Current Connection Article: https://www.readingrockets.org/article/getting-parents-involved-schools
My current connection was based on the readings from pages 273-301. The first section of the reading was titled, “From Outrage to Organizing” by Ikechukwo Onyema. This section was all about a new idea to Freedom Schools. Freedom Schools are places of political education and literacy interventions during that started during the civil rights movement. This section is about “updating” freedom schools to talk about current world topics such as police brutality. This section went into talking about how white folks give “the talk” about the bird and the bees while black fathers give “the talk” to their children about what to do around police. A big emphasis of matter for this section was the use of political cartoons to spread awareness. Studies also shows that people who participate in freedom schools are more likely to engage in the community. The main point of this section is that they want to “merge conversations about pedagogy and innovation with urgent political discourses around race, gender, and poverty”. Next, we covered a section called, “Why Community Schools”? This section introduces us to a new vision which are community schools. Community schools are seen as a more democratize source of education and a way to combat the privatization of schools. There are six pillars that will make up a community school and those are, “Strong and Culturally Relevant Curriculum”, “High-Quality Teaching”, “Inclusive/Shared Leadership”, “Community Support Services”, “Positive Discipline Practices”, and “Family and Community Engagement”. The main point of this section is that the privatization of schools is a real problem and something needs to be done about it. Could community schools be the solution? The next section was titled, “Blood on the Tracks” by Amy Lindail. This section focuses on statistics of the segregation within our schools as well as racial stereotypes such as black people growing up wanting to be athletes. It also highlights what classes are available to both genders as well as enrollment disparities. The main point of this section to me is that something within the inner school system has to change if we want to change the patterns of history. Another section was titled “Little Kid’s Big Ideas” by the Editors of Rethinking Schools. This section started with the editor over hearing a second grader talk about “nuking the world” since its so bad and wanting to just “start over”. The main point of this section is that students hear things on the news, the radio, and social media nowadays. Teachers need to deal with these issues head on because some of them might be what they encounter in their everyday lives. We as future educators needs to listen to their questions and answer to the best of our abilities. We need to stop leaving children in the dark in terms of these real world issues. The editors give us creative ways to explore these sensitive topics with our students. There is also a short Q and A section that talks about why school reform is worth supporting and the steps to take in order to do that. The section that I chose to do my current connection on is titled, “Aren’t you on the Parent Listserv?” by Grace Cornell Gonzales. Grace is a kindergarten teacher at a very diverse bilingual school in San Francisco. One concern of her’s was with the members that made up the school’s PTA as well as what voices were being heard and what students were being advocated for. The PTA was made up of white middle and upper class parents. Seeing this created a goal for her to work towards getting more parents involved. The way she tackled this was to overcome communication barriers by setting some ground rules. Those ground rules are: All Communication must be bilingual and Spanish should go first, important communication cannot be done just through email, sign up opportunities have to be fair, and teacher to parent communication needs to be suited for the family and figure out what families need more flexibility. These rules ultimately allowed for parents to be more involved as well as the PTA becoming more diverse and was a good first step to reach her goal of making schools more equitable. The article I connected this with is an article titled, “Getting parents involved in schools”. This article is written by “The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement” and it offers some researched based advice to help with that. Research shows that parent involvement can improve students’ behavior, attendance, and achievement. The article starts by outlining what successful parenting is. It states that, “Successful parent involvement can be defined as the active, ongoing participation of a parent or primary caregiver in the education of his or her child. Parents can demonstrate involvement at home-by reading with their children, helping with homework, and discussing school events-or at school, by attending functions or volunteering in classrooms. Schools with involved parents engage those parents, communicate with them regularly, and incorporate them into the learning process”. It then highlights four main points that are issues and ways to help parents become more involved. The first point highlights the barriers to successful parent involvement. It talks about how schools often don’t engage parents because they don’t think they can or teachers think parents don’t want to be involved. The biggest problem is the disconnect between parents and the school. This could be language barriers or parents not having time. There is also a link to parents having poor experiences with schooling themselves. Secondly, it goes into talking about how schools foster successful parent involvement. The main way is by improving communication. There should be a two way flow of information and multiple means of communication are necessary. The bottom line here is for schools is to communicate using strategies that convey what is important in a way that can be heard by parents and families and invites them to respond. Third, schools should be teaching both the parents and teachers. Parents often have discomfort with schools which keep them from being involved because they don’t know how to get involved. The National Network of Partnership Schools at Johns Hopkins University has designed a useful teacher-parent partnership process called Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS). TIPS aims to forge a three-way relationship between teachers, parents, and their children through a creative approach to homework. The schools involved in the program have seen a reduction in discipline problems and increases in attendance rates, and also are starting to see achievement gains. Lastly, the program implemented should be personalized to the specific school. Successful parent-involvement programs typically develop in response to a specific need in the school or its community and are both focused and flexible in addressing that need. Some programs that work for some schools might not for others. Find what needs your school has and communicate those accordingly. In conclusion, parents are the most important partner in a child’s education and schools can reap large dividends by capitalizing on their support. To be sure, such relationships require a lot of work by both educators and parents. Although success will not come easy, the rewards are too great for a school not to try. All in all, the sections of the book for this week were very informative. I always enjoy reading stories that are on these important topics and especially hearing first world, real experiences.
For my third field observation, I tried to focus on some of the important aspects we talked about later in this course. After really taking a look at the school as a whole I knew what to expect going into this third observation. The main focus of this observation and comic goes hand in hand with the latter parts of our course. It so happened that my third visit fell right into when they were doing Ohio State Testing. The State Testing is the main focus of my third comic and I chose to focus on that because multiple sections in the New Teacher Book such as “What’s Wrong with Standardized Tests” and “Beyond Test Scores Introducing the MCIEA school quality measures” have allowed me to make sense of this particular observation. The first panel of my comic shows the mushroom cloud after a bomb went off with the words “Ohio State Testing Week!!!”. I chose this due to the fact that when the principal announced the testing schedule over the P.A. you could just feel the mood go down in the room. The second panel shows students walking into the school worrying about the testing week. We learned in class that standardized tests have a lasting effect on students in the wrong way. They sometimes can stress students out so bad that they cannot even concentrate on taking the actual test. This is what I felt was happening with some of the students during my third observation. Since students sometimes cannot do their best on these tests due to stress levels I think it is unfair to some schools that these standardized test scores act as a measure of their state and federal funding. The third panel shows the teacher explaining the test and the instructions. This reminded me of taking the ACT. I felt the need to include this because I once felt the way these students felt. The last panel shows the students leaving. The important note to highlight here is that the teachers are not even allowed to help students during these tests. School, to me, is about learning from trial and error. You should be taught and instructed and if you still don’t understand the material there should be extra help that is provided. That is not what standardized tests do for students. After observing this school during testing week I 100% agree with what we learned this year in terms of finding other ways to test students knowledge besides standardized tests. Overall, the field observation/comic portion of this course was very helpful. All of the write ups I have done up to this point were not only possible because of my observations but because of what we have learned in the New Teacher Book throughout the semester. The various readings/sections have allowed me to really make sense of what is going on in the actual classroom. All in all, I enjoyed my field observations and this activity as a whole.
For my second field observation, I tried to focus on some of the important aspects we talked about throughout this course. After really taking a look at the diversity and overall dynamic of the school, this second observation really allows me to get into the details of the students and classrooms. The main topic that was going on during my second observation was a spring food drive that the city of Parma was holding. My comic strip starts off with the principal of the school, who is in the auditorium, telling the school that the food drive is starting and she goes into explaining how it will work. Now, this does not directly correlate to what we have talked about this semester in terms of readings inside the New Teacher Book, but I believe it goes along with our class as a whole. This class has really helped me see the “ethics in teaching”. I think that food drives are a perfect way for schools, especially elementary schools, to help students understand at an early age that they should be generous in giving to the less fortunate. This goes into my next panel of the comic. The students are conducting group work and not really getting much done. The students are talking about the food drive and what they are going to give, how many points each items are, if they have those items at home, etc… The teacher eventually steps in and basically says, “Hey guys, less talking about the food drive for right now and more talking about math”. Yes, the students should have been focused on their work but the was cool to see how enthusiastic they were about the food drive. The third panel goes hand in hand with a reading from our New Teacher Book. “Inclusivity is not a guessing game” by Chelsea Vaught. This section was all about creating a learning environment that everyone can fell comfortable in no matter your background, identity, or religious traditions. This section helped me understand what was going on in my third panel. A student was wandering around the lunch room not eating. He saw me not eating as well and asked me why I was not eating. I told him I was not that hungry and he came to tell me that he cannot eat at lunch due to the fact that he is fasting for Ramadan. The teacher I was with allowed him to sit with us in her class room and watch a video during his lunch. She did that so he didn’t feel uncomfortable around all that food that he could not eat at the moment. Learning about inclusivity, especially in terms of other holidays, has allowed me to make sense of this situation and grow as a person. The fourth panel took place at the end of the day and about a fire drill. This was kind of a chaotic portion of my visit that I thought was crucial to put in. It was a fire drill towards the end of the day and the students were very energetic and not listening to directions. Overall, this was a good experience and thanks to sections in the New Teacher Book I was able to make note of specific events during this observation.
I just wanted to open this post by saying that I enjoyed working with every person in my learning circle over the course of this semester. Also, that everyone contributed to the best of their ability throughout this final learning experience. We taught this last learning experience through a Google Slides presentation that outlined each section of our reading (the link to that presentation is down below). Along with the presentation, we made sure to incorporate an activity that was fitting for each. Mainly, after each section we had a Q and A portion with questions that related to that individual section. One unique aspect of our learning experience was that I made sure to incorporate “anticipation guides”. This is a strategy that asks students to express their opinions about ideas before they encounter them in a text or unit of study. I found this to be helpful in keeping the class engaged. The first section we covered was “My Dirty Little Secret: I don’t grade students papers” and this was written by Linda Christensen. In this section, Linda’s main point is that we should allow students to find their passion and ultimately focus on them becoming better writers. She says that finding their passion really allows them to write better. She wanted her students to live in a society where work is meaningful and rewarding. A place where you are able to talk, read, write, and think without worrying about failure or criticism. She got rid of graded assignments and created more meaningful work. She implemented a “Grades as Wages” system where she would assign them the paper, they would create a paper and give it back to her and the final step would be that grades exchange hands. She really harped on the revision system as a way for students to understand their mistakes and grow from them. After outlining this section there was a group Q and A which I think really helped the class nail in the main points covered in the section. The second section we taught to the class was titled, “Taking Teacher Quality Seriously” by Stan Karp. This section’s main focus was on changing the way we evaluate teachers. The main reason for this is that test based evaluations of teachers have been getting more and more popular in schools, but tend to have negative effects on the teachers, students, and materials. This section talks about alternatives to test based evaluations of teachers but the main one that he talks about is the Professional Growth System or PSG. This system is different from the others simply because it uses a wide range of factors in helping teachers grow and Stan Karp really wants the reader to understand that. Since it’s evident that class sizes are getting bigger while budgets are getting smaller, we need to implement a new evaluation tool (in this case PSG) to ultimately improve and develop teachers. The last section we covered was the section that I put most of my time into. This section was titled, “Beyond Test Scores: Introducing the MCEIA School Quality Measures“. This section was written by James Noonan and is also about evaluations but rather about the school as a whole instead of just teachers. This is the section where I implemented anticipation guides before we started. I gave the class a list of characteristics that measure school quality and I had them talk about the different characteristics as well as rank them. This section goes into talking about how test scores have been the main indicator of school quality for a long time. It introduces us to a partnership who tried to change this in the state of Massachusetts and it caught the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment’s (MCEIA) eye. The MCEIA now has a two strand approach to assessing student learning and quality. As well as to address the weak measurement tactics by collecting broader and higher quality data hoping to produce better outcomes for schools themselves, teachers as well as parents and students. The main strand of their approach that is discussed in the reading is the School Quality Measures (SQM). This is has five categories to it. The first three are considered “essential inputs” while the last two are characterized as “key outcomes“. The first three are: “Teachers and the Teaching Environment”, “School Culture”, and “Resources”. While the last two are “Indicators of Academic Learning” and “Citizenship and Well-Being”. All in all, this measurement tool obtains data to more precisely communicate the work of schools. As well as, allows district and school leaders to better allocate their energy and resources on improving what actually matters and support teachers. Overall, The MCEIA’s role and the main point of this section is to acknowledge that school quality needs to be measured accordingly. For this learning experience, we put equal emphasis on all three of the sections that were assigned to us. We figured it would be beneficial to us as well as the rest of the class to cover all three of these important topics. All of the sections were very informative and we enjoyed reading/learning about them.
For my first field observation, I tried to focus on some of the early aspects of this course. I wanted to really take a look at and understand the dynamic of the school as a whole before I looked at the individual teaching tactics that are used in the classrooms. Three of the main aspects I choose to look at (that we’ve covered earlier in this course) were the overall dynamic, the diversity of the school, and the set up of the classrooms. My comic strip starts off with my character showing up to the school as the students arrive. I chose the multi-color busses as the background to show that the students in particular were much more diverse than I had imagined. John Muir elementary has boys and girls from many different races which was a surprise to me. The second panel of my comic shows the beginning of my day when I met a couple of other teachers at the school. The teachers, just like the students, were also very diverse in terms of race, age and sex. I believe being a diverse school is a very good thing as it sets students up for growth in being able to learn about other cultures and realize that there are different types of people and traditions that are important rather than just their own. The third panel represents me observing the set up of the classroom. I was observing my mother who is a special education teacher. She has her own classroom. Her room is filled with posters that decorate the walls. The posters consist of teaching tools and learning tips that are helpful for the students. She has two small tables in front of her desk where the students work in two separate groups. The chairs freely move around the room and she has easy access to each group. The set up of her classroom allows for much more collaborative and specific teacher to student learning than the traditional classroom does. I was able to observe the set up of classroom thanks to the section in the New Teacher Book titled, “Uncovering the Lessons of Classroom Furniture You are where you sit” by Tom McKenna. This section really allowed me to see how her class was set up and compare it to the set ups that were taught in the section. It helped in determining which set ups are the most effective in order for students to retain the most information.The last panel portrays me about to leave for the day. My mom and I are standing by one yellow school bus. This symbolizes that yet very diverse, the school seemed like one big happy home. This reminded me a lot of the “Black is Beautiful” section out of the New Teacher Book as well. I noticed that students here did not care about the color of each others skin rather valued someone for who they are. I saw this especially with the younger ones. Overall, I had a good first observation and look forward to going back there.
Current Connection(s) Article: https://www.commonsense.org/education/articles/winter-holiday-resources-to-promote-connection-and-inclusion
My current connection was based on the readings from pages 189-204. The first section of the reading was titled “Inclusivity Is Not a Guessing Game” by Chelsea Vaught. This is also the section that I focused my current connection on. Chelsea Vaught, the author of this section, had a 5-year-old student named Noor. The main issue in this section was that Noor could not eat the class candy because they were not halal (permissible in Arabic). The main ingredient in the candy was gelatin (not halal). In order for gelatin to be considered halal it needs to be from certain certified beefs or poultry or made from fish or vegetable-based sources. Lucky for Chelsea, she was more aware of this situation than her peers due to her schooling in the UK and the fact that her boyfriend grew up in a British-Pakistani family. In order to combat this issue, she had a spare drawer in her class where the students who were Muslim were able to trade out their treats for chocolate or candy that was halal. She stresses that even just the halal alternative candy drawer creates a much more inclusive environment within the classroom. It also creates an opportunity to inform/teach other students about Muslim traditions and even holidays. This example and others prompt her to make sure to create curriculum and projects that allow students to learn about and incorporate their culture and religious practices if they want to. Again, to create a more inclusive environment. I believe her main point in writing this section is to let other teachers know that we should be deliberate and direct in letting students know they are safe to include whatever aspects of their identity they chose in the classroom. Also, that teachers should do everything in their power to make the classroom an inclusive environment. As I’ve stated, my current connection has to do with this section. Why did I choose this section? I picked to do my current connection on this section because I went to a catholic school my whole life never learning about other holidays besides the one that were on the on the catholic calendar. I selected both an online article and a video to connect this article too. The article was named “Winter Holiday Resources to promote Diversity and Inclusion”. This article was written by Christine Elgersma, who is a Senior Editor on Social Media and Learning Resources. She attended a teacher seminar in June of 2021 and gathered ideas there to make this article. All the article really is, is a brainstorming tool to give teachers ideas of creative ways to incorporate other holidays. The ideas range from learning about Kwanza and Lunar New Year to creating donation boxes and calendars that highlight different holidays. She also adds what grade level she sees fitting for these activities. The video I chose kind of sums everything up. It highlights why we should incorporate other holidays in the classroom and gives ideas and questions to ask when doing so. I highly recommend checking those out. The links to both are posted above. The second section of the reading was titled “I believe you” by Michelle Strater Gunderson. In this section there was a first grader named Lily who would always come up to Ms. Gunderson and say her head hurts, the teacher would rub Lily’s head and and assure her it will be okay. This was a continuing event so she talked to her team about this and they agreed that the main thing here is to make sure you are validating what the students are feeling and experiencing. This sparked the “I believe you” movement that they introduced in all classes for about three weeks. The “I believe you” movement and the main point of this section is to let the students know that as a teacher we believe them. Also, that as teachers, our words and helpful actions are intentional due to the fact we really do care about their well-being. The last section of the reading was titled “On Behalf of Their Name” and was written by Mykhiel Deych. Mykhiel, is a queer and transgender teacher who has been ridiculed for that the majority of his life and teaching career. The section is about what took place at a 90-minute presentation on gender and sexuality acceptance. The talk was hosted by Mykhiel, as part of QSA (queer straight alliance). In this presentation they explained the difference between sex and gender and ultimately opened it up for questions at the end. A lot of the questions from other teachers were mean and hurtful. They all revolved around the teachers preference and what they want to call someone not what the person wants to be called. All meanwhile this school prides itself on being very progressive but it has had transgender students commit suicide in the past and others who had dropped out. In this section it seemed like there was little to no progress being made after this presentation for a school who prides themselves on being progressive. I believe the main point of this section is that students need teachers to be understanding and respect who each individual student is. Teachers are supposed to be there for students not put them down. Another main point that I believe this section is trying to make is that no one individual is alike and that no student should be treated differently based on their differences. When that is the case it drives the classroom and society apart when in reality it should be bringing us closer together. All in all, these three sections of the reading this week were very informative. I always enjoy reading stories that are on these important topics and especially hearing first world, real experiences.
Once again, I wanted to say that every person within my learning circle contributed to the best of their ability throughout this second learning experience. The main premise of our Learning Experience was to create a Google Slides presentation that outlined each section of our reading (the link to that presentation is down below). Along with the presentation, we made sure to incorporate an activity that was fitting for each. Mainly, after each section we had a Q and A section with questions that related to that individual section. At the end of our Learning Experience there was a class activity that related to our last section. This activity allowed the students to share their own personal hobbies, interests, favorite foods and songs in order to broaden each others’ horizon’s. The first story of our section was titled “Mexican Education”. This was an excerpt from a man named Alejandro who explains the hardships he went through within the education system as an immigrant, especially within his ESL classes. He tells stories from being a minority, to getting kicked under the table and finally being called a different name to make it easier for the teacher to pronounce. The main point of this section is that everyone deserves to be treated equally no matter your race, ethnicity or where you came from. Also, the name of a student shouldn’t be changed for the convenience of those around them. The second section we covered also dealt with a foreign student going to school in America. This section was titled “What I Wish I had Said”. This section opened up with a boy named Akash who was new to America from India. He didn’t speak much english so to communicate he would nod his head in a yes or no fashion. His one teacher gave him the nickname “bobblehead” and that’s what her and the other students would call Akash. The title “What I Wish I had Said” comes into play because this is written by Anita Stratton the other teacher who had Akash. She reflects on what she wishes she would have said. Ultimately, she admits to not saying anything due to the fact she was more upset about upsetting the other teacher. In today’s world, we live in a society where it seems like the normal is to not saying anything or step on anyones toes. It is almost like ethical standards take a back seat more often than they should. Her main point in writing this was to tell others to speak up, because looking back she wishes she did. She says that each time we speak up it gives us the courage to speak again and how can I expect my students to have hard conversations with me, if I can’t do the same with my own peers. The third story was titled “How Could You Let This Happen” by Zanovia Clark. This story is about a teacher who receives an email from a parent about their daughter being sexually assaulted by two second grade boys out on the playground. The teacher went to the principle with this email but he dismissed the problem and took recess away from the boys. The teacher was very angered by this punishment and took matters into her own hands and created a program for the boys that teaches personal space. It ended up that the boys were not in her program and did something similar again. The teacher set up another meeting with the principle about the rape-culture in the school and she was dismissed again. She immediately filed for a transfer. I believe her point of making this story is that yes, there are things that are inappropriate to talk about with 2nd graders but it is never too young to talk about personal space, property and or the body of others. The last section was also a very heavy one and this was titled “Howling at the Ocean” written by Jaydra Johnson. Jaydra started teaching in 2016, when racism, police brutality and kneeling for the national anthem were all going on. She takes us through the hardships she had to deal with during her first year of being a teacher for social justice. Within the first couple of months she found herself in a meeting with the principal after a heated classroom discussion about “reverse racism” during a unit about black writers. A young white boy named Sam told his dad about her definition of racism and he ultimately emailed the principle saying that her definition hurts his family. This event really affected Jaydra and led her to question her style of teaching. She asked herself questions such as “Was I doing the right thing?” and “Should I pull back on the political within my classroom?” As the year went on she received more and more backlash from students and parents which led her to being very anxious and exhausted. As a first year teacher she had the mentality of “just keep going” and “it’ll all get better”. After countless talks with her colleagues she decided she’s not going to stop with politics in the classroom but to go about it in a different way. She decided to spend less time controlling and more time connecting with her students. She allowed them to develop poems about specific interest and things they loved. She got all different types of poems about families, rap songs, snacks, etc… Going about social justice in this way allowed her students to find joy in the classroom. She stopped shutting students down, portraying certain groups as perpetrators and allowed the students to develop their own ideas about these sensitive topics. Her main point of this story is summed up in a final quote that says, “I am increasingly staying focused on treating myself and my students with a little more love. I try to rock them gently from side to side, following the waves, opening up their horizon so they can guide the ship themselves, away.” I think she realizes that in order to have a solid relationship with your students you need to listen and guide rather than control. Overall, we put equal emphasis on all four parts of our reading. We had a conversation and agreed that all of them needed to be addressed. The main reasoning for that is due to the fact that if nobody is talking about these topics nothing will change. We felt that if we talked about these topics and informed the class we hope the world and the future of education will turn out to be a better place. All four of these readings acted as a teaching tool for me. They were also very informative. My group, along with myself, enjoyed reading them and enjoyed being able to teach the rest of the class about these hard but important topics.
Current Connection Article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/09/01/does-homework-work-when-kids-are-learning-all-day-home/
My current connection was based on the readings from pages 94-118. The first reading was titled “Students Bring the World to our Classrooms” by Kim Kanof. This reading takes place at a school in Oregon and most of the students there speak multiple languages with English being their second. Having English as a second language in a predominantly English speaking country comes with hardships. One hardship these students have to deal with is housing. During this section we learn about “The Lost Homes” unit. This section focuses on the factors that “push” these immigrants out of their homes. Some of the factors are poverty, race, opportunity or lack thereof. I believe, the author of this section, Kim Kanof, truly wants us to understand the hardships that immigrants have to go through. Also, to understand others’ heritages in order to learn more about them. This section goes hand in hand with the first Q and A section which was titled, “How can I teach both content and language to students learning English as an additional language”? Some ways to teach content in multiple languages is to use visuals as well as learn words and courtesy phrases of other languages, making it easier to understand. The overall focus and point of view of these two sections is to realize that our job as future educators is to find ways to link student experiences to our content and find creative ways to nurture students’ language development in the process. The next section in this reading is titled “Speak Freely”. This section focuses on a young boy Mateo and his story. Long story short, Mateo was a young, Spanish speaking boy who ultimately stopped speaking in Spanish due to his experiences in school. His mom came in crying and was nervous that if he stopped learning Spanish, and only English, he would not be able to communicate with his family. The author wants us to realize that it is OK to speak freely. It is important to note that even at a young age, children can adapt to learning others cultures. Another section we covered was titled “Types of Language as a Second Language and Bilingual Programs”. This section was very informative in the fact that it outlined many different programs that can be used when English is the second language. The programs that they talk about are, “english as a second language”, “transitional bilingual classrooms”, “dual language”, “maintenance” and “Immersion”. All which can be used to assist with bilingual teaching. The final story of this section was titled, “Promoting Social Imagination Through Interior Monologues”. We are introduced to what Social Imagination is, which is kind of just connecting with others who we have little in common with and what Interior Monologues are, imagining the thoughts of others. Looking at this section through the eyes of the author it is clear that we have to be aware of both of these things. If that is the case and we are comfortable with both Social Imagination and Interior Monologues we will be better people overall and understand each person better. The last part of this section was the Q and A on homework. It was titled “My students don’t bring back their homework. Should I keep assigning it”? This is the section that I focused my current connection on. The section started off by asking some questions on homework such as “Why is homework given?” and “is it just a timeworn tradition?”. Rita Tenorito, the author of this Q and A, does a great job of addressing these questions and helping us, as future educators, ask our own in order for our students to get the most out of homework. With my current connection, I wanted to look at the numbers and really focus on studies that deal with first person homework experiences. I found an article from the Washington Post that outlines a study, conducted from 2009-2020, by Denise Pope who is a senior lecturer at the Stanford University Graduate School of Education. She found some interesting things that I believe to be relevant for us as future educators. The first was that there is a strong positive correlation between stress and the level of homework. She found that 56% of students believe they have too much homework. It is also important to note that the type of homework, as well as how the homework is going to be graded play a factor into stress levels as well. This article/study also provided me two other interesting findings that have to deal with homework effectiveness based on grade level. It was found that in elementary school, there is very little, if any, evidence that time spent on homework in most subject areas has a positive effect on achievement. The only exception to this, is reading for pleasure. It was found that reading for pleasure has a positive impact on student’s vocabulary. As for middle school and high schoolers. There is a slight positive relationship between time spent on homework and grades and test scores in the recent research. However, those benefits are complicated by various factors and limitations, including whether the homework was interesting to the students, how much effort they put into it, and the level of difficulty and purpose of the assignment. Furthermore, several studies found diminishing returns on the value of homework once a student exceeds a certain amount of time spent on it. Again, the study found that homework has little to no effect on test scores in elementary school and a marginal positive effect in the later grades. Overall, I believe that both Rita Tenorito and Denise Pope publish studies and Q and As like these to benefit us as future educators. They want us to be able to learn from the mistakes that have been made in the past and to be able to make a positive impact on the future of education as a whole. So what do we do from here? It is important to note that homework has to be thought through and planned like any other part of the curriculum in order for students to benefit from it.
First off, I wanted to say that every person within my learning circle contributed to the best of their ability throughout this first experience and I am looking forward to working with them the rest of the semester. The main premise of our Learning Experience was to create a Google Slides presentation that outlined each section of our reading (the link to that presentation is down below). Along, with the presentation, we made sure to incorporate an activity that was fitting for each. For the first story, we did a general Q & A with the class to get their feedback on the what the “ideal” classroom experience looks like. The second section’s activity asked the students to think of a person in their life who is both black and beautiful. The third and final activity allowed the students to jot down on a notecard what they believe themselves to be. The first section of the story was titled “Creating Classrooms for Equity and Social Justice”. This part was all about creating the ideal classroom for students. The main focus was on creating a classroom environment where students feel involved and get the most out of their in school experience. At the end of the day creating a classroom that allows those to be true also allows students to find who they truly are. The second part of the reading was titled “Black is Beautiful”. The “Black is Beautiful” section started off with a kindergarten teacher explaining that there were a few African American students in the class at the time who seemed to be left out during classroom activities and such. This sparked the teacher to implement a lesson titled “Black is Beautiful” which centered around the students looking at inanimate, everyday objects that are black and allowing them to realize that the color black is just as important as the color white. The focal point of this section is the fact that the matter of race is very essential. The last part of this section is titled “Seeing Ourselves With Our Own Eyes”. This last part was structured the same as “Black is Beautiful” but instead of looking at race, this section focused on students with learning disabilities. The teacher in this scenario was a special education teacher who was really upset with the current education system focusing more on the “can’t do’s” rather than the “can do’s”. She wanted her students to look at the positives within themselves rather than the negatives. She made them create “I am” poetry and they all wrote down and shared characteristics that they saw themselves to be. She made it very clear to them that each individual has their own view on descriptions of themselves. For example, she has accepted the word “fat” and she even used that to describe herself. She let them know that her along with her family have accepted the fact that they are “fat” and embrace it. She did make it clear that others might not appreciate the word “fat” like she does. The students expressed how they enjoyed this activity but she was not done with them yet. She took it a step further and made them write down compliments about one another. When they finished this she made them go around the room and share them all. The students really enjoyed this and it made them feel a lot better about themselves. It is important for students to value how they see themselves over the opinions of others. Our LC put a heavy emphasis on all three of these sections. We emphasized them all because at our early meeting, we decided that they all were meaningful to us and should all be addressed. The third section, “Seeing Ourselves With Our Own Eyes” was the section I focused on. This section was personal to me due to the fact my mother is a special education teacher and has been for 30+ years. I’ve been used to hearing about how the special education system is structured as well as IEP’s my whole life. Her alone, made it very easy for me to put an emphasis on this section. I even showed her this section and she agreed that something does need to be changed in order to switch the focus more on the “can’s” rather than the “cant’s”. How awful does it make a student feel when they’re excluded from the rest of the group? Overall, all three of these readings acted as a teaching tool for me. They were also very informative. My group along with myself enjoyed reading them and being able to teach the rest of the class about these hard but important topics.
1. I prefer to be called Colin and my pronouns are he/him
2. I am from Brooklyn, Ohio and my picture is attached below.
3. I currently am undecided on what I want to do within the world of education. If I were to become a teacher, I would most likely obtain my doctorate and teach accounting down the road.
4. I enjoy being outdoors. I love to fish and boat in the summer. In the winter I love to snowboard. I also really enjoy sports. I’ve played sports my whole life and even though I currently do not play any sports, they still play a big role in my life. This semester, I am really just trying to take it one day at a time and enjoy my last semester as a student.
5. Family is most important to me at this moment in my life. Family, blood or not, will always be there for you through the good and the bad times. One quote that supports this is a quote from the late Jim Valvano and it is, “I always talk about my family, my family’s so important”. That quote sticks out to me because I am proud of my family and I believe you should be proud of your’s too.
6. For me to take risks in the classroom I need the professor to encourage questions and no be alarmed when they are asked. I believe encouraging questions is crucial for students to feel comfortable.
7. One memorable experience that I have as a student actually took place over a year when I was in high school. Every study hall I would spend time talking to one of my teachers who was also a coach at the school. He shared his stories and gave me valuable insight on life. It was nice to be able to talk to someone older who was not my parents. I still talk to him today and he has made a lasting impact on me.
8. I have one question for you Dr. Shutkin. What made you want to become a teacher?