Archive Page 3

Taking Pride in Being “Like a Girl”

By Sabrina (Bong) Bartels – Like many disgruntled Packers fans, I turned on the Super Bowl for two reasons:

  1. I wanted to see the Seattle Seahawks lose in some sort of humiliating fashion.
  2. I really, really wanted to see the new commercials.

Maybe it seems silly that I love watching the commercials, but I love seeing what new, creative techniques people come up with to market their products. Need to talk about life insurance? Use a heartbreaking story about the children you may leave behind. Want to sell a snack? Use a puppy!

However, when I think back to Super Bowl Sunday, one commercial really stands out in my mind. It was created by Always (a brand many of us women are familiar with!) It starts off simple enough: people were brought into a studio with a simple backdrop and a few lights.


In front of the camera, they were asked, “What does it mean to fight like a girl? Run like a girl? Throw like a girl?”

The next few seconds show clips of adult men, women, and a teenage boy pretending to run, throw, and fight like a girl. Throughout the commercial, it is evident what these individuals think: that fighting like a girl means flailing awkwardly, that throwing like a girl involves throwing something less than a foot in front of you, things like that. The commercial then asks, “When did doing something ‘like a girl’ become an insult?”

Now, I was raised to believe that I could do most anything a boy could do. I was aggressive on the soccer field (almost more so than any other boy on the team) and could outsprint anyone who tried to race me. For me, it was never a question of whether or not I could do something as well as a boy. Was this true for every girl?

Curious, I decided to replicate what the commercial did. During my self-esteem group, I asked the girls to show me what it meant to “fight like a girl.” Two girls immediately giggled and engaged in a “slap-fight” where they simply batted each other’s hands. One girl suggested that fighting like a girl means gossiping and starting rumors. The fourth girl agreed and said that fighting like a girl meant rolling your eyes and being mean to other people. And when I asked them to “run like a girl,” they all began to do a really goofy run, complete with flinging their hair back and forth and taking tiny shuffling steps.

“Is that how you run?” I asked them.

“No,” they all responded earnestly.

“Then why are you running like that? You’re all girls.”

And then, one of the girls looked at me and simply said, “Because that’s how we’re supposed to run.”

It broke my heart to hear that. For the rest of the session, we discussed what it “really” meant to be a girl. We talked about different Disney movies that portray women as heroes (Mulan, Brave, and Frozen, to name a few,) and celebrated things that girls are good at. We also talked about powerful girls that are in the news, such as Mo’ne Davis, who was a pitcher in the 2014 Little League World Series. My students were shocked that a girl was able to pitch better than some boys they knew! They said they were inspired to try new things and be “as good as the boys.”

Seeing this commercial really made me think about how I want to portray myself as a woman and potential role model for my students. I never want my girls to sit around thinking that they can’t play sports or be as good as the boys. I want my female students here to embrace what makes them unique, and be proud of the fact that they are strong, independent young women. I want them to walk out of middle school holding their heads high, secure of the fact that being a girl means that they are limitless and full of potential.

Take a look at the commercial for yourself:

Tuesday Trivia: February 10, 2015

How much do YOU know about Marquette University and the College of Education?
Test your knowledge (and win cool prizes) every Tuesday!


In light of Valentine’s Day this Saturday, a question for romantics and cynics alike:


What is the Aztec word that “chocolate” is said to have originated from?


Claim your chance to win by leaving the correct answer in the comments section below anytime today between 7am – 11pm. And don’t be afraid to play, even if someone has already posted the right answer! One winner will be randomly selected from ALL correct answers and announced the following day.  The winner will be posted on our Facebook page and notified by email.  Please note that you must have a valid email address listed in your comment or WordPress profile to win.

An Open Letter to Governor Walker

Dear Governor Walker:

I was both surprised and bewildered last week when I saw a news clip of you stumping in Iowa about Megan Sampson, whom you called “The [2010] Outstanding Teacher of the Year in my State.” This was baffling to me since in 2010, I was named Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year (Maureen Look-Ainsworth, Middle School Teacher of the Year; Peggy Wuenstel, Special Services Teacher of the Year; and Michael Brinnen, Elementary Teacher of the Year). In a most humbling ceremony, we were each surprised at our respective schools by State Superintendent Tony Evers and later honored at the State Capital as the Wisconsin Teachers of the Year.

And so, as one of the bonafide 2010-2011 Wisconsin Teachers of the Year, I feel the need to engage in one of the most valuable skills we teach our students, critical analysis.

Verified by multiple news sources, it turns out that Megan Sampson did win an award in 2010, but it was the Nancy Hoefs Memorial Award given by a relatively small organization of Wisconsin English teachers (WCTE) for “an outstanding first year teacher of language arts.” She was one of fewer than a dozen teachers across the state nominated for the award.

You failed to mention these details as you used Sampson’s lay-off from her first year teaching position as an opportunity to bash Wisconsin schools on the national stage. You blamed the seniority system for Sampson’s lay-off when, in good conscience, you should have done some serious soul searching and placed the blame squarely on your systematic defunding of public education to the tune of $2.6 billion that you cut from school districts, state aid to localities, the UW-System and technical colleges.*

This Wisconsin Teacher of the Year would like to clarify precisely what you’ve done for education.

2010-2011 was a surreal school year to be named Teacher of the Year as that was the year your passage of Act 10 marked the exodus of thousands of outstanding veteran teachers from the profession they love and marked the beginning of an extreme strain on our ability to continue providing the excellent public education Wisconsin has always been known for.

And what have you done lately?  In just the past month, it seems you have once again actively declared war on education in your own state:

  1. You’ve directed the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction to devise content exams that would certify anyone with a degree to become a licensed teacher. The ramifications of this move are nothing short of catastrophic and would grossly diminish what data has repeatedly shown to be the single most important factor in student learning: the quality of the classroom teacher. Allowing someone to teach without any training in HOW to teach, in effective pedagogy, in student behavior, brain research, motivation, and classroom management is akin to allowing someone who says  “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on t.v.” to give you a heart transplant.
  2. Continuing your bellicose streak (war is war, right?) you cut to the jugular by proposing a 13% across-the-board budget cut from the Wisconsin University System, our cornerstone of higher education, the source of much of our skilled and educated workforce, the center for research and development for our state. Aside from clearly being anti-education, this move is clearly anti-growth.
  3. Psychological warfare has been your most recent tactic when you attempted to (and later tried to blame it on a clerical error) revise “The Wisconsin Idea” the sacred credo of the UW system articulated over a century ago. You sought to omit mention of public service and improving the human condition (you do realize that as Governor, you are considered a public servant?) You also tried to delete the phrase: “Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth.”  Truth. Hmm…I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about that one.

Your tenure as Governor has demonstrated nothing less than a systematic attempt to dismantle public education, the cornerstone of democracy and the ladder of social mobility for any society.

How our paths have diverged from that August afternoon in 1986. True story: it was freshman orientation just outside Memorial Union. We were two of a couple thousand new Marquette University freshman wistful about what our futures held. Four years later, I graduated from Marquette and later became Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year. You never graduated, and you became the Governor of the State of Wisconsin bent on dismantling public education. Ironic, isn’t it? Situational irony at its best. I’d laugh if its ramifications weren’t so utterly destructive for the state of Wisconsin.


Claudia Klein Felske 2010-2011
Wisconsin High School Teacher of the Year
Marquette University Class of 1990


*Regarding the chronology of Sampson’s layoff notice and Governor Walker’s term in office, I stand corrected [2/17/15].

Heroes Never Die: Dad, Teaching & Atticus Finch

HCNJsKNkxNfGYc1SEPvEDu2gBy Maureen Cummings — Growing up, I always knew which songs would one day play at each of my parent’s funerals.  That’s because, when they jokingly mentioned it, my brother taped a post it note on the fridge (so we couldn’t forget).

That may sound weird, but it wasn’t — especially not compared the time when (at age twelve) my dad told me that I would likely give his eulogy, since I was the self-pronounced writer of the family. And, as dark as it seems, this on-going joke has more depth than its dismal appearance.

Over the years I’ve had a lot of time to re-evaluate the idea that people say you should never meet your heroes. It never made sense to me that I was raised by mine.

I meet role models all the time. We all do. Its important to recognize people for their good works, and uplifting attitudes and set our paths toward theirs because somehow they seem to be doing something right, but heroes are different. To be a hero, in my eyes, is to rewrite the cards you were given in a way that shows others they can do just the same. I see heroism as the simplicity of goodness in real life, not some power provoked by circumstance, but realizing need even before you are asked to see it. I couldn’t name for you all my role models, but I can remember when I met my heroes, or at least when they became heroes.

Although I would love to go on about the uniqueness of my father and relish in all the modest good he brings to the worlds of people he meets, he’s not the only wise parent, hard working defense attorney, “guide me like a moral compass guy” that I have.

I met a similar hero when I was in seventh grade and revisited him again when I was a sophomore in high school. In fact, often I’ll find myself on the internet listening to his most famous closing argument. I have my dad, but we all have Atticus Finch, and that is such a gift.

Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird and creator of one of my most cherished heroes, Atticus Finch, recently announced the release of her second book. I am far too eager for July to roll around and this book to be in my hands.  It definitely sounds nerdy to admit that I cried, but there are a lot worse things I could be than nerdy. My excitement is less ephemeral than it may appear; it extends far beyond my selfish impatience to read the book myself. My excitement brought me forward to my future classroom, but first it brought me back.

When I heard the news of this prequel, I was taken back to the Maycomb County courthouse… and then to standing outside watching Miss Maudie’s house burn. I could hear Scout’s straightforward voice, and listen with her when Atticus told us what real courage looked like. I was brought back to what these words meant to me in my seventh grade mind and again what new lessons the same words brought to me three years later.

I thought about how I didn’t even know what the title meant the first read through, let alone that I was about to meet characters that would impact the value I place on topics as important as human dignity. I had no idea the lessons Atticus could teach me- and I still don’t fully. To Kill A Mockingbird taught me about the power of characters both in literature, but also in real life. The genius facets of Harper Lee’s piece are endless, but for the sake of brevity I would focus in on what influential characters she bore into the world. This is what lead me to thinking of my future classroom.

Stories like this are one of the main reasons I chose English education.

Understanding our fictional heroes may in turn guide students to realizing their real heroes. Scout taught me how to understand and love my dad more fully, and I know she’s done the same for many others. Go Set a Watchman, Lee’s soon to be second published work, has already set me up excited and ready to read. It also has me ready to teach. I would like to think that back when I was being taught To Kill a Mockingbird my teachers were nearly humbled knowing what a powerful piece of literature they had the privilege to present. We can’t know until July if Lee’s next work will hold such literary clout, but this news turned out to be such a great reminder that whoever says you shouldn’t meet your heroes for fear of disappointment – is wrong.

The lessons we are taught and the perspectives we are given by our chosen heroes (both literary and not) make this a worthwhile risk.  Because — if we pick the right ones — heroes never die.

I’m saving that line for the eulogy.

Coping Mechanisms for Busy College Students

IMG_3023By Amanda Szramiak – Wow. This semester has already been extremely hectic.

With a forty-hour field placement, sixteen credit hours, writing for the Marquette Educator, volunteering at New School for Community Service and working as an intern in the Ott Memorial Writing Center, it has been hard to find time to breathe.

But, even though finding time to eat and sleep can be difficult at times, and I tend to complain a lot, I actually love being busy.

There is something about being on the go that makes me feel like an adult. I like that my planner is covered in sticky notes, and this also helps me decrease my Netflix intake, which was on my “do less” list for 2015.

I thought I would give some of my favorite tips that make it a lot easier to get through my busy weeks.

Tip 1: Write everything down (and I mean EVERYTHING)
I think I have mentioned my “slight” case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder so that helps with keeping my days in order. I write everything down multiple times. I have three different spots that keep track of things on my to do list. In my apartment, I have a huge dry erase board calendar that helps me see what’s ahead for the week. I write down everything in my planner, both on the monthly calendar as well as the individual week calendars. Post-it notes also help. Writing everything down also motivates me because I get to check things of my list, which is my favorite part of any homework or activity.

Tip 2: Utilize breaks
I have a love/hate relationship with having breaks in between classes. I used to love them because they give me time to go back to my apartment, eat, and, of course, hop into bed. The part I used to hate about breaks was that I always had to get up from my extremely comfortable bed. Lately, I have been going to the library in between my breaks, and this helps a tremendous amount. Plus, the Writing Center is in the library so I have been trying to squeeze in a few hours here and there.

Tip 3: Give yourself breaks
I am a firm believer that studying and/or doing anything for long durations of time (other than sleeping) is not beneficial. Even if you take a five-minute break in between reading chapters, do it. My break usually consists of playing my latest addictive application called, “AA.” Do not download it. My second favorite break is taking a trip to Starbucks to fuel my caffeine addiction, which leads me to my next tip.

Tip 4: Caffeine
I think the next greatest invention should be an IV drip that supplies energy-needy folks with coffee. Everyone would use it, and I think it would make the world a lot happier of a place. Going to Starbucks gets expensive and inconvenient. My coffee mug is only so big so I my coffee supply at home does not help when I am running around. I genuinely believe the perfect solution would be a coffee IV, and I would be the first to purchase one.

I hope my tips help those who are in need of some organization

When You’re “Perfect,” It’s Time to Quit

keep-calm-because-nobody-s-perfect-4By Aubrey Murtha – Recently, one of my professors said, “When we claim that we are doing our job perfectly, it is time to quit.”

I think this is one of the wisest aphorisms I have heard in quite some time. We can work day in and day out in an attempt to perfect our craft, and I sincerely hope that you are that dedicated to your profession—whatever that may be.

However, once we say that we have mastered something, we are either not taking sufficient time to reflect on our performance abilities, or we have reached a point where it is crucial to invest our energies in a new and challenging passion. Indeed, if we become too comfortable in our ability to do something, our belief in our own personal perfection will inevitably lead to laziness.

Think about how this could apply to your daily life. As a student, I never claim to be perfect at anything, in part because school is constantly challenging, but also because learning is a process that requires continuous growth and development. For those teachers reading my post today, we must be proper motivators for our students, recognizing that they are not perfect but encouraging them to strive for excellence.

We must also remember our own limitations and aim to improve. If teaching is consistently easy for you, it may be time to consider extending yourself further, trying something new, delving into a task that may be incredibly foreign to you, embracing your imperfection and pushing onward despite the potential for failure.

“It is failure that guides evolution; perfection provides no incentive for improvement, and nothing is perfect.”  ― Colson Whitehead, The Intuitionist

Charter School Expansion: An Opportunity for Parents, Communities, and Education Workers?

education-not-for-saleBy Nick McDaniels – I, like many others with close ties to public education, am somewhat of a traditionalist.

In an era of corporate education reform, I tend to believe that the solution to “failing” public schools is to reinvest in the public schools that are “failing.”  I don’t think closing schools down is the answer.   I don’t think that replacing a traditional public school with a charter school is the answer.  In fact, I think there are a lot of corporate-driven solutions in public education that are creating or exaggerating problems to wedge a foot in the door.

There has been a lot of buzz lately about charter school expansion, regulatory changes that would make charters school operation easier.  Some of the buzz is around changes that would allow charter schools to negotiate their own teacher contracts.  You see, in Baltimore, all charter schools are still covered by the broad collective bargaining agreements for all teachers.  Privatizers love changes like these because it can create a race to the bottom in teacher salary, which can then create a ripe economic situation for for-profit charter schools.  All of this scares me, as you can imagine.

But maybe there is hope.  In a time where teachers union leaders carry the water for school system management, and school system management carries the water for corporate ed-reformers, hope for significant top-down change is slim.  Charter schools, then, present an interesting alternative for parents, community members, and education workers to create schools that resemble the better-funded public schools of decades gone by.  I’m increasingly envisioning a school that runs like a co-op.  This model is not particularly new, but could capitalize on charter school expansion as a way to create a structurally and organizationally re-imagined school, a school where every voice is democratically respected.

Such as school, as a public school, could probably never come about under current traditional public school structures, but could perhaps with the flexibility of a charter school.  All workers get a voice in the way the organization is managed as an employer-entity.  All parents and students get a voice in the educational process.  Not many would argue with this structure in theory or in practice.

The second side of the same coin, however, is the for-profit charter school that would also take advantage of charter school expansion and would prey, like many charter vendors have done, on low-income communities of color.  Is the opportunity to create a better organized cooperative school under expanded charter school regimes worth the risk of the door being open to predatory for-profit charter vendors?  Probably not.  But it would be an opportunity nonetheless.

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