni. After receiving my Ph.D. from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, I served on the faculty at The Family Institute at Northwestern University, a clinical and academic institute which specializes in couple and family therapy, for 16 years. I am thrilled to be returning to Marquette, to join the academic community I came to cherish as an undergraduate.

My husband and I have three children, Kathryn (9), Carsten (6), and Sophia (4). They are very fun, but keep us very busy! In the free time I do have, I love gardening, playing tennis, swimming, and taking long walks.

Where did you grow up? Are you new to Milwaukee?

LKF: I’m a Wisconsin native (I grew up in Oshkosh, and my husband is from Sheboygan). We are delighted to return home to Wisconsin to be closer to friends and family. I love Milwaukee and can’t wait to explore the changes that have occurred in the city over the past few years. I’m also a huge fan of the Milwaukee Brewers and Green Bay Packers, and we are looking forward to attending Marquette basketball games as a family.

What is your favorite educational experience?

LKF: As an undergraduate at Marquette, I learned how to embrace the social justice mission of the Jesuit educational tradition. I am looking forward to contributing to that mission as a faculty member in the College of Education.

My faith is also very important to me. Marquette is where my Catholic identity was fully formed, and I am very pleased to be able to rejoin the campus faith community.

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

LKF: I am looking forward to the opportunity to reconnect with the Marquette community, and meet students, faculty, and staff from around the university. I’d also like to build research collaborations across the university and within the greater Milwaukee community.

What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

LKF: I love Marquette. I am so proud to able to rejoin the Marquette community, and to be able to work alongside the many talented students, faculty, and staff of the College of Education.

Dr. Knobloch-Fedders will teach “Family Counseling,” “Research Methods,” “Intermediate Statistics,” along with “Evaluation and Measurement.” Want to know more about the College of Education? You can learn more about our new faculty and degree programs by visiting us today!

Summer Reading

Bokeh-Bible-6-900By Elizabeth Jorgensen

During break at my school’s College Essay Workshop, Hope, a former student, asked, “So, what are you reading this summer, Ms. J?” A stack of books sat on her desk, bookmarks sticking out of the pages, tattered and frayed.

“This summer, my book club read two books: Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.” Then, I flipped the question back to her: “So, what are you reading this summer, Hope?” Hope wants to be a reading specialist and told me her summer goal was to read 30 books.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly.” She held up the book and I saw three women walking hand-in-hand down dirt path. On the top of the book I saw “New York Times Bestseller.”
“I’ve never heard of it. What’s it about?”

Hope told me it’s about women in World War II. She raved about the varying points of view and the arc of the story. She said she loved that it was based on a true story. I told her it sounded like The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Hope said The Nightingale was also on her to read list. When the workshop ended, I texted Kathy, a member of my book club, who loves WWII historical fiction, to recommend Lilac Girls.

Summer reading lists are ubiquitous. From People Magazine to The Washington Post and Barnes & Noble’s recommendations, there are plenty of new (and classic) books to choose from. On my summer reading list was something by Lauren Groff. My sister, Olympian Gwen Jorgensen, competed with fellow American Sarah (Groff) True and I often heard about Sarah’s sister, the New York Times bestselling author Lauren.

I met Sarah’s (and Lauren’s) parents at competitions and heard about their childhood and the connection intrigued me. I chose to read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff when I read this in an article in The Guardian: “Fates and Furies, already a New York Times bestseller, was picked as’s book of the year, with the internet retailer describing it as ‘dazzling’ last month…Groff’s novel has been feted in the US: the Los Angeles Times called it ‘audacious and gorgeous,’ and the Washington Post said it was a ‘a clear-the-ground triumph.’”

The book didn’t disappoint. Groff’s book grabbed me with intense scenes and descriptive language. The woven story, flashing back and forward, first the husband’s perspective and then the wife’s, is about secrets spouses keep.

On the plane to visit my sister, I toted Wonder by R.J Palacio. I read it in the hot tub while my sister swam laps and before we went to bed. I found this book on an Amazon deal—scoring the hard copy for $3.99. According to Amazon, Wonder is “soon to be a major motion picture starring Julia Roberts, Owen Wilson and Jacob Tremblay! Over 6 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. The book that inspired the Choose Kind movement.” It’s a young adult novel I look forward to recommending to my students.

There are a few weeks left in summer and I’m hoping to add additional books to my summer reading list—and I’ve decided (on Hope’s recommendation) to start with Lilac Girls.

Backwards is Back

backwards day

–By Claudia Felske
I remember back to Homecoming week in high school when we’d have “Backwards Day.”  We’d wear our backpacks on our fronts, our pants inside out (a few of the more daring students wore underwear on the outside of their clothes). We’d also try to walk backwards and say each other’s names backwards (I was Aidualc) among other antics. But that was about the extent of our backwardness.

Lately, however, it seems that educational policies have achieved a unprecedented level of backwardness. The past few weeks have yielded three major announcements which I believe to be the complete inversion of decency, goodness, and rationality in terms of our schools and the well being of our country.

Backwards is back:

  1. Siding with the Accused. First, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is taking pains to reverse progressive policies regarding sexual assault on college campuses. Her supporters feel that the system is rigged against those accused of sexual assault even though according to the FBI, somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of sexual allegations are false while only 12 percent of college rapes are even reported. Regardless, the Department of Education is now using its resources to reverse current policy which sought to make the reporting and prosecution of sexual assault less taxing and traumatic for its victims (1 in 5 women on college campuses). If the goal is to decrease assaults and increase safety, DeVos’s plans are clearly regressive. 
  2. Assault on Affirmative Action. Speaking of regressive, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently announced that the Department of Justice will be investigating discrimination against white students in the college admissions process. This effort stems from lawsuits over the past few years by one litigant, Edward Blum, who recruited numerous students in numerous court cases in his mission to eradicate affirmative action. Now, even though the Supreme Court just last year ruled that racial consideration is constitutional in college admissions to foster diversity and even the playing field, the Department of Justice will now be using funds earmarked for affirmative action to instead showcase white students as victims of affirmative action. Here’s the reality check on college diversity: even with affirmative action in place, African American enrollment in flagship schools is 5% of the student population, a far cry from proportional representation. Nonetheless, instead of continuing to work toward a system that is more equitable and diverse, we’ll be working to dismantle it. 
  3. Gun Classes. Lastly while running errands a few days ago, I heard on the radio (I can’t even get a gallon of milk in peace these days!) that there is currently a  bill in the Wisconsin State Assembly to allow on-site gun classes in public schools—from rifles to handguns. The bill would require each superintendent to develop a curriculum for such classes in his/her district. Needless to say, this is a ludicrous and disturbing thought. An uncomfortable reality in schools right now is that we necessarily spend professional development time running school shooting drills, preparing for the most horrific worst case scenario conceivable. So, why on earth would we, then, put guns in students’ hands during school hours? Another contradictory corollary: in recent years, Drivers Ed, a class that clearly aimed at saving lives and making our kids safer, has been removed from public classrooms as a cost-saving measure. So out with Driver’s Ed, in with handguns?


It is with no flippancy intended that I’m saying backwards is back.

A Department of Education siding with the accused over the victims of sexual assault,  a Justice Department looking out for white students over minority populations in the college application process, a Wisconsin State Assembly seriously considering mandating gun curriculum in Wisconsin schools: this is our world.

It seems these days that backwards day is every day. I guess the only remaining question is: what happens in the long term if we stop looking forward and keep moving backwards?

Introducing Dr. Karisse A. Callender

Photo Jan 20, 11 20 16 AM copy

The College of Education is pleased to introduce you to one of our three new faculty members for the 2017–2018 school year. Dr. Karisse A. Callender is an Assistant Professor in the Counselor Education Counseling Psychology department. She holds a Ph.D. in Counselor Education from Texas A&M University — Corpus Christi. We caught up with Dr. Callender to ask her some questions about her views on education, Milwaukee, and her favorite books!



I want to prepare my students with the foundation to go into their respective communities with knowledge to help them develop behaviors and skills that are holistic, and career-sustaining, as they work with their clients and colleagues.

Tell us a little more about yourself! Where did you grow up? What’s your favorite book?

Dr. Karisse Callender: I am from the beautiful island of Tobago, the smaller of the twin-island Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. As a child, I loved reading and that hasn’t changed in my adult life. Two of my favorites for this year are The Compassionate Achiever by Christopher L. Kukk and The Prophet by Kahil Gibran. I don’t drink coffee but I love hot teas and usually drink several cups each day! My education began with an undergraduate degree in behavioral sciences (psychology with a sociology minor), a master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling (concentration in alcohol and other drug abuse) and a doctoral degree in counselor education. I am a licensed professional counselor and substance abuse counselor, and I worked with adolescents, adults, couples, and families in both outpatient and residential settings with presenting issues related to mental health, substance use, and trauma.

How long have you lived in Milwaukee?

KC: I am new to the Milwaukee area and so far, I love the many activities I can enjoy outdoors and being in a vibrant city. Although it will take some time to adjust to a bigger city, I am excited to call Milwaukee my new home and look forward to creating many happy memories here. I would like to learn more about the culture and explore outdoor activities, community organizations, and anything that is local to Milwaukee and the surrounding areas.

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

What is your favorite educational experience?

KC: When I teach and I observe students struggling to understand the concepts in their textbook or from materials in class, my favorite thing to do is to draw from my clinical experience to provide them with a real-life example and interpretation of what they read. It’s amazing to see how their eyes light up when they finally experience the “aha!” moment. As a doctoral student, one of my favorite educational experiences was learning how to design, implement, and manage a fully functional online class and teach a module online.

What do you see as an exciting opportunity for this upcoming academic year?

KC: I am excited to get into my research agenda and collaborate with students, colleagues and community organizations. I look forwarding to playing a role in bridging the researcher-practitioner gap as I learn about the needs within the community. I want to prepare my students with the foundation to go into their respective communities with knowledge to help them develop behaviors and skills that are holistic, and career-sustaining, as they work with their clients and colleagues.

What are your research interests?

KC: My research interests are grounded in three primary areas: trauma, addiction, and clinical supervision. I am interested in studying the effects and implications of trauma and addiction across the lifespan and interventions that are most appropriate for this population. As counselors and counselor educators we often supervise individuals at different stages of their professional development. I want to find out about specific supervision needs and interventions for students and counselors who may be in recovery, and those who work primarily with clients with trauma or addiction diagnoses.

Across my research agenda, my intention is to find out what works for whom, how it works, and under what circumstances. I’m also interested in discovering ways to bridge the researcher-practitioner gap through my teaching, research, leadership, and service.

What drew you to Marquette and the COED?

KC: The mission of Marquette resonates with me on a personal and professional level. I share the belief that through excellence in my work, faith in myself and others, and compassionate leadership and service, I can inspire and encourage others. The COED has a nurturing and caring environment which indicates that this is a place where I can flourish as part of the faculty and as an individual. I believe I am very fortunate to be part of Marquette University, the COED, and especially the CECP department.

Dr. Callender will teach “Group Counseling” along with “Human Growth and Development” this fall. Want to know more about the College of Education? You can learn more about our new faculty and degree programs by visiting us today!

Dreaming of Summer Reading

The 2017 “Dwyane Wade ‘Live to Dream’ Summer Reading Program” in the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center wrapped up its third session just last week! Over the course of five weeks, 52 students from Bruce Guadalupe Community School, St. Anthony School, Christ St. Peter Lutheran School, Highland Community School, Immanuel Lutheran School, and St. Thomas Aquinas Academy came to the College of Education for instruction in reading and writing.

Children were taught by recent Education alumni (also known as Wade Coaches): Gillian Armstrong, Allie Donnici, Juliena Herriz, Lexie Liber, Katherine Mullahy, Gabby Park, Zachery Richards, Clarissa Shields, Alicia Siggens, Taylor M. Smith, Kimberly Vogler, and Emily Wulfkuhle. Sessions were held Monday through Thursday. While the children were given 60 hours of instruction by our Wade Coaches, the teachers also received 40 hours of professional development by the Director of the Hartman Center, Dr. Kathleen Clark, and local teachers with expertise in reading and writing.

One of these professional learning topics was using data to inform instruction for reading comprehension. Rigorous goals were set while daily data was collected and graphed using a digital data wall. Carolyn Curley (Grad ‘12) oversaw this portion. Professional development around writing was facilitated by Christine Reinders (Grad ‘11). Throughout the summer, educators participated in ongoing professional learning (PL) in the area of writing.

Designed to grow educators’ knowledge of Writing Workshop, the group worked on a curricular narrative writing unit titled, Small Moments. The Wade Coaches spent time learning the “why” behind each component of a writing workshop and developed an in-depth understanding of the curriculum. Additionally, educators spent ample time analyzing student writing and developing targeted teaching points to touch upon during the daily conferring process. By identifying various craft techniques utilized in high quality children’s literature and designing lessons to help students develop the same writing moves in their own work, the educators honed their teaching skills. As a result, these twelve teachers will head back into the academic year with new tools in their arsenals.

All of the Wade Coaches were supervised by a member of the Professional Development team (including Clark, Curley, Reinders, Kristin Koepke (Ed ‘99), Ali Fregoso (Ed ‘95), and Kathleen O’Dell.

Want to learn more about the work of the Hartman Center? Visit the College of Education for more information about our academic year programming and the Dwyane Wade Live to Dream Summer Reading Program!

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