I think understanding culture and recognizing disparaging power structures is crucial to being an effective teacher. If we are blind to these issues we will consistently see failure where there’s simply a lack of scaffolding or support, and we will do a disservice to our students and ourselves.
The three worlds that especially resonated with me from our word wall are:
White privilege: A lot of people underestimate the extent of their own privilege, and don’t pay attention to the ways their lives are made easier simply by existing in a recognizable and highly prized demographic. It’s necessary for us to acknowledge the places where we succeed due to our race, but more importantly it is our duty to use our place of privilege to fight these injustices and bring these problems into the light.
Boot straps: Until this class I hadn’t thought of this phrase as anything but a positive–the concept of being able to pull yourself up again after being knocked down has always seemed very self-empowering. But it’s again a point of recognizing that bootstraps are a privilege–I might have them but someone else might not, or mine might be made of steel cable and someone else’s might be made of spaghetti. It’s foolish and harmful to expect someone with spaghetti bootstraps to be able to accomplish the same as someone with steel. There’s also nothing in this analogy that speaks to helping other people after they’ve fallen, or allowing yourself to be helped. My job as an educator is to lend a helping hand and/or spare bootstraps to my students, helping them navigate the pitfalls of a society that is often willfully blind in regards to metaphorical footwear.
Influence: Influence comes from all aspects of life. People are influenced by the music they listen to and the movies they watch, the advertisements they see and the way their culture is (or often isn’t) represented in society. Kids are influenced by parents, friends, and teachers–my job is to make sure I am a positive influence in their lives and provide them with opportunities to make up their own minds for themselves.
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.
My plan of how to teach in the coming year boils down to making sure my students are aware of the ways society wants to control them–not in necessarily a negative way, but just to shine a light on situations so they can make conscious and informed decisions about what they want to do and why. I think especially in the Mat Su valley where there is no strong Alaska Native influence it’s especially crucial to remind students of the respect they need to show to these cultures that are grounded in the state they live in. I’ll definitely be using the lesson plan I created for this class and many more to incorporate Alaska Native culture into my classroom to keep working on their understanding and respect of cultures that are potentially different from their own.