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Feedback as a Learning Experience

feedbackBy Stephanie Nicoletti

As teachers we are always trying to teach our students that receiving feedback is a learning process. We work to make feedback meaningful for students and therefore we expect the feedback we receive as educators to be meaningful as well.

We tell students that every piece of feedback is to help them further their learning and that they should take this feedback as something to grow from. Educator receive feedback continuously, whether through students, co-teachers, and evaluators. In just a short time teaching I have found that we are often the most hard on ourselves and when we receive feedback, we do not use it as a growing tool like we tell our students. A lot of times educators shut down when they receive feedback that is maybe not exactly what they hoped or wanted to hear.

With that being said, one of my goals for 2017 and the rest of this school year especially, is to take feedback and learn from it. Don’t let feedback “freak you out” use it as a tool to learn, grow, and better your practices, I know I will!

She’s the Right Person for the Job if the Job is to Destroy Public Education

By Claudia Felske

This month, I’ll cut to the chase: short but not at all sweet—

Betsy DeVos is President Elect Trump’s nominee for United States Secretary of Education.

DeVos is an activist and millionaire donor in national efforts to divert public educational dollars away from public schools and toward for-profit corporations undermining the original intent of charter schools.

This is the woman set to lead public education in this country.

The charters DeVos advocates have little to no oversight as to the quality of the curriculum, credentials of the teachers, and which students they can deny enrollment. They are exempt from evaluation and monitoring requirements of public schools, many are rife with financial corruption, and many significantly underperform academically compared to their public school counterparts.

This is the woman set to lead public education in this country.

As Diane Ravitch, Department of Education appointee for both Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush, said “If confirmed by the Senate—DeVos will become the most radical, anti-public-school education secretary since the Office of Education was established in 1867.” 

This is the woman set to lead public education in this country.  

DeVos has never attended a public school, nor have her children. She has zero experience in public education as a student, teacher, or an administrator. She has no background or experience in curriculum or pedagogy.

This is the woman set lead public education in this country.

Imagine having a new boss at work. Now imagine that this new boss has no experience in your field whatsoever and this new boss has a track record of defunding and destroying companies she leads.   Now imagine that this workplace is every public school in the country. 

This is what we’re dealing with.

So…

1. Educate yourself about Betsy DeVos:

2. Act, email, and call your Senators accordingly.

*The confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos is set to begin January 11, 2017.

A Golden Opportunity

jorgensen-family-gold-medal

By Elizabeth Jorgensen

I lecture my students to scour life for dramatic moments, emotional scenes or frightening experiences and write their own stories. I say their lives are filled with gripping tales, just waiting to be told. So when my sister qualified for the 2012 Olympic Games, suffered a flat tire in the triathlon and proclaimed her goal to win gold in 2016, I decided to take my own advice and write the story. But the tale was so big I needed a book. I partnered with my mom, Nancy Jorgensen, who has published two of her own books (From the Trenches: Real Insights from Real Choral Educators and Things they Never Taught you in Choral Methods). In alternating voices, my mom, Nancy (Gwen’s mother) and I (her sister), narrate our family’s journey to Olympic gold.

Along the way, Gwen earned the World Champion title. Twice. And she came into the Rio Olympic games the favorite. In a Sports Illustrated piece, Austin Murphy said, “…Jorgensen has emerged as the International Triathlon Union’s equivalent of Usain Bolt.”

My mom and I are now finishing the last chapters of our memoir. As the book follows Gwen’s Olympic journey, we intersperse flashbacks and anecdotes, revealing a family story that fostered an dream. The process has mirrored what I teach in my classroom: the editing process is never done, collaboration and revising are keys to success, and the publishing industry hands out rejections far more frequently than book deals.

The process also brought my mom and me together—we collaborate daily, writing, editing, polishing. Sharing this process with my students allows them a firsthand account of writing and publishing. I have also shared rejection letters and excerpts with my class. Each time, students express appreciation and intrigue: their teacher is a writer too; writing is a process we all struggle with.

My students enjoy how this is a book about the magic of possibility—that a 24-year-old accountant could remake her life into a dramatic athletic career. The book explores themes of risk, the courage to invent a new life focus, and the unconditional family support that makes extraordinary accomplishments possible. Our memoir introduces readers to a young woman of modest athletic achievements who uses extraordinary desire and discipline to achieve the ultimate in sport. It is an uplifting story of a family who quells doubts to believe in one daughter’s dream. Readers enter the secret world of Olympic training, professional coaching, international travel, sponsor funding, anti-doping requirements, athlete nutrition, and sports physiotherapy. They are privy to the personal life of a professional athlete, complete with family medical crises, weddings and divorces and holiday celebrations. In this story, Gwen Jorgensen, Mom and I travel together, from average to Olympian.

We have had some interest from publishers—and this too is something I’m able to share with my classes. We are work-shopping the book with the AllWriters’ Workplace & Workshop in Waukesha and we continue to send our proposal and manuscript out via Gwen’s agent. But we have yet to procure a deal…

Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas!

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