Tuesday, October 28, 2014

August 5th New Teacher Workshop

On August 5, TPI hosted its second workshop to get new teachers and SCSU Graduates ready for their first positions. “Ready, Set, Teach: Tools for Success,” hosted attendees from all six Partner Districts and other P-12 locations where our graduates secured positions. The participants were greeted with networking, a Padlet collaboration activity, food, and refreshments.

After a welcome and introductions, Karlye Barron, third year teacher at Sartell-St. Stephen, shared her positive outlook and enthusiasm for teaching. This was followed by the first presenter, John Reeves, a high school teacher in Monticello. John captivated the audience with his interactive presentation on building relationships-“The Heart of Teaching.”  John’s message was that knowing and loving our students is the foundation of teaching.

Building the theme of relationships, Michelle Raml, middle school teacher in Sartell-St. Stephen, presented on classroom management, the top concern of new teachers. Her presentation, Making the Invisible Visible: The Art of Classroom Management,” offered new teachers and graduates time to reflect on relationships, organization, procedures and expectations.

Following both of these presentations were opportunities for participants to network in groups according to the level they teach. Facilitated by veteran teachers and SCSU faculty members, they made meaning of what they learned and created an implementation plan for their new classroom.

After lunch and socializing, the new teachers participated in an “unconference” where they could choose the topic they wanted to talk about in groups that were facilitated by experienced educators. After door prizes and a readers’ theater, they were off to start planning for their first year of teaching, hopefully energized and ready to start a career in teaching and making a difference for students!          

Friday, October 24, 2014

Learning from the Experiences of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs)

Learning from the Experiences of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HCBUs)

John Hoover

On October 9 I attended a conference in St. Paul entitled Learning and teaching with fire and subtitled Lessons from HCBUs & tribal colleges. The conference was jointly sponsored by Grotto, Target, General Mills, the Cargill Foundation, the United Negro College Fund, the African American Leadership Forum, MIGIZI Communications, St. Paul Indians in Action, and the Center for School Change. The latter organization organized the conference, held at the Wellstone Center in St. Paul.

While all of the conference presentations were excellently informative, in this posting I want to stress the factors from HCBUs that statistically related to the success of African American students from low SES backgrounds. Among these young people, the historically-black universities succeed at rates higher than all other types of institutions except for the most prestigious universities (e.g., Yale, Princeton, Harvard, Cal et al.). 

I wanted to take the approach of pulling apart these findings because both of the morning speakers persuasively argued that there are lessons to be learned from their experiences with implications for secondary and post-secondary schools in Minnesota. I have organized the remainder of the blog entry as a table, with a brief statement of the main points occupying a column, an expansion of the topic in the middle, and references at the end that readers might find useful in their own readings.

The information in this posting was provided by the following experts:

·       Dr. Brian K. Bridges, Vice President of Researcher, and Member Engagement Coordinator, United Negro College Fund

·       Dr. Ivory Toldson, Deputy Director, White House Initiative on HCBUs

Table 1. Findings re HCBUs with implications for SCSU and partner districts.                                     

Expansion on Principles
References & Resources
HCBUs are extremely successful at retaining African American students
When one controls for SES and high school quality indicators, HCBUs are as successfully retain and graduate African American students, particularly Black males, at rates higher than nearly all other U.S. Institutions. This is true especially in STEM domains; enrolling only about 20% of AA college students, they issue 16% of baccalaureate degrees, while producing 40% of STEM degrees; they train about half of Black teachers, and are among the top 20% of American institutions at sending students on to STEM advanced degrees.

Expansion on Principles/ Implication for SCSU and the Partnership
References & Resources
Relationships, relationships, & more relationships
Research has shown that at HCBUs higher rates and intensities of student-faculty interactions and mentoring occur. These differences have been shown to correspond to the decisions of students to remain in college and to complete degrees. HCBUs hire faculty members with very high expectations regarding the time that they will spend individually with students.

Employ intrusive or protective advising
Bridges demonstrated that faculty members participate in what might be called intrusive advising, taking personal responsibility for the success of individual students. While appreciative advising is clearly goal-directed, it also extends to personal relationships with students. Faculty members “intrude” into advisees personal lives more frequently and more intensely than is true at traditional universities. This practice is associated with candidate success.

Promotion of engagement based on culture
Faculty members at HCBUs are expected to remain aware of African American culture and to bring this knowledge differentially to bear on instruction and advising (see intrusive advising above). Several examples from secondary schools could be benchmarked by partner districts including Chicago’s Urban Preparatory Academies, and Knowledge is Power Programs, both of which have successfully build programs around African American cultural patterns. Another often-repeated phrase regarding planning with cultures was “do with us, not to us.” One suspected reason for the relative success of HCBUs was that they build environments where African American students feel supported and comfortable. Can traditional secondary schools and post-secondary institutions create these structures? Both speakers thought this possible—by benchmarking the HCBU practices!

Moving up by setting high standards and goals
Programs demonstrating the most success with African American boys stress goal setting. For HCBUs, this means expressing frequent and intense expectations for attending graduate school. For secondary schools, this means the same: the communication of intense expectations for college attendance and preparing students and parents by systematically passing along “college knowledge.” Research has shown that high expectations and goal setting for the future produce increments in current performance among all students. Both speakers stressed that better preparation for college is a need in urban high schools in the U.S. This means, for example, more enrollment in college preparatory courses, advanced placement, international baccalaureate, and foreign language courses.
STOP using STEM courses to weed out students RIGHT NOW
Professors at HCBUs do not see mathematics and science courses as ways to weed out students, while Toldson argued that at many traditional universities STEM courses are seen as excessively difficult and as ways to weed students out of high-prestige fields. This has to end if we want to retain students from low SES backgrounds. Since students from HCBUs succeed in graduate schools, this approach has worked. Better teaching and more support, better teaching and more support, better teaching and more support!!!
General comments on STEM: Energy department HCBU partnership

Anyone with an interest in expanding on this conversation, please let me know!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Recruiting More Diverse Teachers

Jim Robinson, TESL Professor and Facilitator of the Prepare Working Group at St. Cloud State University, shared the following article regarding the changing student population in both our nation and in Minnesota. We will be highlighting many articles over the next few weeks that focus on the achievement gap, diversity, and teaching approaches that work for ALL students.
Article highlights:
*  Nearly 30% of Minnesota’s students are children of color.
* As Minnesota becomes more diverse, schools are facing a shortage of teachers of color.
* Fewer non-white students go on to higher education and even fewer get a degree in education.
* In Minnesota, school districts are trying to overcome these challenges by partnering with community and four-year colleges to develop new teaching programs.
TPI is working to find new ways to recruit and license teachers with diverse backgrounds.  We are seeking out solutions and exploring alternative licensure pathways.  We will share more information about our work in this area in the coming months.
What ideas do you have for recruiting more candidates with diverse backgrounds into the teaching profession?

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Become a Power Up Educator

Become a Power Up Educator!

Faculty members within the department of Information Media have been working at implementing a mini-grant provided by the Teacher Preparation Initiative.  The grant will help to create a cohort of university faculty who teach courses in SCSU licensure areas.  The purpose of the mini-grant is to assist faculty members in more fully integrating 21st century skills into their teaching.

Faculty member participants will engage with instructional technologies, ISTE standards, and current P-12 teachers with technology integration experience.  Over the academic year, the cohort will meet a total of six half-days to allow them the experience and collaboration needed to become an innovative educator.

Faculty participants receive a stipend, technology hardware, and software for their willingness to engage.  Applications are currently being accepted to join the cohort through Friday, October 24th.

Apply now at

For more information contact Kristen at

Sponsored  by the Teacher Preparation Initiative (TPI), the School of Education (SoE), and the Information Media (IM) department.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ignite, Engage, Empower: A Professional Learning Partnership Day for P-16 Educators

As a new school year begins, we here at TPI are excited to re-energize our blog and share the innovate work that is being done in our 6 partner districts and at SCSU. 

Today's post comes from Beth Mann, the TPI P-12 Liaison. 

On Wednesday, June 11, 2014 an inaugural common professional learning day for P-16 educators was held. This day was planned and implemented by the Teacher Preparation Initiative, which is a  partnership of St. Cloud State University and six P-12 Districts: Holdingford, Monticello, ROCORI, St. Cloud Area, Sartell-St. Stephen, and Sauk Rapids-Rice.  Speakers at the workshop presented on various topics relating to the themes of assessment, differentiation, student engagement, and technology.

Kathy Flaminio, the keynote speaker, spoke of the science and practice of mindfulness, social and emotional learning, and yoga-based movement for students. Using lecture, discussion, and hands on learning, Flaminio explained how these techniques can help educators to understand the impact of trauma and stress, self-regulation, and well-being.

All sessions were evaluated via a technology application (Qualtrics); with about 60% of attendees responding. Highlights of findings include:  93% of session ratings were at the highest two levels of approval and 90% of session ratings scored at the highest levels of career usefulness.  So positive were session ratings, that over nine in ten participants (94.2%) reportedly plan to attend next year. Thanks to our host,  Sauk Rapids Rice High School; Nearly 100% of attendees rated the facilities as good or excellent (99%)! Overall, the conference proved successful, from logistics to the quality and utility of presentations. 

If you have any questions, or ideas for sessions for the next Professional Learning Day, please feel free to contact Beth Mann ( and she will share them with the planning committee.

Friday, March 28, 2014

New Teacher Workshop: Living Above and Below the Line, an Evening with Willow Sweeney

Thank you to Beth Mann, the TPI P-12 Liaison, and Support Working Group Facilitator, for summarizing the final New Teacher Workshop of the 2013-14 Academic Year.  

The Teacher Preparation Initiative and its six Partner Districts hosted the final 2013-2014 New Teacher Workshop on Wednesday, February 26. Invitees included first through third year teachers in our Partner Districts and SCSU recent graduates and Teacher Education Faculty. 95 participants were treated to dinner and networking. Joe Dockendorf, Assistant Superintendent at Monticello School District, set the stage for the evening.

Joe summarized data from 10 Partner District Principals on what they look for in retaining new teachers. Information was categorized by how often a principal mentioned a certain trait. You may be wondering which traits were mentioned the most often! Seven principals mentioned that the following traits were important for new teachers to possess: good parent relations, staff rapport, likes children, knows boundaries, ability to connect with kids emotionally and socially, positive advocate for students, and inspires others. In the end, Joe shared that teaching is all about building relationships with students and shared the quote by Ed Dunkelbau, “No significant learning occurs without a significant relationship.”

The keynote presenter was Willow Sweeney, co-founder of “Top 20 Training.” Willow’s presentation focused on becoming aware of our thinking so we know when it is working and when it is not working. It explored the conditions that come up in our life that invite us to go Below the Line, indicators telling us when we are Below, how to handle Below the Line experiences with more grace and dignity and, how to trampoline back Above the Line. Take-aways include defining what we do when we are Below the Line, what living Above the Line looks like, recognizing that we receive invitations from others to go Below the Line and have the ability to choose our responses.  She also inspired us to strive to Keep our Day, which is a reminder that all each of us has is today and we can make choices on how we want to live each day.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Academic Achievement of Children who Speak English as a Second Language

Jim Robinson, TESL Professor and Facilitator of the Prepare Working Group at St. Cloud State University shared the following link regarding the academic achievement of children who speak English as a second language in England.

The article shared the following data:

·      Non-english speaking pupils outperformed English speaking pupils on the English Baccalaureate.  This measure looks at achievement in English, math science, foreign language and either history or geography.

·      The number of pupils across England with English as a second language has risen to 1.1 million in the past five years.

·     The minister of education agreed that “the presence in schools of children who are bilingual or have English as an additional language tends, in fact, to raise overall school performance, not damage it.”