Going into this class I didn’t really know what to expect. However, as the end of the semester approaches and I reflect on the course, I am realizing that I learned a lot from. In this blog post I am going to focus on one of the things I learned about and was able to create. This would be my Personal Learning Network or in other words, the people, technology, and conversations that contributed to my learning and my experiences throughout this course.
First off is the blog that we had to create and the posts that we were expected to write throughout the semester. These posts included responses to lectures, readings, resonances, dissonance, and just random things that we wanted to share with our viewers. I had already created a blog for another class so I was ahead of the game a little however the only things my blog consisted of before this course were the posts required for my other course. So, as you can see, I am not a blogger and only do it when I am required to which made me skeptical to blog for this class and didn’t really see the point in it. However, I came to the realization through this course that blogging is such a great tool to use in the classroom. It allows you to connect with your students and it also allows you to connect with colleagues and people with similar interests around the world.
Being a person that doesn’t blog, I was skeptical to post my actual thoughts and instead just put what other people would want to hear because everyone can see my blog and potentially become offended. However, as the course progressed I continued to blog and eventually I realized that any thing (and everything) you say (Colbert’s tweet backlash: 8sec-20sec), write, blog, tweet can be taken in many different ways therefore, as you blog you just have to use caution and take what comes your way. At the beginning of the course, blogging seemed pointless to me because the only people commenting on our posts were people in other seminars because they were required to. However, my feelings of this changed when this comment was made on one of my blog posts from someone not in another seminar but rather someone who took an interest in my blog and actually took the time to comment on one of my posts. It made me want to continue blogging and sharing my ideas with the world and it also made me realize that blogging is not only a way for me to gain resources and learn from others but it is also a way for others to learn from and connect with me in several ways.
Comments that people make on your blog posts is not only a way to create a conversation or a Personal Learning Network but it is also a way to get you thinking about different aspects or maybe even re-thinking your perspectives on things. This comment by Audrey on my blog post of a quote from Morgan Freeman got me thinking and made me reflect on all of the different terminology used in the world. As Audrey said, maybe terminology is never “right” and maybe we, as teachers, should reflect upon the terminology used in our society today.
This being said, the terms race, class, gender, and sexual orientation come to mind, as these are terminologies used in our society. With these terminologies come our identities and with our identities come our life stories, also known as our autobiographies. In this class we were required to write an autobiography and then later reflect on what we wrote and try gain a new perspective through this exercise. As I reflected, I realized that I didn’t include my race, class, gender, and/or sexual orientation and the new perspective I gained from this was that I didn’t include it because I fit into the ‘norm’.
But, what are race, class, gender, and/or sexual orientation and what do they even mean? Who decided that these were even ‘things’? Why aren’t we all classified as white, middle class, heterosexual beings regardless of what our “race”, “class”, “gender”, and/or “sexual orientation’s” actually are?
Overall, this course has, inevitably, consisted of resonances and dissonances, made me realize the positive aspects of the things I didn’t necessarily think had any (blogging), re-think my perspectives on a few things, and simply has just forced me to keep an open mind and be willing to try new things, learn from my mistakes, and become a better person and therefore, a better teacher.
As a future teacher, the words “standardized testing” or “standardized curriculum” make me cringe.
Standardized testing and curriculum is very limiting and restricting to students. It does not allow them to be able to learn and present their learning in a way that represents themselves. It causes problems in all subject areas however, it is even more limiting with subjects, such as English or Art, that do not necessarily have specific answers.
Standardized testing puts a lot of pressure on the teacher and the students as well. It also sets students up for failure that may be excellent students in the classroom but do not test well.
The pressure that is put on the teachers to have their students succeed is immense. As Alfie Kohn mentions in his standardizes testing video, the teachers who had the most pressure on them for their students to succeed turned into very mean, strict teachers in hopes of preparing their students for the standardized test. But rather the result was actually opposite of what they were trying to achieve and their students ended up doing poorly on the exam because the teacher made the classroom a place where the students did not want to be.
Standardized tests also limit the ability of the teacher to teach toward social justice.
Kohn states that, due to standardized testing, teachers began to teach their students how to take tests rather than teach them material and how to learn it. This resulted in the education that the students were receiving being diminished.
As soon as the education of the students is being diminished and taken away from, something needs to be done about the way things in the school and the classrooms are being run ( i.e. standardized testing needs to be abolished from school and classrooms in order for the education that the students are receiving to be restored).
Moral of the story, standardized testing and curriculum is simply unfair and not needed to show and document the progress of students.
In “Heart of the Teacher” by Parker Palmer, one thing that he said particularly resonated with me. Palmer states, “the subjects we teach are as large and complex as life, so our knowledge of them is always flawed and partial.” As I let this statement sink in, I realized that it not only pertains to our specific knowledge of the subjects we teach but it also pertains to teaching as a profession. Yes, the knowledge we have on the subjects we teach is minimal because no one can ever know everything about something. However, as a teacher, our knowledge of the way we teach is also partial and sometimes even flawed.
Teachers are always having to develop different ways of teaching to fit the needs and diversities of their students. Therefore, a teachers knowledge of how they plan to educate their students is partial as they, unfortunately, never fully know everything that makes each student who they are. This results in partial knowledge of these students and therefore, results in the partial knowledge of how to teach them in a way that best fits their needs, wants, and desires. That being said, teachers can do their best and teach the best they can with the knowledge they have. This does result in great things happening in the classroom but there is always room for improvement in anything we do.
Our knowledge of how we teach is also sometimes flawed as certain methods and approaches to teaching sometimes do not work and as a result, the teacher has to redo the lesson and rethink how he/she is going to portray the subject matter. However, this is part of the profession and is not necessarily a bad thing as it allows the teacher (and his/her students) to grow and improve.
So as I said, a teachers knowledge of the way in which they plan to teach (plan being the key word) is partial and flawed. Teaching as a profession is forever changing which is half the fun. This forever changing profession we call teaching keeps us on our toes and allows us to continually develop different strategies and approaches to use in our classrooms. It also allows us to add to our partial knowledge of the subjects we teach and to also add to our partial and sometimes flawed ways in which we teach or approach our teaching.
The way in which learning is changing is happening at a rapid pace where technology is becoming more and more evident. These components lead us to be able to access so many various resources on the Internet and from other people.
These components lead to social justice by making our students more knowledgeable as they have more diverse ways to access this information. By this I mean that students are educated on different races, sexual orientations, etc. through these resources that allows them to abolish their stereotypes and prejudices of people that are different than them. This leads to the integration of anti-oppressive education as the students and teachers become less ignorant, which hopefully leads to a mutually respectful environment between all students and the teacher.
The use of technology allows learning to be open where students and teachers are able to communicate with people around the world to increase their learning in the classroom and also to build their network of people that can assist them. This allows the students to not leave school with their shopping carts full but rather never have to leave their learning network because of the easy accessibility (Dave Cormier). It also allows teachers to develop allies everywhere in the world, increasing their abilities and knowledge about multiple things.
However, like everything, there are downsides to the amount of technology that is now being used in classrooms. It makes it nearly impossible to monitor everything your students are doing and it puts a lot of responsibility on your students. They have to know how to use the Internet safely, especially when blogging and doing other things that are personal. This leads to the teacher having to trust the way in which their students use the Internet; students have to use it as a tool not as a game. However, once these safety guidelines for using the Internet are put into place, the integration of technology into the classroom is a huge asset to both the teachers and the students.
To end off, the changing nature of our learning makes students more knowledgeable and along with this, the increased prevalence of technology has made our students more “knowledge-able” as Michael Wesch puts it.
As I reflect now on my autobiography, I realize that I didn’t include my race, gender, and/or class in it. This seems odd to me since we often learn about how these components affect our students and ourselves. However, when it comes down to it, my race, class, gender, etc. are what form my identity and therefore, are key components in my life and in my autobiography.
As for the hidden messages that I can now pick out in my autobiography, there is the fact that I did not include my race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. in my autobiography. This tells me that I do not think of these aspects because I am not oppressed in the same way that others of different races, classes, and sexual orientations are oppressed; I fit into the middle class, white privilege, heterosexual category. If I were oppressed, I feel that I would have included these components, as they would be more evident to me and to society as everything is when you are the one being oppressed. So, as bad as it may sound, at times I kind of forget about my race, class, gender, and sexual orientation and how they affect the people around me and myself. However, examining this has made me realize that because I do not really realize my race, class, gender, and sexual orientation, I need to, as Kumashiro suggests, put them at the front of my teaching as they are things that I don’t realize are even in my teaching. I also need to put these components of my students on the forefront as well, as this is the only way to help make anti-oppressive education possible.