Technology – What is Possible and Impossible?

One thing I feel that is made possible through the usage of technology is the diverse teaching styles that can be brought into the classroom.  All students that come into classrooms will be different from one another, so it is important to find techniques that meet all of the learning needs/styles in the classroom. Technology has made it possible to accomplish this. There are forms of technology that assist with reading and writing problems. Classroom management websites to help improve students behaviour in the classroom. Hands on technology to assist with science dissections. The forms of technology that can be used in the classroom seems endless. If something is not working in the class, it is easy to find something else that will. It may take time to learn how to use the forms of technology that a teacher chooses to use, but the results can be rewarding.

I think that technology is beginning to make it hard for people to do things without the use of it. It is rare, in my experiences, to have someone to ask me to hand write an assignment. Or to be asked to not use a calculator in class. Or to communicate with someone only through face to face interactions. Now, there is nothing wrong with using technology to complete tasks, or to communicate. However, I think that if this is completely relied on, important life skills will be lost or not valued. Cursive writing is no longer taught in schools, calculators make it possible to just find answers without showing work, and technology makes it harder for people to have conversations face to face. I think it is important to bring in technology so that different styles of teaching can be demonstrated, but I also think that other skills need to be taught so that it is not completely relied on.

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Hidden Messages

After reading over my autobiography again, I realized that I did leave out information that can be seen as a hidden message. I did not state my gender, my sexual orientation, or my cultural background. At the time, I did not think about the hidden message that could be seen by not including this. I did not include it for two reasons. The first reason was because in my mind, I did not think that information mattered for the assignment that I was completing. On my English essays I do not write that I am a female, so I did not on this assignment either. I also did not add the information because the person who I was handing the assignment into already knew who I was.

After talking about this in class, I realized that there can be different hidden messages seen from this. One that was discussed might be that who I am did not effect me in a strongly negative way, so I did not bring it up. If I had been a woman who originally did not have the right to join the education program because of my gender, but later gained access, that would probably be something I would include. Another hidden message is that I assumed the person receiving my assignment knew this information about me based on what they had seen. I assumed that she knew I am a female, that I identify as white, and that I am heterosexual, just based on seeing me in her classroom a few times. I had not thought of these things at the time, but I found it very interesting when it was brought up in class.

Personally, now that I have thought about it, I think this information does matter. Maybe it is not the most important information for the assignment, but it does matter. If I assigned an autobiography to my class, I want them to be able to open up and share all of this information with me so that I know who they are and what their background is. I think it is interesting to learn about. I also think that it can build strong relationships if my students feel comfortable enough to share information like this with me. This information may not be the most important to everyone, but it helps make who an individual is.

What is a Good Student?

The common sense definition of a “good student” from my experiences is very specific. A “good student” will sit still, only talk when they raise their hand or have been called upon, hand in all of their homework on time, get good grades, and never miss a day of school. In my experiences with this, if you did not fall under this category, the teacher did not treat you with the same respect as those that were known as the good students. To me, this is wrong though. The majority of the class does not fall into this perfect mold.

This mold leaves out the students who do not receive high marks all of the time. The students who might have ADHD or need to be moving in order to stay focused. The students who are called upon and do not know the answer. The students who were not able to complete the assignment on time because of a situation outside of school. I think that students who do not meet the specific mold and do not receive the same respect may not feel like they are as valued in the classroom. This can cause the student to be less successful and have a negative experience in the classroom.

I think as future educators it is our responsibility to give all students the opportunity to be a good student. A good student will not be the same for each student because everyone’s abilities and highest potential are not the same. By trying to engage all of the students and giving everyone the opportunity to be successful, they have the chance to show how they can be. I cannot define what a good student is with an exact definition because I think it will be different with each student that I encounter.

Teacher As Learned Practitioner

The image best described by Kumashiro that relates to me the most when it comes to my own experience of learning to be a teacher in this program is “teacher as learned practitioner”.  I agree that what I have learned in this program, for the most part, is: learning about students (who they are, how they develop, and how they learn), learning about what is to be taught, and learning how to teach. I have had classes specifically on child development and growth, curriculum courses, and classes where I have had to demonstrate how I would teach. This shows that my experience relates to the image of “teacher as learned practitioner”. I do think that all of these parts of my experience have been useful and will benefit me greatly when I begin to teach. However, as discussed in class, there are limitations to this image. One limitation is that this type of program allows teachers to believe they should only teach what is “comfortable”, which can cause this form of teaching to be oppressive. It is oppressive because teachers stick to what they find familiar, which in a lot of cases, is a specific way of thinking. It does not allow for a lot of room for controversial topics, or things that are out of the “norm”. I personally want to teach in a way that allows me out of my comfort zone. I do not want to stick to what is “normal”. Rather, I want to open the minds of my students, as well as my own mind. Another limitation that can happen with this type of program is that teachers do not want to know more or know less. Some teachers, coming out of the education programs, believe that what they know is enough. However, I do not think that this is true. I think that being a teacher means a never ending supply of knowledge. Once you enter different schools, meet different teachers, parents, and students, you will be introduced to different opportunities, diverse views, and new experiences. It is important to learn from these experiences as it can help you to expand and grow as a teacher, which can benefit you and your students.

How Stories Shape Our Lives – Part 2

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The photo above is a photo I had presented to me when learning about creating safe places. The drawing was done by a boy who is gay, but had to hide this from everyone else because of his culture. The drawing shows him taking out his identity, but hiding it because of what he thought others would say and was scared. After some time of hiding who he was he went to a camp and was surrounded by people who were also gay. He was finally able to relate to others, gain allies, and show his true identity.

I am connecting this drawing to the story “Out Front” by Annie Johnston. In the story Johnston talks about the importance of allies, role models, and anti-slur policies in school in order to make all students feel comfortable. This story talks about how students should not have to hide or be embarrassed about the gay or lesbian family members they may have. I think this feeling should be the same for people who are gay or lesbian. They should not have to hide their identity in order to feel safe and welcomed. If a school environment is created that works towards acting against homophobia, less students will feel need to keep their identity hidden. My hope as a future teacher is to create an environment that the boy who drew the picture represents in the final frame of the drawing. I want me students to be happy about who they are and feel safe to share who they are, not matter what they identify as.

 

How Stories Shape Our Lives – Part 1

Teaching in the Undertow

This story discusses how becoming a teacher is a process in which the learning is constant. You should find ways that the beliefs of your students and yourself are valued and heard. It is important to realize that you are not alone. Create allies who can provide you with practical ideas and who can act as a support system. These allies can be a great resource of advice when you are starting off as a teacher or in a new school setting. Attempt to make your teachings more meaningful by connecting topics to real world issues, and give students the chance to share their opinions. As a teacher you cannot do everything you want, but you can do something.

‘Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’

Students in elementary schools already have racism and biases impacting their lives. As teachers, it is important to recognize that students learn biases in society at a young age. We also need to recognize that these biases impact our lives. By building a classroom environment that learns about each other’s lives and backgrounds, it can help to overcome the biases that are made. This classroom community can be an opportunity for students to feel more comfortable with their race and background, and give students more ways to think about and describe themselves. A great point made is “I want them to understand that they have the power to transform the society” (Tenorio, 91).

What can I do when a student makes a racist or sexist remark?

It is important to “remember that curriculum is ‘everything that happens’ at school” (Tenorio, 93). The hidden curriculum is something that is demonstrated and learned from surroundings. If a teacher hears a student make a racist or sexist remark and just ignores it, the student learns that it is an okay thing to say. However, if attention is brought to it in an educational matter, it can prevent this remark from being used again. Make the situation teachable by talking about how it could affect people, and what could be used instead.

 Framing the Family Tree

As the world changes, the definition of what makes up a family does too. The best, diverse friendly, definition of what a family is would be a unit of people who make someone feel safe and happy. This may not be a mom and a dad, biological parents and siblings, or even someone who is considered an adult. As a teacher, the phrases used and activities used in the classroom need to be educational and welcoming of all forms of diversity that may be present in the classroom or school. A great idea given in the story is rather than making “Mother’s Day” gifts, allow students to pick someone who is special to them to recognize. Offer options for all students when completing assignments that revolve around the topic of families.

Heather’s Moms Got Married

A common thought that people still have in this day of age is that parents consist of one mom and one dad. However, this is not always the case. Same sex marriage has become something that is present in parents of students in classrooms.  In the classroom, teachers should not be afraid to talk about this “controversial topic”. By accepting that parents could mean many things, children are less likely to be hurt, and more likely to share about their home life. It is not right to presume that students live in a home that has what is considered a “traditional family”. Give students the opportunity to share about and display their family.

 Out Front

When attempting to create a “homophobia free” environment, allies, role models, and anti-slur policies are excellent ways to start. By working together as an entire school, teachers can work collaboratively to find ways to incorporate queer and queer issues into the classroom curriculum. This not only demonstrates a welcoming environment of queer people, but also educates people on the topic which can prevent hate and biases. Not only will gay youth benefit from gay role models, but straight youth will too. This shows that being gay is a normal part of society, and that people should not be ashamed of who they are. Finally, anti-slur policies should be used to eliminate the use of hateful terms by educating students on how what is being said can be hurtful, and what appropriate language is.

 ‘Curriculum Is Everything That Happens’

Being a teacher means having an endless supply of learning. New teachers may think they know everything, but this isn’t the case. Being open and ready to learn new things is part of the job. It is the role of a teacher to not only prepare students to pass curriculum teachings. Teachers are responsible for making their students educated and active members of society. Building relationships is a key part of working with students. Building relationships, preparing students for society and making students feel valued is all part of the curriculum. All teachers should try to reach outside of their classroom and school. Find resources, organizations, and the community to support you so that it is not just your voice being heard.

 Working Effectively with English Language Learners

For students who are English language learners, it is the responsibility of the teacher to find ways to deliver instructions and information in a way that is understandable. Make services accessible for students by finding out what is available in your school, and sharing those services with the students. Some specific strategies that can be used in the classroom to help are: speaking slowly and clearly at all times, preparing students about lessons ahead of time, and using visual and active methods of teaching, rather than just verbal teachings. Do not create environments that make students who are English learns feel uncomfortable. Incorporate students’ cultures and languages.

Teaching Controversial Content

Teaching a topic that is considered controversial is not easy. Many teachers are scared of doing it, so do not include it. The teachers who do choose to bring the controversial topics into their classroom content can have a tough time starting out because they do not know if it is “okay” to do. One of the best ways to start is to develop an understanding on the school that you work in. Find out how the school and the community feel towards these topics. Inform the parents and principal about what is being done. People might be more accepting of these topics if they have been talked to about what is being taught, and why. Lastly, be prepared to have questioning or criticism made towards what is being done.  Reaching a goal might take a while, but you have to start somewhere.

Unwrapping the Holidays

The first year of teaching can be a rough year. It is common to want to do what you are told and fit in. While entering a new school, it can be hard for teachers to feel comfortable and supported enough to teach about their beliefs. Holidays can be a tricky area because of the diversity of celebrations that are present in schools these days. If you are a new teacher coming into a school, be prepared for people to be upset about requests you may have. Start slow; model beliefs in your own classroom and go from there. Do not force anyone to do something they do not believe in. Changing an environment is complex, so do not expect it to happen quickly and easily.

Teaching About Treaties

The topic about teaching treaties is a topic I have never thought about before because it is something I have never heard of.  The schools I attended had “Native Studies” which was an optional class that you took once. However, after hearing from a guest speaker who has done a lot of work to include the teaching or treaties in her classroom, and after a discussion in the seminar, teaching about treaties is something that I want to include in my teachings. That being said, I do not know how I see myself teaching treaties. I say this simply because it is a topic that is completely new to me. I would not be comfortable teaching about it, just like I would not be comfortable teaching about math, or biology. I think that in order to feel comfortable to teach it to my students, and to know that I am teaching it in the proper, beneficial way, there needs to be more support for future teachers. Besides what the guest speaker talked about, I do not know what all falls under the category of “treaty” teachings. In order to teach it, I would have to go out and find people who can help me get started in the right direction, and find resources that support my teachings. One point Claire Kreuger made was that she made many mistakes on the way of finding out how she can incorporate treaty teaching in the class, and she is still learning about how to improve it. I do understand that I will make mistakes, but I think I need to hear more regarding the topic in order to get myself off on the right foot.

One question our seminar did not seem to come to an answer about was how to bring treaty teachings into subjects other than Social Studies and Native Studies. I personally do not know how I would do this, but it is something I think us as future educators need to challenge ourselves to do. As the article said “be okay with not knowing everything”. Not knowing everything challenges us to take risks and try new ways to make things work.

One other topic I talked about after class in a smaller group was whether or not we consider ourselves “treaty people”. In the lecture it was said that “we are all treaty people”. However, I find it hard to associate myself with something that I have never heard about before. I think that in order to identify myself as something particular, and to be able to tell my future classes that “we are all treaty people”, I need to know the background information about what it means to be a treaty person.