Blog #1- UCLA Racist Asian Rant- Alexandra Wallace
I truly believe the school did the right thing by addressing her video and removing her from the school. I am in an Educational Administration class where I have learned that this particular video would technically be qualified as bullying other students in an elementary or highschool setting. If a school does not act upon bullying, they can be charged by the courts for not acting on the student’s behalf. School’s are required to provide a safe schooling experience for all students. However, seeing as this is a university setting, it cannot be handled in quite the same way. Seeing as students in college and university are adults, it is more of an attack on these student’s human rights. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that you have the right to not be discriminated against for any reason. Alexandra Wallace posting this video and making those comments would clearly be recognized as discrimination and she can therefore be charged with a criminal offence. Also, in the Saskatchewan Guide to School and Law, it states firmly in the student duties that “students are required to observe standards with respect to the rights of other persons”. Not only does this include their other classmates but every single person they come into contact without throughout their day; teachers, administrators, educational assistants, volunteers, parents, etc. I understand that the circumstances are not exactly the same. This incident took place in a university in the United States and I am speaking of Canadian rules for education and schools in an elementary or high school setting. However, the basics rules and expectations remain the same no matter where you attend school or at what level.
Blog #2- Creative Response to UCLA Racist Video
I have to give it to this gentleman. This was a very creative response to a very hurtful and unethical video. Many people would have gotten angry or wanted to take “vengeance” in other ways such as, making their own hurtful videos. However, instead of sinking to the same level, he took a higher road and made a comical response. It is still evident that he was offended and didn’t appreciate what was said at all but instead of using discriminatory slang or hurtful words, he made fun of her in other ways. For example, he made comments about her studying patterns or the amount of make up she wears. Also, he made fun of his own language during the chorus where he sings “ching chong- it means I love you, ling long- I really want you, ting- tong I really don’t know what that means”. I found his response to be quite mature. Instead of making up his own rude comments, he pulled from comments that she made herself such as how her mom raised her to be this polite American girl, which is not evident in her rant. Even though this was a funny song meant to make people laugh, the underlying message of how inappropriate and hurtful this video was is still evident.
Blog #3- Learning From Those We Label- Schizophrenic Students
For an EPSY assignment this semester I watched the movie “A Beautiful Mind” starring Russell Crowe. I remembered having to watch it in my grade 12 psychology class but could not recall the details or specifics. “A Beautiful Mind” is the true story of Nobel Prize winner John Nash. Nash was an extremely smart mathematician at Princeton University during the late 1940’s. When first introduced to Nash he seems very withdrawn from society and very socially awkward. He also seems to have some repetitive behaviour. For example, he rarely maintained eye contact with an individual, he was always putting the back of his hand to his forehead, and seemed very agitated and tense much of the time. Throughout the movie you are introduced to other characters such as Nash’s best friend, Charles, Charles’ neice, and William Pratcher, who works for the government. Nash turns out to be Schizophrenic and these key characters are actually just figments of his imagination. The rest of the movie is the treatment he underwent, becoming medicated, relapse, and the stress it put on his marriage before setting his mind on ignoring his imaginings. The movie ends by Nash speaking at the awards ceremony where he won the Nobel Prize. It is still apparent that he sees his friends; however, they no longer contact or bother one another.
After concluding the movie I began to think about disabilities and how society perceives them. Many people perceive a disability with being “dumb” or incapable, when in contrast, John Nash was an incredibly smart individual who had a mental disability; Schizophrenia. As a result, I perceive disabilities differently now too. It is very easy to get pulled into the bulk of societal thought without really realizing that your thoughts are no longer yours, but you have taken on the general idea of the public. I never assumed anyone was “dumb” if they had a disability; however I did assume they were incapable of something, whether it be physically, academically, or mentally. Reflecting on it now, I find that is very unfair to assume of someone. It is not that they are incapable; they simply are challenged by something most people take for granted. For example, in the case of John Nash, it was a challenge for him to differentiate between the real and the imagined. Many people we label with learning or mental disabilities are extremely smart or capable of learning, yet no one gives them the credit they deserve because it is not necessarily what is valued, especially in an academic setting. Although, for every rule there is an exception. John Nash seemed to be the exception. He was incredibly smart, given credit for it, and able to build a relationship and have a family, whereas most people with Schizophrenia are not able to learn the same curriculum as the students who aren’t facing any disabilities and have a lot of trouble socially, especially with building emotional relationships.
To be an educator of a student with Schizophrenia the teacher would have to put themselves in that individual’s shoes, recognize how difficult their everyday life must be, and make a plan to address that student’s specific needs in your classroom. As the classroom teacher of that student, it would be your responsibility to research Schizophrenia and know what this mental disability entails, what causes symptoms, types of emotional or psychological problems that could accompany it, and finally, treatment plans for the student. As an educator to this young student, it means being sympathetic, empathetic, and building a strong and trusting relationship with that student. Most of all, being an educator to a young student with a disability means being flexible and able to implement adaptations for that student. While trying to come up with what it means to be an educator to this type of student, I decided to research it on the internet. What I found was many simple adaptations teachers could make for students with this condition. Some of the adaptations to be made by the educator with a Schizophrenic student could be: calling a meeting as soon as the teacher finds out they have a student with a unique mental disability, such as Schizophrenia. Present at the meeting should be the teacher, any other teachers who will be working with the student, school psychologist or therapist, school social worker, parents, and the student, if they are old enough. The point of the meeting would be to develop in Personal Program Plan (PPP) for this student. Many Schizophrenic students need adapted programs, including curriculum content, such as learning from a different textbook, using graphic organizers, or mnemonic devices. Seeing as many individuals with Schizophrenia have trouble organizing their thoughts or recalling content and memory, graphic organizers and mnemonic devices are often extremely helpful. Stress is known to trigger symptoms of Schizophrenia, therefore, as the teacher it would be important to provide a quiet, calm, stress free environment for the student to learn in as often as possible; even providing direct instruction there would be helpful. After the PPP is set and the teacher has set a useful classroom environment for that student, it is important to set up academic and social goals between that student and the teacher. The teacher should encourage the student to participate in extra-curricular activities with peers at school. The last, and possibly, most obvious adaptation a teacher could make for that student would be to adapt the way the student is graded. If the student is on a PPP, than it would only seem logical that they would not be graded on a traditional scale. Seeing as many Schizophrenic individuals have a hard time organizing thoughts it would seem hardly fair to give them a written test and ask them to, “do their best”. Rather, these students should be tested on hands on experiences or what they are able to explain to you and base their mark on the connections they are able to make inside their own heads.
After I finished watching the movie I decided to read up on Schizophrenia on the internet and I was very shocked by what I read regarding some of the behaviours these individuals might display and the symptoms that may occur. For instance, I couldn’t imagine hearing voices telling me to hurt myself or others, or seeing things that were not there. This experience will influence my own teaching because I never realized how invasive and intense Schizophrenia could be. As I was sitting here trying to put myself in that mindset, I found I was just scaring myself. I can’t imagine how someone with Schizophrenia may actually feel. I have a friend who used to teach and he had a student who entered the year with no symptoms and then all of a sudden started talking about a group of friends from a different school and eventually facts weren’t adding up and the individual was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. My friend said he felt very helpless at that point because this young man was being told he has a mental disorder and he thought he was perfectly sane. Again, I could not imagine the struggle that poor individual was experiencing. However, throughout my own teaching practice I will strive to not label an individual with having a disability and therefore, being incapable. I will do my absolute best to make accommodations for every student that needs them and address their strengths, rather than their weaknesses. If I ever have a student with Schizophrenia, I feel I will have a better idea of how to help that student. I have always wanted to strive to be the best teacher I can be. I feel frustrated and inadequate if I am not succeeding. Many students with disabilities feel this way too. I will always do my best to think of my students with disabilities as being challenged by one or more things, yet extremely able in others. For example, a wheelchair ridden boy with Cerebral Palsy may not be able to communicate with you through words but he may be the only one who can make you smile on a day when it seems like the world is going to cave in.
There is a fantastic campaign brought forth by the Center for Persons with Disabilities that focuses on seeing the “ability not the disability.” This is one idea that I know I want to take into the classroom because even though one student may not be capable of doing one thing, they are able to do something. Focussing on what the students can do can have so many positive results in the end. Students are able to be successful and they can create self-worth based on completing and doing well on things that they are able to accomplish. Students will gain the confidence to try things that may come unnatural to them. These students who never got the chance to take risks will have the confidence to try new things and they will have the ability to not be disgruntled by their failure. Alongside, Scope has also introduced a campaign surrounding the idea that “Disability means Possibility.” These two campaigns go hand in hand because it is introducing society to the idea that disabilities won’t hold back students like previously assumed. This is the time that people with exceptionalities can flourish and produce endless opportunities for them to succeed.
Being aware of the barriers placed on students is the key to understanding how to create inclusiveness. In the past I was scared of students with disabilities because I was unaware of who they were and what they had to offer. I was young and naive and I was easily persuaded into believing the views that society had placed on these students. But as I previously stated, understanding is the way we can change and being introduced to certain mediums that portray the achievements and the appreciation for students with exceptionalities is the beginning to being able to understand what I need to do, and what society needs to do to see change happen.
Society has labelled many people based on what some medical doctor or psychologists or whoever has deemed these particular people to be. Many barriers have been placed in order to hold these students in the borders of their disability. It is our jobs as teachers to break down these barriers and demolish these assumed borders or labels that have been produced. No student should be confined to the idea that they can or cannot accomplish something because some book says so. Students with exceptionalities have all the opportunities to become and have become exceptional people; it is our job to be accepting of that.
Internet Sites I read from:
Blog #4- To Spill of Not to Spill, That is the Real Question of Teaching
Teachers are held in professional esteem 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. I say go ahead and share your personal life with your students because teachers should never be in the position where something so unprofessional that it needs to be hidden. All secrets come out even though we think they are buried in the depths of the world. I remember wanting to be a teacher since I was a young child and I never really considered the teacher code of ethics that needs to be remembered when preparing one’s self to be an educator. In high school, I had no problems going out and having some “fun” with my friends and I remember having these images of me indulging in an alcoholic beverage or two posted on Facebook, however, once I was accepting to the Faculty of Education, these posts were permanently deleted; or so I thought. These so called horrible things, which have been brought forth in many situations where teachers have been “slapped on the wrist,” have the ability to come forth at any time from anyone. Unless you are Californian teacher, Amy Beck and have some serious skeletons in your closet, such as sleeping with your 14-year old students; then you should have no issues with sharing your personal life with your students.
Teachers expect to know a great deal about students and their personal lives, or else how do we create that relationship with our students. During internship, I knew what every one of my students did on the weekend and they knew exactly what I did on the weekend. We created a safe environment where we could share this information with each other. Of course, there is a line and a boundary as to how much the students need to know about. My students knew about my family life and my social life, they knew about my high school days and my elementary life. I knew about their families and interests, they told me who they were crushing on, and who they were being bullied by. This sounds like a great friendship between student and teacher, but that was far from the case, yes my students and myself were friends but I was there teacher before that. I was able to use the personal lives of myself and my students in order to teacher them beyond the curriculum. There are many things that teachers can use as “teachable moments.” One example that took place in my internship, which I addressed using my personal experiences, there had been a great amount of bullying in which my entire class had been involved with in a certain way and no matter what I said, they did not understand the long term consequences of bullying. I put this into perspective using an example from my high school years when I was personally bullied and suffered from some major psychological issues because of this. This personal information is not necessary for students to hear, however at that time, it allowed me as an educator to use my life as a teaching tool.
Again I state that there are boundaries and it is our responsibility to create those boundaries with our students because we do have a professional code of ethics to follow as well as the Education Act, however, I say seize the moment when you can bring in your personal life to teach your students. Again, if there is anything in your hypothetical closet that cannot be shared with your students and fellow co-workers, then chances are you shouldn’t be a teacher.
Blog #5- Interview: Working with Students at the Ranch Erhlo Transition School
For this particular blog post, I interviewed my good friend Stacy Dighans regarding her experience working with youth at the Ranch Ehrlo Transition School.
What is the Ranch Erhlo Transition School?
Ranch Ehrlo Society has developed unique and innovative programs to assist children and youth. Its mission is: “To provide quality programs to vulnerable youth in Saskatchewan and beyond, through social treatment and advocacy, of benefit to the individual, family and community” The culture at Ranch Ehrlo: “Recognizes the dignity and personal value of vulnerable youth; builds a caring and nurturing environment for people; manages behavioural problems through trust and relationships; works to strengthen families and communities; and maintains a high level of competence throughout the organization.”
The Ranch is a place where students of all diverse cultures, backgrounds, needs, abilities, etc, come in order to better themselves. These children are vulnerable because of situations they have been in. The Ranch is a place where they can escape, get better and then transition back into “mainstream” schools. These students have been turned away by many educators and thrown into the pile of hypothetical “unsuccessful children.” What we have done with these students is a success story in its own. The Ranch as created a new life for these children.
What can you tell me about the students at the Ranch?
The majority of the students at Ranch Ehrlo find themselves in oppressive situations. Most of them come from the minority, whether it is because of culture or ability level. One thing that I did notice was the high number of Aboriginal students in the Ranch Ehrlo Transition School. Colonialism has resulted in many difficulties within the Aboriginal communities in Saskatchewan. Many Aboriginal families are still suffering the effects of residential schools, which left many not trusting schools so it is very difficult for these students to be in situations where they are taught by white middle class teachers. Moreover, the impact of colonialism led to Aboriginal people being settled in areas where there was little inclusion in the European economic system. All of this has led to European people feeling “superior” and First Nations student and people feeling “inferior.” This has grounds for anyone to feel unwelcome when in the presence of a white teacher. As for ability levels, students with exceptional needs have always been marginalized and we are trying to create inclusivity to be able to bring the minority back into the classroom. However, in the case of the students at the transition school there are so many more reasons that they may be there. We can’t just judge by the surface, we need to know the background in order to know the real roots behind feeling oppressed. Ranch Ehrlo is a part of the wider Canadian and Saskatchewan society, which was founded on racist beliefs that Aboriginal people are “less than” white people. The high number of Aboriginal students in Ranch Ehrlo point to the fact that we have not moved beyond the racist beliefs of the past and that our society is still functioning on the pretence that the white way is the right way. On the surface we have become a more accepting society but the deep-rooted racism still exists.
Did you ever experience something like this where you grew up?
I grew up in a very racist home, where my dad and grandfather would joke on a regular basis about First Nations people. Even though we seem to be an accepting society, racism is the way most of us were raised. We have to make conscious decisions to change the way we raise our children, educate our students and present our beliefs in society. However, I disagree with the fact that we think just because they are in Ranch Ehrlo, they must be First Nations because I say many students that were from diverse cultures. In fact, in Weyburn, where I grew up, we have a school called the “Bridge School” which is exactly like the transition school in ways that these are students coming from criminal backgrounds, abusive homes, etc. The point I am making is that these students in the “Bridge School” are all white. Society is not marginalizing these students based on their race; they are being marginalized based on their situations.
Where do you now stand on the importance of this experience?
This experience has been an eye opener for me. It is very important to understand that as educators we will be exposed to a variety of children, some in the same situations as these at the Ranch. It is important to understand that these students do not learn the same way as others because of their past experiences with schooling. It is also important to create an imbalance in our own lives with the frustration of working with these students, so we are able to appreciate the privileges we do have and use those to adapt our teaching to accommodate all learners. The skills I have developed are unexplainable because of the amount of emotion that has been attached to these weeks. I came into this thinking I would be another white teacher coming in to try and help these children read. I now know that I did so much more. I was that ear to listen, I was that arm to hold onto, I was that shoulder to cry on and I was that friend in need. My professor said that this experience was about learning how to teach different students, but I think this experience was learning how to appreciate diversity. I obtained all the skills that I sought out to acquire. Critical thinking, self discipline and management skills, ability to adapt certain programs to meet the needs of the student, taking risks, reasoning and understanding were the skills I wanted to get out of this experience. I did that and I can take those skills and use them in my future classrooms if and when I get students who have had similar backgrounds to those of the children at the Ranch.
Blog#6- David Guilborn Article: White Supremacy
I found this whole article to be disturbing as a future teacher by just knowing that there is racism in every aspect of the world today and knowing that I really have no control over changing that. I always knew that there was bias in standardized testing but this article made me realize just how much we have changed testing in order to leave behind those students of other races. I think the example about the changes in the assessment system is more devastating to me because I will be teaching students of all races and I have to create a safe environment for them. I have to keep my students comfortable and safe from racism and the school system is just reinforcing it through standardized tests. Testing students with biased assessments is unfair on all levels because it diminishes the opportunities for these students to succeed.
Guilborn has a way of pointing out the obvious and his words really made me think about who I am as a teacher and as a citizen. I realized how much I just stand by and watch racism happen because I don’t feel like it’s my place to intervene and get involved. I am a bystander as a citizen in the world of racism. But when I think about myself in a classroom full of diversity, I want to be the one who has no bias and treats my students equally. Guilborn forced me to analyze my own beliefs as a citizen because I have always held an ideal of what a teacher should be and if I can’t represent that ideal in my own self as a citizen then how can I do it as a teacher. I never really thought that an article could have such impact on me and make me re-evaluate myself on many different levels but Guilborn did that. I think in order to say that I am going to create a balance in my classroom and avoid racism; I need to practice that in my everyday life not just in my school and in my classroom. In order to be a professional in this area, I need to professionalize my life outside the school.
Throughout schooling we have always been taught that standardized tests are a bad thing to have in schools because of the bad reputation placed on them. We have been taught that standardized tests are biased to white middle class people because they are who creates them. We have been taught that they do not consider the different learning styles or learning disabilities of students. As well, we have learned about the ranking system that the standardized tests inflict on schools in provinces. In Guilborn’s article he argues that standardized tests may be a more fair approach in many instances where racism may come into the picture. I agree that standardized tests are used to see the level at which students are at and I also agree that standardized tests may be better because all the tests are the same and no matter what your race is, you are still taking the test and have the same “standards” as everyone else. The problem I have is that standardized tests are biased and even though they may give students an identical opportunity, that isn’t the case. Standardized tests are created by white middle class people and the questions are based around the knowledge that white middle class students can answer. Students of different classes and different races do not have the same opportunities outside of the classroom. So although the standardized tests do test students equally, the opportunities for success are not the same. As for the anecdotal records, I feel like Guilborn is arguing that they are also biased which I have never even considered a possibility. Anecdotal record, from what I was always taught, is a brief documentation of teachers observing student progress in different areas. Teachers systematically collect and analyze anecdotal comments, and evaluate students’ progress and abilities to use language and then plan appropriate instruction. With Guilborn’s idea that anecdotal records are biased, it is the teacher who is creating that bias. Knowing that some teachers may be racist and allow their students to fail because of their preference to certain races breaks my heart. Teachers are supposed to be giving students opportunities to succeed, not take them away.
Blog #7- Assessment: for Who?
For the teacher?
Assessment is very important to teachers because it allows them to see growth of their students in a variety of different ways. I believe there to be three parts to assessment. The first part of assessment is the introduction of the assessment to the students. This is when the teacher is able to tell her students what she expects from them and she will also show them how they will be assessed. If there is a mark attached to the assessment, the teacher will show the students how they can achieve a mark suitable for the work they do. If there is no mark attached then the teacher is able to divulge on the diverse ways she will be assessing their work. The second part of is the process of assessment. This can be the observation the teacher is making on students, it can be the students’ process of understanding or it can be the student working on something being taught. The final part of evaluation is the results. After going through the process of evaluation, teachers need a final mark to give students on what they accomplished. I believe that the most important aspect of assessment is the process of which the mark is obtained. This is where teachers find out the most about their students. This is where teachers teach and students learn. This is where teachers can find out where their students are at and adapt their teaching in order to better the understanding of the concept. If teachers are able to see how they are teaching and how the students understand the process; the students will have a better chance of succeeding in the end.
For the Student?
The process of assessment does not matter to the students. The only thing that matters to them is the end result of how well they did. Students become very competitive when it comes to marks and assessment. They either strive to be the best in the class or they don’t care enough to try. Students believe that marks define who they are in school. I have seen this happen on many different occasions. In my high-school experience, marks were all that mattered to some people, including myself. I had to work hard to get the title that I was because my older sister was a slacker and did poorly. I had to prove to my teachers that I wasn’t the same as her and once I got those marks to prove it, I wasn’t letting go. It didn’t matter what work I had to do in order to complete the assignment, as long as I got a very high mark, I was happy. I have seen this in the elementary school as well; students who have anxiety attacks based on the fact that they got one error in math. Students are driven in school by the marks that they receive because it has been “standard” to succeed in school only with a high grade. Students are so used to the grade systems from years of dealing with them that even when we get to University and are told by some professors that marks do not matter and that it is the information being produced and understood that counts, we still focus on our mark in the end. I watch girls throw fits when they get an 80-85 (ish) because it isn’t a distinct mark being given. Students focus too much on the end result and don’t pay attention to what they are actually learning. Students need to realize that the actual reward is the learning that takes place in their work.
For the Parents?
Assessment for parents is based around the final grade that is given to their child on their report card. Parents do not care how their child is being assessed but only that they succeed in the end. I have seen this on many occasions with my parents, my sister who is also a parent as well as parents I have met where I have taught their children. I remember bringing home an assignment that I did poor on and having my parents question me about why I didn’t get a better mark. My dad used to tell me not to worry because as long as my report card had good marks on it, it did not matter what the marks on my assignments were. My sister who is a parent of two school aged children and I have seen teachers send home rubrics on how the kids will be marked on certain things and my sister highlights the most excellent column and makes sure the kids know exactly how to achieve the best mark. I don’t know if it is just my family or if it is society today. Personally I believe that we live in a society where parents strive for their children to get good grades in school because everything nowadays is based around success. Some people like to deny that the world revolves around success but the reality is that it all starts in elementary school. Students and parents need to see success through grades; they do not care about the process of learning and assessment as long as there is a high 90s mark or an A+ on that page.
The similarities of assessment lie between the parents and students focusing on the ending mark on the students work. As stated above, students and parents look at the end result to identify the successes of the student achievement. Teachers look at the process and the end result and how they coincide with each other to define student success. The whole understanding of where success is in the school system is mistaken in various aspects; the parents think it’s the end result, the teachers believe in the process. The whole success of students is on their learning and the potential they have achieved in their learning and understanding. It does not matter if a child takes a day, a week or a month to obtain a learning concept; the success lies in their ability to achieve that concept. The similarities and difference can be argued a great deal because the views and importance of assessment vary on different levels. Parents think one way, students another and teachers even a more different way.
EDUCATION AND MY TEACHING PROFESSION!!
Education, student learning and student success play a huge part a teaching profession; all of which can be seen and proven through assessment. Everything in the education system is interconnected with each other; teaching is connected to learning, learning is connected to assessment, assessment affect teaching, it is a continuous cycle. “We use the general term assessment to refer to all those activities undertaken by teachers — and by their students in assessing themselves — that provide information to be used as feedback to modify teaching and learning activities. Such assessment becomes formative assessment when the evidence is actually used to adapt the teaching to meet student needs (Black P. & William D. Pp. 1).” My beliefs of education and my philosophy of assessment go hand in hand with one another.
“Plants are shaped by cultivation and men by education… We are born weak, we need strength; we are born totally unprovided, we need aid; we are born stupid, we need judgment. Everything we do not have at our birth and which we need when we are grown is given us by education (Jean Jacques Rousseau, Emile, On Philosophy of Education).” Education is about making some sort of impact on your student’s lives; and about teaching students the knowledge that they need to move on in life and achieve their goals. Education is about creating the perfect teaching environment and accommodating the needs of every student in order for everyone to have an equal chance at success and for every student to thrive to achieve their ultimate potential. The minds of children are very creative and full of knowledge at the beginning of the school year; they just need that spark or light of the teacher to get their brains going. Children are like candles that need to be lit by an education that is provided throughout 13 years of schooling. As well as the knowledge end of teaching, students need to be engaged in what they are learning and have relevance to what they are learning of they won’t hold on to the information being presented. I believe that creating a healthy teaching environment for the students is essential because it will help keep them focused and in like in the classroom. I also believe that the teaching environment extends far beyond the classroom, and that it is no confined to teacher-student relationships. Education can not only take the form of formal classes, but can also occur during informal conversation. I believe in the open door policy where the students can come to me at any time with any problem either in the classroom, on the playground, or at home. I believe my classroom will be welcoming to all students, parents, and other professionals to come and learn.
“Methods of assessment are determined by our beliefs about learning. According to early theories of learning, complex higher-order skills had to be acquired bit-by-bit by breaking learning down into a series of prerequisite skill, a building-blocks-of-knowledge approach (Dietel, Herman, Knuth, Pp. 3).” Assessment is created based around individual student learning. Assessments are “building blocks of knowledge” that allows students to build on their understanding and allows teachers to reflect on their teaching. Teachers take a great deal of information from assessment and evaluation. Teachers can see where their students are in their learning as well as they can learn more about the way they are teaching and how to adapt their teaching strategies to accommodate individual student learning.
Accommodating the diverse needs to students in each classroom can be difficult but know the adaptive dimension and incorporating it into the classroom, teaching and assessment will help allow equal success of students. “The adaptive dimension refers to the concept of making adjustments in approved educational programs to accommodate diversity in student learning needs. It includes those practices the teacher undertakes to make curriculum, instruction and the learning environment meaningful and appropriate for each student (Saskatchewan Education. Pp.1).” Teachers have the capacity to adapt the curriculum, teaching strategies and assessment to accommodate all students learning. Knowing your students and their learning abilities is crucial for an educator because students cannot be taught as whole. Students are “parts” of a classroom and every part has its own job and it’s on contribution to the product as a whole. The idea that students are very diverse and the necessity to address the diversity in learning is what we have been striving for in the classroom.
Howard Gardener once stated, “I believe that the brain has evolved over millions of years to be responsive to different kinds of content in the world; language content, musical content, spatial content, numerical content, etc.” This is the essence of the adaptive dimension. Students are diverse in so many ways whether it is their interests, their learning styles, their home life, etc. Students need adaptations to suit their needs and it is the responsibility of the teacher to do that for them and the teacher can do that through assessment. Teachers can have a variety assessment tools to allow students equal opportunity to show their abilities. Teachers can also adapt the amount of assessment that takes place. There may be some assignments and lessons that do not need to be assessed and then there may be some assignments that can be assessed using a variety of ways. I believe that some sort of self-assessment should be incorporated because it allows the students the opportunity to take ownership for their learning as well as it gives the teacher’s information on the student understanding. The various principles of the adaptive dimension are the answer to address the issue of diversity.
A variety of assessment can be addressed through formative or summative assessment. There are non-graded assessment and graded assessment that will allow students to show their diverse potential and allow for personal success. “Evaluation should be fair and equitable, giving all students opportunities to demonstrate the ex of their knowledge, skills, and abilities (Saskatchewan Education, Pp. 2).” The guiding principles of students’ evaluation point out very distinct understanding of what assessment and evaluation should be. These guidelines are everything that I believe of education and assessment.
“Formative assessment is intended to provide information for both teachers and student about the progress of that student so that corrective action may be taken to help achieve the desired learning outcomes (Saskatchewan Education. Pp. 9).” Formative assessment allows teachers to see where students are in their understanding and get a ball park idea of what they need to adapt to create success for the student. Formative assessment also allows students to see where they need improve. Formative assessment acts as a communication between teacher and students as well as teacher and parents. The communication between teacher and students allows for a better understanding to help them work together to create the best fitting assessment, assignments and atmosphere for student learning. The communication between teacher and parents allows the parent to see where their child is in school. Parents will then be able to help further their students learning with at home activities. The formative assessment also allows parents to see how their students are being evaluated in school and this will make parents a little more comfortable knowing that it is not the end result for their child. From personal experience, if my parents would have seen some sort of formative assessment on my sisters, they would have understood the end result. Formative assessment gives the reasoning behind the summative assessment.
“Summative assessment is intended to provide information to be used in making judgements about a student’s achievement (Saskatchewan Education, Pp. 9).” Summative assessment such as rubrics and checklists allow the teacher to compare where students are on an average. Students need to be evaluated using summative assessment so the teacher can see where the students are and adapt their learning to help the student get to where he/she needs to be. Students need to be at a certain level of understanding before moving on in school and using summative assessments allow teachers to evaluate student understanding to see if they have reached the expected potential. Summative assessment is also what the parents need to see. Our society is wrapped solely around the equivalence of success and good grades. Arguments have arise based around how students should be assessed, my personal belief is that students need to be assessed using a variety of assessment tools; formative and summative. Students need the variety to address their individual understanding.
My philosophy of education focuses on giving students equal opportunity to succeed and creating that environment where students can achieve. I can achieve that belief through assessment and I believe this is the first time that I have actually realized how important assessment is to my teaching. Teaching is connected to learning, learning is connected to assessment, assessment affect teaching, it is a continuous cycle, everything is interconnected. Having a variety of assessments will help me evaluate my students and know my students needs so I can better their learning. Assessment can tell a great deal about who the students are, what they need and what I can do as a teacher to help them.
Blog #8- Learning Through the Eyes of the Abused
Domestic violence is a huge factor that many teachers have to think about on several occasions during their teaching career. Domestic violence can and most likely is when the males in the home are the abusers, but some female abusers are prevalent. Abuse can affect a child in many ways depending on the circumstances. A child may be a bystander when abuse happens to another person or that child may be the one who is being abused. Over 3 million children are at risk of exposure to parental violence each year (Carlson, 1984). Children from homes where domestic violence occurs are physically or sexually abused and/or seriously neglected. This is an important topic to cover with teachers because they are the people who spend the most time with students besides the parents. They can see the warning signs and help the child in their time of need. Teachers will most likely be disclosed to by an abused child and it is important for the teacher to know and understand how to handle that situation if and when the time comes.
At the emerging conference I attended a session called C.A.R.E which was a session about being prepared when a student may disclose abuse to you. This session also looked at the warning signs when abuse may be happening and how it may affect the students learning. This is an important topic for teachers to address in their career and maybe even get the proper training to deal with situations that may arise. Dealing with students who have been having issues in their home can be a tricky thing to deal with but it is something that teachers will have to deal with. The relationship between teachers and students is the greatest thing outside of the home and the support teachers can give their students will play a tremendous impact on their learning.
These issues tie in with the adaptive dimension and differentiation when thinking about how teachers can adapt their learning and their teaching setting in order to accommodate all students, including the ones who may need more support because their home life is struggling. Students who have been abused are also more susceptive to having learning disabilities that can be addressed as well. When we have talked about adaptive dimensions and modifications as well as differentiation, most of the time, we are told about learning styles and capabilities of the students. A lot of the time, we miss the factors that abuse victims may show in their learning as ways to adapt their learning.4
As a future educator, I worry about how I will adapt my teaching in order to be sensitive to students who may show warning signs of abuse. I also question myself about how I will deal with situations when it arises. I would like to prepare myself to see the warning signs of my students who may be dealing with abuse in their home and I want to be prepared to deal with the situation. I would like to learn more about what I can do to help my students feel safe and know that they can approach me at any time with their problems, without singling out anyone. I want to learn to balance my attention to all my students but also understand how to address issues in the whole classroom so my students feel comfortable and trust me to hear them. I would also like to learn about a variety of resources that I can use; besides the C.A.R.E kit, in order to teach my students about abuse and how to get help.
As stated above, 3 million children are at risk each year of some sort of domestic violence and/or abuse and these children will most likely pass through our classrooms and I feel like I need to be prepared for when it happens. I want to investigate the issues deeper and create a compilation of resources that I can teach myself with and prepare myself to help my students in any way possible.
Carlson, B. E. (1984). Children’s observations of interpersonal violence. In A. R. Edwards (Ed.), Battered women and their families (pp. 147-167). New York: Springer.
Blog #9- Marc Hall- Sexual Identity within a Catholic High School
Homosexuality is a never ending perceived societal problem. Like many other rights the Charter of Rights and Freedoms acknowledges, a person is able choose acceptance towards a differing sexual orientation or discrimination against it. The problem arises with sexuality in school, especially denominational schools. In Canada, everyone is protected regardless of their identity, however denominational schools have the tendency to force their religious beliefs on their students and expect them to adhere to these beliefs, regardless of their own. The following case study examines a homosexual student who sought justice for his right to attend, with the date of his choice, his year end high school prom.
Facts for Plaintiff, Marc Hall
Marc Hall is a Roman Catholic grade twelve student attending Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic High School, in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada. Hall is also a homosexual male who has identified his sexual orientation to his family, friends, and school peers. Hall is seeking an interlocutory injunction against the School Board for disallowing him to bring his boyfriend of approximately one year to his prom on May 10, 2002. Hall first approached his teacher roughly one year prior to prom to voice his wish of bringing his partner as his date. He understood the matter would be discussed with the principal before a decision was made. On February 25, 2002, the Principal Powers denied Hall’s request basing his decision on the Catholic teachings of the school and the church. Allowing Hall to bring his boyfriend would essentially insinuate that Catholicism recognized and accepted homosexuality as a way of life. Upon receiving the principal’s decision, Hall approached the school board to have them overturn the decision and again was denied on April 8, 2002, based on the same premise. After Principal Powers and the School Board both denied his request, Hall sought a legal ruling on the matter feeling that Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was breached which states that:
“15(1) Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to
the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in
particular, without discrimination based on…religion, sex, age…” (Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms, 1982, para 16)
Facts for Defendant, Principal Powers:
When approached with Hall’s wish of having his boyfriend in attendance with him at prom, Powers denied the request stating that romantic interaction at the prom is seen as form of sexual activity. Allowing a same- sex couple to attend would be seen as condoning homosexuality, which is not what the Roman Catholic religion teaches. The school requests the names of all individuals and their dates attending in an effort to gain contact information, if needed, and know who is in attendance for security and safety reasons. However, the school does not question any other students about their sexual activity with their dates at prom; before, during or after. On April 8, 2002 the School Board refused to overturn Principal Powers decision and stated Hall’s motion should be considered irrelevant and dismissed based on Section 93 of the Constitution Act and Section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which protects the decision made based on the freedom of exercising one’s religious beliefs.
Cause of Action:
The case was brought to legal proceedings based on the differing opinions between the Plaintiff, Hall and the Defendant, Powers. As stated above, Hall felt there was a large infringement of his rights as a Canadian citizen and an individual, whereas, Powers felt he was well within his rights of making this decision based on denominational reasons. The prom is an annual event hosted by the school, planned by a committee of students, and supervised by teachers but does not take place on school property, nor is it part of a religious or educational nature. It is the duty of the school to guide the youth in the Catholic religion but not force them to think or behave in a certain manner.
Decisions and Reasoning:
Before reaching a decision, an interlocutory injunction test, consisting of three areas, must be considered. The three areas of concern are: is the issue serious enough to be tried, will the applicant suffer damage that is irreparable should the injunction be denied, and which party will suffer more harm from the granting or denying of the interlocutory injunction.
In regards to the first issue, it was found that the basis of Hall’s concerns were valid and in need of legal attention. Powers and the School Board had violated his basic human rights by denying access to him and his partner at the prom. It was also found the Catholicism does not have a consistent view of homosexuality. The Catechism states homosexuality is not natural and cannot be approved of; however, these people should be treated with respect, compassion, sensitivity and acceptance with no sign of any unjust discrimination. Principle Powers had unjustly discriminated against Hall based on his sexuality. Catholic schools have limited power to control what subject matter is taught during school hours, however, they do not have control over student’s extra-curricular activities; and seeing as the prom was held off school property, fits this category. Principal Powers’ decision was found to be unprotected by Section 93 of the Constitutional Act because the specific right being questioned in this case was not in effect at the time of Union in 1867 and therefore cannot be considered within the nature of the school. A final reason with respect to the primary issue is that Catholicism states nothing about same sex dancing where students are fully clothed and supervised. To any educated Canadian, this would be considered public dancing which is not a sexual act and is therefore, chaste behaviour.
Issue number two of the interlocutory injunction test refers to damage that cannot be properly compensated. In the case at hand, if Hall fails to attend his prom, it will be a lost opportunity forever. Hall was found to be the party that suffered irreparable damage if excluded from his high school prom. School is a fundamental institution where youth gain context for their social lives. Exclusion from a significant school event and Rite of Passage, such as prom, would mean a restriction from a fundamental institution in a youth’s life, as well as suffer a serious blow to his dignity.
The final part of the interlocutory injunction test found that the damage suffered by Hall, as well as, homosexual people in general far outweighed any damage suffered by the Catholic community. The potential ruling of the case does not intend to restrict the beliefs or teachings of Catholics, or any other Canadians regarding religious or homosexuality beliefs, however it does seek to restrain the conduct in this specific situation. If the interlocutory injunction is denied, the school has the ability to continue restricting homosexual students from certain school activities. Whereas, the School Board can always have the ongoing rights protected at trial, Hall will never be able to attend his prom again.
An interlocutory injunction was issued to Hall against Powers restraining the school, School Board, or anyone else with knowledge of the case from allowing his attendance at prom with his boyfriend or cancellation of the event on May 10, 2002. The judge ruled that Hall’s rights in Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms had been breached by Powers and the School Board. Hall was not trying to make his homosexuality a public issue, but make use of the only resource left available to him, which was to seek legal guidance. The judge also ruled that both Hall and Powers were to respect the fundamental rights; including expression, association, and religion of one another.
Implications and Applications:
In regards to the case I chose to examine I was happy with the decision made by the judge. I am Roman Catholic and have always attended Catholic schools. As I have grown, I have come to find that the Catholic view of the world is very judgemental and close minded. It seems that strong Catholics feel there is only one way to live and any straying from that results in unpleasant consequences. For example, if a woman has child out of wedlock she is doomed to Hell. I can only imagine how Hall felt being denied his right to attend his prom with his boyfriend and being told he does not fit into the ideals of his school. Many graduates choose dates to attend with that are significant to them for a specific reason and being denied to share that experience with an important person would be devastating. I feel the judge making the ruling to allow Hall to attend prom with his partner is the beginning of change within education. It generally takes a while for new ideas to make the way to Saskatchewan; however it does give me hope that inclusion and equality will be more prominent during my career as a teacher. Currently, based on what I witnessed in my schooling years and what I have heard in my classes, I do not want to teach in a Catholic school division. But, based on the ruling in this case and the justice Hall received, I am confident change will continue across Canada and perhaps my judgements towards Catholic schools and school divisions will subside with it.
Blog #10- Giving Student’s Feedback…
When giving feedback to students it is extremely important to watch what you say and think about how the student may interpret your message. Words can be very inspiring and help a child soar, but they can also be extremely hurtful and crush a student’s drive. Personally, I had a comment left on one of my assignments this semester that was extremely rude and completely uncalled for. It ended up ruining the entire class for me and had attendance not be mandatory, I would have quit going. If I am a graduating university student and that was how I reacted to a comment left by a professor, imagine how a young student would take a rude comment, even if it was not meant in that spirit. If a teacher has a comment to make about a statement or they are not sure what the student is meaning, a message should be left on the assignment saying ”please see me” or “let’s discuss this comment” as opposed to writing inappropriate comments on the assignment that could be taken in the wrong spirit. As the STF Code of Ethics states, teachers should address one another when having a conflict, teacher’s should also address students when there is a conflict before making condescending comments or jumping to conclusions.
It is always important to acknowledge the work a student has done well before giving a negative comment. For example, if a teacher is reading a story and the student has written, “once upon a time a girl kissed a boy and they rode away on horses together” begin by acknowledging the student’s story positively. Try saying, ” I really enjoy the outline of your story. I think it has a very good story line, however, I’m not sure where this boy came from? What does the girl look like? Where do they live? What kind of horses do they ride away on? Where are they going? etc”. As opposed to saying, ” I don’t understand what you’re trying to say”. That may cause the student to get defensive or feel their work is being invalidated.
Blog #11- The Unexplained Blame on Media Violence
The media has played a significant role in society during the twentieth century and its importance will increase over the next hundreds of years due to the continual growth of new technologies and ways of communicating with people all over the world. Media is a part of everyone’s daily lives whether it is through the use of television, radio, internet, print ads and much more. Media is all around us, influencing our decisions and teaching us the ways of life according to the “average Canadian.” Media influences people’s judgement and often people mimic things that are shown in the media, although it has never been proven that the media directly changes a human being and their behaviours. Violence shown in the media has no direct relationship with aggression and violence shown by children and adolescents in today’s society. Television and video games do not teach children how to be violent, they just entertain so the viewers will want to be like their favourite super hero and learn the new “cool” superhero moves. Many other factors are involved in youth violence and there are many solutions to these acts of violence besides banning television and video games.
Violence shown in television and movies had no direct relationship with aggression in children. Kids are more influenced by their favourite superhero rather than that superhero’s arch nemesis, and only the violent acts that the child is viewing is when the super hero defeats the “bad guy” which in the end, shows the child that the superhero is saving the town from danger. Also studies have shown that Japanese and European television is much more graphic and brutal in violence compared to American television, but the American crime rates of seventeen year old kids is much higher than the rates of Japanese and European kids of that same demographic group. This student has helped prove that violence in television and movies does not directly affect the violence in children today. According to a study by Fiske and Hartley, the number of black people who are murdered on television is 7.3% whereas the amount of black people murdered in the real world each year is over 50% of the people being murdered. This student proves that television does not have an impact on real violence due to the fact that there is an extremely low murder rate of black people on television compared to the 50%+ in reality. If television influenced the violence in person then the amount of black people murdered would be closer in percentages.
Another study was done by Fechbach and Singer in 1971, seven residential schools participates in this study, four of which were homes for boys whose parents were unfit to care for them, the other three were private schools for boys; although some of the “homes” were also schools. The students were divided into 2 groups, the first group was assigned to watch relatively aggressive shows on television and the other group was told to watch moderate television, with less than an ordinary level of violence in it. The students were instructed to continue watching these types of shows for one hour everyday for six weeks. The students were observed by people who knew them best; parents, teachers, foster parents, social workers, etc. After the period of the student, the boys who were exposed to the more violent and aggressive television committed fewer acts of violence than those who were exposed to the non-violent programs. Feshbach and Singer argued that the boys who were exposed to the violent television has less anger “bottled up” inside them because the violent and aggressive television shows served as an outlet for their own aggression. The students were able to release their anger without actually harming anyone. Therefore violence in television and movies does not have a negative violent affect on children in today’s society.
Some people believe that video games have a strong affect on children and their aggression behaviours because with video games the children often simulate killing and violence with their controls and with technology kids can act out what they are doing in front of a camera so it looks like they are actually in the game. But we see that there has been no evidence to support the contentions that violent video games teach children how to kill or even provide children with the desire to kill or be violent because at the time when most video game violence was studied was in the Atari and Nintendo eras. Studies that took place on these eras were inconclusive because bother of these gaming systems are not violent. Although few studies have been conducted on the Sony Era, there have been some to support the fact that video games do not influence aggression levels in children. The graphics of video games have changed a great deal and these graphics are exposing children to more images of violence but in reality, these “graphic images: can be seen every day in the news. Some kids are more influences by what they catch a glimpse of when their parents are watching the news because if their parents are viewing this program the kids see it as the right thing to do because everything their parents do must be right. Researchers have developed nine different categories for video games including; racing games, sport simulation games, adventure games, puzzlers, platformers, platform blasters, beat ‘em ups, shoot ‘em ups and weird games. Out of the nine listed types of games only 3 out of 9 have anything to do with actual violence, so it is safe to say that they amount of video games that can even come close to persuading children commit violent acts is relatively low compared to the amounts of violent crimes in reality.
Eminem is one of the most well-known rap artists in the media today and many people believe that this musical icon has a great influence on the violent behaviour and violent verbal context that their children perform. Many people blame rap artists for displaying violence in their lyrics and music videos but really there is violence in all genres of music. For examples, Eminem’s song “Lose Yourself” is discussing his one shot at beginning his music career and his nervousness about going on stage for the first time to compete in his first “battle.” Parents believe that this music influences their kids because of the profanity and the content in the lyrics, but take a look at the lyrics of Carrie Underwood’s “Before He Cheats.” In the lyrics we see a woman violently beating her boyfriend’s new truck because he is at the bar with another woman and in the video for this song we see Carrie Underwood, a country music idol, carrying a baseball bat around and in the end she pushes her boyfriend and hits him with her fist. This video is much more violent than “Lose Yourself” but yet parents find Underwood’s rendition of what to do if your man cheats. Also, parents are worried about the strong verbal content in rap music because they want their kids to be brought up in a positive environment, but in reality the children are exposed to more violent profanity from their parents and people in their community, two swear words in a song does not compare to the thirty wear words that kids are exposed to everyday in their communities. Rap music is just a genre of music with a good beat and some meaningful lyrics not a weapon of destruction persuading kids to be violent.
Parents should look at the other factors that may be critical in violent behaviour of their children instead of just blaming the media for all the faults of their children’s violence. Many kids who perform acts of violence have always thought about these behaviours for quite some time, the things in the media just trigger the child to act on these thoughts. Most people who read about violence in the world concentrate on the information that they want to hear, the information about what movie or what game is involved in the crime. People are completely oblivious to the fact that most of these crimes are performed by many people with mental disabilities such as Schizophrenia or Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or some other disability that affects the mind. Many people who act out of violence have a mental disorder where they cannot control their physical behaviour, or they have these toxic thoughts about murder and violence. The mind is like a loaded gun, it is loaded with ideas and thoughts about certain things that the mind creates. The media acts as the trigger to the gun, it triggers something in the mind to act on its thoughts. But in the end someone has to pull the trigger for it to be called a crime, whereas it is the persons own decisions to be influenced by media. Even if a person does not have a mental disability and acts out of violence, there are many different factors besides the media. Some of the most violent criminals were influence by their parents and the fact that their fathers beat their mothers or they themselves were beaten. Children who are exposed to domestic violence and abuse have a much higher risk of becoming violent when they are older because violence is all they know. Victims of abuse learn the behaviour of the people in the violent atmosphere, it is all they see on a daily basis and the images are engraved in their minds waiting to surface, the media is only the trigger. The media does not cause the person to act out of violence and the media cannot be blamed as a result of these violent behaviours.
Some people believe that media is the source of all evil and it should be controlled so that children are not influenced by it but media is all around us. Media is present everyday in everyone’s lives so if parents don’t want to contribute to the behaviour of their kids then the parents can set guidelines to control the exposure to media. Parents can teach their children what types of shows are appropriate for their age group. Also parents could watch what they say around their kids and watch what types of violence they are exposed to. Parents can also encourage their kids to take parts in sports and outdoor activities to limit the amount of television and video games the children are taking part in. Parents need to encourage their kids to keep living in a positive atmosphere and avoid harmful and violent situations. People cannot always blame the media for the violence in their children because there are many ways that parents can make sure their children are not exposed to the violence in media.
Studies are unable to directly connect violence in the media to violence in reality because children have their own thoughts and ideas on life and the media doesn’t cause them to act out on these ideas. Children also act like their parents and superheroes because they are seen as role models and so the kids mimic the activities performed by these people. It is safe to say that most children are acting like their parents and friend’s parents not like things they see on television or in movies or in video games. So many other things have an impact on violence and no one can directly pin point media as the main cause of violence in kids because of the many other factors in society that affect the minds of children.
Blog #12- My Plans for the Future
My plans for the future are not overly exciting. I plan on finishing school, passing all my class (haha), and receiving my degree. Once I get my teaching certificate I plan on subbing within three school divisions. I would like to be on the sub list for Prairie Valley, Regina Public, and South East Corner Stone. When September comes I plan on continuing to sub for the first year. I have only worked in a grade 4 and 5 classroom. Right now, my ideal grades to teach would be somewhere in grades 4-8. Through subbing I feel I will have a greater opportunity to work in a number of different schools, school divisions, and classrooms. This experience will help me decide where I would like to have a permanent contract because I will have a better idea of where I would like to teach instead of taking a “blind” contract and hoping I like the position and school I have chosen.