Effective Principalship- week 12

In our lecture about principles, I was surprised at some of the responsibilities a principle had.  I also whole heartedly agreed with some of the points.

In our turn and talk, my partner and I valued the same qualities in a good principal.  We both thought that a principal who developed a meaningful relationship with their students, staff and the parents, was key to a positive learning environment and experience for everyone.

Principals having to deal with the broader community other than just the students, parents and staff was something I had never considered.  In the Regina Catholic Division, I knew the principals must deal with the Church community as well, but I figured that was the extent of it.  I guess because most schools are in residential areas the principals are required to form relationships and deal with conflicts that arise from school traffic (foot and vehicle) and the inconveniences that may cause the residents.  I imagine they must field inquiries from the local residents, that may or may not pertain directly to the school.

The third thing I learned about was how the STF recognizes the importance of the principal in setting the tone in the school and community.  I think sometimes quality leadership goes unrecognized in the importance it plays in the atmosphere of the work place.

I don’t know that I had an aha moment with this, but I made a couple of connections.

I volunteer at my boy’s school, and the principal there is one of the most caring, passionate teachers, I have ever met.  He seems to take his job of creating a calm, inviting school very seriously.  Most of the teachers, comment that he is fair, and all the students think he is great.  This man knows every one of his 300 plus students by name and many of the parent’s names as well.  He lives the ideals of a principal we talked about in lecture.  I found that at my volunteer placement for this class, the principal at that school also creates an inviting learning environment.  I often see kids at his office, wanting to work at the table in his office.  He also seems to know every child by name.  It is a pleasure to walk into these schools, you feel very welcomed.

In contrast, I had a placement, where the atmosphere was tense to say the least.  In the meetings, it didn’t seem like there was a lot of respect from the teachers.  People didn’t seem to matter.  I understand that a principal is busy and that not everyone has a fabulous memory for names and that may be the case here.  The teachers in this school weren’t willing to help each other, there was a lot of talking behind others backs from the teachers I worked with.  It was interesting to me that I was never introduced to the staff, and in fact the principal never seemed to remember who I was or why I was there.  It was a little disconcerting after having so many positive experiences with teachers and principals.

My question:

How do you handle a work environment that is less than positive from the top leadership?

 

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Teacher Identity- Week 10.

 

For this blog I am going rogue and ditching the 3-2-1 format.  I am just going to share my thoughts on my teacher identity.

I enjoyed reading Krista Yerks experience of first year teaching and how it changed her identity.  When I was young and thinking about going into Education I had an image of myself teaching, similar to what Krista described, heels clicking on the floor as I walked, in perfect control of everything.  Some of that image was because of what I saw, and some of what I chose to see.   Teachers were my idols, my super heroes as a kid and even as a teen they had to do something news worthy to change my mind about their perfection. As a mature student and future teacher, my mind still holds the teaching profession in high regard, almost to perfection.  That perception fuels my identity as a teacher.  Being older also helps me temper that perfect image.

My identity as a teacher is shaped by who I am now and who I was, unlike Yerks, I don’t feel the need to get rid of the old Pam to become Mrs. Milos.  I think my past has shaped me into who I am today, and those experiences help me to understand certain situations better than some.  The collision of my past with the new ideas I learned in ECS 110 and expanded that knowledge in this class, has also given me a greater sense of what it means to be anti-oppressive. If I ditched the old me, I wouldn’t have a reference to how far I have come, that journey is very important for me to reflect on and to see as I embark on my teaching career. That recognition will help me to give myself grace, when I inevitably mess something up.  I will be able to see my mistakes as a learning experience, and to do better next time.  My past has also given me my life experience, and I will be able to avoid some of the pitfalls that new teachers fall in to. My age is not fool proof against mistakes and I will make rookie mistakes too.  However, I can’t let my past get in the way of evolving my identity as a teacher.

My past has shaped my thoughts and actions and helped to propel me forward.  Without acknowledging my past, I don’t think, I would able to embrace anti-bias education.  I find myself with each passing class, developing a passion for being the best anti-bias teacher I can be.  To get rid of the old Pam, to become the teacher, robs my students of the knowledge I have gained.  Now all this doesn’t mean, I live in the past.  It means I take that experience, analyze it with what I did know, with what I have now learned, usually for the better and proceed in more enlightened way.  I feel using the past, to apply to the present, gives me a well-rounded identity, that will allow me to continue to evolve and adapt to the future as well.

I think we need to embrace who we were, who we are, and who we will be.  Everything we have learned and did to this point in our journeys to be teachers has shaped us in some way. Lessons learned are applicable in our class rooms.  Use who you are to move forward, because I feel we can’t separate our identities into neat little compartments, nor should we.   Me being a mom shapes so many parts of my life and interactions, I can’t separate that out, neither can I separate the teacher side of me out when I am with my family, nor should I.  Sometimes the different identities work in conflict with each other, but that conflict makes us stronger, wiser and able to handle so much more.

Some food for thought? How does your current identity work with being a teacher, what lessons can you bring to teaching?

 

Race and Discipline- Week 8

3 things I learned:

  • Anyon’s study was really eye opening. I always knew on some level that there was a discrepancy between schools in lower income neighbourhoods and middle to higher income neighbourhoods in terms of resources and facilities.  What was really fascinating is how the teachers taught according to the perceived future of the kids, given their current family circumstances.
  • Lisa Delpit comments that children, when using certain programs are often labelled before they are even taught the concepts. How is that even fair?
  • The idea what a teacher may see as beneficial and a great tool to learning may not be accepted or seen as a good thing by her students. Deplit describes the student seeing the teacher as lazy because she has students edit each other’s work. Perhaps an explanation from the teacher about looking for the errors, helps all students become better writers might have changed the students mind.

2 aha moments

  • The idea of codes that need to be taught about the culture of power, as Delpit talks about. As part of the culture of power we often don’t see that we have codes because for us its is “common-sense”. We often fall into the trap of thinking if our students are born here, live in our city, that they live by the same codes. It may be true of those who are part of the power but for those who are not, the “common-sense” is not the same.  We need to be aware of making those assumptions.
  • I share the following not as a critique of the person in question, but simply as an observation based on the readings I read just a day or two before. I am not able to criticize because I am just learning, and most importantly I don’t know what went on in the situation before I entered, or after.  In the last week I noticed that unconscious, biases don’t always apply to race, but sometimes have a hierarchy. I observed a situation with a leader and children for approximately an hour.  In that hour I noticed the leader was notably harsher on the First Nations boys, then the white boys and the girls were treated more gently.   In my short time in the situation the boys in general were more well behaved than some of the girls. When behaviour for the boys was called into question, it was more of fidgeting nature, and they were asked to leave the group or threatened with being taken to the supervisor. The boys who presented as non-white were called out most often. If the girls were called out it was gentler, and they were not asked to leave the group.  Interesting to think about for sure. Again, this is an observation not a critique.

 

How do we as teachers recognize that we maybe unconsciously, unfairly over correcting children because of our personal prejudices?

Week 9- Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation and Code of Ethics.

Three things I learned from this week.

  • I learned how to read the teacher pay scale grid. I also found it very interesting in our classroom discussion that after your first degree, it wasn’t necessarily degrees or certificates completed but the number of credit hours you have that determines the next level of pay.
  • I found the Sask. Teacher’s Federation website to be a great resource.  It has so many things that are helpful to teacher’s, not just in terms of benefits, or political advocacy but also useful resources, for professional development.
  • The emphasis on talking to the colleague you have conflict first, and then taking it further to admin, after. I wonder why this is such and emphasis.

 

My 2 aha moments.

  • That the union can bring you up on “charges” should you not cooperate in a walkout or strike and attend to your students or do your work.  As a future teacher, I have always thought that my students well fair is of utmost priority, and I struggle to see how strikes and work to rule and other such actions are beneficial to my students.  To me that is my common good.  Maybe I will understand those actions better once I am in a classroom on a regular basis but being on the outside looking in, I just can’t imagine myself being good at following the rules of such actions, over my students.
  • The other aha moment was in a side conversation with Dr. Crooks, we were discussing continuing our education after our degree. I often toy with the idea of pursuing a PH.D. but I have always dreamed of being a classroom teacher, that is where I feel I belong.  I always thought that having the PH.D. would require you to exit the classroom and get into admin or the Ministry.  I thought why would the school boards pay a Grade 3, for example, a Ph.D. salary.  Crooks, told us in that conversation, that you couldn’t be taken out of the classroom because of your level of education.  Of course, there are other factors involved, but I thought that was nice to know.

 

My question is

How does the Code of Ethics and our responsibility to talk to our colleague about an issue first, work with our other responsibility to report abusive behaviour immediately?

Week #7- History of Education

Throughout our reading on the history of Education of there were some new tidbits of information for me

I found it very interesting how little education many students had during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. I am not sure where I got the idea that Grade 8 was the standard for education, so I was shocked to see that many students had as little as a Grade 3 education and Grade 6 was more the “norm” for highest education.  It was also so surprising at how young and little education teachers needed.  That requirement for education for teachers carried on for a significant time.  I can’t imagine a Grade 9 student, having the ability to manage a classroom full of children some of who are only a year or two younger than they were.

Reading through the history, I also found it very interesting that many of the same complaints and issues of education are still the same concerns today.  Concerns such as the number and size of the school boards in the province, and that education isn’t keeping up with society.

The broad categories of educational philosophy were a source of some new ideas and aha moments.  The definitions of each philosophy were easy to understand and made sense.  I had heard these theories before but never fully understood them.

The educational philosophies were a source of an aha moment as well.  With the explanation it be came apparent to me that our school’s systems are still very rooted in perennialism and essentialism.  We are very much product oriented in our teaching and our assessment.  Although there is a bit of shift to progressivism and social reconstruction, those will never be fully realized until we revamp our outdated thoughts of assessment and learning.  There is more than tests and worksheets to prove learning is happening.

Another aha moment is that the age-old complaint of education isn’t keeping up.  Who or what are we trying to keep up with.  If it is other cultures, we need to realize we will never be like other countries because we don’t share the same societal views as those countries.  Our general society thinks we should be teaching our children to read in Pre-K or Kindergarten, so adopting the successful in Finland play based program here won’t be beneficial or keeping up.  We also aren’t keeping up because for most governments funding the curriculum development to update more frequently isn’t a priority.  We can’t keep up if we don’t know what is truly important in education and if we don’t fund modernizing our curriculum.

A question that comes to mind is “why it is the school/teacher’s responsibility to teach morals to the children, why is that not a parent’s job?”  I wonder this often as a parent and a future teacher.

Childhood, is it really a thing, how do we know?

One of the more interesting things of this topic is Valerie Walkerdine pointing out that childhood was never seen as separate from adulthood until compulsory schooling.  While I have heard that idea throughout history classes, I never gave it much thought and certainly not in terms of the implications of child development.  The study of child development is one of those things, that you know had to have a start some where, but I ,at least, have never given any deeper thought to the implications of it on children or what the understanding of how children did things was before the inception of Developmental Psychology.

Another aha moment was the mention by Marie Battiste, of a class that is offered at the University of Saskatchewan, similar to our ECS 110 Self and other class.  This stood out to me for two reasons.  One is that I have this idea in my head that because classes aren’t universally transferable between universities, the values of what is important to learn were also very different.  That made me happy to see that at least one other education program thinks that learning about our feelings towards others shapes our interactions.  Secondly, I was recently reminded of how much my thinking and attitudes had changed through my journey in ECS 110.  I remember thinking at the end of the semester, how that class should be mandatory in at least high school and that it should also be mandatory in every faculty at university.  After the issues that reminded me of my learning in ECS 110, I feel even more strongly this information should be mandatory.

The biggest revelation to me in this reading was in putting it all together.  Embracing different ways of knowing is ideal and something we most definitely should strive for.  However, I think that in order for this to be effective, we need a complete over haul of our education system.  Our current way of doing things especially assessment is not conducive to other ways of knowing.

As I read through Walkerdine’s article, and she said that development psychology is a “story”.  I immediately connected with what we are learning in ESCI 302.  We are learning that stories are a different way of knowing.  Now with this new lens or way of knowing, I am beginning to see that knowing about developmental theory is not something as I teacher, I should use a rule above all else, but as a tool to guide me.

After viewing the video of Sâkêj Henderson, I found very interesting that in his language there was no word for purpose.  I started thinking about it and the purpose of schooling and curriculum.  As part of our journey to being a teacher we are required in ECS 210 to examine the curriculum.  One of the things we talk about is the purpose of the curriculum.  Our curriculum is very product or end result oriented.  How do you show you did this rather than embracing the more abstract learning of how did this make you think and feel.  We can’t get away from the most basic purpose and that is we need to be literate in words, numbers and technology but why do a set out purpose for learning everything else.

My question is: How do we move away from one way of knowing and fully embrace different ways of knowing?

Culture and Diversity

Culture and Diversity

This chapter was a bit of mixed learning, it had many ideas and information that again, I have previously learned, and am currently learning in other classes.  There, however. was some new ideas as well.

The first was resistance cultures and peer influences.  I found it very interesting that students in low socio-economic(ses) groups, may not do well because they don’t want to be seen by their peers as conforming to the dominant culture, or “selling out.”    I know that peers have a great influence but to see how it can impact someone’s future in such a big way just boggles my mind.

Tracking or streaming was another idea that I sort of knew about but never really thought to deeply about either in how it works or how it can be discriminatory.  I found it very interesting that low-ses student are put in lower classes, based on judgements rather than actual facts/testing.  I found the point/counterpoint argument very interesting as well.  It was interesting that it seemed that it was only the higher-tracked students who would suffer from eliminating tracking.  I agree with at the end of the argument that we should consider the students interests and goals and support them to achieve those goals rather than placing them where we think they will do well or what is best for them.  I also think that schools that support the low-ses students should be better funded.

Stereotype threat is a completely new concept for me.  I never really thought about the pressure of conforming to a stereotype either good or bad.  Conforming to a so called positive stereotype would be stressful but after reading about resistant cultures, conforming to a negative stereotype could be just as or even more stressful and conflicting.

I often find myself in my classes feeling a little more pressured to be more organized and on top of things, because I am a mature student.  It sometimes seems that others think, I have it more together because I am a mom and a student and older.  I put a lot of pressure on myself to conform to the perceived stereotype.

I wonder if the resistant culture is sometimes perpetuated also by parents either blatantly or inadvertently.

 

 

 

Social Cognitive Theory-Bandura

This week there is some new learning, that I haven’t previously covered in other classes and that excites me.

One of the big things that came out of this chapter was in the lecture when Dr. Crooks asked us to think of something we learned recently and take a deeper look at how we learned that task.  I think by having us look at the steps in our learning it helps us to be more aware of the steps our students take in learning what we are teaching them.  It may also help us to find new tools or methods when our students struggle with material.

The difference between self-regulation and self-efficacy was also enlightening.  Even though they are different, self-efficacy is the belief in oneself and self-regulation is the ability to manage one’s feelings and find the motivation to get through the tough spot.  I do think that both go hand in hand.  I think the higher the self-efficacy one has the better they maybe to self-regulate.  I also believe that one can self-regulate with out a high self-efficacy but it’s a bit more challenging.

I also found the information we were given on Bandura interesting.  I think he is a very good example of self-regulation, in how he got himself through school in such a short time.

One of the big connections I made is that Bandura’s theory seems to combine both Vygotsky’s and Piaget’s theory very well.  Bandura recognizes that social, like Vygotsky, plays an important role in learning especially the modelling of a task or behaviour from someone more experienced. Bandura also recognizes that the motivation and level of development, like Piaget, plays a part in learning as well.  Children must have the cognitive development and motivation to learn a task, for the modelling/social to be effective.

The other connection, came from the lecture in that my methods of self-regulation/organization may not be effective for my students.  I must be prepared to help my students find what works for them, so they can be successful.  There isn’t only one way to self regulate or be organized.

Finally, I ended up with 2 questions instead of one this time around.

My first question is: Is there an optimum window for learning self-regulation?

Secondly: I was curious to know what the definition of success was in the marshmallow test follow up.

 

Parenting styles, peer culture and a positive spin on bad situations.

This week in ECS 200 we talked about self and social and moral development.  Last semester we covered most of this in detail in ECE 200 for the younger kids.  I find it difficult to find something new I have learned, so instead I am switching my thinking to what expanded my knowledge of what I have already learned.

The first idea that expanded was the authoritarian parenting style, is not always a negative style of parenting nor does it always produce negative outcomes for the children who are parented this way.  The text (p.73) suggests that cultural and socio-economic factors may lead to this having positive outcomes.  The text gives example of students of Asian descent or students in dangerous neighbourhoods having positive outcomes with this parenting style.

Through our discussion in lecture, I found it interesting that most everything can be treated with positivity.  I find this a little difficult, which may be because I have a narrow definition of positivity.  I find it hard to believe that you can put a positive spin on calling the parents of a repeat fighting offender, for example.  I do believe you can and should be pleasant and understanding when making that phone call.  I see those as different than being positive.  I see being positive as putting a good spin on the situation and I can’t see how you can do that with a repeat offender, with a serious offense.

My knowledge of peer culture expanded.  I know that peers exert a great amount of influence over each other.  I did not fully realize the extent of it. I found it so eye opening reading the Mean Girls scenario and the incident described on p. 76 of the text.  I knew kids could be mean, but I just didn’t think they would be that strict and rigid in their self-made codes/rules.

The two connections I made from this chapter have to do with parenting styles.

The first is that my parenting style does affect my teaching style a great deal.  I have noticed in my volunteering in the classroom, that I am firmly entrenched in the authoritative style, with the students and have seemingly endless patience with them. While with my own children I sometimes cross into the authoritarian parenting style and lack that endless patience.

Secondly, is that I really need to be aware that the authoritative style may not be received or responded to well by all my students.  I must be aware that it is not disrespect on their part, but it may be cultural or socio-economic and I may have to adjust accordingly.  I may have to be more firm and direct, but I can still be warm and caring.

My burning question from this chapter comes from the lecture discussion.

How do you put a positive spin on bad situations?  i.e. Repeated fighting.

Blog post #1- Theories of Piaget and Vygotsky

After studying Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories for most of last semester it was a bit tricky to come up with three things I learned.  It was through the lecture that some new learning happened.  The first thing was that our current Education system is based on Piaget’s theories of stages of learning. The grade levels in our system correspond, not exactly of course, to Piaget’s theory of what they are capable of at certain ages. For example, we don’t teach Algebra to most 6-year olds who are in grade one because they aren’t yet capable of the level of abstract thinking required to perform algebraic tasks. This brings me to my second learning from the chapter, we must be very careful as educators and parents not to be to rigid in our application for the stages and ages.  Children in any of Piaget’s stages maybe exactly where the stage expects or they maybe below or higher in their abilities.  The only new learning I had from this chapter was about neural pathways being pruned away at certain stages of development.

The first connection I made was to the neural pathway pruning.  I connected this to English as an Acquired Language learners(EAL).  It seems to connect, why young children seem to have an easier time of learning additional languages and for some adults and teens it is more difficult.  The language acquisition neural pathways in young children are still strong from learning their first language and have not been “pruned” away in the case of some adults.  The second connection I made was that Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories are often used together, such as in our classrooms.  Many classroom teachers incorporate Vygotsky’s social theories into their teaching and student learning through classroom arrangement and allowing children to collaborate on their work and projects together.

My question from this chapter is why is there not more updated research on both Piaget and Vygotsky’s theories or if there is why is the more current research being taught.