How does understanding culture and power impact your teaching?
The more experience we gain as educators, the more we will see that cultural differences do exist in the classroom, that power dynamics accompany these differences, and that these differences as well as similarities amongst our students impact each of their educational experiences.
What three words stood out to me on the classroom created word wall?
- Awareness. Continually striving to become aware of what’s around us while recognizing that we are never fully aware of everything around us. We all come to the classroom with our own biases, lenses we view the world through, various forms of privilege and differing ideas. Thus, it’s a constant job- working on being aware. Through this class we focused on the need and sometimes difficult task of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. What is the background that someone is bringing with them into the classroom? What cultural norms does one hold? What are the power dynamics at play within a classroom? Who’s voice (or presence) is not being heard? Who is not being seen? Are we aware of our own biases, privileges and world views? As David Katzeek so eloquently stated- how do we use this awareness to lift each student up and help them see their place in the world? This class was a wonderful reminder of how important in life, as well as in the classroom, it is to try to bring a deep awareness into each day, situation, lesson, assignment and activity.
- Place-Based Education. I feel it is an effective educational tool to use the community you are in as the base for learning to grow and expand from. One of the biggest learning’s of this class for me was how important and relevant place-based education is. If a student in Anchorage, Alaska studies World War II, for example, but never learns about how WWII impacted Alaska, an opportunity to deepen one’s educational experience has been lost. If a math teacher only uses word problems standard for students across the United States, and doesn’t incorporate the local community and surroundings into these word problems, a deeper learning has been lost. It is important to connect one’s own backyard in history with the world at large. And how amazing was our ED680 math lesson that incorporated totem poles, humpback whales and Tlingit art? Think global and act local.
- Critical Thinking. Having the ability to view what is being taught with a critical eye and question its’ relevance to one’s own culture and life is important. I hope to help my student’s recognize the need to critically think about what we are learning in the classroom.
My plan for this upcoming year:
I look forward to my learning and growth as an educator in the upcoming year. The phrase that comes to my mind is ‘the more you learn, the less you know.’ As a student teacher, I should have ample time to observe, listen and get to know my students. With this, I hope to learn more about their backgrounds and what influences (including culture) have shaped where they are today. This will help me become more aware of what they are bringing to the classroom and to better facilitate their educational experiences. I also look forward to using my community as a classroom- starting from our school, moving out to the community and then connecting what we see to the larger picture of ‘how this relates to our homes as well as the world.’ Lastly, I hope to introduce topics from different lenses, to allow students to look at subjects with a critical lens and begin seeing the importance of looking at multiple perspectives on a subject instead of taking something they read or hear at face value.