Something about this class that I’ve struggled with is the fluidity of grades. The class is most certainly not about the number grade. It is not about a score or number assessment. It is truly based on learning, and the assessment is important and valid, but the class’s focus and emphasis is on the takeaway apart from the assessment. It is about truly potentially altering one’s perception of the world and people for years to come. This perception will influence how you as a teachers influences hundreds of kids to come. Although I’ve struggled with it not being about the numbers, I’m thankful for this because it made me see the relevance of the material.
This class has really broadened my view on classroom structure. Ideas like enforcing a “democratic system” and writing the questions on the wall at the beginning of class are things I would like to implement in my classroom as well. The structure is very fluid, yet effective because it provides a sense of comfort and openness that creates an environment where students are willing to learn. I love how we used the seating differently for different projects, because too rigid of structure counters my preferred learning style.
For my unit plan, at first I was having difficulty deciding what to create my curriculum around. I wanted it to be something i am passionate about, and something I could get interested in and engage with. I chose to create a poetry unit. Surprisingly (to myself as well, poetry has always been something that I enjoy (over persay other parts of English). It is an outlet for me to be creative, and that’s why I like it. I hope with each unit I teach, I will be intentional with being impactful through the material.
For project #2, Pat Marie and I researched how to motivate students inside he classroom. We learned about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and how each affects students. The information was interesting, because it is applicable to my life and school experience as well. I like this focus for a project, because I feel that it is so very applicable to a successful classroom. If the teacher knows what motivates the students, they’ve already won half the battle. Motivation, no matter what it is, is at the root of all learning.
My book talk was on Diane Ravitch’s, The Language Police. The book trudges through the in’s and out’s of censorship of textbooks, standardized tests, and classroom literature – and how this censorship affected and influences school systems today. It exposes the extent to which the state governments and big corporations have control. This censorship’s primarily intended focus is to not give a certain group of individuals an advantage to understanding the material; but at what cost do “we” censor the world from America’s youth? With each censorship rule added, a token of value for human experience, cultural influence, and potential imagination is taken away. It is argued that the extensing censorship is painting an unrealistic picture of the world, one in which only relates to the group of people being tested. The textbooks all have parallel facts, but contrasting stories; and the types of literature chosen and banned in the classroom is subject to discretion.
For the majority of the semester I volunteered at the Christian World Mission weekly. There were about 4-5 students that came regularly, and about 7-8 “leaders”, if you will; so 1-1 interaction with the students was a challenge. The usual routine was to come in from the van and eat a snack. After that they recited the prayer and motto. One of the biggest take-aways from this time spent with the kids is the importance of intentional conversations. I remember trying to think of questions to intentionally ask about their day, and I saw firsthand how some of the other leaders questions developed into friendship. The kids are open, and they just want a friend. I got to see how intentional the staff is with the kids, and how each student admires each staff member. Intentionality means everything, because if the student sees that you care about their personal well-being, then they will be extremely more willing to be intentional in learning from you.
Later in the semester, I got assigned a student to tutor 1-1 at Armstrong Middle. The first day I went I was kind of anxious about going at first just because it was change and I had been accustomed to going to Christian World Mission. I was excited to work with older middle school, as I have in the past and love to work with 7th/ 8th grade. When I left though, I just felt so refreshed. It’s not like we met forever or knew each other’s life stories, but I felt like I had a purpose. We laughed and chatted about the school day and her struggle in science. The direct interaction holds each of us accountable. The office staff at Armstrong was so helpful to me. We shared laughs and I got to see a glimpse into their day. It reminded me of the sense of community formed within each school. I hope to be able to continue helping tutor here.