Kansas State University


College of Education

9 EDCATS receive Horizon Awards

Nine of the 32 first-year Kansas educators recently notified by the Kansas State Department of Education as the 2019 Kansas Horizon Award program are EDCATS. That’s nearly 30 percent of the entire group, but we’re not surprised!

The 2019 Kansas Horizon Award recipients were announced Jan. 8 by the Kansas State Department of Education (KSDE). Check out the news release here.

They’ll be honored during the Kansas Exemplary Educators Network State Education Conference on Feb. 15 in Topeka. Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson notified them of the honor.

Here’s the list of EDCAT winners. Be sure to congratulate them for continuing to help EDCATS lead the way in classrooms across the state!

Macy Anderson Pickman
Meredith Clark
Abigail Buser
Payton Scheer
Abigail Baeten
Joe Hubener
Alicia Torr
Hannah Taylor
Kadra Boulware

Let it snow! You’re ready for it!

person walking in the snow
Bluemont Hall decorated by a winter snowfall.

Snow days bring their share of questions and hassles, as students and adults alike are asking: Will school let out early because of the snow? Will we have school tomorrow? And, for you, the teacher, just how do you adjust your amazing lesson plans?

Keep these things in mind as you experience your first snow days:

  • Be ready for interruptions. You may have more tardies and absences, since students may not be able to get to school on time. Understand that that is a possibility and know that you’ll probably need to help tardy students get back on track with the rest of the class.
  • BE FLEXIBLE! Your daily calendar and lesson plans can fall victim to the weather. Remember that it’s truly no one’s fault (unless you want to blame yourself for not taking that teaching job in Hawaii). The calmer you deal with these changes, the calmer your students will respond, as well.
  • Expect your students to be more excited and bubbly–as they wait to hear an early release announcement or as they come back to school after a snow day and want to discuss what they did on their day off. If it’s a real problem, alter your activities to include more desk work, which should keep your students a little calmer.
  • Take advantage of the season, if possible. If your students are excited about the snow, try to alter your assignments to make the most of it. For English class, can you work in some winter poetry? Or snow images for art? How can you work in a brief study of weather in one of your classes? Check out this website: Snow Day Resources
  • Have “extra” but meaningful assignments prepared to keep students focused. If they’re bubbling because of the weather, don’t be surprised if they fly through the regular activities and you need to supplement. Down time and snow days aren’t a good combination!
  • Take a few minutes to simply enjoy the fun spirit that a new snowfall can create! You have a front-row ticket to possibly the best place there is to experience the world: Your classroom.
  • If and when you DO get a snow day, enjoy! Cozy up to a hot chocolate, a good book, or some binge-worthy TV time. Don’t let your students have ALL the fun.
  • And, finally, if you’re hoping for a snow day, don’t post that wish on social media. Parents want teachers to be excited about having their kids in the classroom–not looking for a way to escape! Snow days, like most things, will happen when they happen.

In the Classroom: Andrew Scherer

Andrew Scherer is enjoying his new teaching position with Lyons USD 401.

Name:  Andrew Scherer

School district: USD 405 Lyons

City/State: Lyons, KS

Class/content area taught: 6-12 band

What you are most excited about with your new career: I’m excited that I get to teach my entire 6-12 band program in my own style, and that every year I teach a new class of 6th graders, the program becomes more of what I want it to be.

What you enjoy most about teaching: I enjoy hearing and watching students successfully apply what I’ve taught them. I love moments like seeing them adjust their intonation without me saying anything in class. I enjoy individuals’ reactions when they play something well that they’ve been struggling with for a while. Teaching middle school is difficult, but I enjoy helping them develop into proficient musicians and being able to have fun and make good music by the time they’re in high school school. I enjoy watching them adopt my work ethic, energy, and passion for band.

Ways your school/district has supported you: My administration is very supportive in every way I can think of. They support all my decisions, they allow me to experiment when things aren’t working, and they trust me as a professional educator. We changed the scheduling for all three of my middle school bands after my first year. Whenever there is a conflict with a parent, they always have my back.

Ways KSU especially helped prepare you for your new career: Being in the KSUMB, particularly as a Section Leader, helped me develop my motivational and leadership skills, as well as my outside rehearsal voice. My Aural Skills classes were crucial for developing my ear and my ability to confidently sight-sing lines of music in front of students. Being in so many ensembles (KSUMB, Cat Band, Wind Ensemble, Brass Ensemble, Brass Quintet) with quality directors, gave me a rich amount of experiences to draw from. Playing secondary instruments in University Band helped prepare me to model all the instruments in front of my students, which I do a lot every day. Lastly, conducting in University Band and being coached by a grad student improved my conducting and rehearsing skills massively.

Specifics about your background that make teaching the perfect fit for you: Not really. My siblings are both involved in either music or teaching, so I suppose we were raised in an environment to encourage those.

Suggestions/encouragement for new teachers:

  • You don’t know enough, and you’ll never know everything, but try to learn every day. Never stop learning.
  • Learn to play all the basic instruments at least at an 8thgrade level!! Also, learn alternate fingerings and the nuances of intonation for each instrument.
  • Always be the most energetic person in the room. If your tired or cranky, fake an energetic mood, and it will soon turn into real energy (fake it ‘til you make it).
  • Don’t be afraid to be yourself and be weird in front of your students. Middle and high school students love that.
  • There’s probably a 99% chance the first year will suck. Learn from your countless mistakes and move on.
  • Have a solid behavior management system and apply it consistently.
  • Seek advice when you need it!
  • Ask questions and document the answers!


Custodians and office assistants…your new BFFs

In case you haven’t made the connections yet, two of your new best friends should be a custodian and an office assistant. Rumor has it those individuals can save you a mountain of trouble by helping you figure things out in your new school. With bad weather moving in, all sorts of spring activities that will be bubbling up, and other happenings, they can provide advice to help you manage all of these things.

Rumor has it a custodian once saved a new teacher when she found out that her room was going to be used for a music festival. The custodian not only gave the teacher a heads up about it, but walked to her room and helped her arrange her room to avoid any issues with equipment, etc. Not naming names here, but I truly appreciated it!

Often they’ve been in the building for some time and know the system, so use…and appreciate…those resources.

Colds and flu…headed your way

snow, boots and mittensIt’s official! Winter has arrived and will be sticking around for several more weeks! Here are a few suggestions to keep you warm, happy, and teaching through the winter months:

  • It’s cold and flu season, so watch out for those germs! Use disinfectants on door knobs, often-used items around the room, and anti-bacterial lotion for your hands. Keep boxes of facial tissues on hand, as students will go through them quickly. (It might be a good time to request a few boxes from parents.)
  • Messy weather also brings messy items into your classroom. You’ll have snow and slush tracked in, so be ready for spur-of-the-moment clean ups. Throw a few old towels and a roll of paper towels into your storage closet.
  • Cold weather also means more winter coats, hats, mittens, and other gear to keep track of and store through the day, so develop a system that allows easy access for recess or at the end of the day, yet keeps them out of your day during class time. (Need some ideas on that? Check with your hallway neighbor to see what he or she does.)
  • Allow extra time for bundling up younger students! Parents and guardians will appreciate that you spent that extra time making sure their children were protected as they head to a school bus or walk home.
  • For your own well being, be sure to layer your clothing, since schools often can shift from too cold to too warm on a day-to-day basis. Store an extra sweater or jacket in a closet just in case.
  • Allow yourself extra time to get to your school. Sacrificing a few extra minutes of a morning can save you time by helping you avoid a fender-bender…and a visit with the police…and a visit with your insurance agent…well, you get the idea.

Once you get your winter system in place, you can fine-tune it and slush through whatever winter has to offer!

Need a little inspiration? Faculty members offer suggestions

resourcesHere are some books and other resources some of your former professors offer as ways to inspire you in your new career of teaching:

Dr. Brad Burenheide (Secondary Social Studies)—

  1. First Days of School by Harry Wong and Rosemary Wong
  2. Meet Me in the Middle by Rick Wormeli
  3. Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement by Ceri B. Dean, Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, Howard Pitler, and BJ Stone.

Dr. Todd Goodson (Secondary English, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)—“Let’s try three great school movies:

  1. Dead Poets Society (1989)
  2. Mr. Holland’s Opus (1996), and
  3. Stand and Deliver (1988)
  4. For extra credit, try Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939).
  5. For comic relief at the end of the school year, try Teachers (1984).

Dr. Lori Levin (Literacy)—

  1. “Bookmark the ALA website and keep current on the latest award winners – http://www.ala.org/alsc/2017-alsc-book-media-award-winners
  2. Visit NEA for a list of must reads for new teachers: http://www.nea.org/home/34033.htm
  3. Great Websites for Kids from the American Library Association – http://gws.ala.org/

Ms. Cyndi Kuhn (Technology)—

  1. Teach like a Pirate by David Burgess
  2. Ditch that Textbook by Matt Miller
  3. Good to Great by Jim Collins

Dr. Sherri Martinie (Secondary Math)—

  1. The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer
  2. Teaching with Love and Logic by Jim Fay and David Funk
  3. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Dr. Tom Vontz (Elementary Social Studies)—

  1. Socrative
  2. Padlet
  3. Core Teaching Skills by Vontz and Goodson

Dr. Vicki Sherbert (Secondary English/Language Arts, Speech/Theatre, Journalism)—

  1. Kittle, P. (2013). Book love: Developing depth, stamina, and passion in adolescent readers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  2. National Writing Project & Nagin, C. (2006). Because writing matters: Improving student writing in our schools. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.
  3. Graves, D. (2006). A sea of faces: The importance of knowing your students. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
  4. Ripple Maker by Davis Laughlin
  5. In Defense of Read-Aloud: Sustaining Best Practice by Steven Layne

Dr. Phillip Payne (Music Education) —

  1. First Days of School by Harry Wong or Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones
  2. The Journey from Music Student to Teacher by Michael Raiber and David Teachout
  3. Alternative Approaches to Music Education by Ann Clements

I’m waiting to hear from you!

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What’s up?

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!

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 lagoodson@k-state.edu.

Go, COE Cats!

Coming up…

februaryLook at the calendar! You’re shifting into second semester and life is good, right? Well, just in case you need a little cheering on–and maybe a smile or two, we’re going to provide the following stories in our next issue:

  • Assessments—how you AND your students can succeed!
  • Silly first-year teacher mistakes your professors made.
  • Ideas for collaboration with other secondary teachers.