Allan Johnson teaches us that we must say the words. He speaks of how important it is to talk explicitly about privilege, power, and differences. Throughout my service learning project I experienced several moments that reminded me of Allan Johnson. The moment that sticks out to me the most was my first day at Mary Fogarty. I was in front of a group of students reading a story with them. While we were talking about the reading, a student asked me what was wrong with my face. At first I was very confused and wondered if something was actually on my face. The student asked again and pointed to his cheeks. I then realized that all of the students in my group had never seen freckles before. I told them that they were just freckles and that I was born with them. I like to tell that story to people because it really is quite comical and cute and it shows how early students recognize differences. This is a perfect example of explicitly talking about differences the way Allan Johnson says we should. The students know that I am different from them and vice versa. They asked me a question about my skin and I let them know that it is okay to ask those questions. Students should be educated at a young age about differences, privilege, and power.
Privilege is also a topic that Johnson discusses in depth. He states, "Privilege grants the cultural authority to make judgements about others and to have those judgements stick. It allows people to define reality and to have prevailing definitions of reality fit their experience. Privilege means being able to decide who gets taken seriously, who receives attention, who is account able to whom and for what." Many of us do not realize the privilege that we have. I am an example of that. I knew that I was middle class and lived comfortably. I did not know how privileged I was until I walked into the classroom at Mary Fogarty. I saw the students with clothes that did not fit and walking to lunch without lunches. I was born into a culture of privilege without even realizing it. The students in the first grade classroom were born into a culture of poverty. At this young age they may not know about privilege, but as they get older they should recognize it. Allan Johnson would want these students to be educated on privilege so one day they can work their way out of the culture they were born in to.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Throughout my experience at Mary Fogarty Elementary I witnessed several Delpit moments. I recently presented my Service Learning project with Karissa and we believed that Lisa Delpit would disagree with the way we handled our experiences. Delpit believes that teachers should teach the rules and codes of power to their students. For example, rule number four is "If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier." Delpit also states that "These issues include: the power of the teacher over the Students; the power of the publishers of textbooks and of the developers of the curriculum to determine the view of the world presented: the power of the state in enforcing conclusory schooling; and the power of an individual or group to determine another's intelligence or "normalcy.""
In my first grade classroom, I witnessed not just one, but several Delpit moments. The teacher explicitly told her students the rules of the classroom and how they should behave each day. The rules are posted in the front of the classroom actually. I also observe the routine of the students. They know to sit up straight, put their hands together, and keep quiet when the teacher asks who is showing 'ready'. They know where to line up and in what order when going to the bathroom or to lunch as a class. They know that the teacher is in charge and that is because of the rules of Delpit. Fridays are the classes main testing day each week. When the test needs to be completed in a certain time frame, Miss Johnson sets a timer in the front of the classroom. Once this timer goes off, the students know to put their pencils down and hand their test in. This is because Miss Johnson taught them explicitly to do so. Miss Johnson has great control over her classroom and much of that is because of the rules and codes of power from Delpit. After observing this classroom for several weeks, it was clear that much of the teaching strategies were influenced by Lisa Delpit.
Saturday, December 13, 2014
On November 1st I attended the Promising Practices Event, but unfortunately I was only able to stay for one session. Even though I was only at the event for a short time, I still was able to take in a lot of information and learn. The workshop I went to was called ‘Making It Personal’. When signing up for the different sessions, I chose this one because I predicted that it would be about individualized learning in the classroom, which is very important. There were two presenters for this session. The first one was Buddy Comet. He is the Dean of Pedagogy on the administrative team at Central Falls High School. Buddy is a National Board Certified teacher, a New Teacher Center presenter, and an educational coach accelerating the effectiveness of teachers and administrators through professional coaching. He is dedicated to building high quality teaching and learning communities. Buddy began with an introduction to the activities we would be completing. He spoke about individualized learning and one-to-one learning and how it is becoming popular. There is currently a study going on where an entire class is comprised of students with IEPs. These students will go to every class together that has teachers as well as teacher assistants. After his introduction to individualized learning, Buddy Comet explained our next task. The group, which was rather large, would stop at each station around the room and complete the work in five minutes or less. The instructor asked us questions like, “How do the activities balance individual autonomy and collaborative work?” and “What needs to be in place for students to be successful?” The first station my group went to was called ‘Cubing for Slope’. The instructions were to roll the dice to get coordinates for your slope and then calculate the slope. The group worked together to find the correct answer. The next station my group moved to consisted of matching tables and graphs. One example was “Tom left his home for a run, but he was unfit and gradually came to a stop. Match a time graph and table of data to the interpretation.” This activity works to help students who struggle to understand rise over run. Unfortunately there was limited time so each group was only able to complete two stations. Buddy then began to discuss the purpose of the activities in depth. The group discussed how students would need prior knowledge and precise directions to complete each station. He suggested that teachers be up front and let the students know that it is okay to not be finished and that they can move on if the work is not fully completed. The stations Buddy set up combined students of different abilities to work together. He also noted that getting up every 10 to 20 minutes to move to a different station is a positive aspect.
The next presenter was Karen Oliveira. She works in the School of Social Work here at Rhode Island College. Her lecture was directed towards Social Work Internships. Karen informed the group about what her position at the College is and informed us about how we can involve ourselves in an internship. The social work internship would consist of classroom observation, behavioral planning, and implementation. It provides one on one support and counseling as well as group facilitation. Those who work in the social work field would develop IEP goals and participate in team meetings. Karen explained how the social work internships were going at Central Falls High School. At that high school, educators are implementing social-emotional learning with the students. She noted that trauma, poverty and stress impacts children’s learning. Current teachers were in the workshop and shared their personal stories about what are affecting students in their classrooms, which was very interesting.
Through each of these workshops, I learned a great deal about different elements of teaching. I learned about personalized learning, which I knew little about before attending Promising Practices. I also got to learn about social work internships and social emotional learning. It was also great to hear real stories from current teachers. I saw the teachings of Delpit when Buddy Comet explained that students need precise directions to complete each station.