Lori Goodson, Editor
Mary Hammel, Technical Editor
Your first year of teaching has been memorable–in ways no one expected. It’s one that you’ll be talking about for years to come, as COVID-19 forced districts to abandon the in-person lessons and switch to a virtual environment.
It sent most of us scrambling to move hands-on activities online, and we didn’t have much time to make that transition. We watched athletic events, proms. and all sorts of other activities canceled for the health of our students.
It was a challenging time, but you did it! You are finishing the year strong–EdCat strong–and you AND your students will be better because of it. You’ve proven to your students that they matter, and you’ll do whatever it takes to help them succeed.
We can’t tell you enough how proud we are of how you’ve handled this one-of-a-kind school year. And we’re so excited your students and the community can count on you during these unusual times.
Thanks for being exceptional EdCats!
The final months of the 2019-20 academic year challenged public education as never before. Overnight, the entire national education system was forced to convert all instruction from our familiar classrooms to distance modes of delivery. Schools and teachers responded heroically to the challenge, reinventing themselves in real time through everything from mobile hotspots deployed in school buses to manila envelopes passed to parents in school parking lots.
Now it is time to pause and reflect on what we have accomplished and where we want to go. What worked well? What could we do better?
While we all hope our K-12 buildings return to pre-COVID operations, we understand we may be called on again to deliver instruction through distance systems, and we have also learned something of the potential of effective distance learning strategies to enhance our schools even when the crisis has passed.
To help schools on this journey, Kansas State University’s College of Education is proud to announce an innovative online summer workshop, The Art of Online Learning and Remote Teaching (June 8-July 16). School leaders and teachers selected to participate will earn $3000 scholarships toward nine credit hours of coursework in online teaching in hands-on, practical applications of powerful technologies to meet the needs of all students. Our expert faculty will work alongside some of the most innovative and creative K-12 teachers and administrators to help participants synthesize what we have learned from spring 2020 so we are prepared for whatever is to come this fall and beyond.
The application process is simple, but we encourage you to act quickly as spaces are limited. This workshop is appropriate for both administrators and teachers, and the coursework this summer can be followed during the school year with a practicum experience leading to a certificate in online teaching. Mostly this workshop will prepare teachers and leaders to return to their schools and guide others. It’s time to move beyond packets of homework distributed in the parking lots. It’s time to unleash the full potential of distance learning.
For more information, check out the website; Online Teaching
We hope to see you online this summer!
ForeverEdCats has started its own Facebook page, providing another great opportunity for you to stay connected with all your EdCat colleagues!
Visit the site at: www.facebook.com/groups/foreveredcats
Leading the way is Marcus Kidd (email@example.com), assistant director of enrollment management and institutional partnerships with the College of Education’s Center for Student Success & Professional Services. A two-time graduate from K-State, he is currently working on his PhD in Counseling & Student Development.
Recruiting future Wildcats to our education programs, he also helps manage the social media for the College–and that’s how this project come about! The ForeverEdCats group was primarily created as a way for alumni from the COE to connect with one another! The College also wanted to create a sharing space–where we can help each other find jobs, share fun things to do in our areas and share some cool things we’re doing in the classroom. It’s also a great space to ask questions of other EdCats.
Please feel free to invite any alumni that have graduated (or will soon graduate) from the College of Education to be a part of this group!
Name: Sarah Marek
After reading issues of Before the Bell, Sarah decided to share her experiences teaching abroad:
I’ve been reading the newsletter for new teachers every time it comes out, and I’d like to add my own contribution! I am teaching in Austria, at a Gymnasium (a high school equivalent that tracks students to university).
I’m teaching in Austria because I received the Fulbright Award to teach English abroad for a year. Although I had the option to renew for a second year, I plan on returning to the US at the end the the school year (in summer). I have accepted a position in Nebraska as a Spanish teacher with the plan to add German next year. I didn’t want too many preps my first year of teaching!
Teaching here has been quite the experience, as our school systems are very different. Around the age of 10, students have to decide what kind of secondary school they will attend – a technical school, a business/tourism school, or one that gets you to university.
Classrooms are considered the property of the students, and each grade can decorate their classroom how they want. Teachers are the ones changing classes each passing period, while the students stay put! That means every teacher is basically a cart teacher! They are more old school than the typical American classroom. It is the norm here to have tables, not desks, arranged in rows, and whiteboards are almost unheard of.
At my Gymnasium, students are very focused on their schoolwork, as in order to go to university, they have to pass what is called the “Matura”- a rigorous test for each subject they want to count for their university admissions. Most have studied English (the subject I teach) since around the age of 7 and are fairly fluent by the time I get to them. I even mistook some for Americans when I first met them because of their lack of accent!
Things are fairly interesting here right now – due to Coronavirus and the proximity to Italy, the government is thinking about closing schools for the near future. Universities are already shut down.
It has been a great experience teaching here, and I will be sad to leave it behind and return to the US after this school year.
We found some of your former Curriculum and Instruction professors and asked them, “As a classroom teacher, what’s your favorite memory from your first year of teaching?” And here are some of their responses.
Dr. Todd Goodson (Secondary English, Speech/Theatre, Journalism) — “My first year was at a very small country school with grades 7-12. The first week I was there, the superintendent came in carrying a Missouri driver’s manual. He explained that I would need to drive the district’s small bus to take students to speech contests, and to do that, I would need a special license. He told me to read through the manual a little bit, and he would come back and watch my classes for me that afternoon while I went to the county seat to take the exam. I’m not sure what would be more intimidating for a new teacher—having the superintendent as a substitute during the first month of teaching, trying to quickly read a book and take a test over it and thinking about how embarrassing it would be to fail, or the sudden discovery the job also included driving buses loaded with students. As it turned out, the test part was a non-issue. I already had a Missouri Chauffeur’s License! Driving high school students to contests never stopped being terrifying.”
Dr. Lori Levin (Literacy) — “I did a Flat Stanley project based on the Flat Stanley books, and my kids sent little flat paper versions of themselves to friends and family around the country and asked for photos or artifacts of the flat child out and about in the community so we could learn about new places. When an envelope would come back to school in the mail, it was the most exciting thing to see what was inside. Teachers still do Flat Stanley units today – it never gets old!”
Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies) — “Being told I was being brought back for year 2!”
Cyndi Kuhn (Technology) — “OH my, when I think about my first year of teaching, I kinda hope no one remembers my name, I think I might have been the only one learning that year. But boy did I learn a ton.”
Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math) — “I remember doing a lot of great projects, including skits and songs. It was a ton of work, but so much fun!”
Kaylee Myers (Elementary Education) — “How much I learned and grew from my kindergartners. Everyday they had something clever or cute that one of them told me. I should’ve written all of those down then!”
Dr. Tom Vontz (Secondary Social Studies) — “Watching students turn in their final exam on the last day of the semester. The final exam was one essay question, yet most of the students used the entire 90 minutes to write out their answer. I was proud of what we accomplished and how much they had learned – not just about history, but about hard work, study skills, organization of ideas, historical thinking, and a host of other things.”
Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism) — “During Parent/Teacher Conferences in October, a parent told me that her daughter loved my class. She said that she and her husband were always excited when their children were placed in a first-year teacher’s classroom because what new teachers may lack in experience, they make up for with fresh ideas and enthusiasm. Her words encouraged and gave me confidence.”
Dr. Tonnie Martinez (Secondary English/Language Arts) — “I was 21 and they were 18—I dressed like an old woman and stayed behind my podium.”
Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education) — “I would say the resilience of my band as we returned home from Indianapolis after 1/3 of the band got food poisoning. This tested a lot of what I had learned in school. Seeing the connection between parents, community, and administration was invaluable and really allowed me to see the profession from beyond the walls of my classroom.”
Despite what some say, teachers have plenty of things to do through the summer–whether it’s teaching summer school to help students catch up on skills or student-free activities such as attending workshops or classes. Here are just a few suggestions to help you make the most of those not-so-lazy, hazy days of summer!
- Be looking for ways to improve your lessons. If you’re teaching the same course next fall, spend some time flipping through your lesson plans. Hopefully, you’ve made some notes and done some reflecting on what worked and didn’t work. Where can you add a new element – a brief video or music clip? How can you enliven your lessons to get your students excited? What activities did they seem to like the most AND learn the most? Revise, revise, revise!
- Look for new resources. The Internet provides an endless amount of options for you, including many that are teacher-tried and trusted. But don’t overwhelm yourself; be selective by focusing on pumping up one particular unit for next year’s class.
- Team up with a colleague (as near as a friend who teaches down the hall to as far away as across the nation, thanks to the Internet). It’ll make planning and revising much more enjoyable!
- Find a workshop or course to take that addresses an area in which you’d like to become a stronger teacher…classroom management, special education needs, technology, etc.
We want to help beginning and early career teachers like you thrive in your career! Check out #WeAreEdCats for teaching tips and to stay in touch with the COE! Check out the website at coe.k-state.edu/edcats.
Why don’t you send us a photo of you at work in your classroom! Or, do you have a question about classroom procedures? A suggestion for a topic we should address in Before the Bell? Want to add your name to our mailing list? Or provide a different email for our list? At the very least, just email and say hi!
And thanks to all of those who have emailed! We love the updates!
Early-career teachers, feel free to jump in and offer suggestions to those who are following your career choice!
We’d love to hear from you, so please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go, COE Cats!