Little Schoolhouse on the Prairie

The Pedagogy of a Rural Educator

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30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 30: Dauntless!

What would you do (as a teacher) if you weren’t afraid?

Keep teaching.

Teaching is hard. Teaching is frustrating. Teaching is scary. I mean, really scary.

Teachers are responsible for helping students become productive members of society. Teachers are responsible for preparing the next generation of doctors, lawyers, engineers, and you can’t forget, TEACHERS!

If I don’t do my job well, I am putting the future of our nation and our world at risk.

Scary, right?

However, thousands of teachers face that fear every day. They do it because they want to make a difference in the nation and in the world.

They love knowing that their students will grow to be productive members of society. They will become the next Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Jane Goodall.

Teaching is rewarding. Teaching is amazing. Teaching is awesome. I mean, really awesome!

Keep teaching.


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30 Day Blogging Challenge – Day 28: Technology

Should technology drive curriculum, or vice versa?


As a science teacher, my answer to this questions isn’t black & white, yes or no. I feel like we need to use technology to teach our curriculum, but we should also teach about technology. When it comes to technology, I like to follow these three principles:

1. Build curriculum and use technology to enhance the material.

2. Apply curriculum through the use of technology when appropriate.

3. Teach students the proper uses of new technology that can be used and applied to everyday living.

I believe if you follow these, the use of technology in the classroom will be appropriate and effective.


30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 10 – 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

The challenge for the 10th day had multiple parts. I answered each part below the heading!

Share five random facts about yourself.

  1. I crochet! Its a fun hobby, and I get to make gifts for my friends and family.
  2. I have played piano since I was about 4 years old.
  3. I ALWAYS talk with my hands.
  4. I love animals, and have way too many pets!
  5. I enjoy kayaking in the lakes near my home.

Share four things from your bucket list.

  1. Receive a PhD.
  2. Teach in a foreign country.
  3. Go sky diving.
  4. Raise a family.

Share three things that you hope for this year, as a “person” or an educator.

  1. I hope to incorporate more Teach Like a Pirate lessons in my classroom this year.
  2. I hope to get back into shape, and run at least three 5K races before the end of next summer.
  3. I hope to determine a plan for my future, including moving toward getting a higher degree.

Share two things that have made you laugh or cry as an educator. (I’m going to focus on laugh, since I do it pretty much every day!)

  1. A student told me a science joke! “What do you do with a dead chemist? Barium!”
  2. I was introduced by a student as, “the best science teacher, ever!”, when meeting their parent for the first time.

Share one thing you wish more people knew about you.

  1. I am extremely passionate about trying to become a better educator. I LOVE professional development (even the sometimes boring kind), and I constantly seek out new ways to further my education!


30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 7 – Inspiration

Today’s challenge is: Who was or is your most inspirational colleague, and why?

To be honest, I was supposed to write this post yesterday, but had a hard time coming up with someone to write about. I have many wonderful colleagues, but one specific one didn’t stick out in my mind immediately after reading this prompt. After a little thinking, I came up with two people that I really think have shaped my vision of teaching and career goals.

My first inspiration is a former professor. I’m not sure that counts as a “colleague”, but since I’m not his student any longer, and we still keep in touch, I am going to say it does! Dr. Matt Miller was my first-year chemistry teacher at South Dakota State University. I was in the honors/majors section, which meant I was in a class of 25 instead of 300. Not only do I think I was lucky for the amount of one-on-one time I was able to get through this section, I think I was very lucky to have Dr. Miller as my professor. Dr. Miller taught high school chemistry for nine years before going back to school to obtain his Ph.D in Chemistry. I think this is part of the reason he was one of my favorite college professors. He actually knew how to TEACH students. I always appreciated his demonstrations, discussions, and models. His energy and excitement for the world of chemistry is unmatched by anyone else I’ve ever met. I believe this is the point in my life where I really fell in love with the topics of chemistry, but what I didn’t realize was that I was also seeing a model of great teaching.

My second inspiration is a person I’ve met once. Yes, I’ve only met this person one time. However, I feel like I’ve known him for a while now. He is a teacher, author, speaker, and pirate. If you haven’t guessed, its Dave Burgess. After reading Teach Like a Pirate, I felt like I had just gone through the best professional development session of my life. That was then topped by getting to see Dave speak this summer at the REMAST conference. The ideas Dave brings to the world of education are so inspirational, I couldn’t leave him out of my list of inspiration colleagues. Although I don’t think I’ve done enough this year in implementing his ideas, I am always ready and excited to try new things and push my limits thanks to his inspiration.

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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 6 – Mentors


This blog is the 6th in my 30 Day Blogging Challenge. To see previous days, check out this post with links to all of them! The prompt for day 6 of TeachThought’s 30 Day Blogging Challenge is: Explain: What does a good mentor “do”?

I thought a good way to do this would be to say three things a good mentor does, and three things they don’t do.

3 Things a Good Mentor Does:

  1. Cheers – I think a good mentor is similar to a good cheerleader. (This might have popped in my head because I cheered in high school and am now a cheer coach.) They are always supporting you, whether you have a good day or bad. They work hard to keep your spirit up!
  2. Discusses – I was going to put “listens”, but I decided that a good mentor needs to be part of a conversation! There must be input from both sides – mentor and mentee.
  3. Keeps it Real – A good mentor needs to make sure they help to set realistic goals, give realistic advice, and have realistic expectations. Especially when mentoring a first-year teacher, it can be hard to remember that some days the goal is just to make it through with no tears!

3 Things a Good Mentor Doesn’t Do:

  1. Have ALL the Answers – While sometimes a mentee just needs a quick “yes” or “no”, most of the time its not appropriate to just hand out what the mentor thinks the right answer is. Its important to build up a mentee’s ability to answer questions for themselves, and come up with what the right answer is for them.
  2. Criticize – I think a good mentor needs to give feedback, but they must not be critical of everything the mentee is doing. This will create a hostile relationship instead of a trusting, comfortable relationship.
  3. Stagnate – All teachers need to constantly adapt. A good mentor will model this for their mentee. They will adjust their ways of teaching and mentoring to meet the needs of their students and mentee.

Since I’m doing this post a day late, I thought I’d create a word cloud using some other Day 6 posts from educators doing the 30 Day Challenge. That is the image at the top of the post!


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30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 5 – My Classroom

So, I didn’t read the prompt until school got out today. . . it said: Post a picture of your classroom, and describe what you see – and what you don’t see that you’d like to.

Since I didn’t read this until after school, I don’t have a picture of my classroom – today. However, I took a lot of pictures for a couple previous posts! Check out my post on creating my pirate-themed classroom or the one on my first day of school! Here is just one picture of my classroom.


This doesn’t do a very good job of showing my entire classroom, but I can tell you that the rest of my classroom looks almost the same. Three of my four walls have counters like the ones seen in this picture. The other wall has my white board, desk, and bulletin boards. I’m not sure if this question was asking about the physical set-up of your classroom, or what it looks like with students in it, but I am going to touch on both!

My physical set-up is a challenge. The room is very small, and I have 29 students in one class. I have 4 tables that are 6 feet long and about counter-top height. Students sit at these tables with chairs and stools. I also have 16 desks (seen in the photo). The tables are in the back of the room, so you can’t see them in this photo. Personally, I would have designed this lab/classroom totally differently, but since I wasn’t around for that, I need to work with what I’ve got. As I try to work with it – I keep trying to think of how I can best set it up for my student’s needs. I need my students to be able to work with a group, but also have their own space for class. I would LOVE to have a bigger room, where I could have some tables for doing lab work, and desks for “class-time”. What I’ve done to attempt this, is we keep the desks in rows until its a lab day. Then, I have the students help me re-arrange the desks into groups, so we have a lot of interaction.

If you were to take a picture of my classroom each class period, each picture would look different. Actually, if you took a picture every 10 minutes, they would each look a little different. At least I hope they would. (Now I want to set up a camera to take a picture every 10 minutes for a day!) In those pictures, you would see students working in groups, reading to themselves, listening to a little bit of lecture, giving presentations, doing labs, and practicing skills. I try not to allow my students to do the same thing for more than 15-20 minutes. We’ve seen the studies that say how attention spans are not very long, and getting shorter. I know this is true for myself. I need to make sure to help my students out by not asking them to listen to me drone on for 40 minutes! One thing I would love to see is more student inquiry – asking their own questions, not just answering the ones I’ve given them.

Like I said before, not sure I answered this question the way it was intended to be answered – but I don’t really care! This blog is for me to reflect on my teaching, and I guess this is the way I wanted to! However, I do hope you enjoyed reading about it!!


30 Day Blogging Challenge: Day 4 – Love of Teaching

The topic presented by @TeachThought for Day 4 was: What do you love the most about teaching?

This question always makes me really think for a second. I know there is one expected answer, but I also know what my real answer is. Sometimes, I feel like a bad person, because I don’t always just answer the way a teacher is supposed to. However, I just really feel like the right answer isn’t always right for me!

Ok, I really hope you are thinking, “Just tell me what you are thinking of!” If you are thinking that, I accomplished my goal. I was trying to use one of Dave Burgess’s hooks – The Teaser Hook. Its where you present the information in a way that just gets students (or readers) to keep listening (or reading) just to figure out the ending. 

Now I’ll keep going with my discussion of the answer to the question, “What do you love most about teaching?” Most teachers will say, “the students”. That’s the right answer, the expected answer, what teachers are supposed to say. However, I can’t agree with that. While I do love my students, and make deep connections with them, I don’t think that’s why I come to work every day. Honestly, the thing I love most about my job, about teaching, is knowing that I’m getting to share my content with those students. If my job were to purely just “hang-out” with these kids all day, I don’t know how much I would enjoy it. Now, I can’t say that there aren’t days where I wish I would just sit and chat with them all class, but I wouldn’t want to do it all day, every day. Without my content, I don’t feel like I’m contributing to the lives of my students, the community I live in, and the world! With my content, I feel like I can change my students’ lives, create citizens of a community that are able to problem solve and think critically, and maybe even motivate the next Einstein to change the world. 

I LOVE sharing my love of science with students. The students themselves are great, and wonderful, and motivating, and the whole reason I have a job. But science is why I get up every morning. I want to share science. Through my content, I feel like I can do so much, and that’s what I really love.

What do you love about teaching? Comment below!