Tag Archives: education

TED Talks Education







TED Talks Education | New Faculty


TED Talks Education | New Faculty


PBS ran TEDTalksEd last night. It got me all fired up in so many good ways. I simply love education and have had the good fortune of fantastic teachers and mentors in my life. None of these folks stuck to the curriculum. None adhered to the test or mandates. All of them made a profound impact on me. I was blowing up twitter last night too while I watched this. I share the collective thoughts of the show in tweets.

TED Talks Education | New Faculty


For the first time in my career in education, I would not want to send my own child to public school and it’s not the fault of the teachers in that building, it’s the mandates from state and government that keep coming down, testing them to death. I work with phenomenal teachers every day who want to throw the test out of the window and go back to problem based, inquiry based, and learning through ‘failing’ in the protected sense that it’s school, the perfect place to make mistakes. By teaching our kids they can’t fail in school, we are teaching them NOTHING about real life. We are FAILING THEM every day.

TED Talks Education | New Faculty


Learning doesn’t end when the last bell rings. Learning should extend into the afternoon and evening. Our culture has grown to say that “school should take care of everything” and it SHOULD NOT. Is everyone doing a “bad job?” Hell no. But being a slave to a test, living in fear of getting fired based on a test score, and working on raising young adults is too much for our teachers as a whole. The retention rate has decreased from seven to five years for a reason and it’s not because the health insurance benefits have changed.

TED Talks Education | New Faculty



As part of teacher appreciation week, this was well timed and poignant to me as an educator, especially since I finished meetings at 9:30 p.m. last night and got home right as this program began. It had me all excited and I didn’t sleep well, side effect of passion I suppose! ūüėÄ Below is my list of educators and mentors that have nurtured me along the way.

My parents: the people who taught me what love and discipline are. They taught me how to give selflessly to others (and other things like animals) before I gave to myself. This quality has served me well until recently, when my boss keeps telling me to be less generous with my time. They raised me to be tough, to not take shit from anyone unless I was being a shit first, and to think clearly and carefully about my choices in life. While I haven’t always done this, I usually have gotten around to it at some point. I remind my parents that I won’t “get rich” with money by being in education, but the payment of hearing and seeing my former students live, learn, make mistakes, and accept challenges is a pretty amazing reward.

My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Bandlow. Half day kindergarten was amazing. I remember playing, using my imagination, and learning how to read, count, and socialize with my peers. I remember cookies and milk were always the snack and if I played my cards right, I got chocolate milk. Mrs. Bandlow was always so kind, she taught me how to read, how to use phonics, and how to play the best ‘play house’ anyone could ask for. Half day kindergarten was where it was at circa 1985. And don’t you forget it.

My former teacher, Mr. Osterhout. He and I spent some time together. He was always there with the peanut m&m’s and a coke if the day had gone poorly. As an FFA advisor, you spend time with this person. You shape each other and they stay with you for life. Mr. O was a former football player with a temper, but also had a kind heart. His gentle pushes nudged me into leadership, teaching me how to command a room with my voice and¬†presence, increased my knowledge and awareness of the world around me, and he helped me travel. By winning and competing in the FFA, I was afforded countless opportunities to travel.¬†¬†The contributions he made to our community surpassed anything that could have been done by one human and for all of his flaws, he never stopped caring.

The JOUR faculty at Morrisville State College. I also like to call this: “where I got a REAL education” because it was all hands on, classes were tiny, and you bet that these faculty got up in your grill if you weren’t walking the line. Brian, Neal (mrs. bandlow’s husband incidentally) and the rest of the crew pushed me to be a better writer, helped me land jobs, and gave me the practical education that I rely on almost every day. My AP style is probably still off and my editing skills are lacking, but the intangibles like watching the “breakfast club” and hanging out in the studio were priceless.

Finally, my phd adviser, who became my friend in real life. Boy, she put up with a lot from me and I still call on her to this day for her friendship.

Who would you give your appreciation to this week?

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I Once Knew A Guy Who Failed His Prelims

Prelims | New Faculty


Back in grad school, I settled into my 7-10 p.m. class on a cold February night in a drafty classroom that had most of us in our winter jackets. The prof started out by asking how everyone was, how their week was, etc… to get warmed up and a guy in the class raised his hand. The prof gestured to him and he said, “I failed my prelims today and my committee recommended I find something else to do, what does that mean?”

And then there were crickets. I think even the prof had to take a few seconds to gather some thoughts. Not expecting a bomb like that, but rather something like, “my kitten climbed the curtains” or “i saw that new movie” took a moment for everyone. The prof gathered up his gumption and said he was sorry and that perhaps, grad school isn’t for everyone. He then asked the man to meet one-on-one during the class break so as not to totally traumatize anyone (including the prelim bomber) anymore. The guy was totally devastated. He was on the verge of tears.

It came out later on that several things had led up to this time and place: his adviser had warned him that he was NOT ready to take his prelims. His adviser told him if he pushed and insisted, the outcome would ultimately not go on the ‘passing’ side of the fence and he would be setting himself up. The grad student felt pressure because his wife was moving along in her program faster and in his culture, women were NOT to outpace men at ANYTHING. This led to major insecurity on the grad student’s part and hence, the big push. The adviser told the grad student that if he insisted on pushing his prelims and failed, he would likely be asked to reconsider his life choice and re-evaluate grad school as a whole. The grad student was given warning.

As a faculty, it can be hard to contain you, oh noble grad students. You are beyond intelligent, but also beyond ignorant. You have this chip on your shoulder that we do not understand, no matter how hard we try. We were even you, but yet we do not understand. And that’s usually ok. Until you act like this guy. Then, we run out of empathy, understanding, and patience very quickly.

LISTEN TO YOUR ADVISOR. Even if you don’t like it. Especially on things like this. We’re usually not wrong. We’ve worked with your committee members. We know your skills and writing abilities. We know if we’re going to have to carry you like an infant child in one of those backpacks or if you’ll bust out and shine. Don’t do what this guy did. Even if you’re thinking, “my adviser cancels our meetings and it doesn’t look like he/she reads my stuff” we at least are skimming enough ¬†and talking to you to know whether or not you’re ready to talk the talk and form some ideas and opinions on what we’ve asked of you. We’re not trying to be the “big, bad wolf” to your “little red riding hood” grad student nature, we’re trying to help you NOT set yourself up for failure. Promise.

Trust us enough to not be too pig headed and stubborn. Don’t be like this guy. I never heard or saw him anywhere after that course ended and I think he dropped it before the end of the semester, although I can’t remember anymore. No matter what his reasons were for pushing so hard to take his prelims that he failed himself by not being prepared and listening to adviser, he should have known better.

Is grad school for everyone? Absolutely not. He might have not finished for 100 other reasons and this may have been his advisers nudge. We will never know. The big take away here: listen, trust, and sometimes, it’s ok to know yourself well enough while other times, put your grad school faith in your adviser. There are cases when the advisor/student relationship is also bad, leading to conflict in many areas, and an unhealthy ending to grad school. Know yourself. Sometimes, grad school is not your calling and that’s ok too. I know you’ll be successful, even if it’s not in the world of academia.

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What Are You Passionate About?

What Are You Passionate About? | New Faculty


What are you passionate about? Why do you get up each day (besides that meaty paycheck) to go to work? It’s the middle to the end of a semester for all of us. No doubt, fatigue has set in and we’ve gone from ‘cruise mode’ to ‘survival mode.’ Please tell me it’s not just me…..Bueller? I thought it might be wise to spend a post sharing what I love because it can be really easy to get a bit down in the dumps at this point in the semester…..

I love watching people learn. Young or old, it’s still this magical, intoxicating drug to me. It’s my passion. I’m a teacher, a practitioner. It doesn’t matter if I’m teaching my mom how to use her iPad or watching a sixth grader discover they CAN figure out how to make a solar panel work with a small motor, the feeling that washes over me is the best drug. No amount of melted cheese or new shoes replaces the feeling I get.

I’ve spent a lot of time on this blog thinking about the problems in academia, the issues and stressors we place on ourselves as educational professionals, so this week, I want to spend a post thinking about what I just can’t get enough of about my job because not only am I grateful for it, I love my work. An Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post got me thinking about this after the author discusses his trials of being on faculty at UVA after the summer sparked such¬†controversy¬†at the university.

“So, to my university‚Äôs Board of Visitors, President Sullivan and Dean Everyone, I‚Äôd like to offer this reminder: The way my students learn has nothing to do with ‚Äústrategic dynamism.‚ÄĚ It has everything to do with being in a place that gives them the space, time and luxury to think. We should not forget the events of the summer, but neither should we forget, in the name of progress, all that has worked so well for so long.”

I highlight the sentences above because I think that universities have forgotten why students come each year. Not only is it the chance to gain experience, attend classes, swim in new pools, or attend other campus events, but it’s to stretch the mind, to drink some ‘grow up juice’ and offer them the time to think about their individualism and who they are and will become as they age. The first 18 years of their lives are scripted by parents, families, social-norms, and standardized tests. College should not be more of the same. I realize it’s a business, but the faculty that I have had the good fortune to encounter love the art of TEACHING, of stretching the minds of their young scholars, of engaging in weighty conversations, even if it does make some uncomfortable, and working along side their students to get them to form individual thoughts, begin to look at their own identity, and encourage them to keep reaching. It’s NOT to plug another laptop in, arm wrestle over expense reports, and get inundated with enough emails to drown a small child.

Why do I stick with it? I see it. I see those teachable moments. I have the courage to continue through reduced funding, poor budgets, and a low salary. I don’t teach for the money, I never have. I teach for the students, young and old. Each week, I have the good fortune of seeing students learn. It doesn’t look like much to the passerby, but to me, it looks like potential. It looks like the future. It looks like a step above poverty. I see the parents of my students once a semester. I hear them thank me, but it’s not me, it’s their child and their foresight to enroll their child in the after-school program I run. Yes, we collect lots of data, it’s federally funded, but we also teach. The students understand that one must happen in order for the money to keep coming. At their young age, they understand what an enormous opportunity they have because so many of their peers don’t have the same opportunity.

I love learning. I love teaching. I’m so fortunate today to have a job that allows me to do both. It makes me sick that funding for educational grants is being cut because our leaders in Washington can’t get out of their own way and do their jobs. My job won’t last forever, the funding will end and I will go elsewhere. But today, I cannot be grateful enough for my professional identity. I invested my career in education over a decade today and in a decade from now, I hope to be engaged with teaching and have the same passion.

What do you love about your professional career? What are you passionate about?

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Dear Arne Duncan, Let’s Talk

Dear Arne Duncan | New Faculty

Dear Arne Duncan,

I’m an educator. And I’m having a helluva time these days. I spent my years in the public sector of education. I pursued my terminal degree in the name of the student (trust me, i’m not getting rich, in fact, can we also talk about the student loan program too?), and I’m drowning. I’m not alone and I think it’s time for you and your colleagues in Washington to ante up and start listening. Another standardized test isn’t listening, it’s crap. I believe that every child can learn. I respect you, the President, and education, but I’m having a helluva time slapping on my smile every day. Let me elaborate:

I feel uncertain for a variety of reasons these days. I think my 30’s have me coming to terms with the fact that I am disposable. No, this is not a self-deprecating¬†post at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. As we look at the changes in the economy, the diminishing funding for higher education and education as a whole, and then pair that with the fact that many of my readers have invested their passion, their love, and their careers in educating students and investing in our youth, it’s hard not to feel disposable. This also adds onto the fact that our parents don’t teach their children to respect education and our public school teachers are coming under increasing pressure to “do it all” from educate to teach manners, respect, discipline, and in some cases–all out combat, to ‘do their jobs’ each day. It’s truly becoming exhausting for all of us.

To play my own devil’s advocate, perhaps we had become too comfortable. Perhaps a little stress is good. A little uncertainty keeps us on our toes and striving for greatness (if you will) in many cases. But lately, it’s gone past stress for productivity and seems more and more like we’re all first year teachers in “survival” mode every day. It’s not rewarding, it’s soul sucking. The “teachable moments” are becoming farther and fewer in between, and some of the joy has been sucked out. We don’t support education or its’ educators anymore. We don’t mentor young teachers, we give them more work, we give them more bubble sheets, we give them no respect. Higher ed is pushing for massive numbers of students but getting rid of faculty to teach, conduct research, and simply saying “teach more, advise more students, we’re building more dorms, and while you’re at it, get us a grant so we can take over half of it back in overhead.” I know they don’t say it like that, but they say it. My campus is pushing to add 10,000 more students over the next five years and they’re proud they’ve decreased the number of TT track faculty by 40% as a result. Adjuncts (who do the ultimate work) will fill those roles with no certain futures and will fly by the seat of their pants each semester based on enrollment. Don’t you want all faculty from TT to adjunct to worry about great teaching instead of the next grant, the next paycheck, or if they’ll get fired because their sections aren’t filled to capacity?

To sum it up: this is intolerable. We need an educated workforce to do the 21st century jobs but no one wants to pay or can afford to train them. Employers don’t have the manpower or infrastructure to train all of their own employees and they simply don’t want too. Universities are losing ground and funding quickly, competition for grants is increasing ten fold, and each election season brings more stress and anxiety as a result. Public education (pre-k-12) has become a massive sinkhole and our students, our children, our future–are paying the price. We have great teachers in those buildings but they are ruled by tests, SOL’s, and bubble sheets. They no longer teach, they test. They no longer inspire, they memorize. They no longer have passion, their retention is down from seven years to five years at most before our system burns them out and they look elsewhere for work. I’m one of those burn outs. I cared so much that I exhausted myself in five years. I sacrificed my marriage because of my passion and I paid the ultimate price. It was my choice, but the notion that I had to give every last drop I had did not just come from my innate sense of love for students, it came from my students’ parents, my administrators, and the standards that your office and my state government sent to my school.

I challenge you today, to start thinking about education in our country differently. You claim to see it every day. You say you have your hand on the pulse. You claim that job skills are important but there has been nothing done to educate our students on how to handle themselves professionally. Schools are giving out “top bubble sheet” awards. ¬†Arne Duncan, if you ever read this post, call me, email me. Send me a fb message. Pull out your big data and let’s talk. I promise I can hang with the lingo. I do “big data” and I’ll tell you that the majority of our profession (including your office) doesn’t look at big data the way its’ meant to be read. Let’s talk students. I’ve taught the “rich kids” and the kids whose parents won’t buy their kid glasses because they’re too much money. Let’s talk workforce. Let’s talk CTE and the arts. I love them both. A child should be educated holistically to learn that each subject area compliments another and they’re not separate entities. Let’s stop racing to the top. It’s setting our kids and teachers up for failure. Education is not a race, it’s a marathon. You should know that. I know my colleagues and I do.

Let’s hang Arne. I’ll buy the coffee.

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