Latest blogs from USF St. Petersburg – College of Education.

I Have To Do What? I Can Use What?

If you are a teacher then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you’re not yet, then I’m sure you’ve still heard of it…the OBSERVATION!

Just in case you haven’t heard of it, an observation is where a principal, or some other person in a leadership position, comes in to watch you teach a lesson and you want to show the very best teaching that you can. Observations are wonderful because they provide insight into how you can become an even more effective teacher, but they are extremely nerve-racking. One of the most stressful portions of an observation is deciding what to teach during the observation!

My USF St. Pete education courses actually gave me a lot of ideas that I was able to use in my first grade classroom, especially during the observations that I have had so far this year.

I know many people question if and when they will actually use the materials that they are learning in their Master’s program; trust me, I was always THAT kid who asked, “When will I need to know this or use this?” Some people also question if getting their Master’s degree is even worth it.

For me, starting the Reading Education Master’s program at USF St. Pete has been more than worth it, especially when I can take ideas from class and use it in my classroom.

I know some of you are probably saying, “Yeah right. I don’t believe it,” but seriously it’s true. I was able to take ideas from my Differentiated Reading class about how important choice and interest are to motivate learners and apply it to a reading observation.

I learned from the class that allowing student’s a choice in the product they are producing at the end of a lesson or unit to show what they have learned will provide better buy in and students will be more likely to work to the best of their ability.

I also learned that by choosing texts that students are interested in reading they are more likely to read them, which will make them better readers. I used these techniques in my observation and received some of the best scores that I have ever gotten on an observation.

Who doesn’t love a degree that is truly useful??

Fall 2013 Alpha Zeta Beta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi Inititation

KDP Fall 2013 Inititiation Dean Heller, Angela Wilson and Steffi RajuThe Alpha Zeta Beta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education, held its fall 2013 Initiation on December 6, 2013.

On this day, I became the President of our Alpha Zeta Beta Chapter of KDP, and initiated the new class of twenty-seven members.

The initiation was held in Harbor Hall and hosted by Everyone’s Education Club.

The Keynote Speaker for this night was Dr. Ron Stone. Dr. Stone is retired as the Associate Superintendent for Human Resources for the School Board of Pinellas County in 2009. He has served in a variety of positions in public education in the state of Florida for forty years. He has been a teacher, principal, district director, assistant superintendent and associate superintendent in three Florida school districts.Ron Stone, Keynote Speaker

Dr. Ron Stone gave a personal talk on his career journey and on the book that he published.  The book is comprised of poems that he wrote during his travels to different schools. He shared with us the first poem that he had ever written called Touch Just One Life, which is also the title of the book.

After our reaffirmation, pledge to join, and initiation; all KDP members were treated to food, drinks, and cake. The night ended with a nice social gathering between, old members, new members, officers, professors, and Dean Heller.

I have many hopes for our Alpha Zeta Beta Chapter as the new President.

First, I would like to have more members become present in the meetings and professional development meetings that we have planned for 2014. We have many great topics that will be covered in these meetings that will benefit  education major students, as well as topics to help beginning teachers. I would also like to have more members become present and active in the many events hosted by KDP and everyone’s Education Club (EEC), as well as participate in the campus wide events that will be happening in 2014.

I think it is very important to become as active as you can on campus and help the surrounding community we are proudly part of. I know personally, I have made great friends through being part of these clubs and organizations, and amazing connections that will only benefit my future.

Angela Wilson

Why USFSP? Why Now?

I’m a procrastinator. I’ll be the first one to admit it.

I’ve now been teaching full time in a first grade classroom in Tampa for four years and decided that I probably have procrastinated long enough on getting my master’s degree.

Ever since I started teaching I’ve been contemplating where I wanted to get my master’s degree from and also what degree to get, I suppose this added to my procrastination (toldya I’d be the first to admit it!)

I’ll start with my program of interest.  I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember.  In fact I got picked to be narrator of my kindergarten class’s play because I was one of the only kids who could read all the lines. When I got into the classroom and realized just how crucial it is for students to build a background in reading for everything in their lives I was on the path to picking a program (yay no procrastinating for me, well maybe just a little, it still took me four years.) In fact it is so crucial that at the school where I teach, the administration is constantly reminding all teachers that they are reading teachers, not just reading/writing or math/science teachers; so you can see just how much emphasis is put on reading in all classrooms!

So long story short I picked my program because it’s something I really believe in and now onto why USFSP.

I went to a private college for my undergrad (which is how I wound up in Florida from Connecticut to begin with) while I loved my undergrad school and had a great experience I always felt that something was missing, school spirit. No one ever really attended any school events and there was kind of just a blasé feeling towards the sports teams and school as a whole. I was there, but I never really felt like I was involved in the school because no one else seemed to be involved either. Well being a self titled over achiever (is that possible while also being a self proclaimed procrastinator?) I decided to tour USFSP campus after looking into schools with the master’s program I wanted.

When I stepped on the campus I was immediately impressed by the USF decor all over campus, I felt like I had finally found a school with spirit!

I also liked the fact that I could easily find my way around the campus. I never wanted a school where I needed a map to find my way anywhere and USFSP was just the right size while still providing the big school spirit I desired.

I guess that pretty much sums it up. USFSP is right for me. Will it be right for you too? I sure hope so!

Letter to Mr. D

Why Thanksgiving comes before Christmas.

It’s that time of year again, when many of us are planning our holiday schedules, booking flights and for those of us who teach, we are counting down the days when we will take a short break from the hustle and bustle of a classroom, trading it in for the hustle and bustle of shopping malls and visiting families and friends.

We begin by planning a full day of gratitude on Thanksgiving followed by the busy process of preparing for and then enjoying the season of giving.  It is no mistake that Thanksgiving comes before Christmas; after all, it is gratitude that opens the heart for giving.

I, like many others, am a very busy guy.  I direct a nonprofit organization, sit on the board for another, I teach, raise 2 kids and am a full time Education Major at USFSP.  Recently I was honored with a Community Hero award, for which I was given $50,000 to donate to local nonprofits.

Receiving this honor has been very encouraging and lifted my heart into a plain of gratitude.  Additionally, every day as I walk around the schools where I teach, I think about how grateful I am.  While it’s not always perfect, I do love teaching and I am grateful for the opportunity to teach.

All of this gratitude has lifted my spirit and allowed my heart to notice how many opportunities there are for me to give, and to share the things for which I am grateful.

There was one particular girl I noticed who really needed some help.  Her shoes had virtually no soles and her big toe on each foot was literally poking through.  Her clothes were a little small and it was easy to see that she doesn’t have many hair brushes lying around for her to use when singing along to the latest One Direction song.  After talking with her teacher for a while, I learned that she is lives with a young single mother who works in a nursing home, and in these times marred by fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings and government shutdowns, there is only so much a mom can do with a nursing home salary.

After work, I went straight to Target where I purchased a new pair of shoes and three new outfits and dropped them off at the school for her teacher.  The next day, her teacher and I were talking when the young girl came bouncing around the corner with her new shoes and the sparkly “Hello Kitty” knee-high socks that were on sale for $2.50.  She gave me a great big hug and handed me a hand-made card on a piece of construction paper that read

“Dear Mr. D, thank you for all of the shoes and clothes, it makes me feel happy.    …and I am sure my mom is happy too”.

Gratitude opens the heart and moves a person to see opportunities for giving and caring.  The more you look to be grateful for, the more you will see what others need, and being able to see what others need is a tool no teacher should be without.

This Thanksgiving, I encourage you to take the time to consider all of the things, big and small that you have to be grateful for. Let that gratitude open your heart as you head into the season of giving.  It will open your heart and you will find an extra bit of happiness in your giving.

As the New Year approaches, let this attitude of gratitude carry you through the rest of your school year   …then you can be grateful for the summer.

Happy Holidays to all.