ATLAS Field Observations

Case 1245: Enabling Students to Communicate Successfully

While searching through different Atlas observations, I was very drawn to this one in particular as communication is a valuable skill that is taught within the field of education. Teaching effective communication skills to our students instills an ability to express our thoughts and feelings to those around us. Having a sound ability to communicate not only provides students success in the classroom, but an ability to bring those skills to their professional career. When reading the description of this lesson, it seems as though the teacher is providing a lesson on the development of communication skills through teaching appropriate posture and body language, voice, and clarity. As a future School Psychologist, I myself have very little experience working directly in a school, so I have always been curious how teachers do this. The question I asked myself going into this observation was, How does this educator teach effective communication skills to their students? The lesson I observed was a first-grade classroom, with ages ranging from 6-7 years old.

One of the first things I observed was the positive atmosphere. He initially started by showing the class a video of Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address and asking the class to point out his tone of voice, his body language, and how he was visually engaged to his audience. I think a great way to teach communication is to provide appropriate examples, and the inclusion of this video was a great idea! I really appreciated his inclusion of their “2,4,6,8 inch” speaking voice rule, differentiating a normal and public speaking voice. He went through each one, providing examples of each, in order for them to decide the tone of the President’s voice. After the video lesson, the students were given the opportunity to work in partners to construct their own presidential speech that they presented to the rest of the class. They were instructed to use an appropriate public speaking voice and engage in eye contact to bring in their audience. After each presentation, the rest of the class gave constructive feedback on what they did well and how they could improve.

After completing the observation, I found that the inclusion of social interaction is a huge component of developing a strong set of communication skills. I really enjoyed watching this observation and feel the teacher did a great job providing each student an opportunity to practice basic communication skills. Overall, I am able to conclude that the teacher successfully provided students an ability to develop strong skills through engagement in peer interaction, which can arguably have a massive impact on one’s ability to effectively communicate.

Case 586: Building Classroom Community Through the Study of Chinese Art and Culture

Throughout this semester, I have been very interested in how teachers implement culturally relevant pedagogy into their classroom. We recently read an article in class by Gloria Ladson-Billings to address this. When coming across this specific observation, I was very intrigued as it may seek to answer my question, What does a culturally relevant classroom look like? And How are teachers providing an opportunity to indulge in different cultures. Furthermore, how does this impact the atmosphere of the classroom? Before starting the observation, I was able to take note that this was a second grade classroom that consisted of 12 Caucasian, 7 African American, and 1 Asian student. This initially stood out to me as within my personal experiences in education, I was never directly exposed to different cultures as my school was predominantly white, however we did learn about many different cultures.

This observation was a bit different than the others I have watched, as it does not provide direct lecture or instruction from the teacher. Instead, the teacher is rotating around stations; each focusing on different aspects of Chinese Art and Culture. Some activities included building a 3 D map of China and comparing cultures using Venn-diagrams. One of the first things that stuck out to me was the fascination that the students had in learning about the Chinese culture. They seemingly enjoyed all of the activities that were provided and were very curious, as I noted many of them asking questions to learn more. The climate of the classroom was very positive, and I was very impressed with how the instructor was able to multitask and meet student’s individual needs with her thorough attentiveness. As mentioned in the previous observation, one of my favorite things to observe in the classroom is peer interaction. Here, the students were able to facilitate conversations and build relationships within the classroom community while becoming enriched in Chinese Culture.

Previously I had mentioned Gloria Ladson-Billings Culturally Relevant Pedagogy, and I sought to answer the question of what a culturally relevant classroom looks like and how this impacts the atmosphere of the classroom. Based on my observations, it seems this teacher did a fantastic job of including a culturally relevant pedagogy into her classroom curriculum. The teacher presented a new culture to the class, which gave them an opportunity to explore one different than maybe their own. Culturally relevant pedagogy allows one to think critically and potentially challenge opposing aspects of culture. Throughout this video, it reminded me of a similar experience I had in I believe the second (or maybe third) grade. In my classroom, each student was given the opportunity to choose a country and we went to the library to check out a book to read about our country. We “researched” different components of their culture, such as the food, religion, language, traditions, etc. We had a presentation day where we created a booth with pictures and different things that represented our chosen country’s culture. I remember my country was Sweden; I painted a big Swedish flag to display, had pictures of maps, and gave them the opportunity to try some Swedish cuisine. I don’t remember everything about the culture I presented, but I remember learning so much from my peers about other cultures. Similar to the observation, I was able to build cultural awareness through the involvement of the classroom community. To conclude, I genuinely respected this teacher’s approach of exposing her young students to different cultures to build cultural awareness.

Case 1155: Analyzing Social Interaction to Develop Perspectives about Changes in Society

As a future School Psychologist, I must be aware of the changing society around us and how it can have an impact on education. Specifically, we must learn to adapt to these changes and teach our students how to do so as well. As I do not have much personal experience working within the school walls, I often find myself asking the question; How can we prepare student’s for changes in society? I was very intrigued as I came across this observation as I was hopeful to gain better insight on how we can use education to prepare our students for societal change. I feel it is very important that we as educational professionals, supply an opportunity to think critically and have open discussions about changes in society and how these changes will potentially influence the future.

This observation took place in a tenth grade AP History class, where the instructor engaged her students in discussion on social interaction and how it relates to the Industrial Era (Protest Movements). Specifically, the students were tasked with researching how individuals interact in order to build perspectives on how and why people act the way they do. With the research they collected, they were to construct a strong thesis statement as the assignment. One thing that stuck out to me in particular was the challenge that the teacher imposed on her students. She asked them questions such as, “What actions have been taken to make these changes?” and “What would you do to combat these evils of the Industrial Era?” I think that in order to prepare students to adapt to change, they must insert themselves into the situation and observe how it could affect them. This was a perfect opportunity for students to take a step back and think critically on the social issues they were researching.

I felt this was a very effective observation and was impressed with the instructors consistent interaction and feedback. Specifically, I noticed she validated many ideas and provided positive feedback that allowed them to take their ideas further. I also noted that she allowed students to work in small groups to complete the assignment. I think this is a great approach, as it allowed students to work collaboratively to share opinions and beliefs on social issues. Discussing social issues can be a challenge, and unfortunately it is often left out of discussion. It is so important that we are aware of social issues; we simply cannot ignore them. Overall, I felt that this observation provided me insight on how creating a positive environment that allows students to express their thoughts and feelings can prepare them for societal change.

Case 203: Determining the Influence of Media on American Culture and Stereotypes

I was immediately drawn to this observation as I have recently found myself challenging and questioning the impact that media puts on students. I am personally interested in the development of behavior in children; I wonder specifically about how ideas presented within the media “model” behaviors, furthermore, have a direct impact on a child’s behavior. This observation seems to go one step further in discussing the influence media has on our culture and specifically, the generation of stereotypes. As a young woman, I have personally never been faced with much diversity in terms of culture. I find this as a misfortune; it was not until I pursued a higher education degree where I was exposed to diverse populations. This culture shock was very a very eye-opening experience, as I was able absorb all the beautiful cultures the world has to offer. Throughout this course, we have learned about cultural bias within the field of education. In turn, leading me on a journey exploring the field of education. I am a future school psychologist, and this course has prepared me for a life in education. The current state of our country has a direct impact on education so it is critical I am aware of hardships my students may face as a result of culture stereotyping and racism. With that said, going into the observation I asked the question:  How can I help my students identify when there is bias in situations and furthermore, how can I provide them the opportunity to challenge stereotypes they may encounter?

I immediately observed that the students were identifying cultural and racial stereotypes in movies that we all have grown up watching. An interesting question that the teacher asked her students was “did you ever realize that when you first watched Cinderella or the Lion King? As I expected, a lot of them replied “no”. I myself did not recognize this at a young age, which solidifies the impact that Media instills in reinforcing these cultural and racial stereotypes. It almost seems as though these platforms (i.e., Disney) force conformity to these hidden stereotypes. To elaborate on this, they continue discussion of how there is no democracy in Disney movies. As a matter of fact there is no democracy in marketing or the media. The teacher brought up an interesting point: Why fix what’s not been broken? Disney in particular, was never challenged to dismiss these racial stereotypes they were projecting, therefore, they didn’t.

I felt that this lesson was a very intuitive and allowed me to learn a lot throughout the observation. I deeply respected the way that the instructor implemented discussion of cultural and racial bias. I think that having the students watch childhood favorites and identify hidden stereotypes was a perfect way to allow her students to recognize and further challenge these problems we see. I think first and foremost, we must educate our students on stereotypes and the results they produce. Overall, I have taken away the importance of having deep and meaningful conversations with my students. Discussing these stereotypes with my students is a simple answer to the question I imposed going into the observation. Once we are able to recognize these stereotypes, I hope to instill and model equality to my students, as well as an ability to self-reflect on how these stereotypes may impact their lives. I hope that ultimately, my students presume a perspective of cultural competence; a shared trait among all individuals to directly challenge these stereotypes with intention to make a change.

Case 787: Creating Social Stories to Better Understand School Expectations

This observation resonated in me as it delves into some of the work I will be doing as a School Psychologist. It was noted that this educational professional was working hands-on with a young student who struggles with social relationships due to his difficulty with emotion regulation. As I began the observation, I immediately noticed the materials they were using and the atmosphere of the room.  To help this student learn better coping strategies, she helped him in making a “choice book” that teaches him different ways to react in certain situations. To do this, the teacher provided him appropriate materials (pictures, binder, other reference materials, etc) to construct this book. Throughout the amount of training I have received in the School Psych program, I have specifically been exposed to modern day technology as a tool of data collection. This small amount of experience has instilled just how positive and beneficial the use of technology can be. However, we still have to recognize and implement a hands-on approach within our practices. Before going further into the observation, I asked myself the question: How does this professional demonstrate effective hands-on learning techniques within delivery of special education services?

Implementing a hands-on teaching approach allows students to develop independent ideas and develop creative, critical thinking skills. Additionally, it is an engaging method of learning in which students can visualize their thoughts and increase problem solving ability. Interestingly, this observation uses hand on learning to directly aid in the development of this students. problem-solving skills.  For example, they brainstormed scenarios that may require a difficult decision to make, and she guided him in developing positive ways to react to these situations. This observation was different than all of the other lessons I observed. How so? This was a one-on-one lesson, where the others were clearly a large group/classroom setting. I observed this student to have a more positive experience in this type of setting, as it was noted that he struggles in larger groups. Overall, I feel as though this lesson was successful in answering the question I imposed going into the observation. The teacher was effectively demonstrating a hands-on learning approach by giving him the opportunity to be creative and use materials to create a book that will act as a tool in further development of problem solving and decision making skills.

Direct Links to ATLAS Observations:

Case 1245 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/1245/

Case 586 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/586/

Case 1155 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/1155/

Case 203 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/203/

Case 787 https://atlas.nbpts.org/cases/787/

Learning Experience 4

Our Final Learning Experience was based on Maxine Greene’s “Wide Awakeness and the Moral Life”. This article delves into the idea of wide awakeness and furthermore, how to live a moral life. Before going into our lesson in particular, it is important to define this concept and outline some of the main themes outlined from Greene.

Wide awakeness can be defined as an achievement, a type of awareness, additionally; a “plane of consciousness of highest tension originating in an attitude of full attention to life and its requirements.” Greene displays an overarching idea in which wide awakeness is deemed a processs, not a product. She provided the following quote, “Wide-awakeness can play a part in the process of liberating and arousing and helping people pose questions with regard to what is oppressive, mindless, and wrong.” (). It is this ability to recognize challenges and pose questions that can be a challenge for many individuals. Throughout the article, Greene paints a picture of wide-awakeness through her considerations of the mechanical life, as well as moral education.

Greene discusses the problem that living a mechanical life can put on wide awakeness. A mechanical life can be understood as going through the motions of everyday life; falling into a residual pattern where change cannot happen. Many educators, along with other individuals, are prone to living a mechanical life and developing an “it is what it is mindset” that Greene discussed. Specifically, they do not consider questioning their objections or putting their whys to the test. Those living a mechanical life begins to impose problems when they are not able to challenge these “why’s”, which ultimately hinders the start of wide awakeness. In order to start the process, one must stay away from living a mechanical life in order to gain clarity of themselves and enter into a world of wide awakeness.

This idea really resonated within me as I read the article. I asked myself, am I living a mechanical life? Why am I living my life the way I am? In what ways can I challenge this? Interestingly, my life seems to be fairly “mechanical” as a graduate student; I spend most of my days following a typical routine for myself. Additionally, I can confidently say that I never began to question things around me until my early adult years. However, this course in particular has definitely opened my eyes to the challenges within education and the neighboring world around me. I believe myself to be in this process of awakening as I am challenged more than I have ever been. I have discovered an ability to project my identity as a future school psychologist and question what or how I can do to guide students to a successful life.

Another idea Greene discussed was Moral Education. Moral education guides students in acquiring a set of beliefs and values that establish the difference between right and wrong. It is these beliefs that develop and guide a student’s intention, attitudes, and behaviors towards others and the world around them. Moral education goes hand in hand with wide-awakeness, and Greene supported this principle through identifying wide awakeness in teachers. What does a “wide awake” teacher look like? Living in wide awakeness allows teachers to model passion, purpose, and possibility to their students. It is important they take on a role to help students develop critical consciousness and motivate a desire to take positive action and develop agency. To build upon that, It is critical teachers are able to view themselfes as critical thinkers and be willing to disclose their own principles to impose their conception of “the good and the possible.

The main ideas that I have discussed are what my Learning Circle really wanted to emphasize throughout our presentation. Our overall objective and hope for our lesson was to define and cultivate a life of wide awakeness for our audience. To do this, we defined wide awakeness and its connection to mechanical life. Furthermore, we elaborated on how to stray away from a mechanical life in order for us to become woke. We also discussed what it is like to live a moral life and its application to the field of education in order for our audience to become aware of the world around them and reflect upon their own morals and values within their role in education. We invited them to challenge the “whys” they are faced with to aid in the awakening process. Many of the activities we implemented allowed for meaningful discussion that strengthened their understanding of wide awakeness. Some of our discussion questions we imposed were “How have the ideas presented throughout this course changed the way you think about education and view your role as an educator?” as well as “How do we teach students how to question their lives and form a moral life?” All of our discussions instilled the point that we, as educators, must project our values and principles into our students, modeling an ability for them to do the same. We included the following quote in our lesson, “The problem is not to tell them what to do, but to help them attain some kind of clarity about how to choose and how to decide what to do”. I feel we were successful in

When discussing and planning our lesson, we each annotated the article and came prepared to discuss our main takeaways. Greene’s beautiful philosophical piece was a challenge to pick apart, but with each group members valuable input we were able to put together a meaningful presentation. Throughout the lesson, it was my responsibility to discuss what wide awakeness looks like for educators, and transitioned into moral education by asking the question: How have the ideas presented throughout this course changed the way you think about education and view your role as an educator? My main goal for this question was to discuss other ideologies we have researched this semester, and how they all come together and tie into moral education and it’s relation to wide awakeness. This discussion was a great transition into my role of defining moral education and furthermore, discussing the role of the teacher in cultivating a moral life. In discussing moral education, I included a direct quote from Greene: “The problem is not to tell them what to do, but to help them attain some kind of clarity about how to choose and how to decide what to do”.  As educators, we cannot ensure our students will do everything we would like, however, we can model an ability to become motivated and reach their goals.  Overall, I feel as though my group led great discussions that allowed us to reach our objective by guiding them to a sense of clarity and cultivate a life of wide awakeness.

Resources:

Greene, Maxine. “Wide-Awakeness and the Moral Life.” Exploring Education, 2017, pp. 219–224., doi:10.4324/9781315408545-14.

Current Connection 4

This week we read the article titled “Urban School Reform, Family Support, and Family Achievement”, by Kiersten Greene and Jean Anyon. These authors did a remarkable job exploring the discrepancies between low-income students and it’s correlation to academic achievement. Interestingly, the authors did not want to shy away from the effects curriculum and pedagogy have on academic achievement, however, emphasized the power that socioeconomic status has on molding attitudes and abilities of students. Overall, one of my biggest takeaways from this reading was that academic achievement stems back to the atmosphere of the child’s home life and in order to improve these obstacles we must as a society begin by making reforms within the community.

Throughout the article, the authors painted a picture that provided insight on the challenges that students living in urban neighborhoods may face and in particular, how these unfortunate circumstances impede their education. To put it into perspective Greene provided that 38% of children living in America or 27 million students in the nation’s schools are considered poor (Greene, 227). Additionally, 16% of students live below the official federal poverty line, leaving nearly 12 million children in America impoverished. Extreme poverty was noted to have detrimental and long-lasting effects on a student’s cognitive development and mental health. Therefore, it not uncommon that these students have more health and behavioral deficits. Which made me ask the question: “How could these children possibly be able to focus on school, when they go home and are faced with these challenges? It is hard for me to wrap my head around these numbers, and it is clear that all of these challenges have a huge impact on their academic achievement. There is a disproportionate number of students in urban areas that are low performing in academic achievement, creating an evident achievement gap between low and high SES students. Greene also provided that by the age of 5, high SES students perform on average 60% higher than students of the lowest SES. This ultimately instills that socioeconomic status accounts for much more variation in academic achievement than any other factor (Greene, 228).

For my current connection, I looked at the achievement gap in its entirety, but I was specifically curious about the impact that the Coronavirus pandemic has put on this gap. The article I found was from The Washington Post, titled “Why Covid-19 Will Explode Existing Academic Achievement Gaps” by Richard Rothstein. Prior to the pandemic, the academic achievement gap was equivalent to at least 2 year of schooling, and it was expected that the shutdown would expand this gap an additional 6 months.  This article discusses the many concerns that were raised when the schools began to shut down in March of 2020; many becoming a harsh reality for low SES students.

Rothstein emphasized the role of parental involvement and how increased reliance on homework is seen to widen this gap. He stated, “Children’s whose parents can more effectively help with homework gain more than children whose parents are not able to help them with homework.” (2020). As the state began to shut down and schools began to close, there was a huge push for parental involvement as students were now to become educated within the walls of their home. From there, the article went into greater detail discussing socioeconomically segregated neighborhoods through which it compared parental involvement abilities between high- and low-income families. It was addressed that higher socioeconomic families encompass parents with higher educational backgrounds, holding full time professional jobs. Many of these parents qualified for unemployment due to their inability to work during the pandemic, giving them more time at home with their children. It is not surprising that many of them were able to become their children’s “instructors” and attend to their child’s schoolwork. However, low SES parents did not have that luxury. Specifically, many low-income parents often had many jobs that remained open throughout the pandemic, leaving them no choice but to go to work in order to provide for their family. This ultimately kept them from being able help their children with their schoolwork and often times were unable to find additional childcare. As children were no longer able to receive classroom stimulation, there was in increase of reliance in homework which as I mentioned earlier, widens the achievement gap. You can only imagine the diverse experiences children had in education within the shutdown.

Among the shutdown, schools quickly became dependent on the remote learning platform. Which introduced another concern outlined in the article, a lack of resources available to low SES students. Specifically, Rothstein stated that nearly 300,000 students in New York City lived in homes with no computers; a majority of which were low income. Schools purchased chrome books to students without computers, however this was not a sound solution considering there were still families who did not have access to high-speed internet.

Lastly, Rothstein discussed schools being the safest place for some children. Children living in low income, disinvested, and overcrowded neighborhoods are more likely to experience toxic stress from exposure to violence, homelessness, and economic insecurity. He specifically provided that evidence of physical abuse is seen more in students living in low-income neighborhoods. Simply, going to school keeps them save and away from violence. It is also important to consider that many struggle from food insecurity and the school is where they get their meals. This is what sparked fear in many educational professionals as they were no longer able to keep their students safe.

One question I asked myself was, “how can we, as a society fix this?” One of the overarching ideas I observed between the two articles was the emphasis placed on creating reforms within the community,  ensuring individuals are provided adequate resources to succeed—both inside and outside of the classroom. As a School Psych student, I have recently found myself conversing among other professionals about how this widened gap with follow sharp increase in a need of intervention as schools begin to open up. Rothstein’s article acknowledged that providing more resources to schools who serve low-income students is a great starting point, however, it is simply not enough. We must improve the disadvantaged neighborhoods, providing better resourced schools along with mixed income housing, transportation, and better access to jobs. After reading the article, I felt as though Rothstein ultimately conveyed that in order for the achievement gap to be eliminated, segregation must be addressed first in which reforms are made within the community.

Greene, Kiersten, and Jean Anyon. “Urban School Reform, Family Support, and Student Achievement.” Reading & Writing Quarterly, vol. 26, no. 3, 2010, pp. 223–236., doi:10.1080/10573561003769608.

Rothstein, Richard. “The Coronavirus Will Explode Achievement Gaps in Education.” Economic Policy Institute, http://www.epi.org/blog/the-coronavirus-will-explode-achievement-gaps-in-education/.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/04/17/why-covid-19-will-explode-existing-academic-achievement-gaps/

Learning Experience 3

One of the main themes outlined in Jared Spring’s chapter titled, “Native American’s: Deculturalization, Schooling, Globalization, and Inequality” was the effect that deculturalization had on Native American history and their Education. Deculturalization can be defined as the process in which an ethnic group is forced to abandon their culture, language, and customs. It is not surprising that it is typically the result of a dominant culture replacing the culture of a given minority group (Sage). Throughout the article, Spring placed a significant emphasis on how Native American culture was deculturalized. Furthermore, their culture was subjected to different forces in an attempt to ultimately destroy their culture. One specific example was that native American’s were denied access to US Citizenship. A direct quote from the article reads, ““The Naturalization Act of 1790 excluded Native Americans from U.S citizenship. This was in keeping with the belief that the survival of the republic depended on a homogeneous citizenry of whites. At the time, Native Americans were classified as domestic foreigners, they could not seek naturalized citizenship because they were not white.” (Spring, 22). During this time period, the dominant culture was white protestant, and Spring provided that it was quite clear that they were trying to dismiss all native American culture and practice and replace it with white individuals holding the Christian faith. As I read the chapter I asked myself, why is it that everyone needs to be white in order to have a good “civilized republic”? I also thought it was interesting that Native American’s were considered domestic foreigners, yet wasn’t it their land to begin with? I perceived this to be a clear form of racism as this was the driving force behind the agenda of deculturalization.

Another theme Spring highlighted was the impact that deculturalization had on education. Deculturalization resulted in an inequality of educational opportunity, specifically, by the creation of Boarding Schools. Many Europeans believed that education was the key to social control and improvement of society. In order to control Native Americans, they must “educate” them by replacing their culture with values of their own. The Indian Peace Commission stated that the language barrier between whites and Indians was the main source of friction, and it was believed that teaching English would minimize hostility and civilize Native Americans. The replacement of their native languages with English, destroyed Native American culture and teaching US Allegiance became a major educational policy for the Native American culture. The first boarding school opened in 1879 for Native American children and it was named the “Carslile Indian Boarding School”. Education was deculturalized by removal, in which boarding schools stripped young children away from their families; isolating them from their culture, language, and customs. The ultimate goal of boarding schools was to transfer their allegiance from that of their tribal government, to the US federal government in order to build a sense of community and involvement with the white population. Reading about boarding schools was almost disgusting to me, as the treatment of these children was unsettling. Boarding schools were supported by student labor, and children were constantly overworked. The food that was fed to these children were least nutritious and overcrowding of students led to spread of disease such as tuberculosis and trachoma. The children were also faced with punishments, such as being flogged with ropes and even some boarding schools put students in isolation, something similar to jail. This was very eye opening to me, as I had never previously been educated on Indian boarding schools. It also made me question, what does deculturalization look like in our communities and education today?

The main themes I have just discussed are what my Learning Circle really hoped to emphasize throughout our lesson. Our main objective was as follows: “We hope to outline the history of deculturalization with a particular focus in how this impacted education. Students will be able to understand how these policies have shaped education today and continue to impact cultural groups.” To highlight these themes and fulfill our objective, we started by providing a definition of what deculturalization is, followed by some Native American history that was provided throughout the chapter. This was a lengthy excerpt, so we thought it was important to provide a brief historical background by going through a timeline to help our students visualize and obtain a basic understanding of Native American history. We also discussed Native American Education and the Treatment of Children through providing some information of the Boarding Schools and the impact it had on children and their families.

My group sought to answer the question “What does deculturalization look like in schools and communities today?” To do this, we implemented a SOLE Activity, which stands for Self-organized Learning Environment. Within this activity, students were split into groups where they were to do individual research and find an article that seeks to answer this question. After each group did research, we all came together and discussed their findings. Interestingly, we found that deculturalization is still evident in classrooms today. As mentioned previously, education was originally used as a form of control, and in today’s education we still see control in the form of hidden curriculums. We discussed examples of hidden curriculum that include, the standard language of education being English, the Pledge of Allegiance, and national holidays.

When discussing the planning of our lesson, we each read and came prepared to our meeting with some of our main takeaways. Because this chapter was fairly long, it took us a good amount of time to hone in on a few (of the many) themes that we wanted to articulate. Once we decided to focus on deculturalization and education, we solidified our objective and from there worked collectively to produce a meaningful learning experience. During the lesson, it was my responsibility to define deculturalization through providing sound examples, while also hitting on some of the main historical events and providing input on discussions. Overall, I feel as though my group worked very well together and we each contributed valuable information. I believe that the information we provided was sound and allowed us to reach our objective of student’s understanding deculturalization and obtaining an ability to connect it back to the modern classroom today.

Resources:

“Native American’s: Deculturalization, Schooling, Globalization, and Inequality.” Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality, by Joel H. Spring, Chapter 2, Routledge, 2016, pp. 21–37.

“SAGE Reference – Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education.” SAGE Knowledge, sk.sagepub.com/reference/diversityineducation/n190.xml.

Direct Link to Our Lesson:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/16EvbFuGl-L1dPiF_9EhLEYbGq4DIs2HrK_r6Vkqy2Rs/edit#slide=id.p

Current Connection 3

This week I read the article titled, “But I’m Not Gay: What Straight Teachers Need to Know About Queer Theory” by Elizabeth Meyer. Throughout the article, she discusses queer theory; or more so what it is not. Queer Theory is not “gay and lesbian relationships”. It has evolved into an ideology that challenges those assumptions. Furthermore, it seeks to normalize challenges that go beyond traditional binaries: men vs women, masculine vs feminine, gay vs, straight, and many more.

Before discussing my current connection, I want to address some of the main themes Meyer presented throughout the article. One of the main takeaways I received from the author’s articulation was the importance of implementing queer theory into the classroom. Doing so offers educators an opportunity to take a step back and observe the bigger picture through a different lens. It is this allowance in which educators have an ability to transform educational experiences into experiences that are liberating, diverse, and socially just in order for students to have confidence in and instilling equality among all.  

She goes on to discusses the harmful effects that result from homophobia and heterosexism. Specifically, she addresses the impeding issue of bullying and harassment that we see every day in the classroom, and how it often times is discriminatory in nature. Meyer provides, “this form of school violence is closely linked to the problems of homophobia and sexism in schools and has resulted in several court battles over how families, students, and teachers who do not conform to traditional notions of heterosexual masculinity and femininity are allowed to participate in schools.” (17). In other words; teachers are losing their jobs for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual, and the issue of bullying only addresses the physical acts of violence, rather than stemming it back to the purpose behind it. What does this tell us? Bullying has become depoliticized and prevents us from enforcing the norms of our culture and society.

Another theme I would like to address is how gender works to limit student opportunities. Schools often reinforce gender norms as they teach aspects of masculinity and femininity. For example, strict dress codes or even school uniforms. Boys wear pants, and girls wear skirts. This simply normalizes gender identification, and it is being noticed. Queer theory allows both teachers and students to challenge traditional gender roles in order to understand the negative effects these power dynamics have on individuals and the school environment.

The last point I would like to discuss was Meyer’s inclusion on how ignoring homophobia teaches intolerance. I was really drawn to the emphasis that she put on school’s being one of the biggest “sites” that contribute to the normalization of heterosexual behavior. She specifically discusses how schools “mandate” hyper-heterosexuality using the curriculum and extra curriculum activities. She stated, “the exclusive study of heterosexual romantic literature, the presentation of the “nuclear” heterosexual two-parent families as the norm, and teaching only the reproductive and abstinence aspects of sexual education”. (23). This example of sex education really stood out to me and made me reflect on what my experience with sex education was like. This is what inspired my current connection; I was curious and wanted to know more about how sex education has evolved and asked myself the question, what are they teaching our students now? How is this different than what we were taught years ago? It was through the meaningful class discussions that we had this week that provided not much as changed. The girls and boys are separated, each learning about their own reproductive organs and how to reproduce. There is no inclusion of sexual orientation; sex is simply male and female penetration and that is how you reproduce. Furthermore, they taught us that if you do not want to reproduce or get STD’s, simply abstain. For me personally, it was not until I was in high school that I learned anything valuable. Interestingly, it was not anything my teachers taught me… the most valuable components of sex education I received from the interaction of my peers. For example, I was not aware of what LGBTQ stood for until I was well into high school, and I personally believe this is a perfect example of what sex education was not teaching us. So, how can we make this different for our children?

The article I found for my current connection was titled, “High Schools Must Teach LGBTQ-Inclusive Sex Education in England”, by Elizabeth Kuhr. This article was from NBC news and was published fairly recently, in 2020. Kuhr discusses a new mandate that requires high schools to implement a new sex ed curriculum that teaches students about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer sexual health and relationships. To further explain this new curriculum in detail, the article outlines the main goals of this curriculum and provides specifics on what is intended to be taught. As I previously mentioned, it teaches students all about LGBTQ relationships and sexual health, but also educates high schoolers on good friendships, strong professional relationships, and healthy marriages. This all-inclusive sex education strives to teach young individuals to understand human sexuality in order to have the best respect for not only themselves, but those around them. One component of the article that really stuck out to be was the addressed concern that teachers may not have ample resources and guidance to successfully implement this curriculum. Specifically, Kuhr discussed the role that Stonewall, a large UK LGBTQ Organization, plays in the development of this curriculum. Stonewall provides many resources to this curriculum and has partnered with nearly 1500 schools in England and has begun providing virtual lessons that give teachers tools and guidance in developing curriculums that are inclusive to all LGBTQ and straight students.

As Meyer discussed in the previous article, it is so important that teachers create classroom environments that are inclusive in order to ensure justice and equality among all students. Previous sex education curriculums that reinforce the normalization of heterosexuality can be viewed as a hidden curriculum; lessons, values, and practices that are unknowingly taught by our students. Implementing sex education curriculum’s that are LGBTQ inclusive would be a great first step in combatting the normalization of heterosexuality.

Kuhr, Elizabeth. “High Schools Must Teach LGBTQ-Inclusive Sex Education in England.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, 8 Sept. 2020, http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/high-schools-must-teach-lgbtq-inclusive-sex-education-england-n1239514.

Meyer, E. 2007. “But I’m Not Gay”: What Straight Teachers Need to Know about Queer Theory. In N. Rodriquez & W. Pinar (Eds.), Queering Straight Teachers: Discourse and Identity in Education. (pp. 15-32). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Comic Strip 3: “How do I Work with Parents?”

My comic strip is based off of Chapter 8 in William Ayer’s book About Becoming a Teacher. The chapter is titled “How do I Work with Parents? (and with Colleagues and Administrators)” in which it emphasized just how closely educators work with parents. As we have learned from our experiences in education, it is not only the teacher, the parent, the administrators, or the school psychologist that is responsible for a child’s education. Educational professionals must work collectively as a team in order to successfully educate their students. It is important that the teachers and parents work collectively and actively communicate in order to meet the child’s needs. In order to do so it is important to establish relationships between colleagues and especially with parents; in which Ayer’s highlighted just how critical a parent-teacher relationship is. Afterall, parents are essentially their child’s first teacher so when they start their education, teachers may often ask you for help to better assist your child in the classroom.

Furthermore, he stated, “The point of connection for the relationship you need to build is a focus on the child. Period. You don’t have to be close or in agreement or sympathetic on every level; you simply have to find a way to connect around your shared concern for this specific child, and this one, and this one.” (69). At the end of the day, your colleagues and parents may not agree on everything and that’s okay. If they are able to put all differences aside and provide that their sole focus is on the success on the student, then the relationship will in turn be successful. As a future School Psychologist, I will work very closely with parents, whether it be communicating results of evaluations, or discussing behaviors observed in the classroom. We actively include parents within the process, as like Ayer’s stated, they know their child the best and the more we know, the better we can assist.

One component that really stuck out to me as I read the chapter was Ayer’s inclusion of his own personal experiences of working with his child’s teacher. He specifically discussed an experience in which he was going to a “dreaded” conference in regard to his second-grade child. His child was considered “challenging” due to some behavioral concerns. Going into this conference, Ayer’s described himself as very nervous due to frequent bad news and was prepared to have to advocate for his child. Surprisingly, he had a much difference experience in which the teacher asked more how she can improve and better assist his child. This was a great depiction of how important it is that the parents form a relationship to ensure sole focus on the child.

As I read the chapter, it reminded me a lot of a personal experience I had just a few weeks ago. This experience is quite similar to Ayer’s in which a friend came to me for advice going into a meeting that concerns her child’s reading ability. This conversation is what inspired my comic; I ultimately tried to convey specific focus on the particular student and how it can build that parent-teacher relationship. I also tried to emphasize how although it Is hard to hear bad news, you may have to advocate for you child in order to ensure she is getting the appropriate assistance.

Ayers, William. About Becoming a Teacher. Teachers College Press, 2019.

Learning Experience 2

One of the main themes that was unveiled in Ladson- Billings’ article titled “But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy”, was the importance of implementing cultural relevant teaching strategies into classrooms of students. It is critical that schools produce culturally relevant teachers that have an ability to bring education into the world of the student. Ladson-Billings’ began by placing a large emphasis on the link between school and culture, where she introduced implementation of a culturally relevant pedagogy in hopes to close the gap between the two. So, what is a culturally relevant pedagogy? Culturally relevant pedagogy is a method of teaching that is based on three criteria; “Students must experience academic success, students must develop and maintain cultural competence, and students must develop a critical consciousness through which they challenge the status quo of the current social order”. Through discussing each component of a culturally relevant pedagogy, the author was able to explain how we as educational professionals can bring education into the world of the student. In previous weeks, our class has discussed the idea of school choice and the recurring issue of racism in the education system today. Furthermore, it is critical that the system changes to protect the lives of every student and implementing a culturally relevant pedagogy into the schools is a good start.

While reading the article, I found myself reflecting back onto my educational experiences and was able to recognize the lack of culturally relevant pedagogy. Specifically, l grew up in a suburban neighborhood there was very little cultural and ethnic diversity. As a future educational professional, this has allowed me to realize how important it is that we fuse culture and education. My LC wanted to focus our lesson on how we can bridge this gap through using culturally relevant pedagogy. Specifically, it was important to us that our audience was able to define and analyze culturally relevant pedagogy in order to apply it to their profession. To meet our objective, we pieced together this pedagogy through explaining academic success, cultural competence and critical consciousness.

Starting off our lesson, we wanted to get a feel for how our audience defined good teaching. We wanted to make it as interactive as possible, so we created a PollEv in which they were given the opportunity to provide a couple of words describing good teaching. The responses were transformed into a word cloud and we were able to visualize many components of good teaching, including: collaboration, working together, encouragement, compassion, equality, and justice. All of these were respectively characteristics of culturally relevant pedagogy. That led into the perfect transition of each of the three components.

Ladson-Billings’ explained academic success as “culturally relevant teaching requires that teachers attend to students’ academic needs, not merely make them “feel good”. While discussing academic success, our group really wanted to emphasize the importance that educators teach skills to their students that are applicable and motivate them to choose academic excellence. More specifically, by encouraging the class to focus on becoming academically successful can ultimately change the culture of the classroom towards success, in which students begin to view themselves as having an innate ability to succeed. Next, our group immersed into cultural competence.  This topic was a bit heavier as we discussed how classrooms can be “an alien and hostile place” for students. In this case specifically, African American students. These students are often times held to a much lower standard than other students and in turn lack the self-confidence to perform in the classroom. To avoid this, we placed an emphasis on a term called “cultural synchronization”, which is collectively intertwining the home and classroom environment. This is achieved by bringing parents and other community members into their child’s classroom in which they demonstrate their skills, values, and worth. This justifies the grounding students within their home lives and in turn creating more cultural awareness among other classmates. Our group thought it was important to provide our audience concrete examples to better understand cultural relevant pedagogy and how they can apply it to their professions. So we asked the question, how exactly do we bring education into the student, ensuring academic success through implementing culturally relevant strategies? As stated in the article, “culturally relevant teachers utilize student culture as a vehicle for learning”. We found a short video portraying just this. Within urban culture, teachers often times use rap to engage students in the classroom as hip-hop is a fundamental piece of their culture. The video shows Dr. Christopher Edmin, a science educator in the Bronx New York, implementing rap into his classroom. He specifically discusses hip hop as a pedagogy in motion that allows his students to bring their true identity into their education. Lastly, we discussed critical consciousness. Critical consciousness is the idea of inviting students into conversation that portrays the power structure of their world, allowing them to critique and challenge it in a way to identify how it creates inequities among them. Development of these critical conscious skills ultimately gives the student’s power and ability to take social action.

When addressing the lesson planning itself, each member read and analyzed the article prior to meeting and we discussed any main themes we identified. After discussing the article, we quickly identified that we wanted to discuss all components of cultural relevant pedagogy. We solidified our objective and worked collectively as each member provided great ideas. During the lesson, it was my responsibility to discuss and provide knowledge on academic success, along with providing input on discussions. I think my group worked very well together and did an excellent job reaching our objective. I believe that the information and discussion we provided gave the audience the ability to understand a cultural relevant pedagogy and hope they are able to apply it to their educational professions in the future.

References:

Ladson‐Billings, Gloria. “But That’s Just Good Teaching! The Case for Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.” 1995.

Here is a Link to Our Lesson Powerpoint and Chris Edmin video clip:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Cj3My_-U4z-XPaZ4VoyY5N3KXkNuzSx_VKz7PMUVTNg/edit#slide=id.p

Current Connection 2

This week I am going to be discussing the article titled “The Radical Supreme Court Decision That America Forgot”. This article discusses the famous court case Green v. New Kent County as a pivotal movement towards desegregation. Will Stancil first recognizes the Brown v Board of Education case. Specifically, this case is most often talked about when discussing school desegregation. This case eradicated Jim Crow Law’s and sought real change for the future: school districts were to no longer forbid black children from attending same schools as white children. Interestingly, I was not too familiar with the Green v. New Kent County case prior to reading this article. Which sits uneasy to me as this case is the known for being the “closest thing to reparative that the American judicial system has ever endorsed”, stated Stancil. I feel disappointed to say that there is still such a lack of education as schools are still racially divided to this day. Racial segregation was still very evident in the years following Brown, which ultimately led to “school integration” proposed by Green. School desegregation was seen as a reparative process that cannot be fixed from the “freedom of choice plan”. This freedom of choice was an integrative plan in which students were automatically re-enrolled in the same school every year, however, they had the option to change enrollment if they wanted to. Therefore, black children could enter a previously all white school (Stancil 2). So how effective was this freedom of choice plan? Following the Green case, New Kent County School Board implemented this plan. Stancil summarized that segregation of schools had unfortunately still survived this plan. To be specific, “Only 15 percent of black children enrolled in the formerly white school. Predictably, not a single white child enrolled in the formerly black school” (Stancil 3). The main theme projected in this article goes far beyond racial segregation in schools. In order for all harms of segregation to be eliminated entirely, the system must be repaired “root to branch”. Evidence throughout the article provides how important it is that in order to see permanent change, it is critical to take all actions necessary.

As I read Stancil’s writing, I could not help but think about how prevalent school segregation is today. While researching a current connection, one article stuck out to me in particular.  From Associated Press News, Hannan Adley produced the article titled “Student’s Pitch Solutions to Racial Segregation”. This article discusses the racial divide that is still occurring in our country, specifically New Jersey Schools. Adley began the article discussing a conference that was initiated by 500 high school students that sought to identify solutions to end racial segregation in their schools. This conference allowed students and individuals from neighboring New Jersey cities (Ridgewood, Leonia, Cliffside Park, New Milford). The teacher who led this conference stated “We are not integrated” and “If we really want to be that free and equal society, we have to work at it”. This really stuck out to me as it reflects the theme discussed in the previous article;  the system must be repaired root to branch. The conference allowed individuals to debate on which proposals would have the most impact. They discussed affordable housing plans, programs that allowed families to choose where to attend school, residential zoning and school zoning. One student said “Unless we fix these schools and make them better schools, the vast majority of people who live in some of these bad neighborhoods will get stuck in a perpetual cycle…. So I think the issue isn’t necessarily moving people from one school to another, but we have to fix the schools that are doing poorly to give everybody a fair chance.” (Adley 3). As Adley discussed in the article, these types of conversations are very hard to have, but they are very necessary. Tough questions must be recognized in order to see change. As Stancil discussed in his article, the Green case sought to integrate schools and it can only be done by working together. I felt that my current connection article was a perfect example of doing just that. It was so inspiring to read about a community of students coming together to discuss and tackle this serious issue head on. It is a reparative process, and it takes time, but working together is the first step in doing so.

Resources:

Adely, Hannan. “Students Pitch Solutions to Racial Segregation in Schools.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 2 Mar. 2019, apnews.com/article/f58d4060d8514910ad1aad39ad2dccd7.

Stancil, Will. “The Radical Supreme Court Decision That America Forgot.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 30 May 2018,

Comic Strip 2: What is my Role in Curriculum Making?

One of the biggest takeaways I received from William Ayer’s Chapter 5: What is my Role in Curriculum Making?, was the emphasis Ayer’s put on educational curriculum and how important it is that educators migrate away from strict adherence to curriculum. Instead, he suggests educational facilities create curriculums that are innovative, flexible, and hands-on to ultimately increase student involvement. Ayer’s stated, “If teachers focus solely on the intended curriculum, the classroom becomes anemic, teacher agency and creativity are reduced to nothing more than an added book or two…and everyone’s vision is precipitously narrowed to one aspect of school life at the expense of others” (37). This made me think back and remember what the curriculum was like when I was growing up in school. My thoughts on curriculum have certainly expanded as I continue into a graduate level education. Specifically, I never really thought much about the curriculum that was in place in my school. I was a pretty go-with-the-flow student, and never once questioned what or how I was learning. I was simply there to learn. Now, I view curriculum much differently. It is important that students become educated on specific subject matter, however, too much focus can essentially take away from the “bigger picture” and the main goal of education. It is critical that we, as educators consider interests and passions of each student to ensure a valuable learning experience. At the end of the day, we have to ask educators, what do you want for your students? The answer is pretty clear: you want your students to not only be knowledgeable individuals, but you want them to grow into strong, successful individuals. In order for this to happen, curriculums need to be flexible.

 As I read the chapter, I could not help but ask myself “So—what will my role look like as a School Psychologist in curriculum planning?” My comic portrays just that. My comic represents a conversation that I am having with a hypothetical parent, Mrs. McBride. As School Psychologist, a lot of our work entails creating educational plans that are oriented to outline specific needs of a student. As you can see in my comic, we are assessing a student’s needs by implementing an IEP. Individualized Education Programs are often used when a student shows difficulty from general education curriculum and need additional supports. Here, we are in an IEP meeting revising Tom’s IEP plan, specifically making revisions. It important that we monitor their progress and alter objectives of the IEP as needed.  Through reading this chapter, I have been reminded the importance that students are treated as equal and given opportunity to be involved in their curriculum.

Ayers, William. About Becoming a Teacher. Teachers College Press, 2019.

Learning Experience 1

One of my biggest takeaways from Blakely’s article, “How School Choice Turns Education Into a Commodity”, is the importance of being informed of educational policies and the potential consequences they may bring. Prior to reading this article, I was not familiar with School Choice and found myself almost stunned as I read through the article. As I am just now getting started in the field of Education, I found this to be a rather eye-opening learning experience for myself. Our LC wanted to project the same type of experience to the rest of the class, which will be discussed further.

Throughout the article, Blakely provides an overview of the evolution of School Choice Program as well as presenting evidence supporting both sides of this controversial debate. Specifically, this program is designed to give parents and families more options in deciding the right education for their child. They have six educational platforms available: traditional public school, private school, charter school, magnet school, online academy, and homeschooling. School Choice strives to give families the power to select education programs that best suit their child’s educational needs.  (National School Choice Week, 2021). On the contrary, Blakely explained School Choice as “allowing students to withdraw from the public system to use their share of state funding for private school, homeschooling, or online education” (2017). Both statements provided are true, however, there are many things left unknown about how School Choice is implemented, and Blakely’s writings explain just that.  

 Blakely first discusses School Choice as a component of the political movement of Neoliberalism. Blakely explained neoliberalism to, “view the creation of markets as necessary for existence of individual liberty… and in the neoliberal view, if your public institutions and spaces don’t resemble markets with a range of consumer options, then you aren’t really free” (2017). This introduces one of the main themes provided in the article. Should education be a public good or commodity? If education becomes a competitive market or a commodity, then not everyone will have an equal opportunity to receive a fair and equal education. Which in turn, may seem contradictory of the purpose behind education.  

Another theme provided in the article was the funding of school choice and the consequences to follow. School Choice is funded through a voucher program in which families are provided funds, similar to a stipend, that are to be used to pay for tuition for their school of choice. However, families must qualify to receive these vouchers. Many times, if a public school is lacking resources, often times it will be defunded in order to support other educational institutions, such as private and charter schools. Blakely provided a specifical example of how defunding public schools has negatively impacted families: “…some zones of Detroit are now educational deserts where parents and children have to travel exorbitant miles and hours for their child to attend school” (2017). Furthermore, this may have a negative impact on low SES families that may not have the means to provide their children an education. If their public-school closes, there may be no public transportation to and from school. For instance, they may not have a car, and are simply left with minimal options. This makes some question how much of a choice these families are actually provided.

I personally believe that School Choice should be a public good.  Blakely stated, “The first point to consider when weighing whether or not to marketize the public school system is that markets always have winners and losers.” I immediately asked myself, how is this upholding the main goal of education? If anything, it would take away from the purpose of education. Every individual deserves an equal opportunity for education and to be bought and sold on the competitive market would do the opposite of that.

Together, our LC thought it was important to emphasize all of the themes I explained previously, such as education as a public good versus a commodity and the consequences that this program may provide. Because this is more controversial, we wanted to create an interactive learning experience to facilitate meaningful conversation that allowed other class members to share their own experiences and opinions on School Choice.  To guide our discussion, we created a presentation that outlined the options given by School Choice, the History of Neoliberalism, Education as a Public Good versus a Commodity, and the funding and defunding of schools. We also included small group interaction in which class members were split into breakout sessions and they were provided scenarios and a worksheet to take notes on. All of the activities we included resulted in great, meaningful conversation of School Choice.  Our main objective was to provide our classmates the opportunity to get a better understanding of School Choice and the arguments that are in support and against this program.

When discussing the lesson planning itself, each member read the article prior to the meeting and brought any main takeaways to discuss. From there, we discussed the article and what we wanted the main goal of our lesson to be. We worked collectively throughout the planning and we each provided many ideas. Throughout the lesson, it was my responsibility to introduce a video that explained what school choice was and facilitated discussion after the video by asking some discussion questions. I asked them what they thought about the video, to share anything that stood out to them, and to explain if they agreed or disagreed with what the video provided. It was also my responsibility to introduce each scenario we elaborated and discussed along with explaining the worksheet. We worked very well together and were able to actively participate in class discussion. As mentioned previously, our main objective was to provide class members both sides of the argument to allow them to collect their own opinion. Overall, I was very proud of the work each group member provided and thought we conveyed our overall message of School Choice very well.

Here you can find a direct Link to our Presentation and Breakout Room Scenario Worksheet

Presentation:

https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1Tx_BhNUCQIq7_oekakEs-EvsWqIH6rW7GTQr5P0wp80/edit#slide=id.p

Worksheet: https://docs.google.com/document/d/19soPO90CvsUmJq5wBG7cCo4fvz6EIhe0kvPU01H7D04/edit

Resources:

Blakely, J. 2017, 17 April. How School Choice Turns Education into a Commodity. The Atlantic

“What Is School Choice?” National School Choice Week, 9 Feb. 2021, schoolchoiceweek.com/what-is-school-choice/.