The Most Terrifying Question I Have Ever Asked in a Classroom

Photo Credit: Stephen Durham via Flickr

Introduction: As a brief aside, attending Marquette’s College of Education was an invaluable experience. I could go on about the specific aspects that have served me most; simply put, I appreciate Marquette for the professional problems that I have not had to deal with. I have hosted several field students from various local colleges and universities. Marquette’s field students have been most prepared to positively impact student learning. I am thankful for that, and for the opportunity to share a little about the greatest unforeseen gift Marquette has given me: my (now) fiancee Jamie.

As teachers, I know you’re pressed for time and being pulled in a million directions at once, so to save time I thought about describing the proposal in a format familiar to us all (the Marquette lesson plan).

I was fairly certain of the outcome, but I’d imagine that everyone still has that fleeting moment of doubt. Also, my father had secretly flown in from New York for the day, so it would have made for an awkward moment at the ‘Arrivals Terminal’ had she turned me down.

Marquette University: Lesson (Proposal) Plan Template

The Most Terrifying Question I’ve Ever Asked In a Classroom 02/22/15

Yes or No- That is the Question Subject/Grade Level/Lesson Duration

Section A. Lesson Preparation

Rationale — Why is it important for students to learn the content of the lesson?

This question assumes the reader has any vested interest in the story that follows.

Description of Learners — What factors must be considered in order to accommodate the diversity of learners in your class?

  1. What are your girlfriend’s developmental skills? (Cognitive? Physical? Social? Emotional? Motivational?)

Jamie is kind, light-hearted, thoughtful, and sentimental. To know Jamie is to know care, compassion, and the consideration of others. She embodies Marquette’s identity of Cura Personalis, care for the whole person — towards me, her family, and especially her students.

  1. How can the personal/cultural/community skills of your girlfriend be utilized in this lesson?

Although Jamie is a math teacher, she is also somewhat of a natural historian. I’m not sure whether it is innate sentimentality or just the need to photographically document her life, but Jamie is an ardent supporter of the ‘photo collage’. As such, it will be important to incorporate elements of this asset into a marriage proposal.

I’m not kidding. She must have been responsible for half of Kodak’s revenue prior to acquiring a digital camera.

3. What prior knowledge, skills, and understanding must I have in order to successfully engage in this lesson?

Prior Knowledge- Jamie is the youngest of eight. It is a big Brady Bunch sort of family and spread out from the South Side of Chicago to Sarasota, and everywhere in between. Mine is almost entirely concentrated in the New York metropolitan area. She often laments about the inability to see our families as regularly as she would like. I knew that key elements of a proposal would somehow involve incorporating as much of our families as possible.

Skills- Jamie has an uncanny ability to recall specific conversations and details from the past. I knew that the proposal would need to involve her desire to revisit special moments in her life.

4. What preconceptions/misconceptions/misunderstandings/errors might Jamie have about the concepts in this lesson?

Jamie is a very perceptive and inquisitive person by nature. To avoid an error in execution, it is essential to maintain a level of secrecy once I acquire the ring.

I think that she knew I had bought the ring, so I employed the skill of her friends to mislead her. Additionally, I intentionally waited until the week after Valentine’s Day. I knew that she thought that if I hadn’t proposed on Valentine’s Day, then it wasn’t going to happen for a while. This would buy me some time.

Objectives/Learner Outcomes and Assessments (formal and informal)

1. List the measurable learning outcomes (knowledge, skills, dispositions) that Jamie is expected to demonstrate as a result of the lesson?

A. Jamie will follow the guided clues to lead her on a scavenger hunt to some of her favorite places.

B. Jamie will ultimately arrive in the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center at Marquette University and view the proposal video.

C. Jamie will accept my proposal for marriage.

I must have checked my pocket 100 times that morning.

2. For each of the above outcomes, what ASSESSMENTS will you use to evaluate each of your learning outcomes? (Give a brief description).

A. Jamie will follow the coded directions on four cards that will lead her to three locations which will serve as three formative assessments. The first location is her favorite restaurant for breakfast with her mom- the manager will give her the next card. The second location is a nail salon- her technician will give her the next card. The final location is Marquette’s College of Education. The formative assessments will be verified by Jamie’s arrival at each respective location.

The difficulty of writing these, like any assessment, was finding the appropriate level of rigor while still allowing for learners (Jamie) to succeed. I had not initially planned on sending Jamie to have her nails done (I was thinking paid shopping spree at Nike instead), but one her friends quite astutely pointed out that if I was giving her a ring, I had better make sure her nails looked the part for pictures. Thanks, Sam.

B. Jamie will arrive in the Hartman Center at Marquette. I knew Jamie had spent considerable time there working with the students, and since we were both Education majors, it made sense for her summative assessment to take place here.

Classroom space in the Hartman Literacy and Learning Center

This would not have been made possible without the direct and willing assistance of Tina McNamara. Not only is she an exceptional advisor, but also one of my favorite St. Thomas More parents. Thank you, Tina, for your help and for navigating me back onto a successful academic track during my freshman year.

C. Jamie will accept my marriage proposal.

Assessing this was quite obvious. I was fairly certain of the outcome, but I’d imagine that everyone still has that fleeting moment of doubt. Also, my father had secretly flown in from New York for the day, so it would have made for an awkward moment at the ‘Arrivals Terminal’ had she turned me down.

Standards Addressed — What Core State Standards (English/Language Arts, Math, Disciplinary Literacy) or Wisconsin model academic standards (Science, Social Studies, Foreign Language) are specifically addressed in the lesson? Please list the number and text of the standard. If only a portion of a standard is being addressed, then only list the relevant part(s).

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11–12.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text.

I definitely had to look this up. Nevertheless, Jamie would need this skill to decipher my attempt at clues leading her to the next location.

Materials/Resources/Technology — List all materials/resources/technology needed to support instructional procedures in this lesson.

1. Computer to play my video: I was able to set up my laptop on a table in the Hartman Center.

2. Proposal Video: This was definitely the most time consuming. For months leading up to the proposal, I had to sneak around and meet with her family/friends to film them for the video. Ideally, I was looking for words of congratulations, advice for the future, or fond memories of Jamie and me. Some people proved too inaccessible to reach first hand (Alaska and Washington D.C.), but they were more than willing to send me a video. The group below details the full checklist that I had:

· 3 Brothers (Chicago, Chicago, Madison)

· 3 Sisters (Waukesha, Brookfield, Chicago)

· 2 Nephews (Waukesha, Chicago)

· 2 Nieces (Chicago)

· 2 Aunts (Sarasota, Chicago)

· 1 Uncle (Chicago)

· 4 Former Daycare Parents/Children (Brookfield)

· 9 Friends (Waukesha, Washington D.C., Alaska, Waukegan, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, New Berlin, Gurnee)

· 5 “Moms”- Told you it was like the Brady Bunch (Gurnee, Brookfield, Chicago, Queens-NY)

· 2 Fathers- (Brookfield, Queens-NY)

3. Ring: I must have checked my pocket 100 times that morning.

4. Future Mother-in-law: Needed to block a tour of prospective students from entering the Hartman Center while I was on a knee, mid-proposal. Yes. That happened.

Section B: Content/Procedures/Sequence (Include estimated time for each activity)

Content outline

Instructional strategies/learning tasks/sequence of activities (include what you and the students will be doing that supports diverse student needs)

1. Introduction: Flowers with first clue

2. First Stop: Breakfast with her mother

3. Second Stop: Nail Salon

4. Last Stop: MU Hartman Center

5. Closure: Proposal

Jamie and I had plans to see each other the day before. I was not thinking and had already picked up the flowers that morning from the florist, so they were sitting on my kitchen table. When she came over, I needed to hide them in a hurry. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the good people at Maytag for engineering a dryer large enough to hold an entire floral arrangement.

Section C: Closure

Summary of lesson — How will you bring the lesson to a close? (One-two statements that you will say at the end of the lesson)

Statement One: “Will you marry me?”

Jamie’s response: “It’s a princess cut!” followed immediately by, “DUH!”

Statement Two: “Now what?”

Her sister’s had planned a party at her parent’s house in Brookfield.

Assignment — What independent work will be assigned?

The next step is the planning process.

I will save that for another day, but let me just briefly mention that I have since learned there are more than thirty ways to fold and place a napkins on plates. Who knew?

Section D: Self-Assessment and Reflection (To be completed only if and after you teach the lesson)

  1. Was the lesson successful? What DATA or EVIDENCE support your conclusions?
Photo of the newly engaged couple, credit: Kevin Gleeson

Kevin Gleeson (Class of 2011) is the Social Science Department Chair at St. Thomas More High School on Milwaukee’s South Side.