As good teachers weave the fabric that joins them with students and subjects, the heart is the loom on which the threads are tied, the tension is held, the shuttle flies, and the fabric is stretched tight. Small wonder, then, that teaching tugs at the heart, opens the heart, even breaks the heart – and the more one loves teaching, the more heartbreaking it can be. The courage to teach is the courage to keep one’s heart open in those very moments when the heart is asked to hold more than it is able so that teacher and students and subject can be woven into the fabric of community (kula) that learning, and living, require.”
~ Parker J. Palmer
What does this passage mean to you as a student? In your experience as a middle school or high school student was there a teacher who enacted this kind of compassionate teaching? Was there a teacher who you connected with in this way? Tell a story that reflects your beliefs about this passage.
To me, this seems like the love that a teacher shares for their subject and their students are both great forces that connect with the teacher; that a teacher has to know their subject and their students in order to create such strong connections.
There were a couple of teachers in middle school who displayed this kind of mentality towards subject and students. My science teacher, Mr. Jones, my math teacher, Ms. Johns, and my English teacher, Ms. Brooks, all shared this intense love for their subject and a desire to engage their students fully and care about if their students learned anything or not. The three of these teachers really pushed me ahead when I tried to take the easy route.
To elaborate, Ms. Brooks had us write constantly; for every hour of class, we wrote for half of that hour. When she had us write poetry, I quickly sketched together an acrostic poem and handed it to her. She saw that I obviously spent a whole five minutes on it and told me that I was capable of something a bit more challenging. She was right, and I put in some real effort into that poem (though I now forget what it was even about or what it sounded like).
I hope to push students to exceed their expectations for themselves and to push them to not take the easy way out.
ALST600 Alaska Studies was not a typical history course – no lectures, timelines or tests. Your instructor was far from an expert on the subject.
We took a different approach – you were asked to be the historian in the room. The only textbook, the one you were asked to write.
You just experienced project-based learning.
What did the teacher in you learn?
The teacher in me learned that projects don’t have to only be for the teacher/professor and that people are motivated when the product is to be used/accessed by others outside of the ‘circle.’
My experience with projects in the foreign language classroom has been an easy cop-out for the teacher to have less work to do for a week when used ineffectively. Projects that were constructed outside of class time allowed class time to be utilized for other instruction or activities.
In my opinion, using a flipped classroom for projects is an effective way to go about creating the project. Using some class time for troubleshooting and collaboration was effective, while leaving some time for instructional practices.
Please reflect on the following Essential Question that has been posted on the front wall for the last three weeks:
1. How does understanding culture and power impact your teaching?
2. Pick three terms that resonate with you from the Multicultural Education word wall. Define the terms and discuss why you chose these three terms.
3. Describe your plan to teach in a culturally responsive way in the coming year. Include teaching strategies you might employ as well as content/units you will implement.
- Culture is the lens through which one views and makes sense of the world. Everything around one makes up culture: language, place, habits, beliefs, values, food, clothing, attitudes, spirituality, etc. Understanding culture enables a teacher to be able to understand how students perceive the world around them. It is less likely that students will grab ahold of topics and issues presented if the material is not related to their culture; if it is irrelevant.
- Three words that stand out for me off the world wall are “critical thinking,” “fragmentation,” and “hope.”
Critical thinking is the process of thinking and of thinking about how to think. It is observing and analyzing and creating something (e.g. ideas) from said information. It sticks out to me as it is, in my opinion, the main end goal in all aspects of education, regardless of subject. More than anything, I as a teacher want my students to be able to look at the world and all the information it contains and be able to think about everything and how it all interrelates. I want them to be able to make sense of the world and to create new things with existing information.
Fragmentation is the idea of splitting a society into distinct cultures and partaking in an intersociety battle of whose culture is more important or whose culture has suffered the most. To me, it’s a term that needs to be remembered about and referenced to frequently enough to not forget that it exists; that peoples everywhere bring things to the table and have lived through different struggles. No one cultures struggles are greater or less than anyone else’s, and all cultures are to be recognized and valued.
Hope is an expectation or desire for something to happen. Everyone has hope, but for different things, and there is lots of hope around. Students may hope to learn something or pass a class, and teachers hope students exceed expectations.
3. My plan is to include as many cultures as are present and wish to be represented in my classroom. A big section of culture is place, which will be used in my French classroom; using the locale of Juneau to describe the students’ world in French. An idea I have to extend French outside the classroom is to introduce students to other French speakers in the community and create an extra-credit system of having students speak with these people outside of class in French. It may even work within the school proper, having students talk to each other across experience levels.
The lesson I wrote for the iBook is on identifying components of familiar stories/legends and comparing those with Alaska Native stories from the Southcentral region. The culminating project of the lesson is for students to write their own story incorporating character traits and values from two different cultures.
To view the lesson plan for the story, click here.
In the blog post accompanying your lesson/unit plan, please describe the cultural standard you believe is most clearly linked to your plan and explain how your plan embodies the spirit of that cultural standard.
The cultural standards truly represented in the lesson plan is D1:
The student draws parallels between knowledge derived from oral tradition and that derived from books.
In the lesson students will be comparing oral stories and written stories. The oral stories come from the Alaska Native perspective, and the written stories are western or other stories that students are already familiar with. By dissecting the stories into their character traits and story values, the students can derive the knowledge from said stories.
The cultural standards for curriculum, section C, deal with six main points:
- Using the local language
- Use the local place
- View community members as teachers
- Incorporate cultural knowledge in the state curriculum
- Use modern tools and technology to explain cultural knowledge
- Be sensitive about others’ cultures
In my own personal French class, I imagine it will be easy enough to incorporate all of these points except for the first one if the first is relating specifically to Tlingit instead of English.
I looked at the book Eagle Boy, retold by Richard Lee Voughan, illustrated by Lee Christiansen. This book is beautifully designed and masterfully articulated.
This story follows a boy/teenager in a village where the villagers dislike the eagles, but the boy enjoys their company. He is a skilled fisherman and gives the eagles fish frequently. One day, he even offers his biggest fish to the chief’s eldest daughter, who refuses his fish and sneers at him.
Times grow tough and the village leaves in search of more food, but leave the boy behind, mocking him to ask his eagle friends for help. The chief’s youngest daughter slips the boy a piece of fish as the villagers depart.
The eagles give him food, while the villagers are starving. The boy learns of the villagers’ fates and turns into an eagle and saves them. The village returns and the boy marries the chief’s youngest daughter.
As per the rubric entitled “Evaluating Multicultural Literature,” I assigned the highest marks (3 points) to the book in all categories.
As to how this story could be used in the classroom, it could be used in an English classroom to
- draw parallels with other stories across cultures
- write a modern version of the story
- write up a character-plot analysis.
and could be used in a French classroom to
- use as a way to practice saying difficult words in French as a sort of translation exercise with emphasis on “working around the word”
- use an instructor-provided translation in French and have the story re-told to students in French for listening comprehension.
Discussing with the group broke down the pages we read into four concepts: uncomfortable, activist, fragmentation, and transformational.
If we as teachers feel uncomfortable with the way the system is working, we should be striving to change it and if we feel comfortable with how things are, then we missed something and need to revise.
We as teachers are activists in the classrooms, striving to be inclusive of everyone’s cultural backgrounds.
We need to avoid fragmentation, fighting over whose “problems” are more important; including and accepting all cultures’ problems as important will result in better equality in representation in the classroom.
Finally, a transformational paradigm should permeate through the curriculum, schools, and classrooms to be inclusive of all.
The activity was a great way to divvy the work among the groups to retrieve a coherent image of the readings.