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Kerrie Craske- Teacher & Learner

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." -Nelson Mandela

Month

February 2014

The Issue of Bullying in Schools

The “Fine Bros”, who make a variety of videos on YouTube, chose to film a “Kids React” video about bullying.

The children in this video range from ages 7-14. We see their reactions and hear their opinions on the constant and increasing social issue of bullying in society and schools today.

Towards the end, the children are asked what their schools do to educate students about bullying. The children say that the things that are being done, such as assemblies or bullying videos, are not effective messages. If the things that are being done currently are ineffective, what can be done to make the rates of bullying decrease to allow school to become a safe environment for all people?

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In my visual representation, I displayed the connections of family diversity and attitudes of society towards racism and family types within a school context. In beginning my representation, I began looking at the story “Framing the Family Tree” by Sudie Hofmann. It describes the dissonances that children face when doing class activities and assignments regarding families or members that may not be present in every child’s life.

I realized that this story connected with two more; “Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club” by Rita Tenorio and “Heather’s Moms Got Married” by Mary Cowhey. Both these stories discussed the issues of ethnicity, racism and other forms of family life. All stories resonate on the effects that these issues are having on children. Children begin to feel insecure, abnormal, alienated and inferior in comparison to their other classmates. Likewise, many of the teachers in these stories struggle to find ways to address these issues, along with finding alternative ways of teaching class material.

I chose my representation to be in the shape of a tree, to represent the ‘family tree’. It portrays how each family can be made up differently and each person within that family is unique. The images show both positive and negative issues that arise among families and in school life. I chose quotes from each of the stories that stood out to me. These quotes display what family is, the various tensions that arise for teachers and children in school, and the positive things being done to overcome these tensions.

My first image of “The Family Tree” in connection with stories from “The New Teacher Book”.

“The New Teacher Book” Summaries

  1. Teaching in the Undertow: Revisiting Pull of Schooling-as-usual By: Gregory Michie

Being a new teacher can push you out of your comfort zone, and you may feel like an outsider. In order to overcome this, as teachers we can begin by seeking allies like teachers within the school and people in the community around you. Becoming a teacher is a life journey, so you need to choose the right battles and never lose sight on the type of teacher you want to become.

2.    The Brown Kids Can’t be in Our Club By: Rita Tenorio

We live in a racist society where children at an early age discover racist attitudes within a larger context. With children, we can explore racial and cultural differences with age appropriate activities and materials. As teachers, it is wrong to ignore the issues of racism. We should stand up and make children at a young age aware that we are all unique and are to be accepted within society.

3.    What can I do when a student makes a racist or sexist remark? By: Rita Tenorio

If an issue of racism or sexism is brought up in class, teachers should deal with it and respond appropriately. These issues should be a discussion of why the words should not be used, and strive towards finding alternative ways of expressing one’s self in the future. If we ignore these remarks, students will begin to adapt the view that it is normal and acceptable to speak in negative ways.

4.    Framing the Family Tree By: Sudie Hofmann

Many teacher preparation programs bring up family diversity without realizing the effects it can have on children. It is important to have support between the teacher and parent. We must engage students in creative and secure ways when learning about their private or family lives, because children come from all different backgrounds and forms of families.

5.    Heather’s Moms Got Married By: Mary Cowhey

The issues of family diversity should be accepted and explained to student in school. If they are not accepted, it gives children the message that their own families could be unequal, inferior and not the ‘norm’ of society.

6.    Out Front By: Annie Johnston

Conversations with students about sexuality and anti-gay language make the whole class aware of these issues, and it becomes a normal and acceptable thing to talk about if problems arise. Teachers need to talk about social issues and incorporate them into the curriculum. “ “Gay has to be integrated into our picture of current events, historical reality, literary themes, and scientific exploration”” (p. 117). This helps all students learn that everyone in society is different, but we should all be treated with equity and acceptance.

7.    Curriculum is Everything That Happens By: Rita Tenorio

As teachers, we can’t always assume that our classroom is safe and separated from everything that goes on outside in the real world. Instead, we must come to understand that large social forces impact schools. It is the teachers’ obligation to make each student feel valued through learning. The curriculum entitles not just learning through lessons, but looks at other aspects like children’s interactions, emotions and attitudes.

8.    Working Effectively with ELL By: Bob Peterson and Kelley Dawson Salas

When working with ELL students, teachers must research how ELL students learn best and teach them material in an understandable, yet effective way. We must remember that ELL students are competent individuals; they do not obtain intellectual barriers, simply just communication ones.

9. Teaching Controversial Content By: Kelley Dawson Salas

There are numerous fears that teachers face when wanting to integrate questionable, social justice issues that would benefit students by incorporating them into the curriculum. Quite often, teachers question whether they are allowed to teach the way they want. We are allowed to do so, but we need to be prepared for criticism, questioning and provide reasoning for our desire to teach certain material.

10. Unwrapping the Holidays By: Dale Weiss

When conflicts arise in schools, we can over come them or deal with them by    stepping back and realizing your place and voice in the school, among students and educators. When being pulled down by the undertow, you must swim beside the wave instead of trying to battle it all at once.

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{Burant, Terry. The New Teacher Book: Finding Purpose, Balance, and Hope during Your First Years in the Classroom, Second Edition.  Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, 2010. Print.}

Technology Within the Classroom

As we begin to see schools become more technologically advanced, methods of learning begin to change. Teaching against the norm of traditional ways and beginning to use technology allows educators to expand their ideas beyond the standard curriculum.

Gaining these technologies allows us to expand our knowledge as teachers and create safe environments for children on the computer and Internet. It opens new types of learning and empowers teachers, as it allows us to learn more with fewer resources. A lot of technology requires ‘learning by doing’, which helps students understand the importance of material being taught. At the same time, in encourages student interaction rather than isolation, and a place where they can collaborate and share ideas.

Tensions that could occur when using technology in the classroom are that teachers may feel that they don’t have the time or proper technology in order to facilitate learning. If new technology is brought into the classroom, it can become a source of frustration for teachers and students who do not know how to operate the technology properly.

Guest Speaker Claire Kreuger: “We are all Treaty People”

In the guest lecture “We are all Treaty People”, Claire Kreuger discusses the topics on why we should teach Treaty Education and how to do so. As teachers, we should teach Treaty Education because it is our job, it provides students with a sense of history and place, and builds new relationships. 

Many teachers feel uncomfortable when it comes to teaching Treaty Education because they are not very knowledgable about treaties, and have never experienced a Treaty Education class themselves. When teaching Treaty Education, it is difficult to find age- appropriate materials to use and figure out ways to integrate it into the curriculum. 

Kreuger describes her experiences with introducing Treaty Education into her classroom and the barriers that she came across as an educator. She has provided us future teachers with knowledgable experiences and resources that we can use in our classrooms, which engages children and provides an insightful learning experience. 

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