The Heart of a Teacher

This reading not only made me feel a certain way towards my teachers of old, but also who I want to be when I am a teacher. The very beginning of this article caused me to examine my past educational background in tutoring, student teaching, and substitute teaching and realize that the author could not have been more right. There were moments where I was excited, and the class was engaging in topics and debates that felt like they could have gone on for hours. I have also been in rooms where the bell cannot ring fast enough, and as the students leave the room you stop and try to think if teaching is really for you. For all of the moments where you cannot explain to a struggling student enough what a certain concept is; there are moments where you can see the light in a students eyes, as they finally for the first time grasp a lesson, and an idea. That, I believe is what makes teaching worth it.

I really enjoyed Parker J. Palmer examined how teachers pour their heart and soul into their class, and put themselves out there for the benefit of the students. I will agree it can be incredibly frightening, and that is something that I believe all teachers deal with. What if I am boring, what if my students cannot relate, or what if I am making the work too hard/easy for them? These are a few of what I assume is an endless list that many teachers must continue to overcome. This also ties in with what I think PJP stated when he said that we must satisfy the teacher in us, before we can teach the teacher in our students. We must not be afraid, but confident individuals in who we are, and who we are teaching.

When I worked for the education department at Zoo New England, the greatest advice that I could have gotten from my boss was when he told me that, “You need to command a room. Walk in, let everyone know you are there, and even if it is just for the 50 minute class, that type A personality, and your natural self will flow within that”. I had struggled at first with just walking into a room and commanding attention, but after I stopped thinking and just went for it, my whole outlook and teaching style changed. When JPJ mentioned the teacher, Alan, I felt a small connection with him, because he was able to hone in on his craft, and that is something I have tried to work on continuously whether it be as a student teacher, or a glacier guide. As long as I keep my heart, and my love for teaching, I will be ok and I will be able to explore the wild terrain that is teaching with my class. I am no longer afraid, just as JPJ talked about at the end of his essay with younger faculty, because I know that this fear of failing my students, will make me work harder so I can, at least for 50 minutes each class be that type A personality, on this great journey called teaching.

680 Final Response

  1. How does understanding culture and power impact your teaching

Culture is something that each person not only has, but takes pride in. Each person has a special, unique, and individual culture that they come from, and so it is our duty to understand that as educators, and use it in our classrooms because it is so powerful. I feel as though many people in our society have forgotten about this aspect, and in return it has made its way into our school system, and so we at times look at classrooms as just a group of students we can blanket teach, instead of a group of bright and amazing individuals. By understanding and recognizing them culturally, we can help make them feel more comfortable, create that sense of community, and that will result in a better learning environment.

  1. Pick three terms that resonate with you from the Multicultural Education word wall. Define the terms and discuss why you chose these three terms.

Being in education, it is our duty to expose our students to a variety of topics and cultures in order to not only expand their horizons on what all is out in the world, but to expand their knowledge on how other cultures operate. In order to give them that exposure, we have to teach them and introduce to them different cultures and different traditions that exist both inside and outside of the classroom.

We need to influence our students to help them feel safe in our classrooms, and help them learn more by not just standing and lecturing at them. We need to influence them to change the way they think so they go past the exterior of a question, and really dive deep into topics and create a deeper understanding of what is trying to be taught.

The idea in giving my students the ability to use critical thinking is what learning is. There are many different ways to learn and understand a subject or a problem. If they do not know how to use their critical thinking, then they will have  tougher time solving the issue that they have.


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

Teaching in culturally responsive ways means that the teacher will employ a variety of tactics and ideas to help reach the students in the classroom. It is important to understand the type of class on hand and the backgrounds of the class and the students. This will help the teacher better understand how to approach and teach the class. Then, when the values, knowledge, and experience of the students are learned, it will be important to put that information into the lessons. This also means that the context of the lesson must be relevant. I plan on implementing some project based learning as I believe it gives the students many skills to practice that they will need in more than just the classroom. I will also try to use all of the resources available to me to help my teaching, which means bringing in an elder, place based education, and identifying the culture that exists in the classroom. Overall, I hope to implement all of these and more tactics to be the best teacher that I can.

The teacher in me

As a future teacher and educator, it would be naive of myself to say that I did not take anything away from this group project. I learned a lot about giving my students the opportunity to work on a project in class, and how important that is. It is a great chance for students to be able to ask each other questions, see what their classmates are doing, and also to be able to ask the teacher questions. This is important as I think with all of the options available to them in class, it can help the project take the next step and become that much better.

The one thing that I did not like, was I felt like we were rushed fairly quickly at the end. This was especially evident during the proof reading stage, I would have liked more time on this section and so I think I would give my students more time. I liked the idea of doing this though because it also gave the students a chance to learn more about english proof reading.

I did enjoy the idea of the project too because it forced us to learn about something by ourselves, just as Peter said, this is how someone who has no idea about Alaska history, teaches Alaska history. Overall what we accomplished was pretty amazing, and I am overly glad that we not only accomplished it, but glad that I learned so much while doing it. All I can say is, thank you Peter.

Standard 3

IMG_0536For Standard E, there really was a simple logic involved. The idea with standard E is to “Think globally, act locally”. This is important because it is a standard for change, on every scale. From this standard, students gain to learn knowledge about different things from all over the world, and then in return put that knowledge into a local scale, to help out locally which if done correctly, can begin to have an impact globally.

There are many potential lessons for this standard. For example, for english classes you could look at different traditions or possibly stories of origin from different groups, and compare them to the local ones and find all of the similarities that exist from groups that probably never met each other. Another one you could do is look at what is happening in politics globally, and write to a president or national senator/representative, and then turn that to the local level by writing concerns wanting change to local or state officials. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this standard and will try to implement it every chance I can.

Berry Magic

IMG_0126The book that I read was Berry Magic, by Teri Sloat and Betty Huffmon. I found the book to be particularity interesting because it was about how berries came to the tundra. The book began with the main character discussing how there were these woman who would pick black crowberries, and would complain about the dry bitter taste of the berries. This however, would cause our main character to have an idea and make four unique dolls, each made out of different fabric and fur. The girl then took the dolls and went into the tundra, where she would sing a song and dance and this, would cause the dolls to come to life. When the dolls came to life they would spread berries around the area. Each doll, was representative of a different berry. The berries were then picked by everyone and loved and adored because of their sweet and delicious flavor. The berries discussed were raspberries, blueberries, salmon berries, and cranberries. This book was intriguing to me because it told a story of how an area (the tundra) became so plentiful with berries.

I would use this book in an english class pretty easily be having it show a way of thinking that one culture has used through story, to explain why their are different types of berries in the Tundra. This is something that I would use because every culture has a story explaining something, such as why the sun and moon alternate, where water comes from, where the plants and trees are from, etc. Each culture has one of these stories, and so this could be used to express another cultures view point, as well as show that this story telling explaining style is not at all unique to just one culture. Overall there are many different uses for this book, and that is what makes it so unique and incredible to read. This book was also written by a local native american member of the tribe and so that makes it unique because it is a first hand account of a story that has been passed down through generations. Betty is a Yup’ik Eskimo elder, and so her insight makes the story that much more amazing. It really puts a unique perspective on the matter.



Although I was not able to attend class, I thought as though I could still share my thoughts from the reading. I found the book to be not only incredibly interesting, but also something that was a bit of a surprise. I was not surprised by the information necessarily, but by how large of a problem it has become.

We as educators, need to be more activists in the classroom I feel as though we are not doing enough to include all cultures, especially those around us in the classroom. For example, I thought as though when I was in school here in Juneau, I did not learn nearly as much as I could have about the Tlingit and Haida traditions and overall culture. This is something that I wish I would have had more in my life. I also noticed that when I was in Boston I took a native american history class and I was astounded to hear about how little a lot of my classmates knew much about native american culture, besides what was seen in the movies. This is something however, that I also realized meant that I had more experience with it and the different cultures, then others. So it is definitely I feel a problem. The issue though, is to make sure not to single out a student publicly and make them feel like an outsider, especially after hearing what some of the students shared with us in class before.

The classroom should be inclusive to all, and it should also be a place where everyone can feel comfortable, and learn from each other about each others culture. The teacher should be the activist in this realm, and not a bystander. Language is also something that can have a large impact on the classroom because it can either help, or hurt the environment depending on the language being used. It can create more of a safe place if words like “friends” or “partners” are used instead of words such as “students” or “kids”.

I also enjoyed the section on the “advanced” classes that exist. Just as Professor Lunda and others explained, there is definitely a gap within the classes through what kids, (white, black, native american) are in what classes. This is a systemic failure and one that obviously as anyone would agree must be changed. A large part of this may be the because of the involvement within the parental structure between the teachers and doing more to help out kids who may need special requirements such as having club meetings during lunch, instead of after school. Overall I thought that this reading was compelling and frightening at the same time. I enjoyed it and I found it to something that is imperative to read for all educators. The only way to help change a problem is to address it and learn more about it, and that is what we are doing every day in this class.

Totem Pole Lesson Plan

After hearing the elders speak to us multiple times, plus the addition of doing some research at SLAM, I have learned the power of story telling. My lesson plan is something that will use multiple styles of story telling. I thought that I could really make this lesson go anywhere from 6th-12th grade.

(15 min) I will start out by having a whole group discussion about the power of story telling and what it means to specific cultures. After this step we will transition to the students talking in their table groups about stories that they have been told growing up by their parents or other members of their family. The hope is that this will begin to build some background and secondary information on the subject of story telling and its importance.

(15 min) From here, I will show the students some totem poles and explain the meaning that totem poles have in native american cultures. (I will provide to them a brief reading the night before about totem poles and their purpose as well as the meaning of the animals. With this knowledge I will then give them a quick story that they will read, with a corresponding totem pole so they can see how the two relate. (  something in respects to an idea like this. Just not this source)

(5 min) I have had some trouble deciding what to do here. I have been debating having the students use Kahoot, and the idea would be me showing them sections of a totem pole, and having them guess what they think either the animal being depicted is, or the meaning of the animal being shown. I would like to do this in order to get the kids thinking about what the animals mean and look like, in order to have them start thinking about about what they could do, when they make their own totem poles from the story I will have them write.

(15 min) It is from here where the students will have to write their own short story, and then go on to develop their own totem pole. I think I will have the students make a modern day totem pole, to try and peak interest in their design, but mostly I want them to be creative and use their minds and background information to create a story and then turn that story into a totem pole. The students will be expected to finish their writing in class, and if they do not it will be homework. The next day they will make their totem poles, then show the class what they drew, and how each animal on their totem pole relates to the story that they wrote.

I am not 100% on any of this in terms of my plan being set in stone, so I would love any input on what should be added or removed from the lesson plan. Any and all feedback would be amazing. Essentially from this, the overarching goal is that the students will be able to see how important story telling is in native american culture, the different types of story telling (totem poles) and how they can develop their own stories and put them into a similar format as a totem pole. I want the students to learn that there are many different ways to get the same information across.