Posted in Miscellaneous

Our Need to Create

President Uchtdorf gave a beautiful talk in the General Relief Society Meeting in 2008 titled “Happiness, Your Heritage.” This talk focuses on how our journey in life is to find happiness and discusses different ways to find that happiness. One of the sections of his talk discusses how the work of creation and creativity is one aspect of life that brings happiness. Here are some of his ideas and my thoughts on how to bring the magic of creation and creativity into your classrooms.

1. “The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before… But to what end were we created? We were created with the express purpose and potential of experiencing a fulness of joy. Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things.”

As you teach, remember that all your students want to create so be sure to give plenty of time for this in your lesson plans. One way you can do this is to add in more art activities. To solidify a concept, have the students use visual arts, drama, dance, or use film, photography, poetry, or any other fine art. This improves how well they remember the content you are teaching as well as help them develop their creativity. In the 4th grade, my class and I learned about our state history. After learning all of the facts, we put on a play about our state. Being a part of this play was not only a lot of fun but also helped me remember many facts about my state that I still remember today. Don’t forget that arts are a great way, but are certainly not the only way, to be creative! The more creative outlets available, the better!


2. “Everyone can create. You don’t need money, position, or influence in order to create     something of substance or beauty…Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. We     develop ourselves and others when we take unorganized matter into our hands and mold it into something of beauty…You might say, “I’m not the creative type.” If that is how you feel, think again, and remember that you are spirit [children] of the most creative Being in the universe. Isn’t it remarkable to think that your very spirits are fashioned by an endlessly creative and eternally compassionate God? Think about it—your spirit body is a masterpiece, created with a beauty, function, and capacity beyond imagination.”

It is not only your smartest, brightest, most able students that can create. We all do. In the classroom, encourage your students to create. Creation is not limited to the arts. Let students come up with their own ideas, plans, solutions, opinions, and approaches in every school subject. Now, this does not mean you do not give them any information to go off of. There is a delicate balance in giving them enough information to flourish but not so much that it crushes their creativity.


3. “What you create doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. If you still feel incapable of creating, start small. Try to see how many smiles you can create, write a letter of appreciation, learn a new skill, identify aspace and beautify it.”

CreativeHeader2Each one of us is unique and we all create different things. In fact, this is the definition of create: to cause something unique to come into being. Therefore, some ideas may be something we have never seen before or are not comfortable with. This means as teachers we must be open to all. This doesn’t mean you have to like it all, but it is pertinent to see the value in all creation. As a teacher, we want to foster this creativity, building it up to be better and better.

Pushing your students to create more is wonderful! Take Albert Einstein, Abraham Maslow, and Charles Schulz, for example. Albert Einstein resisted the school’s regimen and teaching method, Abraham Maslow had his own ideas on understanding the human mind, and Charles Schulz’ drawings were rejected by his high school yearbook. Without these creative people in history who thought differently, we would not have quantum theory, humanistic psychology, or Peanuts comics! It is another delicate balance of pushing your students enough that they grow, as well as having an open mind about new and original ideas and creations.


4. “…the creative talents you develop will prepare you for that day, in this life or the next. You     may think you don’t have talents, but that is a false assumption, for we all have talents and gifts,     every one of us. The bounds of creativity extend far beyond the limits of a canvas or a sheet of paper and do not require a brush, a pen, or the keys of a piano. Creation means bringing into existence something that did not exist before—colorful gardens, harmonious homes, family memories, flowing laughter.”

For some students, it may be harder to find their talents and gifts, but don’t give up. It may not be on the outside or cannot be seen visually. Gifts and talents are numberless. Because we all learn differently, this may be the way that those students who normally struggle in the classroom can flourish. Learning to create not only helps immediately in the classroom but also in the future. Opening your mind to new ideas and trying new things is a life lesson that is vital to bring into the classroom.

Uchtdorf reminds us to not forget that, “As you take the normal opportunities of your daily life and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you.”


To read Uchtdorf’s whole talk, visit:

There is also a wonderful Mormon Message created from his talk below:


Posted in Miscellaneous

Special Challenges

At BYU, we have the unique opportunity to mix secular and spiritual learning within the same class. In my special education classes, one way that we do this is to talk about disabilities in the church.

Katie Steed, one of my professors in the Counseling Psychology and Special Education Department, is a specialist about individuals with disabilities in the church.  Recently, she worked together with BYU film students to create a video called “Special Challenges.”  In the video, three different families, who have children with disabilities, talk about their experiences in the church and some of the unique challenges they’ve faced.

Here’s the video: (Note-this video is almost 15-minutes long, but it is worth every minute.)

Besides being a special education major, I have a very personal connection to this video.  My oldest brother James was diagnosed with autism when he was three-years old.  Like these families, my family had some special challenges because of this.  

My brother had some behavior problems related to his autism.  I remember several ward parties where he threw a temper tantrum because something different and unexpected happened.  My family tried to calm him down, and we’d often have to take him out to the foyer.  When he eventually did calm down, he felt so embarrassed and was nervous to go back to the party afterwards.  

James loved answering questions and making comments in church.  He memorized hundreds of scriptures and other quotes. However, he would raise his hand and make a comment approximately every two minutes. Sometimes these comments pertained to the lesson, and sometimes they didn’t.

He also loved to introduce himself to people and greet them as they came into church. James would go straight up to anyone he didn’t know, give them a slightly floppy handshake, tell them his name, ask theirs, and what their address is very loudly and all in one breath. James was being friendly, but it could be socially awkward, especially if you didn’t know him well.

From these three examples of some of my brother’s special challenges, you can see that church could have been extremely difficult for my family. And we did have some difficult days.  

However, we were so blessed to have a ward that was loving and supportive. They took the time to get to know my brother.

When my brother threw a temper tantrum, some close family friends in our ward would sometimes help calm him down. The rest of the ward didn’t treat him any differently after he threw a fit.

He had some very caring Sunday School teachers who placed limits on the number of comments he could make during a lesson. When he made a good comment, they sincerely praised him for it.

If a new person felt a bit uncomfortable after my brother had introduced himself, one of the ward members would just quietly explain a little about my brother to them. Many ward members went out of their way to greet James before taking their seat.

Through these loving actions, and many others, our ward supported James towards some of his proudest moments.  If you asked him what his three proudest accomplishments are, he would tell you that it was earning his Eagle Scout award, fulfilling his priesthood duties, and serving a service mission for three years in the San Jose California mission. These were made possible through years of dedicated love and support from leaders and members of our ward and stake.

So, the question is, why does this matter, and how does it relate to education at BYU?

As 97% of the population of BYU are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, talking about members of the church with disabilities is not only applicable, it is also important. Additionally, all education majors at BYU are required to take at least one class about teaching people with disabilities. So, it is of additional importance for education majors.  

One of BYU’s slogans is “Enter to learn, go forth to serve.” With the knowledge learned in these classes and possibly other experiences (such as clubs like Adaptive Aquatics/Gym Kids and Special Olympics), we have the obligation to serve in all capacities that we can, both within and outside of the classroom, including within the Church.

I often think how lucky my family is to have such a supportive ward who honestly cared about my brother. I cannot imagine how terrible it would have been to be dealing with my brother’s special challenges and not have their support. Unfortunately, this is sometimes the case. Not every member with a disability enjoys the same support and love that my brother experienced.

So, what can we do?  

Go forth to serve.

Get to know the individual, not just the disability. Learn how to love them. Ask what you can do to serve them and their family.




Posted in Miscellaneous

One Step at a Time: Why Goals and Assessments Matter

Ah, the beginning of a new semester. The time when the excitement for new school supplies runs high while your bank account runs low. When you’re excited to start new classes, meet new friends and.get back to hours of homework.

One of my favorite parts of the new semester is setting goals. I like to start out with high aspirations that set me on the right track and motivate me to achieve great things. I’ve learned that it’s important to set goals that:

  • Lead to a bigger end-goal

  • Are easily measurable

  • You can check every day

  • Result in something you really want


Recently, as we’ve been talking about assessments in my education classes, I’ve realized that measuring your students’ success isn’t that different from keeping consistent goals. Just like goals keep you on track to become who you want to be, assessments can help you in assisting your students to realize their full potential.

  • Lead to a bigger end-goal. Sometimes you have to plan backwards. Decide what your students need to learn, how you’re going to measure their learning, and go from there. If you know your end-goal, you’ll know what small steps to take along the way and how to best prepare your students for the final assessment.

  • Easily measurable. After you’ve decided what your assessment will be, make sure it’s easy to recognize if a student has achieved the objective or not. If you give clear expectations, you won’t question about whether or not the student was successful. It will be easier for students to know what’s expected, too.

  • Check every day. Just because you’ve already decided how to check for learning at the end of a bigger unit doesn’t mean you can’t check for understanding everyday. You can take mini-assessments with quizzes, class discussions, or worksheets. Even asking questions in class can help you determine if the students are understanding content. It’s important to check the progress of students as they move along in the education process.

  • Result in something you really want. You want your students to succeed. As a future teacher, you know how important it is for students to learn what you’ve prepared and feel confident in their work. In the end, your main motivator is the success of your students and their confidence in what they’ve learned.

Just like creating your own personal goals, providing your students with good assessments and sticking to your educational goals can ensure your students can reach their full potential.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Know Your Options

There are many options in the Elementary Education program when it comes to where you want to teach during your practicum experiences and  student teaching or internship. There are two practicum semesters in the program (grades K-2 and grades 3-6). During the practicum, you go to your classes and learn the methods of teaching for eight weeks. Then you are placed in an elementary school for four weeks to practice teaching what you have been learning. Student teaching is the last semester in the program where you are placed in a mentor teacher’s classroom to teach. You have the option of doing an internship instead student teaching. If you choose that route, then you have your own classroom for the whole school year.


The McKay School of Education offers many unique experiences for those in practicum, student teaching, and an internship. There is even the option of a study abroad to Houston, Washington DC, China, or New Zealand! Here are some options to consider…

Partnership School District
– Takes place in Utah at one of the five partnership school districts, which include: Provo, Wasatch, Nebo, Alpine, or Jordan School District.

You have two options for this practicum experience!

1. Partnership School District
– Provo, Wasatch, Nebo, Alpine, or Jordan School District.
– You can do this practicum in the same school district you were in for the K-2 practicum or try another school district!


2. New Zealand Study Abroad!!
– Take all the same practicum classes in New Zealand with experts in Multicultural Ed, ELL Ed, and Literacy Ed.
– Tour the country
– Cultural teaching experience
– Only takes place during the winter semester Grades 3-6 Practicum
– Cost is ~$7,500 + airfare. Includes tuition, room & board.

For More Information:
New Zealand Study Abroad
Or e-mail Marie Tuttle –

If you are trying to decide between an internship or student teaching, check out Emily’s post, “Jump or Wade In,” to get a better idea about these options!!

STUDENT TEACHING: (one semester)
This experience is in a mentor teacher’s classroom for one semester in either Fall or Winter. Student teaching can take place in various locations in country, even China!

NOTE: For students who will be doing student teaching or an internship Fall 2014, applications are due January 15, 2014!! For students interested in China during Spring/Summer 2014, applications are due October 8, 2013!!

1. Partnership School District
– Provo, Wasatch, Nebo, Alpine, or Jordan School District


2. Houston Texas or Washington DC
– Experience teaching outside of Utah!
– Married – You must find your own housing and pay for it. You may also take your spouse with you. (Houston and DC)
– Single – The school provides housing, but you pay for it (DC)
– Single – You find your own housing and pay for it (Houston)

For More Information:
E-mail: Marie Tuttle –


3. China
– Occurs during Spring/Summer semesters
– Teach in a different culture! (in English)
– Cost: Tuition + ~$2,000 (expenses) + ~$1,500-2,000 (airfare)
– The last 3 weeks teaching in China is paid teaching (earn about $2,000)
– Housing is free, but you pay internet and utilities
– School will feed you 3 meals a day (Chinese food)

For More Information:
E-mail: Damon Bahr –
Phone: 801-422-6114
Office: 201-F MCKB


INTERNSHIP: (one school year)
Partnership School District—Provo, Wasatch, Nebo, Alpine, or Jordan
– Full-Time Teacher–you are the teacher on record
– Contracted to work for the whole school year
– Have your own classroom
– Paid half salary of a first year teacher
– All the benefits of a teacher
– High support
– Only pay Fall tuition
– Walk in April and graduate in June

Important Date for Fall 2014 EL ED Interns:
October 17th @ 11 am–Intern Information Meeting in 115 MCKB
February 20th @ 11 am–Intern Information Meeting in 115 MCKB
March 11th @ 4-5 pm–District Intern Meeting @ 2258/2260 Harmon Center
March 28th–First Round Interviews
April 4th–Second Round Interviews

– This is a content-based test. It tests your knowledge of the content you will be teaching. This must be passed in order to teach in Utah.
– Required in the state of Utah.
– It must be taken prior to starting student teaching or an internship.
– Practice tests, dates, and cost can be found at
– Test will be taken at a testing location. The closest one is Prometric in Lindon, UT.

For Elementary Education Students:
Test – EL ED Praxis Test Code – 5031
Multi-subject Test – Reading and language, Mathematics, Social Studies, and Science