Good teachers join self, subject, and students in the fabric of life because they teach from an integral and undivided self; they manifest in their own lives, and evoke in their students, a ‘capacity for connectedness.’

Parker Palmer

Yesterday was a deep and heavy day.  I listened in awe of my fellow classmates stories.  Their, rather your, insight was honest and emotional.  By the time I got home, I was spent mentally and emotionally.  Parker Palmer would have been satisfied with the level of vulnerability many showed as pre-service teachers.

Our task is to create enough safe spaces and trusting relationships within the academic workplace – …-that more of us will be able to tell the truth about our own struggles and joys as teachers in ways that befriend the soul and give it room to grow.

Parker Palmer

Palmer’s writings remind me of another philosopher that I grew up reading, Jiddu Krishnamurti.  He wrote about many things in India that transcend place and speak to all of us.  His treatise “On Education” evoked many parallel thoughts that Palmer’s writing did, and similarly David Katzeek’s words as well.

Everything is inside of us.

This is true for everyone and especially our future students.  The teacher’s job is to facilitate learning so that each person can realize the knowledge that already lives within them.  As teacher’s we must do this as well for ourselves.  We must reflect and become our own teacher as J. Krishnamurti suggests in the photo above.  Through reflection we can attain self-knowledge, and through self-knowledge we can learn to be better teachers as Palmer shared.  Without self-knowledge we cannot know how to connect with our students and our subject.  For me personally I really enjoy discussing reflections with others that I trust because it often leads to new insights.

Reflecting and sharing vulnerability with one another helped me to realize many similar feelings that I had, but not yet thought of.  I appreciated and will continue to ponder yesterday’s events throughout the next few weeks and beyond.

The Teacher in Me

We built a book.

Rome wasn’t built in a day is what keeps coming to mind when I think of our project based approach.  It is sometimes hard for me to see the deeper meaning behind certain lessons.  At first I felt that I really wanted to hear lectures about pertinent Alaska History.  Who decides what is pertinent though?  I think this set up allowed us to be creative and dictate what we thought was important.  The time pressure of the publishing date on iBooks I think lit a fire in most of us.  I do think that as a teacher I wouldn’t have minded a brief overview of the state of Alaska in a powerpoint form with a iPhone game (I can’t remember what it was called – with the concert goers app) something like that would’ve been a great intro.

I think ultimately I learned from this course not to be afraid of introducing different technologies.  Really setting this up for a longer term project would’ve been great, but I’m glad we developed a baseline for what one can do.

I appreciated it.

Boot Straps


Boot Straps.  Everyone has a Story. Meritocracy

“Pulling oneself up by their boot straps”, has a whole new meaning to me now, as well as, “Meritocracy”.

Andrew Stanton, a storyteller and film director for PIXAR, once said in a Ted Talk, “there isn’t anyone you couldn’t learn to love after hearing their story”.  That is something that has stuck with me for a while now.  It was brought up again in our class in discussion, and David spoke to us of it as well.  “Love your students,” David said, and I think he is right.  We have to rise above our own biases and learn the stories of all our students.  They are not blank slates.  They come to us full of knowledge, and it is our job, our responsibility to tap into their reserves and help guide them on a path of learning that will transcend school and navigate them throughout their lives.

I grew up believing there were boot straps and an equal meritocracy for those who worked hard.  I see now how wrong that is.  While for some it might be true, it is more often than not the case.  Someone’s culture can greatly determine their access to those powers.

Recognizing and respecting that everyone has a story will be the way I implement CRT within my classroom and life.  This course touched the tip of the iceberg, but my learning will have to be continuous and my reflections will have to continue in order to be the most effective and responsive teacher I can be.


Retelling Myths

Lesson Plan – Aleut Myth – 680

“Retelling Aleut myths” is a lesson plan (LP) that I believe embodies the culturally responsive curriculum bullet B, specifically the followin part:

B. A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future.

1. Recognizes the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs, and grounds students learning the principles and practices associated with that knowledge;

The LP requires students to interpret Aleut myth and   deconstruct its deeper meaning.  Through discussion, students will analyze questions posed to them and integrate new knowledge from their deep reflection.  I believe through this discussion students  will come to recognize the value and validity of the “traditional cultural knowledge and beliefs”.  I would go so far as to say they will correlate that knowledge with their current principles and practice, linking in their mind that cultures are a living thing.  They do not just live in the past, but they effect us today in the present and have implications for the future.

Students will formulate and create their own “Myths” that recognize similar principles from the traditional myths, but that is set in their own vision. They will then role-play and act out student’s skits, thereby demonstrating their take of the chosen myth.  This activity integrates storytelling, which I believe is an important skill, especially within the Social Studies realm.  Everyone has a perspective in history, and for students, I hope to expose them to as many culture’s stories/history’s as possible.  More exposure = more knowledge to gain a well rounded experience.


Past, Present, & Future : Culturally Responsive Curriculum

Culturally Responsive Curriculum Standard B: A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future.

1. recognizes the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs, and grounds students learning in the principles and practices associated with that knowledge;

2. provides students with an understanding of the dynamics of cultural systems as they change over time, and as they are impacted by external forces;

Our group (Tyson, Tim, Chris, & myself) related this cultural standard to many disciplines outside of our own chosen path, which was predominantly Social Studies.  Utilizing traditional knowledge in the classroom could be done in a multitude of ways.  First we thought of studying flora and fauna and how we still utilize “traditional” knowledge of those uses today.  My idea for a lesson plan within Social studies was studying traditional indigenous impact on the environment and synthesizing practices that we could use today to minimize long term damages. There are many different ways one can approach this standard.

The Boy Who Lived with the Seals: Children Book Review

Rafe Martin’s, “The Boy who lived with the Seals” evokes powerful themes and contains breathtaking illustrations.  The story is about a young boy who disappears and is discovered some time later living harmoniously among the seals.  In the depths of the night he is stolen and delivered to his original clan.  It is clear however that he has been forever changed and does not fit into the world he once new.  He shies away from other humans and spends time carving by the sea where the sounds of seals can be heard.


As spring approaches, the clan travels along the sea.  While doing so they must keep the boy tied down in the canoes so he does not jump in and return to the seals.IMG_0352

But the boy eventually breaks free and returns to the world of the sealsIMG_0354

His family is initially sad and continues to search for him, but every spring they find a new canoe carved for them, and find peace.


Analyzing this book along the rubric we received, I felt it deserved the best score in each category.  The story was well developed, the boy’s development was the main focus and the illustrations brought the setting to life.  While the Author’s authority could be argued, Rafe Martin has published other myths retold in a way that has been welcomed by different communities, that being said, his authority on Native stories could be challenged.

I would love to use a story of this nature in my Social Studies class to start a discussion about anthropology and embedding within a community, citing real life examples of Stanley Livingston and so on.  Also posing questions about family structures and in what ways it can be difficult to go against the norm and find your own place in the world.  This reminds me that my students are not blank slates, they come with a world of knowledge, some may be able to relate closely to this story, either through adoption from another culture, or foster care.  Developing a discussion in a open and supportive atmosphere would be my biggest goal.



Beyond Heroes + Holidays

Culture, racism, privilege, barriers, all of these topics have hit close to home for me.

Yesterday my group’s discussion centered around, “Teaching Whites about Racism”.  The author was a white female teacher whom worked with preservice teachers in uncovering their own biases and slowly introducing questions that had her students question the institutional structure that promoted racist behaviors.  I believe as a teacher it is really important to guide students to their own knowledge rather than tell. I myself have been striving (and will continue to) to develop a question-creating repertoire that can foster this type of powerful learning. Having students reflect on their own experiences as Professor Angela Lunda has us do for our cultural self study is an example of this type of guidance.  Guiding someone to their own knowledge can reveal very powerful information to oneself.  I myself called up my mother and began asking questions I never had asked before and reflected openly about my lack of connection to our Indian heritage (Subcontinent Asia Indian).  As a young girl I rejected the connection due to the ignorance I faced in school from peers and even educators.  I shared this story with my group:

When I was in Middle School, from 6th to 8th grade I was the only minority.  By the end of my 8th grade year another girl of Indian descent had moved into the vicinity and was attending my Middle School.  At lunch time we would have a news hour that would run for the classes waiting to go to the cafeteria.  Schoolmates could come make announcements and it would be broadcasted to the entire school.  Student government elections were going on, and this new young Indian girl was running for a position with the future 7th grade class.  My teacher caught my eye and smiled at me in a weird knowing way.  I was a lot surlier back then and responded with a pre-pubescent, “What?”.  He responded, “Isn’t that your sister?”.  A lot of thoughts went through my head, like “WT%” and “How can you think that?  We have different last names and don’t look anything alike”, and most importantly the mantra I would create whenever I was around white people, “Oh we must be brown, we must be related!”  I simply narrowed my eyes and said no.  This man was my social studies teacher.  I couldn’t imagine how he had come to such a position.

This story illustrates one in many examples from my life of inexperience, ignorance, and naivety.  As we all enter into the teaching world, I hope it serves to illustrate the point that we all need to keep our heads and hearts open and be willing to learn alongside our students rather than make preconceived judgements that suit our biases.

{Photo: Shiva, god I was named after