The first of three things I learned in this week’s readings is building an identity for yourself and finding your values and beliefs come with time. You can not have everything figured out before you start teaching because things will inevitably change when you face challenges in the school/classroom and community. The next thing I learned is to have countless people on your side to help with the transition from student to teacher. This transition can and will be incredibly hard but not impossible with the right supports. The last thing I want to mention is a little anxiety about lessons and classes is normal, but a balance needs to be found between being anxious and teaching and being anxious about your career.
My first connection I made was when Krista Yerkes talked about how she was a theatre major and how everyone would tell her she would make a great teacher because it is a lot like being on stage. She then talks about how they are wrong. Being a drama concentration myself and having taken many theatre classes and done theatrical productions I know how untrue this is. Teaching is completely different. The second connection I made was also to my real life, before every lesson I get nervous to teach. I chalked this up to either being new, only teaching once a week (I am in pre-internship) or just not knowing what to expect when in reality this may be something I need to work on. My partner in pre-internship says she never gets nervous to teach and I always wonder how she doesn’t get nervous.
A question I have is: How do we know if we are feeling nervous to teach a lesson or if we have anxiety about teaching and how do we help ourselves fix that?
Everybody’s upbringing and schooling can influence how they “read the world”. Most of my schooling was in a school that was pre-k to 12 with 200 students so my experience was quite different. There was a lot of racism in my community that I grew up with as well as people judging what they didn’t know. For example, my mom was the CEO of a company that had group home for physically and intellectually challenged adults and there was a lot of people who thought they shouldn’t be in public areas. My mom also did her best to teach my sisters and I about people who are different and how it’s okay to be different which is ultimately why I chose to work in that field in highschool and university and why I chose to continue to work in this field as an ASD Interventionist. My world was a town of 600 people for the longest time. However, my childhood was far from “normal”. I was a very sick child and was in and out of the hospital frequently until I was at least 10. This, of course, affected my schooling as well because I was absent so much. Some teachers understood while others did not. This shaped how I “read the world” because of how untraditional my schooling had to become. I feel as if I can bring some positive lenses into the classroom in regards to ensuring my students needs are being met even if that means an untraditional way of teaching them. However, I do bring some biases into the classroom as well. Although I fight to resist the urge to think everyone is at the same level in any given grade level, I find myself struggling to adjust my lessons for everyone when I am teaching many different needs.
A single story that was extremely prevalent in my schooling was that those less fortunate reureid help from others (aka me and other middle class families). While I truly believe giving back is an amazing thing to do, I don’t fully understand why we teach children to “play God” for lack of a better term. Middle to upper class people don’t need to be the saviours of those who are less fortunate.
As I have mentioned before, I grew up in a really small town about 1.5 hours from Regina. My school did participate in fundraisers such as Jump Rope for Heart (in elementary) as well as small school fundraisers for the food bank, or clothing donations or bottle drives. We also did the Terry Fox Run every year. We also had SADD (Students Against Drinking and Driving) which did fundraisers and community events. In terms of things like citizenship classes, there were none offered. There was a big push to be a personally responsibly citizen in my school but we didn’t really have an education on it.
This week is themed around social justice and the classroom. The first thing I learned was from the video. Although in Canada, the size of the city or town does not directly relate to the funding, small schools are often still left behind. This is for a few reasons, I think the biggest reason being that small towns have a hard time attracting new teachers. This was the case in my town of Ituna. This quote really stuck out to me, “They found that increasing school funding levels by 10% was associated with students earning 7% higher income as adults”. I think what really baffles me is that even with few resources, if an educator chooses, they can still do wonderful things in the classroom despite the circumstances, but a lot of the time they just don’t. The second thing I learned is that more money is not necessarily the answer. As Nicole mentioned in the video there are schools spending a lot per students and they still aren’t doing the best and it’shard to say why that is but money isn’t always the answer. Lastly, I learned about resources to use so I know exactly where I fall between tolerance and transformation paradigm in education.
I’ve made many connections to the reading and the video. I connected this to my own schooling in terms of funding. I grew up in a town of 600 people in a school that was really struggling. We couldn’t attract any new teachers and we didn’t have any programs for non-sports students. For my senior year I went to a bigger school in a city of about 16,000. That school has many arts programs and I saw a huge difference from the school in the town of 600. The next connection I’ve made is to my university career. In my two and a half years at the U of R, the social justice conversation has been much more prevalent than any other time in my life.
All of this information has left me with many questions but one in particular. How can we ensure smaller schools are getting the teachers and resources they need even with lower funding?
As I think back to learning mathematics in school I can recall a few times that was discriminating. The first being when it comes to my math skills, I was in a class with 13 other students and the majority of them were quite “math smart” and I was one of the ones that was not. I was often left behind, the teacher couldn’t go over it without boring other students and the ones that weren’t understanding it couldn’t be sent to anyone else because there were no teachers to send us to in my school because it was so small. The next time I can remember being treated unfairly was when I was in grade 11. My class was informed that there would be no face to face grade 12 math class that was going to be offered for our senior year. If we wanted (or needed) to take it, it would have to be online. This was because no math teacher could be found to be employed in my town. It is a town of less than 600 people and they have always had a hard time attracting new teachers but this seemed to be the worst part of not having any teachers.
Three ways the Inuit math challenges Eurocentric ideas are:
- How numbers are written and spoken. Inuit originally only have oral words for numbers unlike Eurocentric ideas which have both oral and written which both mean the same thing regardless of if it is written or spoken.
- They use base 20, not base 10.
- One way of doing bath is not a universal idea. Different cultures have different ways of doing math.
This week, we were tasked to craft a response to the email Mike got with the many resources we have available to us through this and other classes. I found this email quite disheartening and I have a few ideas that would have potentially help that student but ultimately, it is a tricky situation no matter what advice we give them because the Co op teacher doesn’t see a need and if that’s the case, then it’s possible nothing will work.
I would tell the pre-service teacher to step outside the textbooks and readings, try to make it more personal. Try to reach them on a human being level rather than a student level at first. If they care about this topic as a human being it is easier to have an open mind while learning about it. It is possible they have no prior knowledge of any issues regarding the First Nations peoples and their past. Ways of doing this could be showing videos of survivors speaking, informing them about the abuse they suffered and (if at all possible) trying to bring an elder into the classroom.
TreatEd Camp can be used as a huge eye opener for people, there participants can learn how we are all treaty people and what exactly that means (it can be different for everyone). Another great resource is the Treaty 4 Gathering in Fort Quapelle every year. When I went with my class we also went around to the statues in Fort Quapelle and spent some time talking about them and what they mean and then went to Lebret and saw the cemetery and the site of a former residential school. That was an experience that I have never had before and really hit home much harder than sitting in a desk listening to information from a text book.