Posts Tagged 'teacher education'

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Elli Pointner

This semester, we’ve been introducing you to our students. Meet Elli Pointner, one of our undergraduate students in the College of Education. And, make sure you check out our entire series on the blog!

IMG_1393My name is Elli Pointner, and I am a junior studying Secondary Education and Mathematics with a minor in Spanish here at Marquette University. I grew up in Winfield, IL, which is a small western suburb of Chicago. I have one sister who is a junior in high school back, and I have two loving parents, Dolly and Scott Pointner, who give me unconditional love and support as I study to become a teacher. I came to Milwaukee my freshman year and instantly fell in love with the city! I am convinced that I am going to be a resident of MKE for as long as I can. The people, the connections, the schools, the lake, the activities, the small businesses, the farmers’ markets, the festivals, the music, the culture—I am in love with Milwaukee!

This semester, I am in a field placement at Riverside University High School in a freshman algebra class. I am so excited to learn more about 1) the Milwaukee Public School System, 2) how to teach Freshman Algebra, 3) different teaching styles that might not be as familiar to me, and 4) the amazing, intelligent students I am working with this semester! Marquette has done a great job of placing me with experts in the Math Education world here in Milwaukee. I have already learned so much from my cooperating teachers, my professors, and non-profits that support aspiring urban teachers, like the Center for Urban Teaching. By connecting me with experts in and outside the field, I am able to observe stellar teaching, debrief with the experts, and then practice new skills in an actual classroom.

This past summer, I taught 8th grade at Milwaukee College Preparatory. The summer was filled with fun, joy, and a lot of laughter! The Center for Urban Teaching summer school program gave me the opportunity to grow as an urban teacher and learn more about my future vocation, and if it weren’t for the College of Education, I would have never heard about this wonderful internship. I had bright and talented students who taught me so much in just five short weeks. My coach presented me with countless new and engaging teaching techniques, and my staff faithfully supported me throughout my journey this summer.

Countless aspects of the College of Education drew me to Marquette. I love that Marquette requires its education majors to double major in Education and a content area. Since my second major is Mathematics, I have had the opportunity to dive into the world of Math and appreciate all it has to offer. Marquette’s College of Education has driven me to enjoy and thirst for learning, not only through its classes and academics, but through professors, mentors, fellow teachers-in-training, and most of all, life-long friends! I love Marquette’s College of Education!

Want to learn more about our Teacher Education program? Head on over to our website for more information– or, even better, come visit us on campus!

As Graduation Approaches, Reflect on the Many Lessons Learned

2475149762_a1aae0c22d (1).jpgBy Amanda Szramiak – One of my favorite things about education courses is that our midterms and finals usually ask us to apply what we have learned over the course of the semester to our professional development. I think this form of assessment is truly beneficial to myself as a student but also as a future educator, as it allows me to reflect on the knowledge and skills I have acquired during my teacher education training and how I can apply it as I pursue my journey into full-time teaching. Here are some of the things I have learned:

Middle School Really Isn’t So Bad
At the beginning of the class, I assumed middle school learners were difficult to deal with, easily agitated, and uninterested learners. For some reason, I had this preconceived notion that middle school learners were the hardest group of students to teach. While I had no reasoning behind these assumptions other than hearing horror stories, I was extremely skeptical about teaching in the middle school grades.

Thankfully, I have learned an immense amount of information about middle school learners and how to teach these specific learners, which has eradicated my previous thoughts about adolescent learners. All learners, at some point, are difficult to teach. Whether a student is having a bad day or they are not understanding the materials, all students struggle, not just middle school learners. This realization allowed me to see my own ignorance. Similarly, there are some days when students are more eager to learn than others, and that is okay.

When I realized this, I concluded that no matter what age I teach, I will have to make sure my students are aware that some days are going to be better than others. I am thankful for my middle school students in my field placement this semester because they have shown me the importance of treating them like young adults. Middle school learners need to know that they are not in elementary school anymore, and I must motivate them to learn and engage in school as the young adults they are.

While my middle school students did confirm that middle school learners can be difficult to deal with at times, I am no longer deterred from teaching middle school because of them. My students were eager to participate in my lessons, and I think we were all able to learn something from each other

The Importance of Social-Emotional Support in the Classroom
Based on my experiences in my classroom and my field experience, I have learned a great deal about aiding the social-emotional support. The five most important lessons, in my opinion, are as follows:

  • Because middle school learners’ brains are constantly developing and evolving, it is imperative to “design lessons that include a full range of sensory experiences, including music, smell, touch, and emotion (“The Young Adolescent Learning,” Saylers and Mckee, p. 2). By incorporating different types of sensory-based lessons, I will be able to keep my students’ engaged and interested in the learning. This technique will also allow me to differentiate for the benefit of all students in my classroom.
  • As a teacher, I aim to “provide competitive learning opportunities, even while holding to cooperating learning frameworks” to ensure the success of my students on a level that surpasses textbook learning (“10 Strategies for Teaching Boys Effectively,” Gurian and Stevens). While this article predominantly addresses middle school boys, middle school girls also benefit from this type of learning because it shows students who are struggling with thinking about how learning has an impact in their outside lives, that the application of their knowledge means something beyond the classroom.
  • Because the middle school learners’ frontal lobe has not developed fully, I plan to incorporate emotion into my lessons because “emotion drives attention and attention drives learning”(“The Adolescent Brain-Learning Strategies & Teaching Tips,” p. 8). By incorporating meaningful experiences and emotions into the lessons, I will be giving my students opportunities to learn by using emotionally-charged messages and phrases to stimulate the amygdala, the storage center for emotion (p. 8).
  • In order to be the most effective teacher, I will ensure that all my students know my expectations because it is absolutely necessary for middle school learners to know exactly what is being asked of them (Taylor and Francis, 2015). Because middle school learners’ attention spans are constantly fluctuating, I plan to make all my expectations of them clear to reinforce the importance of structure in the classroom as well as in their lives outside of school.
  • Lastly, in order to facilitate the socio-emotional growth of my students, I will believe that all students in any type of school can succeed at high levels (“Characteristics of High-Performing, High-Poverty Schools,” p. 2).

Field Experience as Professional Development
One particular course and field placement experience have allowed me to grow as a professional and as a person. The first example of my professional development occurred during my direct instruction lesson plan in which I taught my students how to properly site different types of sources. First, I modeled the examples of different types of citations, and then we began to engage in guided practice. I soon realized that a fair number of students were not completely grasping the differences in citations and were not able use in-text citations.

Since “instruction is modified to accommodate each student’s rate of learning,” I paused. I told my students to continue on with the following citations if they were understanding the material (“Basic Philosophy of Direct Instruction,” p. 2). I re-explained how to properly take information from a sentence and turn it into a citation. This was one of the first instances in which I had to quickly adjust my explanations as well as the lessons, and I think these adjustments enhanced my professional development.

Similarly, in my EdTPA direct instruction lesson plan, I explicitly taught my students the vocabulary words from the two stories we were reading that week. I was intentional in choosing direct instruction because almost ninety percent of my class was receiving basic or minimal scores on all of their vocabulary tests. While direct instruction may not be my favorite type of lesson, I recognized my students’ need for explicit teaching, which highlights my professional growth.

While I think I will forever be improving my classroom management skills, I have been able to develop certain skills over this semester. Fortunately, classroom management has never been an issue in my previous field placements, as my students would simply listen to me. I considered myself lucky for this; however, I knew I needed to develop more classroom management skills to ensure I was a well-rounded and prepared teacher. I was worried about my cooperative learning lesson because my students were easily side tracked when they were able to engage in conversation.

Because of this concern, I made sure to stress the importance for providing individual accountability by telling my students they were each going to submit the worksheet they were completing, even if they were working on it with another student (“What is Cooperative Learning?”). This preplanned classroom management set the tone for the room because it made my students realize that they were all going to have to turn in a completed worksheet rather than just having one student finish all the work.

Throughout all my lessons, I did struggle to keep my students’ attention on me, and I think the classroom management tactic of remaining calm and composed while simultaneously being a good actress allowed me to develop a firmer presence in the classroom (“Seven Things Effective Teachers Do EVERY Day”). In allowing awkward wait times while maintaining a serious disposition, I think my teacher voice grew immensely during my field experience.

 

As I embark on a new journey next fall, I will carry the lessons I’ve learned throughout my teacher education training at Marquette, and will be forever grateful for the professors, cooperating teachers, colleagues, and students who helped shape me into the teacher I am today.

Teacher: An Acrostic Poem for Studying

204073798_14109a55b3By Aubrey Murtha – I’ve been learning a crazy amount of material in my Literacy in the Content Areas and Exceptional Needs classes this semester at Marquette, and as a way for me to review the major concepts I’ve come across thus far, I am writing you a poem.

That’s right. Grab your Kleenex because you’re about to be swept away by my inspirational poetic genius. Ha!

So, are acrostic poems considered the highest form of poetry? Yes? Alright, then that is what I will compose. Buckle your seat belts, kids, because this is about to be profound:

 

“T.E.A.C.H.E.R.: An Acrostic Poem”

T: Teaches students to make real-life connections. After all, what is the use of writing a proof or analyzing Hamlet if students are unable to see how such exercises will benefit them in the long run.

E: Engages students using differentiated instruction.

A: Assesses fairly.

C: Chooses challenging texts for students to read in order to A.) promote literacy through the development of active reading strategies and  B.) help students to better understand the nuances of the content area lesson.

H: Has heart. A teacher is passionate about what he or she does. If you are not demonstrating enthusiasm for your job, you should reconsider your profession.

E: Encourages students to be responsible for their own education by creating a classroom environment in which the students can be teachers, too

R: Reassures students, praises them appropriately when they demonstrate progress or insight, recognizes their potential, and assures them that they can reach that potential.

Why I Love the College of Ed

616517482f8b4b61bb5191a369a52166By Aubrey Murtha – My decision to become a teacher has been, without a doubt, one of the single best decisions I have ever made.  I wholeheartedly believe that teachers are the reason that we are students here at Marquette University; sometime during our youth, some teacher encouraged us to reach for the stars, to recognize our full academic potential, and to explore avenues of intellectual and personal discovery that ultimately propelled us to excel in ways we never imagined possible.  One of our teachers told us we could, and so we did.  And now, we are here studying at this amazing academic institution.

I want to that be that person in a young adult’s life.  So, three years ago, I decided to pursue degrees in secondary education and writing intensive English here at Marquette University.  My main home on campus is the College of Education, located over in good old Schroeder.  Since my first class in the College of Ed, Introduction to Education in Diverse Society with Professor Miller, I have felt the profound connection that my professors have with their subjects.  It takes a very passionate human being to teach young people how to be successful, motivated and effective teachers for Milwaukee’s inner-city youth, and the faculty and staff in the College of Ed have been nothing short of fully invested in our growth and development as blooming new teachers.

In conjunction with these meaningful classroom experiences at Marquette, each one of us teachers-in-training gets several opportunities to complete semester-long service learning experiences, field placements, and eventually, a semester-long student-teaching assignment.  For me, these professional experiences outside of the Marquette community have been invaluable.  Not only have I had the chance to learn from teachers who are effectively teaching groups of students in Milwaukee schools, but I have also been able to develop skills that will enable me to be successful at my student-teaching placement senior year and in the work force following my time here at Marquette.  I am very grateful for the relationships I have made with my students and cooperating teachers and the opportunities I have had to experience different learning environments throughout the city of Milwaukee.

So, I guess this is a thank you.  A thank you to the College of Education at Marquette, to my intelligent professors, to my talented and enthusiastic classmates, to the interesting and dynamic cooperating teachers with whom I have had the privilege of working, and to the sassy 17-year-old reason that I am doing this job–my current crop of students.   I cannot wait to see where this goes, and I am so confident that the College of Education will make sure that I am ready to mold young minds and change young lives.

I am a Marquette Education major.  I am Marquette.

It’s Time for Alternative Certification Programs to be Fined for Quitting-Teachers

3571102858_54d5b5f58c_mBy Nick McDaniels – Every year, teacher employment opportunities in areas served by alternative certification programs balloon after the first month or so of school.

The reason: Teachers, not all of them alternatively certified, quit. The job is hard. The job rarely meets expectations. People, particularly those with other marketable skills, give up. These truths do not change the fact that quitting teachers have an almost impossible to quantify negative impact on a school. It would be hard, of course, to hold individuals accountable for leaving their jobs. The sacrifice of salary and benefits is a pretty harsh price to pay as it is.

But alternative certification programs with robust budgets, much from public dollars, have committed to providing teachers to the areas they serve. They receive funding, sometimes on a per-head basis, for this service. And so when they don’t provide the service, like most government contractors, they should be fined. Such a policy would require contract re-negotiations with these programs.

Let’s face it, corporate darling Teach for America isn’t going to leave the industry just because communities are demanding a service that doesn’t leave kids teacherless by October. The New Teacher Project will have to accept clauses involving fines. Otherwise, they admit their service is an epic failure.

Where would these fines go? Better substitute teacher training, better teacher recruitment, better new teacher support, better retention efforts. In other words, when these programs can’t guarantee quality teachers who do not quit on children, they should have to give some of their funding back to school systems who can try to mitigate the harm.

Until we start holding these programs accountable for their failures, we should not be willing to praise them for their successes. If we are willing to give them our money, we must also be willing to take it away.

Summer Optimism: Basking on the Manic Side (for a change)

By Claudia Felske – I’ve written several times about the fact that teaching is fertile ground for manic depression: extreme highs and lows occur on a daily basis in this profession.

These past few years in Wisconsin education, though, the emphasis has been on the depressive side.

sunSo, as a temporary antidote to this condition and in the spirit of full disclosure that the manic side is indeed currently alive and well (chalk it up to summer optimism or perhaps sunstroke) I shall now blog about two recent occurrences that have offered a jolt of optimism in the life of this educator.

Both relate to my two most recent blogposts:

Last month, in Unintended Consequences: The Gutting of Education in Wisconsin, I blogged about the unfathomable proposal by the Joint Finance Committee to allow, among other things, the licensure of teachers who haven’t even earned a high school diploma.

The manic part? I’m here to report a happy(ish) ending. many thousands of phone calls to local legislatures (thank you) and 37,000 signatures (thank you) delivered to the State Capital, decrying the ludicracy of this measure, seem to have had an effect.

Though the new wording of this measure has not been released, promises have been made to remove language allowing non high school graduates to become teachers, and relegating non-degreed, non-certifiied positions to part time, difficult-to-fill positions. While the measure should be removed in its entirety, the tide has turned, and it looks like the integrity teacher licensure in Wisconsin will, at least for now, prevail.

Secondly, in May, Teacher Appreciation Month, I blogged about ten of my most influential teachers: 10 Teachers Par Excellence: A Belated Appreciation. While writing that post, it was fun reminiscing about all the great classroom moments I was subject to, and it was difficult choosing just ten.

What I didn’t expect (the manic part begins…) was that of the teachers I wrote about, 6 connected with me after reading the post (My 6th grade teacher, 8th grade science teacher, 11th & 12th grade English teacher and 3 of my college professors) sending email replies, grateful for the shout out, and anxious to “catch up,” reminding me of their generous souls, still interested in the education of their student.

But even more manic, imagine my surprise (and manic reaction) when a few weeks ago in late May into my classroom on a seemingly ordinary day walked Mr. Bergener, my 6th grade teacher. “I read your blogpost,” he explained, with an ear-to-ear grin, “I was typing you an email, but then thought, no, I really need to go see her.” 

rick b1So there he was, in my classroom, my beloved 6th grade teacher who I hadn’t seen in 36 years, when he used to be a daily part of my 10-year old life. I had the fortune of being able to thank him in person for the lasting impact he had on me. We reminisced about classroom moments and referenced the challenges of education today.

And upon my invitation, last week, Mr. Bergner and his lovely wife made a guest appearance at my 4th of July family get together, where he completed the reunion with the rest of my family, my parents and three of my siblings, each of whom he remembered in detail. He delighted in learning what we’re up to, caring about us as 6th graders and as adults.

And that, dear readers, not test scores, is the mark of a great teacher.

Thank you Rick Bergner, and thank you Wisconsinites for the wherewithal to make those calls and sign those petitions. Thank you for caring for Wisconsin students.

Therein lies my currently manic state wherein Kindness and the Public Good seem to be in the lead.

Let’s hope it’s a trend in Wisconsin and not just a fleeting moment of summer bliss.

3 Things We Must Admit (and Do) If We’re Serious About Improving Teaching Quality

Image

By Claudia Felske

What prompted such self-indulgent reflection?

What led me to actually create a pie chart about myself!?

The other day, I read a tweet asking for input on accreditation of Teacher Education programs. In it’s “commitment to transparency and public accountability,” the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is “seeking public comment” on their standards for teacher education programs.

“Okay,” I thought, “I have a few things to say about this.”

I took the bait, clicked on their link, and after spending 30 minutes on a labyrinth of online questioning, I had the desire to chuck the shackles of the survey and go rogue, putting in my own words my own thoughts on this topic, an open letter to the CAEP, so here it is:

3 Things We Must Admit (and Do) if we’re Serious about Improving Teacher Quality:

1. We have to admit the Intangibles: Measuring the quality of new teachers based on their Teacher Ed program is fraudulent. (See my self-indulgent pie chart above.) Basing this conclusion on no one else but me (in my defense, I’m the most honest case study available to me), I attempted to quantify  the factors that constitute who I am as an educator.

In good conscience, I can only track about 5% of my expertise to my Teacher Preparation classes. Another 20% to my formal education in general k-12, B.A. M.A.+.  Most of who I am as an educator comes from intangibles: 50% goes to my upbringing, Mom and Dad. It was being raised with high expectations, curiosity, desire to succeed, and an intolerance for mediocrity. I’ll attribute the last 25% to my passion for my subject area (language arts) and my desire to see students succeed. What I realize is that my highly-unscientific self examination undermines the premise of the CAEP Teacher Education Evaluation process. Judging teacher quality based on teacher preparation classes measures 5% of the educator and ignores the other 95%, the all-important intangibles.

2.  We have to attract the Intangibles: If you accept my premise that the most important teacher qualities are the intangibles, then our priority becomes clear: to somehow attract those intangibles into the field of education. To get excellent educators, start with the best ingredients.

We need to attract those with a crush on excellence, an unflappable determination to make a difference, a curiosity bent on incessant improvement. In other words, seek and retain top-notch candidates – the ones that are also highly sought by industry and business. And to compete, we need to pay them an attractive salary (college debt forgiveness makes great sense here too). We need to respect educators, giving them the dignity that befits those who are nurturing the next generation. We need to treat teaching as an art that requires years of practice to achieve an ever-changing “mastery.” A high art, a higher calling, a life well spent.

3. We need to nurture the Intangibles. Once we attract the best and brightest, we need to help them evolve into master educators with an authentic apprenticeship program. We need to identify master teachers currently in the field (National Board Certified teachers, for starters), and then leverage their expertise in an intensive mentor role, allowing new teachers to incrementally evolve into their practice over the course of 2-3 sustained years of intense training under the tutelage of a master teacher.

If we were serious about creating a critical mass of master teachers and making serious improvements in teaching and learning, we’d invest in and insist on such a structure.

  • Admit the intangibles.
  • Attract the intangibles.
  • Nurture the intangibles.

These are not easy concepts to quantify, these are not easy steps to take, but the conclusion of this self-indulgent, case-study-of-one teacher/researcher is that acknowledging and nurturing “the intangibles” would be a far more authentic and productive path to sustained teacher improvement than what’s currently being discussed.

And until such steps are taken, aren’t we all kind of fibbing here? Pretending that we can fatten the pig by weighing it?


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