MSU Faculty Book Talk – Dr. Hagerman

I attended Dr. Hagerman’s book talk about her book White Kids: Growing up with Privilege in a Racially Divided America. She followed and interviewed the children (middle school aged) of affluent white parents from different parts of one big city. She wanted the answers to the following questions: “how do white affluent kids learn about race, racism and inequality?” and “how does white racial socialization lead to the reproduction of racism and racial inequality?”. She did find out that actions speak louder than words; parents can tell their kids that everyone is equal, but unless they behave and treat others as equals, the kids will not believe that everyone is equal. She also noticed that some parents put their children in private schools to remove them from racial issues, or if the kids were in public schools, they had a private tutor. Parents wanted their kids to have the best education, “giving your child the most advantages your resources can provide,” but she says to be a good citizen – “raising a child who will challenge inequality and racism.” Her book talk caused me to reflect on the way I was raised as well as what I have noticed among other families in public. I have always agreed with the statement “actions speak louder than words,” but when Dr. Hagerman put the findings into place, it really opened up a new perspective for me. She ended with the statement that white families can be a place for radical work, and we need to place value on children collectively. Powerful statement. We cannot move forward as a society, as a nation, if we do not want to improve education for ALL – not just some. Yes, children are the future, but they are also our now.

I see, I think, I feel

When Dr. Brocato first asked us to sit on the floor in a circle, I was a little concerned with how the class period was going to proceed. Once she described group meetings and asked us to participate in one, I was a little more confused on what we would need to discuss as a class because group meetings were done in a different setting at Optimus High school. My initial thought was that students with behavioral problems would need to discuss their problems with others in this kind of setting because there were others around and they would feel comfortable (after a few months, of course); however, once we finished, I was impressed with the group meeting and everything we accomplished. I like that we were able to openly express how we were feeling about the class without any reprimands; similarly, I think it was important for Dr. Brocato to also express her thoughts about our feelings. Dr. Brocato found out how miscommunication has affected us while we also got a sneak peak into her brain about the miscommuncation made her feel..

Studio Based Learning

Last week we were given the prompt, what is studio based learning? How is the culture different or the same when comparing and contrasting this type of environment to a regular classroom?

I initially wrote down:

– room for mistakes, critique, and improvement

– don’t know how to define studio based learning

– students are given more room for creativity

I had heard of studio based learning before, and I understood part of the concept: students, in a way, taught themselves, worked independently or in groups to solve given problems or work a project. I know now studio based learning is a teaching method that allow students to work on a project in the classroom while the teacher is available to answer questions, check work, provide feedback, etc. I do feel like I am correct in saying that in this environment students have more freedom. This type of classroom lets students dive into their creative side, allows them to take charge, and put to use their own ideas and thoughts.

For me, sometimes I like strict instructions and a “how to,” but others prefer freedom. I think student preference could both be a pro/con to studio based learning. A regular classroom is normally on a strict schedule along with structure, while a studio based learning classroom seems to be a “take the time you need – within reason” setting. Students also probably feel more independent and respected in a studio based learning environment. I think ultimately educators need to have a mix of both; students need structure and freedom.

Studio Designed Classroom 11/12

For class on November 12th, I spent the day in a 6th grade math classroom at Madison Middle School (Madison, MS). I am lucky enough to know a few teachers at MMS who loved having me observe them. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, and I’m grateful to have the opportunities to observe a variety of environments. MMS was rather different than what I have seen at Starkville High. At Starkville High, in my opinion, normally only half of the students respect the teacher, rules, etc., and the other half act up, speak out of turn, and ignore their work entirely. The students in the classroom at Madison Middle for the most part respected their teacher and other adults in the room, and only a few spoke out or didn’t listen the first time they were asked to do something. I am wondering whether this is due to the environments the teachers have established or if parents have contributed to their children’s manners. MMS also had fewer students with IEPs than SHS, so this may contribute to the differences as well. Ultimately however, I do believe the teacher does take much of the responsibility, if not all, for how the students behave in his or her classroom.


Someone wrote the question on the board, “do we use the standards to plan our lesson/project, or do we plan our lesson/project and then find the standards to match it?” We discussed this in class, and I think either would be acceptable. Right now, most of us aren’t very familiar with the standards for our content, so we may need to look over them before designing our lesson and project; however, I do think we all have a general idea of what is required of us in the future (which concepts to master), so we may already have an idea for an interactive project and the lesson to go along with it. As we get in the field, knowing the standards may become first nature, so we would be able to plan in a creative nature and hit the standards without planning to the standards. Our students are most important, so we must reach their needs first, and master the standards second.

Reflecting on Dr. Vozzo

On Monday November 5th, we had the privilege of learning about classroom fluency and more from Dr. Vozzo. There are many things that we discussed that has stuck with me, but what stood out to me the most was the story she shared with us regarding her son. He attended Suddoth Elementary, and when he was younger, teachers called her after her son took a placement exam and told her he was mentally retarded due to his test scores. She and another teacher did not feel this was accurate, so they reviewed his answers. The test was based on stories, rhymes, etc from American culture and the English language. For example, “the mouse in the ___”? The correct answer is house due the rhyme scheme and the story book; however, her son put mouse hole, which is the logical answer. Mice do live in holes.  Because the test contained certain American culture and English language biases, there was a gap within the test and his intelligence which by no means dictates that he is mentally retarded. There were no accommodations made for him until after the fact. As future educators, we must be aware of the possible gaps, strengths and weaknesses of our students, so we are better able to teach them.

What I know now about Social Justice

The most important aspect of social justice I have learned thus far is that it extends well past ensuring everyone is equal despite their race and gender. Social justice extends to all regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. No matter any of these, everyone deserves to be treated fairly and justly. Social justice includes welcoming the diversity among everyone. This is most important in a classroom because this is where the next generation will spend half of their year. As teachers we need to take on loco parentis, and educate, demonstrate and embrace the diversity among our students. We cannot be afraid to ask questions. We must respect all point of views, discern facts from our opinions, and teach our students the same. No student should feel left out, prejudices, or unworthy in a classroom. All are capable of great things, and we need to provide an environment that promotes self-efficacy.