Friday, November 14, 2014

The League of Extraordinary Teachers - a great resources

Mike Rogers, a Middle School Science Teacher from Sauk Rapids-Rice is the creator and Moderator of The League of Extraordinary Teachers.  Below he shares more information about this resource.

The League of Extraordinary Teachers is a Facebook group of over 500 collaborative educators and growing.  Members of the group share their favorite resources, thought provoking articles, and inspirational quotes.League.png

While there are teachers from around the globe in “The League”, the bulk of our members are educators from the central Minnesota area and from TPI member districts in particular.  

Each month we will highlight some of the articles and resources shared in this group.

Here is a sampling of some of the posts that were shared in October.




October Blues.png

What I Wish Id Known.png

Thursday, November 13, 2014

SCSU Future Educators Club Hosts High School Clubs

Melissa Hanzsek-Brill, one of the the SCSU Future Educator Club (FEC) advisors, shares with us a summary of a recent FEC event that brought high school students to campus.

On Wednesday, October 22nd and Thursday, October 23rd the St. Cloud State Future Educators Club hosted 45 students from five area high schools for “A Day in the Life of an Education Major.”   Students were able to attend and participate in education related courses, go on a campus tour, eat lunch at Garvey Dining Hall, and engage and question education majors during an afternoon discussion panel.

Classes the students participated in were Science for Elementary Teachers taught by Bev Kochmann and Mark Minger, Mathematics for Elementary Teachers taught by Melissa Hanzsek-Brill,  Introduction to Education taught by Jerry Sparby, and Primary/Kindergarten Methods taught by Cassie Froemming.  Two of the classes incorporated the high school students and involved them in activities.  In the math class, students had the opportunity to use iPads and manipulatives to explore the concept of fractions and, in the Primary/Kindergarten Methods class, students participated in games and discussions with the college students.

Students also listened to information from John Hoover about employability and the projected needs areas in education.  Many of the students in attendance were interested to find out their intended majors of Special Education and English Language Learners were areas of high need in Minnesota.  It reaffirmed their intended major and also their intent to attend SCSU.

In the afternoon discussion panel, the high school students were able to ask a wide range of questions of the SCSU Future Educators Club members, such as:
·         What has been your hardest class?
·         How long does it take to finish an education major?
·         What classes would you take each semester?
·         Can you work and take classes at the same time?
·         What do you recommend I start doing now, in high school, in order to be ready for an
          education major?
·         Have you taken an online class?
·         Do you live on campus in the dorms?

Many thanks to the admissions office who treated the group to lunch at Garvey Dining Hall, a major highlight of the day, and gave each of the attendees a t-shirt and other goodies after their campus tour.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Designing a Professional Accountability System for Educators

Earlier this Fall, an article was published on Minnesota 2020 regarding the new Teacher Evaluation expectations that are being implemented nationwide: “Is the New ‘Accountability’ Actually Professional?”

The article brings up several questions for consideration:

·      Is the use of student testing data a more professional way of evaluating teachers? 
·      What is the best way to measure the “knowledge” work that is done by teachers?
·      What would a truly professional accountability system look like? 
·      What role do mentors play in an accountability system?

What ideas do you have for creating a professional accountability system for educators?

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.