Episode 6: Connecting to the EL and bilingual community with Adelfio Garcia

Amy and Joi boxing

Teaching and Learning: Theory vs. Practice with Dr. Amy and Dr. Joi

In this episode, we talk to Adelfio Garcia, a retired public school administrator who consults on English language and bilingual professional development. He discusses building community within and beyond the school building and using data to inform practices rather than support existing practices.



Twitter: @avujaklija @Governors_State

Facebook: @GSUCollegeofEducation

Episode 5: Embracing technology in the classroom with Laurie Hendrickson

Amy and Joi boxing

Teaching and Learning: Theory vs. Practice with Dr. Amy and Dr. Joi

In this episode, we talk to Laurie Hendrickson, a retired middle grades teacher and current student teacher supervisor.  She discusses technology in the classroom and what has worked for her when learning new tools, building classroom community, and engaging students in inquiry.



Twitter: @Working2gether @avujaklija @Governors_State

Facebook: @GSUCollegeofEducation

Episode 1: Meet Dr. Amy and Dr. Joi

Teaching and Learning: Theory vs. Practice with Dr. Amy and Dr. Joi

In “Meet Dr. Amy and Dr. Joi” find out how we plan for the day, how teaching brings meaning to us, and why we decided to start a podcast.  We mention the Map of Meaningful Work, originally a business-world concept, and discuss our goals to both learn and share through the podcast.

Tired and Overwhelmed – I Hear You

My middle grades teaching career began in August 2003 when I found a teaching job in line with the guidelines for the Master of Arts in Teaching alternative route to certification.  My family moved from the metro suburbs to a rural community. Yes, we moved one day, and I attended a teacher inservice the next.

I worked full time as a 7th and 8th grade teacher of record with a provisional license, teaching three classes of each grade level for a total of approximately 160 students.  The administrator and language arts department  assisted me, but I had come from the private sector — administrative assistant in marketing — and feared relying on others too much.  Certainly I could handle reading 160 essays, providing feedback, and grading revisions before the statewide portfolio assessment was due.

Teaching full-time, grading students’ papers and writing my own, and leaving two little ones behind while I attended class each Saturday made me question (many times) why.  I felt stuck — we had moved, I needed to finish this degree, and I did not know if I could handle one more day.  One Saturday, I entered the university classroom, saw other students with their composition notebooks, and realized my journal assignment was incomplete. Before class even started, I had hot, overwhelming tears of frustration spilling from my eyes, no longer containable.

It is years later, and I am okay.  I have written several times about classroom successes and exciting professional experiences.  My colleagues — friends — make me thankful each day for choosing such an amazing career.

But not everyone is okay right now.

The Padlet board “An Anonymous Teacher Speaks” reminded me of hot, overtired, stressed, one-more-thing tears of not enough — not enough me to be my best.

Not enough of my best to read, provide feedback, and grade

and learn new technologies, plan engaging instruction, implement online activities

and conference with students and parents

and attend workshops, trainings, and committee meetings

and be a parent

and be something for myself.

I hear you.

Tell me how I can help you be okay.


Happy Hour

Educators depend on time and space for professional conversations and collaboration to improve classroom instruction. Often these collaborative efforts are planned as part of professional development workshops or professional learning community sessions.

Yet, what we need even more are conversations that “fill” us when we’re tapped out. Some of the most meaningful, innovative, “light-bulb” moments for me have been informal chats in the hallway between classes.

In spring 2020, those impromptu check-ins or “water cooler” conversations disappeared. Working remotely has separated us physically from one other and joined us unceasingly to our workspace (kitchen table, home office, living room). The time before or after scheduled department meetings when colleagues casually checked in with one another in the doorway or corner of the room has been replaced by entry chimes to a screen full of faces. I remember the times before spring 2020 when I joked about needing a magic wand for transporting me to back-to-back meetings. Now, I do magically transport myself with the click of “end meeting” and “join meeting” buttons.

How can we find ways to recreate the informal hallway chat when we’ve been connected all day?

Recently, several of us met to try a virtual happy hour.  Although we had intended to break into small groups to discuss books, movies, or recipes, we opted to stay together to just talk.

No agenda. No meeting minutes. 

We had rich conversations about our remote and in-person teaching experiences.  We compared and learned from one another’s stories while sharing virtual shoulders and hugs for individual struggles.

Was it the same as 2 for 1 wings at our favorite eatery? No, not the same. But we do not have a comparison for this new existence, so we move on and move forward by supporting each other the best we can. If virtual happy hour is the best we can do right now, then I guess you’ll get to see wings grilled my way. Cheers.

Korean Fried Chicken Wings
by powerplantop


Laughter Finding Us


Chickens pecking in landscaping

Chickens crossed to our house from the farm across the road.

Amidst the worry about work issues, the anxiety about my daughter’s college move-in, and our endless organization tasks that need to happen now (not a month or a year from now, but now), I laughed.

I laughed at chickens marching toward the mower.

Man on mower with chicken escapees from the farm across the road

Man, mower, chickens

I laughed at chickens eluding my dogs at the window.

Dogs staring at chickens through window

Dogs, window, chickens

I laughed at chickens letting my daughter herd them across the road.

Daughter herding chickens across the road

Daughter herding chickens

And I remembered . . .  it’s okay to move everything else aside for a few minutes of laughter.

When it doesn’t feel okay and nothing seems right, take a breath and let laughter find you.

Remote-Ready Teaching: Facebook Live Info Session

Talking live on Facebook about education was a first.  Dr. Joi Patterson and I discussed remote-ready and physically-distanced instruction with Rama Diab, a Governors State University education student and local district substitute teacher.

The planning for this event sparked enthusiasm for an ongoing Facebook Live and podcast series “Conversations in Education” with various subtopics.  I look forward to your suggestions for our next conversations!