Teacher of the Month – July 2013 – Jen Schongalla

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15 thoughts on “Teacher of the Month – July 2013 – Jen Schongalla”

  1. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


    Jen deserves all this and more!

    She is one of the shiniest star in the CI galaxy, and one of the finest human being on the planet.

    She is whole, genuine, devoted , ready to take hits , feel the pain and get up again, a true warrior in my book.

    Félicitations Jen!

  2. Hey Ben. On the mend. No more morphine or cane. Physio starts Thurs, woot! Hopefully back on rock early Sept (the one kind of exercise I can do is ride my road bike: stable and spinen is supported). Thanks for asking. I am gonna try to get some $$ from our pro-d funds so I can go to Dallas or San Diego next summer for one of those conferences.

  3. Good to hear. And like we do in stories when we bomb it, you’re talking about getting back up on the rock right away. Nice.

    Hey, if you come down this way we’ve got some rocks for you to climb. And Annemarie can join us. Seriously if we have an iFLT in Denver (I heard a rumor about that for next year actually but it may be just a rumor), you can climb some of what we got in CO.

    I would like to ask those who attended both conferences to candidly evaluate both and say which was more valuable and why. If you feel comfortable doing that. I know that MB, Sabrina, Robert Allen Hong Kong, Charlotte Wall Zoo Germany and possibly Eric at least did both. Your thoughts to share with the rest of us who did one or neither?

    1. I am honestly not sure whether iFLT or NTPRS was more valuable. They both had different strengths.

      IFLT allowed us to see master teachers working with their classrooms, and get into their head immediately about what and how they were doing it. I think it may have been helped if there were more students or if it had been a longer time period just because students tend to react differently as they have had a teacher for longer, but it was invaluable. I just remember attempting to soak up the different little techniques that Linda Li, Jason Fritze, and Ben used to do various things from Linda’s gesture for “but” to “Ou-Where.” We really got to see the subtle things that are not always fully explained.

      With the exception of Ben’s session at iFLT, I would say there was significantly more coaching going on at NTPRS. I am not sure how they ran it in the past, but it looked like most people were going to coaching sessions every day even if they just watched and listened. Maybe some went more often, but it looked like most went when the sessions were done. They were time-limited, but I do think they were helpful.

  4. Oh yeah…Colorado rock rocks…

    Now here is my evaluation of both conferences:

    San Diego was better because the Lagunitas Brewing Company is located in San Diego. 😉

  5. Well as far as relaxing after the stresses of the day I have to say that Elvira and MB and the gang we had a few nights in San Diego was the hardest I have laughed in over twenty years. Maybe thirty. That alone was worth the trip out there. A soldier went to war, for those who were there. And if anybody has a transcript of the whole song or can get a hold of Elvira for it, please send it to me. It is pure art. I need that song.

    1. I will get in touch with Elvira — I know that she was working on the transcript — she called Barbara a few times to clarify some things!!! hahaha
      I still need some processing time to think through the two conferences. I liked them both, but they were so different! and I am SO exhausted!!!
      Got home Saturday morning at 2am, and had to report to school this morning at 7:00 to pick up new laptop and iPad, then had training on iPad (tomorrow is laptop training) but BOY oh BOY am I excited and even more overwhelmed!, at what I learned today with the iPads!!! Skip’s colleague, Therese, was at my school too for the statewide training, and sat next to me. It was cool, since we were both in Dallas last week, and could immediately see the applications of this new iPad mini and its work packages will have on computing in the VERY near future!

      1. Ata girl Jen! You deserve it. I pray that things go smoother for you this year. The thought of curriculum mapping…hmmmm. Three cheers for all of us who continue, in spite of clueless colleagues and admin, to get up every day and do our very best to stay in the tl comprehensibly! Looking forward to working through the process with you beginning now!

        mb, can’t imagine why you are tired! Both conferences are so different. Nothing beats seeing teachers with live kids – amazing to see best practices and get to deconstruct with the teacher the how and why. Reuben Vyn was superb even though he was working with elementary kids. I learned a lot from him and he was very generous with his handouts and examples of what he does with his hs students. It’s too bad we don’t have a place to meet after school closes. That for me is the beauty of NTPRS – most people are in the same hotel where the sessions take place. It has a “homecoming” vibe that is comforting. The planners have really stepped up to address the need for upper level sessions. Meeting Senor Wooley was cool for even me, a French teacher. His presentation on “Finding the Story” was excellent. Skip and mb won posters – hope they got home in one piece! Can’t we clone Senor in French? Sabrina said his presentation was not to be missed and she was right. Carmen Andrews and Lynette Lange were wonderful with the upper levels. Once again, Laurie and Michele did embedded reading to rave reviews! There was a lot of quality to chose from and hard to make a bad choice. I got to spend a few days observing Katya Paukova teach a beginner strand. Sheesh, it’s hard to concentrate on her methodology when I get so sucked in to learning the language! I could use an extra month of vacation just to process all the info I gathered over two weeks.

        1. I was only at ntprs, but i loved it. The coaching, in particular (Sabrina you rock!!!) was very available and very strong. I went 4 or 5 times, geting up each time of course, and learned a ton. For someone who already gets the basic processes the coaching was by far the most helpful part. Meeting and drinking with senor wooly was definitely a highlight as well. He is really making ci resources that are beyond compelling. I also loved bryce’s session on classsroom management, carol’s on reading strategies, and blaine’s on verifying details (lots of coaching going on in that sesssion.) Also, nearly all of the presentations are available to peruse online at the ntprs website.

          However, the true joy of the conference for this newbie was meeting everyone, putting faces to names on this blog (Sabrina, mary beth, nathan, skip, charlotte, eric, david, carol, benard, and so many more that i can’t even keep track). It was the interactions in the hallways between sessions, the lunch talks, and most of all the late night chats and coaching. It was the personal interactions. I am so glad that my first time getting up to coach was with familiar faces (and after a couple of beers!) all being together in one spot at night was crucial for that.

          I left the conference inspired and excited to teach again after a dispiriting end of the year. I was kept afloat by hearing the stories of other teachers who are in difficult situations, who can’t be pure tprs, but who still try to deliver as much ci as they can given the constraints they work under. For me, it was inspiring to hear that from katya, the star russian teacher who teaches at the defense institute. She does as much tprs as she can, but has to work other things in as well. I was also amazed by the wide diversity of teaching styles, and levels of purity in the instruction. There was a whole lot more pop up grammar and even some explicit grammar instruction. I don’t know that that is ideal but it is probably what i need to do to survive next year, and it is nice to know that i am not alone.

  6. Yay, Jen! Congrats, girl!

    Thanks for the contributions, especially jGR. I used it all year and found it such a help. In fact, I would not venture to put a price on such help.

    Conference feedback — San Diego — Watching a teacher transform, with Ben’s help, before my very eyes was unforgettable! Wow!

    Also, like Ben, I laughed more on those conference days than I have in years and years. Thanks, Ben, Sabrina, Elvira, MaryBeth, Barb, (MB’s friend) Bryce, Grant, Mark, Lee, ummm…starting to forget who else….Elvis?

    Thanks to everyone who helped with the conference in San Diego!

  7. Andrea Westphal

    Congrats Jen! Yes, thank you for all of your contributions.

    I’m so jealous hearing about the conferences. I wasn’t able to go to either:( Even though I’ve been trying to use CI for four years now, I still feel like a newby. I’m terrified at the thought of being coached and have never taken advantage of the opportunity (to be coached) at previous conferences. I really need to make it a habit to stay tuned in to this PLC no matter how defeated I feel this year (I know it will happen at some point); this is where I’m going to come to get my strength!

    I WILL be at NTPRS next year since it was announced that it will be in Chicago – yeay, driving distance! And if the iFLT rumor about Denver is true, then I might make that one too! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Colorado!!!

  8. Congratulations to Jen!!!!!!!! We love you Jen..hope you know that. Hugs and high-fives!!

    As for the conferences….ay….two amazing experiences that’s for sure. Bottom line is that it is up to the participant to make the best of whichever conference we attend. I loved the ability to “find” friends from this blog and the morelist at both places. It must be a totally different experience for those who attend as true “newbies” …and find themselves in the middle of a large, established, welcoming family!!! I encourage all of you who attended to stay connected with new friends and colleagues. We need each other!!

    A number of people have blogged about their experiences and I have the NTPRS blog write-ups that I have found all listed here: http://www.blog.heartsforteaching.com I’ll try to get the iFLT blog write-ups up tonight. If you know of any other blogs with NTPRS or iFLT write-ups send them along!!

    with love,

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