“THAT kid”

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Teacher to parents: About THAT kid (the one who hits, disrupts and influences YOUR kid)

This is one of the most powerful articles I have read in a long time. I was laying in my bed before class and began to read this article. I read the title “Teacher to parents: About THAT kid (the one who hits, disrupts and influences YOUR kid) and suddenly felt intrigued. This article by Valerie Strauss is adapted from a blog post that Amy Murray wrote. This letter to parents is a tear jerker, well it sure was for me. Honestly I am not sure I can do it justice trying to recount what she said, so just go read it!

After you read the article– continue here.

I was so moved with the way the teacher talks about “THAT kid” with such care and respect. I loved the acknowledgement of the fact that other parents don’t have information about “THAT kid” and will never have the information needed to totally understand why “THAT kid” has the behaviors that are present. I found this article to evoke a lot of emotions for me, first because when I was a kid, for some, I was probably “THAT kid” and second it made me think about the kindergarten class that I am working in and reflecting that there are at least four “THAT kid” students in this class.

Empathy, Empathy, Empathy!!!

This article is a call out for everyone to be more empathetic with each other.

I love the respect for space and privacy “The thing is, there are SO MANY THINGS I can’t tell you about That Child. I can’t even tell you the good stuff.” And then she goes on to say, “The thing is, dear parent, that I can only talk to you about YOUR child. So, what I can tell you is this:If ever, at any point, YOUR child, or any of your children, becomes THAT child…I will not share your personal family business with other parents in the classroom.”

This is a beautiful piece of writing that every parent, educator, students, literally anyone and everyone should read. It is so relevant and highlights feelings that everyone has experience — “THAT kid” just think about it we all know a “THAT kid”, we all have talked about a “THAT kid” before, we have all seen a “THAT kid.” I think it is so beautiful to think what an impact a perspective like this could have such a great impact. I hope this perspective is heard and listened to and I hope that companion and empathy become more prevalent in our education system. This message is powerful!

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Let’s Talk Literacy!

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Sight Words Are So 2016: New Study Finds the Real Key to Early Literacy

This is a really interesting article that speaks to literacy. I found this particularly relevant because of all the time I have spent in a kindergarten classroom this semester. I fall into this pattern of wanting to correct the student’s spelling. It was my belief that by showing the students the correct way to spell, with an explanation, and assistance with sounding the words out, that they would have a better understanding and better spelling in the future. This article speaks to why I was wrong. The article talks about how children’s abilities haven’t really changed from the past, but what has changed is the educational standard which the students are held to. “With the introduction of Common Core Standards, kindergarteners are now required to read, write, and even participate in research projects.” I know this is crazy, I have even seen more focus on academics in early childhood education, preschool and even in kindergarten, rather than play, like how I remember it. The article goes into talking about Dr. J. Richard Gentry studies, as he “suggests that children should be allowed the time and space to piece together invented spellings using their own knowledge of letters and sounds.” Learning about this, I wonder what the structure of kindergarten should be? From my observations, kindergarten is so much of teaching and learning about behaviors, social interactions, and how to be in a classroom, rather than academic learning. For me it seems key, that as an educator you must encourage self exploration of words, let the students learn at their own pace, because with time they will succeed. This is a great article to help remind me the impacts my teaching practices have on the students.

Higher Education?

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In a video called Success in the New Economy, it speaks to this push for “College for all philosophy” that is not setting students up for success. I really resonated with this as I am in the middle of my four year degree. I found the argument, that there is a misalignment between degrees and job skills, to support my education path, as I move towards getting a masters degree in education. I have utilized work based learning by working in classroom and gaining job skills as I am getting my bachelors degree.

The video presented lots of graphs and images that were interesting but I found a diagram that depicted a representation of how students will succeed in this new economy most enlightening. It showed how students will need to combine technical skills (knowledge, skills, and abilities)  and education (being well educated) to be successful. The diagram suggests that community college is the solution. It was so interesting this push away from four year institutions and a movement towards two year degrees and certificates. I wonder how this push will affect our economy in the future? In the future, will we see another push towards four year institutions? It is just oscillations?

“How Environments Affect Learning”

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Tedtalk: The case for space- How environments affect learning

I came across this Tedtalk and thought that it had a really compelling argument about how environments affects learning and how space impacts behavior. Sean Corcorran speaks to the classroom space of higher ed when he says, students are all asking “am I going to learn in the way that I learn best in your institution” This question was certainly on my mind as I chose my college and as I began to attend college. He spoke on this transition away from teaching centered to learning centered.

I was very interested in all the imagery he used, showing that little to no change has occurred in classroom spaces, desks are so prevalent. He talks about how the environments of classrooms these days are not exciting. He goes on to talk about how the space does not work with the pedagogies. To represent this he showed a picture of a classroom where the students were all in pods with their desks, but when the teacher was trying to lecture, the students are all twisted and turned around. It shows that the dynamics of teaching pedagogies (and) movement is not allowed with the current structures of the classroom spaces. He says “if we can breakdown the barriers of switching between these modes.” I find classroom space to be so so interesting and Sean Corcorran spoke to changing the desk as a solution. I question if making the classroom space more expansive and expand beyond the four white walls of the classroom how much more engagement we would see?

Vocational Education


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I read a really interesting article called The Future of Shop Class: How a high school in Georgia is reinventing vocational education by Sophie Quinton. This article speaks about a school in Georgia that is focusing on combining vocational education and college-preparatory education. “It’s not an either/or with us,” said Principal Steve Bartoo. I think that this is very necessary for the direction our society is headed and the direction of our work force. I was interested that this article focused on class and economic benefit of what this school is doing. “Critics worried that such a system would track poor, minority, and immigrant children into working-class jobs, restricting their access to higher education and limiting their social mobility.” I think that this worry is very valid and worried myself about this but then the article mentioned; “The skilled trades have become more, well, skilled, and employers are demanding advanced credentials. By 2020, Carnevale and his colleagues predict, 65 percent of jobs will require postsecondary training.” Duh!! I question why we even bother going to a four year institution unless you really know what you want to do? Why go in debt from a four year institution when you will most likely need to go back to school for the vocational certificate. The article touched on this, speaking to career preparation and how elite colleges are moving in this direction. I think that this is really interesting to think about as I am smack dab in the middle of my four year education. Interesting conversation about equity and class.

Book Review (of sorts)

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I read an ethnography called Mothers United: An Immigrant Struggle for Socially Just Education by Andrea Dyrness. This was an amazing book. It was a page turner and very interesting content wise. Some topics of interest that were discussed in this book were school reform, the relationship between parents and teachers, and it speaks to the mother’s feeling de-legitimize within the process of fighting for a better school for their children. This book talks a lot about race and gender. A women named Baudelia who struggles a lot with her position as a latina mother and an activist, faces many problems with her reputation and the way she is labeled. I was impressed and found it very fitting that Dyrness included a lot of the dialogue in Spanish with translations in English. This book spoke to many issues regarding education, but particularly highlighted the relationship latina mothers have with the authority of the school and the mainstream culture, as well as the teachers involved as they push for the New Community School to better support their children. I think my personal interest is derived from the fact that I want to go into education and this provides a really interesting point of view that I don’t believe is often represented, the marginalized families and the parent’s point of view.

Mini-Kingdom — The Classroom

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Authority has been on my mind these last few weeks. I have been thinking about my future career and how I want to structure my own classroom. I will be the teacher, with the authority and position to create any classroom I want (within reason). I was reading bell hooks Teaching to Transgress and came across a quote that really stuck with me

most of my professors were not the slightest bit interested in enlightenment. More than anything they seemed enthralled by the exercise of power and authority within their mini-kingdom, the classroom”

I was particularly interested in this idea of thinking of a classroom as a kingdom. In this situation am I (the teacher) the ruler? I was thinking to myself and began to question my role as an authority in the classrooms that I work in today. Do I have authority? What kind of authority do I want to have? Do I want to “rule” as a dictator or a teacher?
More than anything I am wondering how my role as authority in my (future) classroom will affect the way I teach and come across to my students. How can I successfully create a classroom culture that is inviting to all and accepting of all walks of life. How can I be a educator who uses authority in a positive way.