It’s only just begun…

Where do we go from here? After reflecting over the past 3 weeks, and the bounty of learning I know I have done, I can’t help but to contemplate what the upcoming semester has in store for me. I feel that everything I’ve learned from this class has given me a great foundation to build upon, and I know that there is so much more learning to be done, and I can honestly say that I’m excited about that.

It’s really interesting to see about how my conceptions of how I thought this program to be, and what it has turned out to be so far, differ. I am so used to the lecture type of instruction, and I never thought that I would learn so much about myself and others during the process. I feel like a fire has been sparked under my feet that is moving me towards making a change. I know it might sound like a cliche for some, and just an empty motto for others, but I really do want to make a serious, positive impact in our communities in the educational system. I want to challenge the injustices that put our youth in danger. I want to speak out against inequality, and stand up for freedom. I want to be the change that I want to see in our world, but first it requires that I change, before I can change anyone else.

Gotta Keep Pushing

Alright friends, it’s 3AM and I am wondering who else is still up, or am I the only one that feels as though their eyes are going to fall out of their head? My children’s book is FINALLY done, but now I have to catch up on my blog and my reading. Talk about a good time management lesson 🙂

Going to Stone Mtn. Elementary today was really inspiring. I haven’t been around kids in a school setting in about a year, so I almost forgot how insightful they can be about things. I know sometimes I don’t give kids enough credit for the things they know. Usually, they are more accurate about things than I am, because they aren’t using any of the filtered lenses we have been socialized to use.

One cool thing my expert and I discussed referred to the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” She told me she wanted to be a teacher, which I thought was cool. After I told her I wanted to be a doctor when I was younger, she kind of got the =:O face, but then she explained that they are both important because the teacher teaches the doctor how to be a doctor.

My lesson: Kids are smarter than we think. Don’t underestimate their intelligence 🙂

How Media Portrays Education

After the daily news today, Brandon asked me to look over my article about the “Heritage Assemblies” used in Sacromento-area schools to motivate students about their STAR testing. He brought up an important point – that we automatically assumed that the minorities were doing poorly, even though the article mentioned that. I wanted to point out something along those lines in my presentation, because the article didn’t mention whether or not White students had the assemblies as well. It sort of led me to believe that only the minority students had the assemblies, assumedly because they did not perform very well.

The media plays a very important role in how we receive and perceive information. The media can use a particular angle to a story to skew how we think, and to shed a particular light on the story. I know that I have to be critical of the things that I read on the news, because sometimes pieces of information are left out that influences how I think about a topic of issue. Just like the article I presented today, the media’s exclusion of information about the White students, although I noticed it initially, influenced how I thought about the topic.

In today’s class, we even talked about how popular movies like Lean on Me, Dangerous Minds, and Freedon Writers lead us to believe that all inner-city, urban schools are violent in nature. Even in reading the article from Ruby Payne, she presented one side of the issue, which led the majority of the class to ascribe to her thoughts.

This encourages me to always seek out information for myself, to consider different sides to a story, and to not hold one piece of information more strongly than others.

Being a Dream Keeper

Oops, I was so involved working on my children’s book that I forgot to update my blog last night. It’s a little late, but here it is!

After reading the article last night about the school-to-prison pipeline, and thinking about the class discussion about the definition of intelligence, and multiple intelligences, I began thinking about how extremely unfortunate it is that so many of our youth are not able to live out their dreams.Imagine starting school, and hearing all of these ideas of how great school is, how school helps you be a better citizen, and a better person. Then, when you start school at Kindergarten, imagine having all of your dreams, curiousitites, and aspirations basically being tossed out, because you are labeled “slow on the eight day of class.

How extremely unfair is it that some of our youth are not given the chance to play out their dreams, either because they are expected to not achieve, or they are considered a “bad kid”, often both at the same time. Every child has the right to have dreams, and to have those dreams supported, and given the chance to grow. What if your dream is to be an artist, but you get labeled as a slow kid by the time you start school, but your teacher only uses verbal and/or logical teaching styles? Imagine how despondent you would feel, and how will this affect your school experience, and your dream to become an artist?

This really makes me think about how important it is to appeal to different types of intelligences, I dont want to be a dream killer, but a dream keeper.

P.S. – Interesting article for you all to read about race, self-identity, and social constructs of race.

The Process of it All

Processnoun

1. a systematic series of actions directed to some end: to devise a process for homogenizing milk.

2. a continuous action, operation, or series of changes taking place in a definite manner: the process of decay

3. the action of going forward or on.

4. the condition of being carried on.

Today’s trip to the MLK center gave me a different perspective from the times I’ve been as a child. Typically, when I’ve gone I’ve focused on MLK, Jr. and the strides he made as an individual for the civil rights movement. Although I knew he wasn’t the only one involved in the journey, since he was a leader, he got a lot of the attention. This visit really got me thinking about how many people often go unnoticed in the movements such as these, although the movement could not go forward without them.

The biggest idea that hit me is the idea of the process, that to make changes in our lives and in the system, there is a process about it all. No one can just jump up one morning, and decide they are going to make a change without planning, strategizing, and sticking to the plan. The civil rights movement, and any other movement, involves a process – which requires ttenacity, preseverance, and determination. What would the civil rights movement had been if everyone wanted to give up? I think everyone that participated understood that it was a process, it would not change overnight, but if they continued on, a change would come.

As a future educator, the idea of process resonates with me, because it would be unrealistic to think that I can change the system on the first day of school. However, it’s those small accomplishments and strides that build up to something larger. It’s the help and contribution of others that keep the movement towards a better educational system moving, its a process to reach a goal.

I am really excited about being able to make a change in my world, and I’m ready to embrace being an educator.

Ebonics – More than just slang

Usually, when’ve I heard people from people discussing Ebonics, it has always been in terms of whether or not it is appropriate, or whether it should even be considered as a form of language. I have met some that have thought Ebonics is fine to use in apprpriate settings, but should not be used at all in the classroom. I have met others that thought it should be used in the classroom, and others not at all.

I, personally, think that Ebonics is acceptable for use in and out of the classroom, but I feel that Ebonics also gets a bad rap from many people. Some people may think of it being a lower form of communication, and reflects ignorance on part of those that speak it. I wonder if this has any relation onto the groups of people that typically use Ebonics, which would be African-Americans. But, I think that every group of people has it’s own lexicon when talking with one another in casual settings, so it would be unfair to view Ebonics as a lower form of communication.

In my own thinking, I have tried to consider where Ebonics actually became adapted into African-American speech. I feel that it has to deal with the African slaves adaptation of English. With most slaves being unable to receive formal education of the English language, they probably acquired most of the language from what they heard. I also think a contributing factor is the background of African languages themselves, which focus on intonation and speech patterns, both of which we talked about in class.

It was just interesting to hear of Ebonics actually being incorporated into the classroom. Even though I spoke it amongst my friends, and somewhat at home, I was never allowed to speak it at school. My teachers always told me it was wrong, and to speak correctly.

What do you all think about Ebonics? Do you think you will incorporate it in your classrooms as part of a bilingual system like we discussed in class? Do you have any apprehensions about doing so?

Socialization and Gender Roles

Today in class, someone brought up the question if gender roles are socialized, or if we assume gender roles based off of biological impulses – for lack of a better word. I believe that we definitely socialize gender roles, and reinforce what is a generalized idea of what is male and female, masculine and feminine. As a group, it seemed as though most people agreed that these gender roles should be more flexible, and boys should be allowed to play with what are considered girl toys, and vice versa.

However, if we encourage stepping outside of these boundaries in terms of society’s views of gender, then what would be the ramifications for children that are growing up? If we promote boys wearing dresses, playing with dolls, and girls playing with trucks, and G.I. Joe’s, how is society going to view them once they get older? Like someone mentioned, society is not going to be as forgiving as a person that believes it’s okay to break traditional gender roles. As educators, we are supposed to encourage a safe environment for our students, so a student may feel safe to play with toys different from a gender role. But, like many people expressed, some parents do not even encourage this exploration.

The world is generally not a safe environment for students – even as adults, we are all judged by according to the expectations that others have for us, based on stereotypes, labels, prior experiences, and etc. A boy wearing a dress might be accepted by his teacher – but let him go to the store in that same dress, and the reaction will be absolutely different.

For me, it’s interesting that there seems to be hypocrisy in society where it is more acceptable for a girl to do male-identified things, than a boy to do female-identified things. From my own observations, a female that behaves in or takes on male aspects is not as harshly viewed as a boy would be that takes on female aspects. Aha – perhaps it relates back to sex and gender views that women were not seen as equals, but instead as being weaker and unintelligent. Therefore, a woman taking on male characteristics is fine because males are considered to have more power, but a woman is not, so a man taking on female characteristics would be for him to take on weaker characteristics.

What if it were you?

Watching the video in class today about Jane Elliott and her Blue-Eyed vs. Brown-Eyed experiment got very emotional for me. Seeing how big of an impact the implications of “good vs. bad” made on the students made me think about how many students have felt like that in their classroom, or the times that I have felt like that in my classrooms as a student. Granted, I was never considered a “bad kid” but it’s funny how you can live up to those expectations when they are placed on you.

I remember in the sixth grade, I was in a pull-out math class for the gifted students. The class became an issue when our teacher began to be mean to all of us, calling us stupid, and wasting class period upon class period pointing out our flaws instead of actually teaching us. This made me think of the beginning of today’s video in class when Elliot was speaking to one of the blue-eyed students, and told him “you are going to live down to the expectations I have for you”. This is exactly what happens in many classrooms, the students don’t live up to the expectations that the teachers have, because there is nothing upwards about them, just down. When we set low expectations for our students, it is only natural for them to respond according, and behave or perform just as lowly as we expect them to.

The video and following discussion put me in the shoes of those low-expectation students, and made me think “What if it is me?” If it was me, how would I respond…with belligerence or would I just sit there and take it? How would I feel about myself if I was consistently considered a bad student based on my culture, and would that impact how I feel about learning today?

What if it were you? How would you react?

Being honest with ourselves

I admit, it was pretty difficult for me to put out many stereotypes that I have either heard or believed on paper for everyone to see today. Even though my name was not attached to anything I contributed, I was aware of others around me, and wondered how others would judge what I wrote, whether it was my opinion or not.

Today’s activity really showed me how important it is to be honest with myself. Not only will this help me on my journey towards becoming a teacher, but I think it will put me in a place where I am able to consider all angles of a subject during those tough discussions. As Dr. Williams pointed out, we are often not given the opportunity to freely discuss sensitive topics in mixed company, so I am really taking these opportunites as a chance to embrace the dialogue and discourse that everyone shares in class. I know that this is a unique time for all of us, and the more honest that we are with ourselves and with others, the more helpful we will become as we embrace these stereotypes in our classrooms.

If we don’t talk about the harsh reality of stereotypes, then they just sit in our minds, where they have the potential to come out in any given situation. I think that addressing them in class today allowed us to verbalize, or at least think about where some of these stereotypes came from. I felt like putting them out there in the open took away some of their power. They may not ever go away, but if we are aware of them, we can know how to better address them as teachers.

Do you all think if more people were honest and open about stereotypes, that it would help them go away? Do you think that the discussion we had in class will help you handle stereotypes in your own classroom?

Individual and Collective Agency

Wow, let me say that I had a great time with everyone on the retreat! It was great getting to know each other outside of the classroom, to learn more about each others personalities, and getting to know the faculty better. Everyone’s “coffee house” presentations were great, and I think I’m still a little beat up by the trampoline, but I’ll survive.

Today’s discussion about individual and collective agency struck a strong chord in my being. Re-watching a portion from “Eyes on the Prize” made the objective of the program very real to me. I think before today, I always thought about the dedication and commitment that we in the program have made to urban education, but the talks yesterday evening and this morning really solidified the seriousness of the task at hand.

One thing that I thought about, is that often as a future educator, I often think that teachers are alone in their struggle, one teacher vs. the classroom. My thought process has been along the lines of, what am I going to do in my classroom, when these things happen with my students. But, just looking around today, and seeing everyone’s reactions to the video, I noticed that I am not alone. Even though we as a cohort may not be teaching in the same school systems, at the same school, or be in the same classroom, that we are not alone. Just as the man in the today’s video was being mobbed as an individual, he was not alone. I hope that all of us, as a cohort, can connect and bond with each other in a way that even after the program ends, we can continue to connect with each other as educators, share our ideas, strengths, successes, mistakes, and be a support system for each other.