Professional Development Plans

This section includes the PDP’s that our co-op teacher had to fill out for each lesson we taught.  We were given goals to work on for the first 6 weeks and there was prescribed things the co-op was looking for in those weeks.  The predetermined criteria was interesting but I found the comments that my co-op teacher made in addition to be much more useful, in terms of knowing what I did well and what could use some work.

Here is a sample of some PDP;s

Health Stress Responses

Phys.Ed. Dribbling

Social Studies Introduction to the Buffalo

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Student Profiles

For this assignment we were asked to choose 3 student we worked with this semester at our placement, and tell about them and where they excel and what they are still working on.  Generally, I think most people choose those students who present a behavioural challenge in the classroom.  The classroom I was placed in doesn’t have any students that present huge behavioural challenges so it was a little more difficult to choose 3 students.

This is the profile, I also left the comments visible from my instructor.  I didn’t have a chance to add or put any of the suggestions to work as the semester ended before I had a chance.  I do plan to review these profiles and try some of the suggestions when I return for my 3 week block in March.

Reading the world, what is your lens showing you? Week 10

Growing up in late 70’s and early 80’s the lens I was taught through was the one of the dominant culture.  That in which many things are still taught through here in Regina, and likely most of Canada.  My books, movies and stories, were very much single storied.  As Chimamanda Adichie told of the single stories she lived I could relate, not to the exact stories, but the stereotypes that develop from the single stories.

I don’t remember having many books about cultures other than my own.  When there was a character that was of different culture, they were almost always presented negatively. They were the villains, inept or in need of rescue.

I was teen during the Ethiopian famine, it was big news.  Celebrities were getting together to hold benefits and record songs (Do they Know its Christmas) to help Ethiopia. A noble cause, to help people suffering due to natural environmental events.  I share this because I think that some of the single stories carry on for years because of the media and lack of a conclusion.  I wonder sometimes if the perception of Africa being poor and destitute comes because we still have that narrative which is renewed every time we hear the song. People share their knowledge of the song, and that is perhaps taken as a situation that still is, because most people don’t research what they hear. The situation in my memory seemed to just fade away with no clear resolve. I think that also says a lot about what we find important to cover as well.  If the drought resolved itself naturally well there was no big “rescue” by usually white people, so it is not news. If it just faded away with no clear resolution, it is easy for people to continue to buy into the stereotypes. With our social media today, I see things cropping up from 10 years ago and people are quick to respond and jump on the band wagon with out checking dates, and facts.

I think as teachers we need to be aware of inadvertently promoting single stories.  I think often of how we are taught how important learning about Residential Schools and Treaties are.  I agree they are but if we are only teaching about this part First Nations history we are promoting a single story, under the guise of inclusive ed.  We need to take our teaching further, by talking about all the different aspects of First Nations cultures and incorporating those aspects into all our subjects all year and not just teaching Treaty Ed as a single unit.  We also need to provide a variety of books for students, not just ones that talk about specific issues that are culturally related. We need to provide stories that have diverse main characters and have our First Nations students and all our students represented doing everyday things, not just special occasion events.  We need to make sure that we are representing First Nations people (and all other cultures) who are successful, and not just because they over came tragic circumstances.  In doing this I feel it gives us many stories. We see how rich and deep everyone is.

 

What is in a name? Blog #5

When I take a walk with my boys, I often feel that it needs to be an educational lesson.  I guide them on what we are seeing, naming things asking questions like what is that tree? why is it green in the winter? Those things I feel are important for them to learn.  Why do I feel knowing the names is important?

Naming things makes it more efficient to describe something but more than that naming something often shows a form of ownership.  We get a cat or dog and we name it, to distinguish from other pets and we want to distinguish it because we consider it ours, we want everyone to know its ours.  During the blanket exercise, it became very clear just how much the settler invaders as Newberry calls us strived for and coveted ownership of the land.  They didn’t want to just use the land they wanted to possess it, at any expense.  I think our tendency to want to make sure our children know the names of everything, is because we are perpetuating the idea of ownership, passing that ownership to children.  We think we got the land fair and square through the treaties, but once you know about the intent of the treaties you begin to see, it wasn’t fair at all.

Maybe as future teachers and possibly parents, we need to instead of naming things just allow our students/children to engage on the land.  We need to let them use their senses to appreciate what we name.  Listen to the birds, smell the air, feel the dirt, to see that there is so much more to the land, than ownership.  That wilderness is all around us, we don’t have to go to remote places that perceive to be free of people and modern amenities we can experience it right where we are.

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Learn! Do! Teach!

Too Hot! Too Cold! Too Dry! Too Wet!

Disappearing animals

Disappearing Habitats

Disappearing playgrounds

Wait! Stop!

WE can fix this

Big Things

Long term 20, 30 50 year impacts of our actions

Be aware, Learn

Zero-waste big events

Think Big, do! Learn!

Small Things

Playgrounds, biking, exploring

Hands in the dirt

Giggles, wiggly worms

Food fresh from the ground, Yum!

Learn! Do! Teach!

Frog and crickets singing

Polar bears lounging

Habitats thriving

Big things small things

Be the stone that creates the ripple

Learn! Do! Teach!

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.

 

 

 

What is a good student?

This week’s prompt asked us to consider what is a good student according to the commonsense and what does this definition make impossible.  Before getting into that definition, it is interesting to note that in our readings for this week the good student definition has changed very little in 130 years.  The first reading from 1886 is more racist in its description of a good student and our second reading doesn’t seem to fit the racist bill but seems to be more gendered in the good student ideal.

A good student according to the first reading is a white, male and the ideal is for them to be Christ like.  The reading then goes on to speak of those of Asian descent and how their religion, language and science are not compatible with the ideal student.

The second reading while it doesn’t mention gendered pronouns specifically, from the description of the challenging students I, at least, am given the impression that these students are boys. In the description of M wielding a branch sword, I feel that if it was a girl it wouldn’t be such an issue, as well as the description of M as restless and had little interest in crafts etc. also the description of N’s challenging behaviour leads me to believe that N was also a boy.  I feel here too that there would be more leeway for a girl that was challenging, and it would be seen as less of a problem. These students don’t fit the bill of the “good student” because they don’t sit quietly, or quietly accept what the teacher feels is important for them to learn.  So, therefore a good student is one who sits quietly, participates willingly in whatever activity the teacher puts out, produces the exact answer the teacher wants and generally follows the ideals of the teacher and school.

The problem with this is that it doesn’t  allow children to be “good students” in their own way.  We saw that N is interested in reading and writing when N has a choice of what N is going to read or write about.  We also see that M participates calmly and with great interest when his time and project are not strictly structured.  We as teachers and even the education system as a whole need to redefine our thinking and allow students to produce work that interests them, to be good students in their own way. The current definition also does not take into account cultural differences. I believe that if our schools were more student interest centered, we would have less behaviour problems, and less classroom management issues and more engaged students meeting the learning standards.

Time to redefine the purpose of education. (blog #2)

In his article Social Efficiency Ideology, Michael Shiro (2013), talks about Ralph Tyler’s four basic questions that must be addressed when creating curriculum or education programs. Those questions are: What educational purpose should the school seek to attain, what educational experiences can be provided to attain those purposes, how can they be effectively organized and how can it be determined that the purpose are being met. (Shiro,2013) A purpose and guiding questions are never a bad thing when creating programs.

Tyler’s questions are a good way to start program planning, every good program or curriculum must have a defined purpose and an idea of how to attain that purpose.  We also need to know that we achieved our purpose of the program in some way.  I believe that when working with large organizations or systems it is essential to have a defined purpose or goal so that gaps and overlaps are kept to a minimum.  We see that in the current curriculum when certain topics are taught in certain grades.  I feel that to make sure the students are moving forward in their knowledge, in such a large organization as in an school or education system, it is a necessary evil so to speak.  We need to know that students are covering a variety of topics throughout their education and not studying the same thing every year because they happen to get teachers for several years in a row who like to teach, for example, the water cycle.  Those students then never discover the wide range of other science topics.

This system though, is problematic because it is very narrow focused on everyone having the same experience, to produce the same result.  Not all students respond to the same experiences in the same way.  What is exciting and interesting for some is dreadfully boring and frustrating for another.  When those who don’t fit the mould, and produce the expected results with the expected experience, that is when labelling happens. Such as, the student has learning difficulties, or has been acting up because of disinterest, so is now labelled as ADHD or has behaviour issues.  When the reality is the material and/or experience didn’t engage the student.

I come from the generation where this model was practiced very strictly.  We were taught the subjects as individual experiences, and there was no mixing of them.  Even as a middle years student I wondered why we didn’t practice our writing skills by writing about what we were learning in social studies or science or read books in English class that pertained to topics we were studying in other subjects.  Our classroom was rows, and desks, the teacher lectured and then we did questions and tests with one correct answer.  There was a very narrow band for creativity and individuality in this strict model.

I slowly see a shift away from the strictness in today’s classrooms.  When I am in a classroom, I see how much more freedom there is for the students.  The seating arrangements are often collaborative, talking and conferring is allowed.  I also see that student aren’t always required to produce one answer but if they can show their learning it is acceptable.  This new way of doing things is something I much prefer, over the way I was taught, but it still is not my ideal.  My ideal would be to have the students work at whatever interested them and produce a sample of their learning in whatever way they choose and works best for them.

I am not sure how or if we would ever be able to reach my ideal of strictly student led classrooms and evaluations but from where I come from we are moving in the right direction. To get to this point of student led education we first need to redefine our purpose and then our definition of evaluation of this purpose.  Learning can happen and be proven in so many ways.

 

References

Schiro, M.(2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and enduring concerns. (2nd ed.).                Sage.

Indoor girl, finds connection to environment.

This blog post is a bit of a challenge for me to write. I very much related to Kimmerer’s students, and their explanation of why things layered they way they do. I don’t know more than the common terms for environmental species and really, I don’t care to. I am not an outside person in any way, shape or form.  I prefer to go from my climate controlled home, to my climate controlled vehicle, to my almost always climate controlled destination. Given that, you can imagine the difficulty I had coming up with a time I felt connected to the environment.  After some thinking, and beginning to believe that I would not come up with anything, I realized that my connection to the environment is water.

I very much love watching and listening to running water.  I enjoy looking at photos of pristine lakes, majestic waterfalls, and gently running streams.  I enjoy watching and listening to the rain, water running and slapping gently against the shore.

The one time my connection to the environment and water stands out is when I was fortunate enough to visit San Diego.  My husband and I spent a week there.  We had a long list of things we wanted to see and do.  The top of the list, an absolute must was to visit a beach and the Pacific Ocean.

We arrived at a, mostly. deserted beach only a couple of tourists and surfers to be found.  I was in awe of being at the ocean.  I just stood and watched and listened.  I felt instantly calm, and at peace, a wonderful feeling.  As I stood and watched, nothing else mattered, I heard no other sounds, but the roar of the waves.  The waves were very high, and came in fast.  My husband and I speculated that there must be a storm out in the ocean somewhere that was generating such waves.  Sitting at the shore we watched the surfers, making bets as to if they would get up and ride the wave.  When we tired we of watching the surfers we turned our attention to the waves themselves.  The power and force of the waves was so impressive.  It put into perspective, just how devastating and forceful waves can be.  However, the even with the realization of the destructiveness that water can bring there was something so mesmerizing about watching the shapes, and patterns the waves took.  The time just melted away from us, as we sat hypnotized by the roar and power of the water.  I have never had time slip away from me like that when I have been outside before.  I hope to someday go back and experience that calmness again. 20180114_185020

Common Sense; do we really need it?

Kumshiro describes “common sense” as something that everyone knows or takes for granted in a society/culture/community.  He goes on to describe how as a newcomer to Nepal, that he had to learn these things.  Things such as showering in a public place, learning that meals were only served twice a day in the shop, and how schooling was conducted, these activities were all common sense to the villagers but not to Kumshiro who had a different common sense.  It is simply what they do without any real thought as to doing them or why they do them. Common sense is something that has always been done without anyone really questioning why it is done.  Most of the time there is no questioning because it is something that isn’t even thought about.

We need to pay attention to the common sense because not all the common sense of a society is as simple as where and when people shower.  The common sense is often generated by those that have privilege and power in a society and whether purposefully or not oppresses those who do not hold the power and privilege in the society.  When we don’t question our common sense, we then assume everyone has or should have the same ideals as we do so we set out to change the common sense that isn’t like ours.  Kumshiro set out to help those in Nepal by bringing in the American methods of teaching, assuming the American methods were better.  When we stop, pay attention, we learn so much.  Paying attention to others common sense gives us a deeper insight into their lives, traditions, beliefs and values. We may learn about others and take some knowledge from them to improve our schools or ourselves.  When we pay attention to our own common sense we might be uncomfortable, because we just might see how our common sense is not the right way for everyone, including those that we interact with daily.  If we paid attention to our common sense, we would have to act to change it and change is uncomfortable.