Posts Tagged 'Taylor Gall'

Lessons from Summer Camp

Vlcsnap-2013-02-01-17h42m20s254By Taylor Gall – For the last 5 summers, I worked long days at a Garden Center in my hometown. I loved every minute of it, despite the lack of air conditioning, the bugs, and the stiff green polo I was forced to wear. I worked with amazing people and gained a lot of valuable insight into the worlds of small businesses and horticulture.

This summer, however, I was advised to pick up a job that had to do with children and education so that I could beef up my resume. After searching around, I decided to work for a local Recreation Department just north of the city. In that program I was assigned to work with the third graders.

Now I’ve spent my fair share of time babysitting third graders, hanging out with third graders, and many of my cousins are in elementary school, so I’ve had lots of exposure to this age group. It turns out, though, that attending family BBQs with kids this age is much different than actually teaching them.

I haven’t ever had to teach students this age– I’ve always been strictly 6th grade and up. Even though 3rd and 6th graders are only three years apart in age, they are worlds apart in personality, attention span, and listening abilities.

During my time at camp so far, I have developed a whole new teaching persona. I have had to learn that with younger students, I can’t always rely on their rational sides kicking in.

I’ve had to become more straight forward with the way I discipline them–I can’t be sarcastic or beat around the bush. I have to address the issue head-on in order for them to understand why I’m upset at what they’ve done.

Instead of dealing with ex-boyfriends and ACT stress like I would in a high school classroom, I have to deal with John forgetting his swim suit at home and Jamie taking the ball away from Carson on the playground.

One day, Elijah licked his best friend’s snack and then put it back in his lunchbox, and I was, quite frankly, unsure of how to handle the situation. A graham cracker cannot be un-licked!

I’ve found that dealing with younger kids in a large group setting does not come as easily to me as dealing with teenagers does, but I have been learning a lot along the way. I know now for sure that I am definitely not meant to be an elementary education major, but I have a new appreciation for how hard elementary teachers work to keep order and stability in the classroom.

Big Lessons in Small Places

taylorgallblogpicBy Taylor Gall – Last summer at this time, I was anxiously preparing for a month abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark.

I had never been to Europe before, and I had never even traveled on my own before (let alone to a foreign, Danish-speaking country). I thought that my month in Copenhagen, as well as a lovely five-day stay in Iceland, would be the best month of my life. It taught me how to travel on my own, how to survive without constant phone access, how to put everything aside and just ENJOY the moment I was in, and how to order coffee in Danish (yell “KAFFE!”).

For 28 days, I danced around the streets of CPH and enjoyed that crazy little city to the fullest. I took nothing for granted, I said “YES!” to everything, and I was unconditionally and absolutely happy. I will never forget my time in Denmark, nor the lessons I learned there.

What lessons you ask? Before I tell you, I want to let you know that these lessons were great to find at the time, but better to put into practice this past year. The purpose and goal of studying abroad, in my opinion, is to widen your view and be able to apply your “abroad mentality” to your everyday life back in the states.

Ok. Here are my lessons:

1) There is adventure to be found in every twist in turn (both literal and hypothetical), so don’t get too worried when you get a little lost.

2) There are truly good people waiting to be found everywhere you go. We can get lost inside of college culture and forget that in post-graduate life we will still be able to meet great new people no matter where we end up.

3) Putting away your phone and enjoying the moment is very, very important. You don’t want to spend the rest of your life with your nose in an electronic world that doesn’t really exist. Savor every moment you’re given, with the people that are there with you in real time. Kardashian Instagrams can wait.

4) Embrace, enjoy, remember. Rinse. Repeat.

5) Adventure can be found in your own back yard. There are new parts of a city you may think you know so well that are waiting to be discovered!

 

All of these lessons could have been learned here in Milwaukee or at home in Grafton. They could be learned on any college campus, in any major or minor city, in any suburb and on any rural farm in northern Wisconsin. Going abroad (even for a very short time) was an absolute blast, but the real benefits came after.

This past year, I have taken the world by storm. I’ve been a stronger woman and a better friend, I’ve made sure to pay attention to the people that I’m physically around, and above all, I’ve learned to appreciate when I am particularly happy.

I don’t have to be particularly happy about anything major– it could be enjoying a cup of coffee in the morning at my dining room table, reading a book with my cousin Elsie, or listening to my mom talk about her day on the phone. I think that Kurt Vonnegut best described it in his graduation speech “Don’t Forget Where You Came From”:

My Uncle Alex Vonnegut, an insurance salesman who lived at 5033 North Pennsylvania, taught me something very important. He said that when things are going really well we should be sure to notice it. He was talking about very simple occasions, not great victories. Maybe drinking lemonade under a shade tree, or smelling the aroma of a bakery, or fishing, or listening to music coming from a concert hall while standing in the dark outside, or, dare I say, after a kiss. He told me that it was important at such times to say out loud, “If this isn’t nice what is?”

My nice moments do not need to be abroad. Even though I will be spending my summer in Cream City, I will find nice moments to speak about out loud. Since coming back, I’ve traveled to Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. I’ve also made it to 5 Wisconsin State Parks and plan to check at least 5 more off my list this summer. I plan on traveling more places and doing more things, even if they will be in my own backyard.

There are adventures to be found everywhere, and lessons don’t need to come from extravagant events.

Here I am, in a coffee (kaffe) shop, looking at the babies sitting next to me and listening to quiet conversation. If this isn’t nice, what is?

Shaking Off My Summertime Sadness

summer-timeBy Taylor Gall – For the first time in my school career, I am sad for school to be over.

It’s crazy, I know, but I wish with every fiber of my being that this year wasn’t coming to a close. Of course I’m excited to be done with my finals and to put all of the stressors of school behind me, but this has hands down been the best year of my life, and I don’t want it to ever end.

This year, I have turned 21, bonded with my students, and finally settled into the true role of being “Miss Gall.” I’ve made so many new friends, I’ve joined clubs and committees, I’ve made change on my campus, and I have truly fallen in love with Marquette.

As a freshman in college, I attended a small Catholic college near Green Bay, and at the end of that year, I felt an immense sense of relief as I drove away from its small campus for the last time. I had been anxiously awaiting the summer that was ahead of me: three months of working in a small garden center near my home, hanging out with my high school friends, and lounging on my back porch. I wasn’t going to miss the campus or my friends, and, quite frankly, I was excited to never go back.

Two years and one school transfer later, I can’t believe I ever felt that way. Even though I’m spending my summer living on Marquette’s campus and planning many Milwaukee-centered adventures, I am so sad for school to be ending. I have grown to love my new home and my new community, and it is difficult to imagine a time in my life when I wasn’t a golden eagle.

I’m sad to say goodbye to my professors, to lose the hustle and bustle that comes along with school time at Marquette. I’ll miss my friends that are going home for the summer, and I am admittedly terrified to openly acknowledge that I am entering into my SENIOR year of college.

Yet, despite my case of summertime sadness, I know that I have plenty of great times to come in this upcoming academic year. Senior year, just like my junior year, will be filled with lots of “firsts,” as well as a few “lasts” (to imagine that a year from now I will have finished my last undergraduate classes is INSANE), and plenty of wonderful moments and people to share them with.

Summer, I am ready for you.

The Adventure

58616872By Taylor Gall  — College is stressful.

Why, it was just a few weeks ago that I laid down in the back of my car after observing and listened to the Arthur theme song and shed a tear or two, thinking of nothing but the three papers and two tests I had to study for.

Now, Arthur can only do so much for me. I mean he’s an armadillo and I don’t know if he’s legally allowed to solicit advice to a struggling college student/student worker/board chair/sorority member/student blogger/secret nighttime crime fighter. He was, however, a childhood favorite and was what I wanted in my time of stress.

There comes a point in every college student’s career (or maybe this is a daily occurrence for some) when they are in over their heads. There is always another paper to finish up, another group project to begin, another phone call to make, another friend to call, and another email to respond to. There are mornings I wake up and stare at my ceiling and say:

“OH GOD WHY. THERE ARE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE DOING COOL THINGS IN SYDNEY AND PARIS AND BEIJING, BUT I’M HERE IN MY FLANNEL PJS, FEELING UNDER-PREPARED AND OVERWHELMED. I CAN’T FIND MY LEFT SNEAKER AND HAVEN’T GONE GROCERY SHOPPING IN 2 WEEKS, SO I’M EATING MARINARA SAUCE FOR BREAKFAST.”

There are plenty of days that I question myself as a student and as a young adult. It’s difficult to hear about my friends’ adventures abroad and my peers’ adventures in the “real world beyond college” and not wonder why I’m slaving away in a fluorescent-lit library so that I can write yet another seven page lesson plan that my students might not even like.

There is a big old world out there, and I feel like I am missing out on it. I know for a bonafide FACT that I am missing out on it. There are flamencos being danced and mountains being climbed. There are camels being ridden and adventures being had, but I remain here in my armchair in the College of Education lounge.

But here is the thing that I/we/you need to remember when you get a case of the “missing outs”:

By missing out on THAT, you are able to experience THIS…

-You are able to wake up every morning to a campus of 12,000 students just like you.

-You are able to walk around a campus where people know your name, where there are people who genuinely care for you.

-You are able to live in one of the weirdest and most fun little cities around.

-You are able to be a silly young adult and do things like go on ice cream runs at 3am and hang out with your friends every second of every day.

-You are learning about the world in classes taught by awesome professors.

-You are able to get a great education that will help you change the world one day.

-You have been told a million times and it is true: College is the most unique and exciting four years of your life, so live it up. Enjoy it while you can.

You may not be climbing a mountain (you may just be climbing the stairs in the AMU), but you’re in the adventure of a lifetime and you don’t even know it. Seize your adventure every day, breakfast of marinara sauce and all!

#LikeForLike: Social Media for Educators

GallBladderzBy Taylor Gall — My Instagram is usually blowing up with potential followers (not), so I didn’t flinch when I got a follow request from an account last Tuesday evening.

I briefly scrolled through it, and decided not to follow back because:

  1. I didn’t seem to recognize the person’s name.
  2. They had posted a lot of pictures of basketball players.
  3. And pictures of Ariana Grande?
  4. Wait.
  5. Oh no oh no oh no.
  6. It was one of my 7th grade students from field placement.

I jumped out of my seat at the library and immediately blocked the account, and switched my Instagram to private.

Yes, you heard me: I didn’t have my Instagram on private. Gallbladderz was open for public viewing.

I had never posted anything “inappropriate” on Instagram- there were no drinking pictures, no swears in the captions, nothing that I wouldn’t want my Grandma Judy seeing. Because of the tameness of my account, I had never felt the need to hide it from the world. Additionally, in order to find me you either needed to be my friend on Facebook or know to look up “Gallbladderz” on an Instagram search.

I immediately emailed my cooperating teacher. I didn’t want to breech the student-teacher relationship guidelines, and I wanted to make sure she knew of the situation right away.

Turns out she knew more about the situation than I thought. She herself had several “follow” requests from students.

How can this be? When I was in 7th grade, I had neither desire nor the means to creep on my teachers with social media. The socialization of teenagers is changing, though, and with it has come an increased use of social media.

When I was first using AIM as a 6th grader, I had 14 contacts, all of which were my closest friends. These days, 6th graders have 1,200 Instagram followers and don’t know 80% of them. The internet safety and caution that I knew as a middle school student has gone out the window. Now it’s all about likes, follows and #hashtags.

So the message is to be careful. Lock down your social media accounts; make it hard for your students to find you. Staying separate from your teenagers on social media will maintain your sense of professionalism in the classroom. They don’t need to see what’s being posted on Gallbladderz.

“So You’re Gonna Marry Rich, Right?”

510cdf31f228ce5bfa4af1af509e4396By Taylor Gall — That’s the question that I’ve heard from countless students, family members, peers, and random people at the super market when I tell them that I’m planning on being a teacher after I graduate.

It seems that whenever I proudly announce that I’m majoring in Secondary Education and English, my audience isn’t excited- it is instead concerned.

“Well don’t you know that the pay is really bad?”

                “Oh this is a terrible time to be getting into education.”

                “You do realize that your tuition at Marquette will be more than your yearly earnings, right?”

                “Honey, you’ll just have to marry rich!”

All of these responses send shivers up my spine. If I were focused on making bank in my future career, I would have figured out by now that I need to change my major. I haven’t yet come to understand why people think that discussing my financial future is an appropriate response to me expressing my excitement about becoming a teacher.

I’m not naive. I’m a well-educated 21 year old that isn’t focused on having a pit of gold coins to swim in one day. Instead, I’m focused on entering into a career that I’m passionate about. Sure I’d make more money working as an accountant or as a business woman in a Fortune 500 company, but I’d be miserable. Teaching is something that I’ve always been excited about. I wake up every morning excited to go in to work with my students. I know that as a teacher I’m going to be able to impact countless lives, and that gives me a joy that money could never buy.

This may not be the best time to be going into education.
Extreme testing and recent policies passed in the state of Wisconsin are going to make it difficult for me to become the type of teacher my mother is. I won’t have the same experiences as her, and I will have a harder time moving up the pay scale like she has. But since when has it become acceptable to switch your major just so that you’ll be able to afford a BMW one day? I would rather be happy than own a time share in Mexico.

Marquette’s tuition is higher than many starting teaching salaries.
This is true. But my Marquette education is irreplaceable. I’m getting experience in the Milwaukee Public School System, I’m learning from and working with some amazing professors, and I can’t imagine attending undergrad anywhere else. I’m enrolled in a top notch program, one that I believe will guide me throughout my entire career as an educator.

Additionally, I wonder whether or not men entering into the education field are told they will need to “marry rich”. It is insulting to me to hear others speculate over my financial and romantic future as if they are somehow related to one another. This is the 21st century, people. Let’s start remembering that it’s perfectly possible for a woman to support herself on teaching salary and be happy without having to rely on a wealthy partner. Instead of telling me that I should base my future relationships off of whether or not he’s going to law school, how about you tell me “marry happy” or just to “be happy”.

I’d rather be middle class and happy than wealthy and hating my job.

Overcoming the Middle School Stereotype

A rare photo of me in the 7th grade.

A rare photo of me in the 7th grade.

By Taylor Gall — Middle School was a weird period of my life, filled to the brim with awkward conversations with boys a year older and a foot shorter than me, colorful braces, and a stellar mushroom haircut.

In the 8th grade, my middle school put on “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, in which I played Aunt Polly and had a giant voice crack during my solo in front of the whole school. For the first three weeks of my 6th grade career, I had a bad case of poison ivy, so I was forced to wear giant sweaters during the warmest fall of all time so that no one would see my oozing, rashy skin.

When my friends look at pictures of middle school me, they question whether or not I had some sort of plastic surgery since then. As a summary: grades 6-8 were rough for one Taylor Gall.

I had a lot of friends, I had a lot of fun, but I wouldn’t go back and repeat that part of my life if you paid me (if you offered to pay my tuition, we might be able to work something out). I think that’s why I’ve always dreaded taking Middle School Methods as an undergrad. There was never a part of me that thought I would want to teach middle-schoolers or to bear witness to the most painfully awkward part of their young lives.

On the first day of observing at St. Sebastian middle school this semester, I expected to walk into a boiling pot of emotional girls and hyper boys, arguing and fighting their raging hormones. I assumed they would be unwilling to learn, and wondered if somehow they would be able to see the awkward 12-year-old Taylor I had spent years of repressing.

Turns out, I have never worked with students as respectful, kind, and caring as my students at St. Sebastian. I’ve only been with them for a few days, but they have already took the time to learn my name, ask me questions about my life at Marquette, and they’re already comfortable enough to tell me about their days.

I have sat in on great, thought provoking discussions, viewed their A-worthy projects, and listened to great intelligent conversations after class. Yes, there is drama, and yes, emotions can run high, but everything I once believed to be true about middle school students ahs gone out the window.

Middle school gets a lot of negative hype. There are a lot of untrue stereotypes that we drill into our heads about tweenagers. Middle school is a tumultuous time in a persons life, but it’s also a time of budding curiosity, a yearning to learn, and a perfect mix of an elementary student’s need to please and a high school student’s independence.

I wish I had gone into my middle school placement with more of an open mind, but I’m also thankful that my students have already changed my mind. I look forward to working with them for the next semester, and I also look forward to all of the things they will teach me.


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