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Things I Neglected to Add in my Autobiography October 24, 2013

Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 210.

After reading my autobiography for a second time I noticed some “hidden messages” within it. Yes, I neglected to add some things about myself in my autobiography such as my gender, sexuality and race. But I personally don’t find it necessary to include this type of information in an autobiography I wrote about why I wanted to become a teacher. Why is it necessary for someone to know what my gender, sexuality and race is? I mean yes, people assume things so they are going to assume things about me to begin with but also if I were to include this information they are still going to assume things whether it be the same things or different. So in the end, what difference does it make if this information is included or not? 


“Preparing Teachers for Uncertainty” October 22, 2013

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In this Chapter, it deals with the idea that uncertainty seems to always arise in teaching. No matter how you try to teach a lesson there will always be questions towards why you chose to teach a lesson that way? Although most teachers don’t have the intentions of bringing up these “questions” in their teachings, how do we go about teaching so that these questions don’t arise? Just like the quotes states, “Were we to define teaching as a process that not only gives students the knowledge and skills that matter in society, but also asks students to examine the political implications of that knowledge and skills, then we should expect that there will always be more to our teaching than what we intended.” (p.41) This deals with the fact that there is always the idea of hidden lessons in which we have to be aware of. Yes, there will always be hidden messages within our teaching, but the goal is not to try and work our way around this as it is nearly impossible to do. Instead it deals with the fact that we should know how to approach these different messages as they arise especially since each student views things differently. So how do we go about trying to teach with as little hidden messages as possible since every student has a “different lense” in viewing these things? 

Curriculum as a Narrative Community Part 2 October 10, 2013

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From the ten stories, I would say that the story that resonates best with me would be the Teaching in the Undertow. This story not only is a great guide to becoming a first year teacher, but it also answers some of the many questions I have had along this journey of becoming a teacher. It explains how to go about starting off as a first year teacher, and that this journey will be a forever learning experience, which is important to take into consideration as this will be me in a few years.

It informs us as future teachers that it is important to include all the little things. It starts from the little things and you build on from there as a teacher. As a teacher we will need to know that not every lesson plan is going to go as planned, and need to know how to change our plans as we progress throughout each and every day. You don’t want to get frustrated if your plans don’t go as planned; instead you want to go with the flow. Like it says in the story, “the undertow was an invisible current beneath the ocean’s surface that, if you weren’t careful, could pull you down the coastline or out to sea before you knew what was happening” (P.43) As teachers it is our job to always be critically thinking so that we know what to do when things don’t go as planned. This way, when things don’t go as planned, we know how to deal with the situation so we don’t get ourselves into a bigger mess than need be. This story gives us the understanding that not everything will go as planned, and as future teachers we need to know how to continue on with our days when things like this happen. It is all up to the teacher to get things back on track when things don’t go as planned. So don’t think negatively about it or stress overly too much about it; just try and get through the situation as best as you can. I always thought the little things didn’t matter all that much and it was all about the bigger things in the classroom and the end result of things. However, I guess now that I actually think about it, the end results wouldn’t be the same without the little things in the process. From this story, clearly I was wrong and it all starts at the little things and goes on from there.

From this, I feel that it is good to look at the things that went wrong within our daily classrooms so we can see what we can do to ensure these same mistakes will not continue to arise. Everyone always sees the bad things as something to feel ashamed of and think negatively of. However, I believe that without making mistakes in life we will never know how to change our teaching styles/ways in order to improve. Just like the story states, “The best advice, I think, is to choose your battles early on, pace yourself, swim with the current when you have to, and never lose sight of that spot on the shore.”(P.51) To conclude, as long as you know where you want to end the lesson, and how you want things to turn out, the little things that don’t necessarily go as planned don’t matter as long as your point/lesson is still given across.

In general, I would have to say the story that was most necessary for all future teachers to take a look at would be Teaching in the Undertow as it gets us, as future teaches, ready for whatever experiences come along with our teaching profession. It allows us to realize that it is perfectly fine to make mistakes and have lessons not go as planned as long as we know how to deal with the situations as they arise. It ensures that we focus on the little things in teaching and build on from there. It isn’t always about the big things as the little things are what bring you to the bigger things in life. If things don’t turn out the way we planned that is perfectly fine and isn’t the end of the world. We can only learn and improve our teachings from the mistakes we make along our journey. 

Curriculum as Narrative Community October 9, 2013

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  1. “Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of Schooling-as-usual” – p.43

This story is about becoming a first year teacher and some of the things to focus on such as starting out small and knowing what you should put on your future bulletin boards, balancing freedom and Control and having a specific plan in which you will stick with instead of trying to obsess over order and control as a beginning teacher. Lastly, this story talks about how you need to focus on Holding on to hope and knowing that this journey as a teacher is a forever learning experience. As stated in the story, “The best advice, I think, is to choose your battles early on, pace yourself, swim with the current when you have to, and never lose sight of that spot on the shore.” (P.51)

2.“The Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club” – p.83

This story is about knowing how to teach the different races that exist in our society at a young age so that we don’t develop a racist society. It allows students to realize that it is okay to be a different race than others and that we don’t necessary always have to judge and think badly of someone because they are different.

3.“What can I do when a student makes a racist or sexist remark?” – p.93

This talks about the notion of how to approach things like racism and sexism when brought up in the classroom. The idea that we need to teach students how to approach a situation like this if they ever encountered it in their daily lives.

4. “Framing the Family Tree: How Teachers can be Sensitive to Students’ Family Situations” – p.95

This deals with the idea that we should not do activities in school revolved around holidays like Fathers/Mothers Day because we don’t know how sensitive the family background is to students and we shouldn’t be doing projects that revolve around their private lives. Make an alternative activity for holidays so that it does not involve students’ private lives.

5. “Heather’s Moms got Married” – p.103

This story deals with the idea that as future teachers we should address families as parents and guardians as we don’t know exactly what kind of families our students have. Not only does this include all types of families but it doesn’t make some students feel left out about their family and it addresses the idea that it is perfectly fine to have gay/lesbian parents and that it shouldn’t be looked at differently in any way.

6. “Out Front” – p.111

From this story, it explains that as future teachers we should set out clear anti-homophobic standards in our classroom for what language and behavior is acceptable in your classroom and school. We need to start bringing up gay issues into our classes that have nothing to do with sex such as Math, English, Science and the different language classes. By enforcing these rules within your classroom and school it allows students to view the idea of gay/lesbian in a way that isn’t as negative as what they are actually perceived to be in today’s society. These rules need to be set out not only in schools/classrooms but also at home so that future students don’t think that these terms are okay to use outside of school.

7. “Curriculum is Everything that Happens” – p.163

This deals with the idea that it all starts with creating relationships, positive attitudes and feelings and interacting with your students before getting into the curriculum. The curriculum may be everything but without building good relationship with your students the curriculum is nothing. You have to have these good relationships before you can try addressing the curriculum within your classroom and with your students. Once these relationships are made the curriculum is then what you make of it.

8. “Working Effectively with English Language Learners” – p.183

Always speak slowly, clearly and audibly in the classroom with whichever language you choose to use. Never try and put a student on the spot and ask if they understand what you mean in front of everyone. Instead use a different approach to see if students actually understand what you are saying by asking them to put the given information in their own words. Also try and use words as minimal as possible in the classroom and instead use different ways of giving instruction such as visual cues, posters, videos, illustrated books and so on.

9. “Teaching Controversial Content” – p.199

When it comes down to teaching Controversial Content as a teacher you need to keep in mind that it might not always be accepted to teach this content depending on what your principals take on it is. You have to keep in mind that you could get fired, principal might get back at you in other ways, colleagues won’t want to work with you, end up being totally isolated at the school and/or you might get challenged from a parent. From here you have to decide if you still really want to teach these Controversial Content in your classroom and ask yourself is it really worth it?

10. “Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year” – p.317

As a new teacher don’t try and force different religions/holidays or changes towards your whole school. Start small and do what you feel comfortable with in your classroom and then maybe talk about the issue with you colleagues after about what you think. Don’t jump to conclusions and try to force these ideas upon colleagues.

Kinds of Curriculum September 29, 2013

Posted by jennienorgaard in ECS 210.

The ways in which the link “Kinds of Curriculum” defines what curriculum is all ties into the idea of common sense. The way I see it is that Curriculum is a sense of common sense because in the end it is all seen as a routine and something we do in our every day lives. For example, for the most part in school we always did the same things in every subject just with different materials that the different classes/courses had. Although the material was different, the way in which we did things were still the same. Whether if be the hidden or formal curriculum common sense played a huge role on these. So depending on the teacher I would say that the students might not necessarily always agree with their perspective of common sense. 

ECS 210- Common Sense September 12, 2013

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With regards to reading the first bit of Kumashiro’s “Against Common Sense” I found that he defines common sense to be a routine and that common sense is culture based. For example, Kumashiro talks about how in Nepal they only eat two meals a day and have tea at around 1:00pm, where as here in Canada everyone is accustomed to eating three meals a day. Therefore, I would say everyone and every culture has a different take on what common sense is. Kumashiro talks about how common sense says that a school is just a place with four walls, desks, a teacher lecturing at the front of the room and so on. But is this really what a school is? Kumashiro states that “Common sense is not what should shape educational reform or curriculum design; it is what needs to be examined and challenged.”(p.XXXVI)

It is important to pay attention to Common sense because everyone and every Culture has a different definition as to what common sense really is. It usually works to the benefit of dominant social groups as opposed to others. Common sense is what teachers should do as opposed to what they can do. Therefore it is important to pay attention to common sense because every school and every teacher operates their own classroom in a different way. There is no one correct way in how a classroom/school should be run.