Friday, November 18, 2016

I Got into the School of Ed and It's Super Exciting!

I was recently accepted to the Early Childhood - Middle Childhood Program in The University of Wisconsin - La Crosse’s Department of Educational Studies. In order to apply, I needed to have a minimum of 24 credits, have completed and passed EDS 203 (School and Society), have at least a 2.85 GPA, and have had received passing scores on the basic skills test. The most common test is the Praxis Core, which is kind of like another ACT, but only for aspiring teachers. It consists of math, reading, and writing subtests. The good news is, though, if you get a certain score on your ACT or SAT, it is enough to fulfill that requirement (so I didn’t have to take it - holla!) If you’d like more information about these requirements, here are some handy links:
The application required that I provide my name, phone number, home address, and a statement on what I hope to accomplish as a teacher. This is something that is very important to think about and will be asked often, including in applications to jobs or schools of ed (wink). In fact, it’s once of the twelve WECAN questions (WECAN is like the common app for teaching jobs in Wisconsin). I always find myself considering what I hope to accomplish as a teacher. With every new education class, classroom experience, attended workshop/presentation/conference, or reflection on my own education, it becomes more refined. So, of course, it is only appropriate that I share with you what I expressed to be my own goals as a teacher.

I could have discussed an overwhelming desire as an educator to meet all of the common core standards for my students' grade level, accomplish each class objective for the year, have my students’ test scores reach exceptional levels, and develop deep personal relationships with each of them - all of which are true! However, my first priority and ultimate goal is to educate young minds and enrich them as individuals during their time in my class. Every child that walks into my classroom has a different mind, is of a different background, and has a different future, and I must adapt to that. I want to do right by my students and leave them a little more prepared, a little better off in life, and filled with a little more knowledge than they were when they first came to me, whether I make it through the entire syllabus or not. I do not want to waste my students’ time, but instead I want them to feel valued and capable. I want them to exemplify competence in and out of the classroom. When my students move on from my classroom feeling more satisfied, confident, and successful compared to when they came to me, then I will have accomplished my responsibilities and hopes as their teacher.

I’m not going into education to be twenty-six eight-year-olds’ bff (though I would be pumped if that was the case). I’m doing it because I value education, the purpose of school, and what can be gained from it, provided students receive a proper experience. When I’m in a classroom I’m there to teach, to be a medium for learning, whether or not the students like it or me; I want to make a difference, even if it’s just a wrinkle of one. I will not be someone who pours knowledge into children’s heads, but I will draw understanding out of my students. School is a place that nourishes cognitive development. At school we gain knowledge, wisdom, social skills, and life experience; we progressively come to understand ourselves - who we are, what we like and believe, and how we can contribute to society. I have every intention of making those purposes of school and branches of knowledge just as much of a priority as knowing how to spell “pedagogy” (not that it will be an expectation that all of my eight-year-olds learn to spell pedagogy, but, you get me).

There is a lot more to be done before I actually get to turn my bark into bite, but this acceptance is one step closer to being able to do so. I am now eligible to enroll in more courses, join more student organizations for future educators, and begin working toward more teacher candidate exams, field experiences, student teaching, and even becoming licensed. As I progress through my program, my goals will inevitably adjust, and my philosophy will be tweaked, and I’m so excited to see how my ideals develop because of this amazing open door!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Some Background on Me

Post Written By: Elyse Bley
Year: Sophomore
Major(s): Early Childhood - Middle Childhood
Minor(s): Spanish

My name is Elyse Bley, and I am a sophomore here at UWL. I grew up in Delafield, Wisconsin, which is about twenty minutes from Waukesha. This is my first ever post for UWL’s School of Education, so, without getting too corny, here’s a little bit about myself: tacos are my favorite food, I’m pretty sure I have a caffeine addiction, dolls freak me out, I worked as a Teacher’s Assistant to K-3 students this summer, and have been a receptionist at a hair salon since I was sixteen. Most importantly, I’m majoring in Early Childhood - Middle Childhood Education with a Spanish minor.

Teaching is the only realistically attainable profession I have ever considered. Before I realized my true calling, I dreamed of being a princess or a superstar, though both would have been ideal. It wasn’t until I was ten-years-old that I really knew what I was meant to do. I went into fifth grade wondering how anyone could possibly choose to go to school for the rest of their life, and left planning which of my teacher’s methods I would carry into my future classroom. So, what changed? I guess I just had a really rocking time in fifth grade! I got straight A’s for the first time in my life, I had some really great friends, and a teacher I revered. Soon, I realized it wasn’t just fifth grade that was wonderful, it was my entire educational career up until that point. One night, in an attempt to spread my appreciation for learning, I sat on my kitchen floor forcing reading lessons upon my younger neighbor. My mom, who had been watching me as she made dinner, later came up to me and suggested the idea of becoming a reading specialist. While I didn’t find that specific path too exciting, it was at that moment that it occurred to me that just like school, teaching wasn't so lame either. Passing years only solidified my future in education. Regular babysitting and working in both a second and fifth grade classroom were not enough to scare me away, but instead fueled the fire.

When the time came to begin applying to universities, I was absolutely terrified of adulthood and responsibilities, and I had no idea what I was doing. I waited until the very last minute before I began blindly applying to schools. I still don’t know what drove me to include UW - La Crosse in my list, but it ended up as one of my top two choices due to its great reputation in the UW System, its location, and impressive education program. After visiting La Crosse, I knew it was the right fit; everyone is so friendly and active, the scenery is breathtaking, and there is no shortage of fun things to do. Between the small class sizes, easy communication with faculty, textbook rental, and so many other resources, it’s clear the school puts a lot into student care. The group of instructors in the School of Education are quick to communicate with one another and their students. I am not a number; my education is individualized, and my career is important.

I am really thankful for all of the opportunities and experiences that have been presented to me in my short time here. Since starting college in the fall of 2015 I have learned a lot about myself and my place in the world. I’ve done loads of volunteering, made some really great friends, and tutored and taught sixth graders after school. I am so proud to be an Eagle (I promise I’m not being forced to say this, I just really love it here) and while I have a long way to go and a lot more to accomplish, I’m so excited to continue studying education and to continue my journey with you all!     

A Little Bit About Me

Post Written By: Elizabeth Greene
Year: Sophomore
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)

Hi everyone! This is my first time blogging for the school of education so I will start out with a little introduction. My name is Elizabeth Greene, but most people call me Izzy. I am a sophomore here at UW-L and a middle childhood-early adolescence major with a teaching English to speakers of other languages minor (TESOL). I am from Brookfield, Wisconsin which is a suburb of Milwaukee. I chose to come to school here for many reasons. For me it was a perfect school. My dad grew up around here, so I have a lot of family in the area, and it is also a good distance from home. The school of education also has a great reputation, and I knew coming into school that that was what I had wanted to go into.

I have always loved being around kids. I regularly babysat, volunteered at schools, and I worked as a nanny so choosing the school of education was an easy choice for me. I have wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, and starting classes here just reinforced that. I have had an incredible experience in the program so far. Last year I was involved in a few different activities through the School of Education. One was through Logan Middle School here in La Crosse. A group of students from one of my classes would plan mini lessons based on what the students were learning and we would spend time teaching and working with the students on their homework. This was a great opportunity for us to be teaching some already in our freshman year. I also had the opportunity to go to the Western Wisconsin Educators Conference. This was another great way for me to get involved in the teaching community early on in my studies. This year I will be tutoring again this time at Hamilton Elementary School, and I am so excited to work with students again. I have just recently applied to the School of Education, and I can’t wait to continue my journey through the program.

I am looking forward to continuing to post about my journey here throughout the semester. I hope that it helps you to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to be at this point in the MC-EA program here at UW-L.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Post Written By: Brett Pickarts
Year: Senior
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): General Science
Hello everyone! This is my first time contributing to the School of Education Blog and I am very excited to share my experiences as a teacher candidate in student teaching. My name is Brett Pickarts and I am a fifth year senior studying Middle Childhood-Early Adolescence Education with a General Science Minor. I am originally from Janesville, Wisconsin which is about thirty miles south of Madison. Deciding on UW-L was an easy choice for me as it was the perfect distance away from home (not too far away to enjoy a home cooked meal), and the incredible reputation that the School of Education has across the UW System and school districts. The School of Education, along with the extraordinary and dedicated university staff, cooperating teachers and advisors, have prepared me to be successful and knowledgeable within many different disciplines and practices in today’s classroom. For that, I am very thankful to write for the School of Education Blog and represent UW-L in the Institute of Urban Education in Milwaukee Public Schools this semester.  
 My work experience with kiddos from Milwaukee at Camp Whitcomb/Mason, guidance from Dr. Ann Yehle, attending the American Middle Level Education Conference in Nashville, and my diverse field experiences, I became interested in becoming a teacher and contributing to urban education. At the first student teaching meeting, Cindy Duley discussed a unique opportunity to participate in a program in Milwaukee Public Schools. At the first chance, with excitement I might add, I applied and was accepted to participate in the program that is conducted by UW-Milwaukee and accepts applicants from the entire UW system. Milwaukee Public Schools is an extremely large district with tons of energy and enthusiasm to serve their students.  After the teacher pep rally at the BMO Harris Bradley Center (where the Bucks play), useful professional development, and meeting parents at an open house I am very enthusiastic on how much I can learn this semester being part of the Milwaukee Public School family. I am enjoying my time at Garland School (Pre K-8) and look forward to sharing more about my new life as a student teacher and a new resident of the great city of Milwaukee.  


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Reflecting on My Semester

Things are starting to wind down. After a semester of projects, papers, lesson plans, field experience, and class discussions, all of us students in the School of Ed are preparing for the end of the semester push. As I finish my last few weeks of regular classes, it's natural for me to reflect on what I have learned this semester. Hopefully, my explanation of my class schedule will give you an idea of what a day in the life of a student in the School of Ed is like, and what you'll learn as a student who takes on a major in education.

I've been taking five classes this semester, and because I'm an English ed major, many of them involve the study of teaching English. First of all, I have Intro to Teaching Writing (ENG 433). It is a three credit class that I go to for 55 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. In this class, I learn the most effective techniques for the instruction of writing. What are the best practices? What about traditional writing instruction is now considered archaic, and what should we do instead? How do we encourage students with writing apprehension to come out of their shell and get their ideas on paper? The answers to these questions help us to become the best writing teachers we can.

Next, I have Creative Writing (ENG 305) on Monday and Wednesday for about an hour and a half. The class name is fairly self-explanatory. We have worked on analyzing and writing short fiction as well as short stories. I've been able to get in touch with my creative mind and do some free writing, which is something I've wanted to do for quite some time. It has also increased my confidence in my ability to evaluate and comment on student writing, which is obviously beneficial for someone who plans to be an English teacher.

Another class that I have is Shakespeare (ENG 363). I go to it on Tuesday and Thursday for an hour an a half. Again, the title of the class gives away its subject, but it too is very beneficial in fostering my future as an English teacher. We have read four or five plays written by Shakespeare, and have analyzed each of them in great depth. As I plan to be a high school teacher, I will definitely be teaching some Shakespeare. Though this class does not have a focus on education, it has taught me what questions to ask, what assignments are effective, and how to structure a class on Shakespeare that is both effective and engaging.

I also have a psychology class this semester. It is Educational Psychology (PSY 370), and is a requirement for all education majors. It meets twice a week for an hour and a half. We have learned about a bunch of different psychological approaches to teaching and learning (constructivism, behaviorism, information-processing theory, etc.). We have also learned about student motivation, learning styles (and the fact that they don't exist!), and different types of intelligence. All of this will obviously contribute to my teaching in a very big way, and it has helped me to narrow down my ideas about what kind of teacher I'm going to be.

Lastly, this semester I am taking Teaching English in Secondary School (ENG 405). This class also meets twice a week for an hour and a half, but this is also my Field II experience class. As part of it, I have been at Logan High School for about 12 hours a week (Tuesday-Thursday for about four hours). I have had to compile a total of 100 hours at Logan this semester, and I have had many invaluable experiences there. I was placed with Ms. Forde at Logan, and we have collaborated on two sections of senior English and one section of junior English. I do a lot of observation there, but I also have had to be up in front of the class quite a bit teaching lessons. It has been very time consuming and a lot of work, but there is no better way to learn to be a teacher than to be "thrown to the wolves." I have been allowed to make mistakes, and I have learned a great deal from those mistakes and even my successes. These are the experiences that really catapult me toward student teaching and my future career as an educator.

Overall, my semester has been the busiest one yet, but also the most productive. It is when I have learned what it will really be like to be a teacher, and I am so grateful for that. Without these experiences, I would not be as prepared as I will be to enter my first classroom as a teacher instead of a student. I look forward to that every day, and these experiences have not hindered my excitement.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

All Good Things

Post Written By: Abi Nixon
Year: Senior
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): General Science

As my time being a UWL student comes to an end, I have been reflecting on all the amazing opportunities and memories I have of being apart of the student body.  It is weird to think that three years ago (yes, I will be graduating in three years), I was a high school senior who was just trying to figure out which college to attend.  There are so many options for college out there, and I am just thankful that I took my time and truly chose the right choice for me.

During my time at UWL, I was able to meet great professors who really cared about me as a learner and a growing professional.  They taught me everything there is to know about the world of education and helped prepare me to be the best teacher I can be.  One pivotal memory I have from my first semester at La Crosse happened in EDS 303 (Fundamentals of Education) with Dr. Thomas.  This class is one of the very first education classes you take as an education major.  One assignment for this class was to write your educational philosophy.  In the paper I wrote, "I hope to be a facilitator of learning and teach my students through discovery.  I want to equip my students with the skills they need to go out and discover the things that they want to learn about."  Looking back at this paper, I can see that these are pure thoughts.  As I graduate and look forward to my future, I want to remember that what I wrote in that first paper is still possible.  Yes, you do have to follow a curriculum and yes, some days are harder than others.  But as a teacher, you have to remember that initial hope you had for your future classrooms and how you truly wanted to educate your future students even from the very beginning of your journey into the profession.  

UWL has also allowed me to participate in many unique opportunities during my time as a student.  I was able to go to WEA meetings and learn about the education world with my peers.  UWL also prepared me to be ready for unique internship opportunities such as working with Breakthrough Twin Cities over the summer and as a WIP Student Teaching Intern.  These experiences in combination with the in-depth coursework I completed while at UWL, shaped me into the educator I am today.

Recently, my student teaching seminar teacher brought up the point that half of new teachers leave the classroom within the first five years.  This may be true, and it is a hard reality that you may get burned out as a teacher.  However, whatever time you spend in a classroom whether it be as a field student, student teacher, or full-fledged teacher is precious to the learners you interact with.  In even a small amount of time, a teacher can have a tremendous impact on their students' lives.  I think this is really what we have to remember.  I am so thankful that UWL was the place were I decided to start my path into the education world, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds!

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Life of an Intern

Post Written By: Abi Nixon
Year: Senior
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): General Science

Well, what an adventure these last few weeks have been!  Last semester, I interviewed and accepted a position as an intern at Humke Elementary.  This means that I have an intern teaching license and am able to teach alone in a classroom for fifty percent of the day.  I am extremely happy with my decision and am really enjoying the experiences I am having through this unique student teaching option.  
When I accepted this student teaching opportunity, I knew I would have to move.  It was hard to leave La Crosse and not spend my last semester of college on campus.  It was even harder leaving my roommates and friends.  I did not really realize how alone you are when you are living alone until I moved into my new place and realized that the next time I would talk to another human being, face to face, would be when I went to school the following day!  It is a very strange feeling, but it is a feeling that I think every person should experience.  It is good to be thrown into a slightly uncomfortable place because that leads to growth.  Plus, between all the social media sites, I am able to keep in contact with my friends. Now, I am very adjusted to living alone and enjoy living in a small community.  Seriously, everyone I have encounter here has been so nice.  My neighbor plows my driveway and everyone waves to each other.  It is so refreshing to feel like you are completely welcomed into a new community.  It is also great to feel completely welcomed into a new school community.  My cooperating teacher and the other teachers at my school have welcomed me with open arms.  
I could not ask for a better group of students to teach.  They are characters, and I have already learned a lot about being an effective educator from them.  My last field placement was in an 8th grade science classroom and moving to 2nd grade has been very interesting.  WIthin the first few days of teaching, I had to really analyze the differences between 8th grader learners and second grade learners (because there are a lot of differences!).  During Week 3 of student teaching, I began to really get the hang of an elementary school day and the progression of learning that happens with a second grader's mind.  I like making top ten lists, so here are my top ten suggestions for new (or upcoming) student teachers to do during the first three weeks of student teaching!

  1. Start that edTPA right away!  Seriously.  Figure out what you are going to be teaching Week 1 and finish that Context for Learning and Planning Commentary within the first two weeks!
  2. Jump in right away!  Ask your cooperating teacher if there is a lesson or activity that you can lead on the first day of your student teaching.  This helps the students get to know you right away!
  3. Reach out and socialize with all the teachers not just your cooperating teacher (although socializing with your cooperating teacher is also very important).  I love all the teachers at my school. I go on walks with my cooperating teacher and another second grade teacher every day at recess.  Socializing with everyone you meet is a great way to get to know people and feel accepted into the school community.
  4. Go to community events!  The third week of student teaching there was a great community fish fry that I went to, and it was great.  What an awesome way to get to know the people who make up the community that surrounds your school!
  5. You are going to feel overwhelmed for the first few weeks.  Breathe.  It will all be okay and you will get the hang of it around Week 3!  There is a lot that gets thrown at you the first few weeks of student teaching.  Student teaching is a lot different than Field 1 and 2.  You are at the school full days and you go to staff functions.  It is great.  Just remember to breathe and find ways to balance your life.
  6. Ask your cooperating teacher why they do what they do.  Your cooperating teacher is a wealth of information.  When they do something, ask them why they choose to do what they did.  They have tons of resources to offer, so absorb their information.
  7. Get involved with lesson planning.  If your cooperating teacher lets you, plan lesson plans with them.  It is a great way to get the feel for the academic progression of your class.
  8. Take advice and use it!  Your university supervisor and cooperating teacher will give you advice and feedback about your teaching.  This feedback should not go through one ear and out the other.  It should be put into practice!
  9. Don’t be afraid to contribute your own ideas!  One of the best parts of student teaching is you are treated as a professional.  It is so much fun to share your ideas and have other teachers like and use your ideas.  Think about what you can offer to your school and share your strengths.
  10. Have fun and live in the moment.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, so treat it as such. Engage with the students and put your heart and soul into your teaching.  Learn all you can, laugh and have fun.