Delphi, Greece: Commonplace Blog Post

The bus came to an abrupt stop; we had arrived at our desired destination of Delphi, Greece. Accompanied by my fellow classmates, as well as community members, I exited the bus and gazed at the World Heritage Site. Prior to my travels, I had researched Delphi extensively. I was engulfed by the rich heritage of this ancient sanctuary. It astounded me to consider the fact that the lush, moist grass in which I was standing upon was once considered the navel. I took a breath, the air was humid. The moisture in the air created a tension within my lungs, the air was balmy. I exhaled, this moment created tranquility. The air smelt musty and crisp, creating an earthy sensation. A light fog disguised the valley as small; this was false, for I knew that Delphi was bigger than I, or my classmates, could comprehend. Delphi was historic, the land was sacred. I reached out my hand, brushing against the decaying stone. The stone is rough, my hand flinches as I press against the sharp tapered end. I take a breath, allowing my senses to overcome me, this allows me to find meaning. The crevasses that coat the surface document a legacy. The green growth represent growth and resilience.

 

This moment of tranquility, wonder, and appreciation had a profound impact on my understanding of the world. This specific moment in time, when I was sixteen, strengthened a desire to learn further about the earth, specific regions, and the ancestors who inhabited these areas. Delphi, among the various places I had the opportunity to visit, represented the delicance of our natural environment. This moment represented unity; humans are not the only inhabitant of the land. Land is sacred. Comparing the wondrous site of Delphi, to a populated area, such as Athens, created a irrefutable illusion of evolution. A change in the people as well as the environment. This lesson has lead me to question my own understanding; why is the environment, in modern time, alluded to be less powerful than humanity? Delphi was once considered the most powerful space in the ancient world, due to its central positioning. It is now a historic landmark. How/ why did our knowledge change? Referring to the course reading, “The Sound of Silverbells”, the author reaffirms my inquest as he states, “a biological story that wasn’t about humans was of little interest” (pg 217). Prior to my travel experience, I, a student, had never experienced the overcoming sensation of unity within the modern world. In my understanding, urban and rural areas were separate environments; one to inhibit humans, the other to inhibit animals and nature. Robin Wall Kimmerer explains, through his teachings, that students, today, are unappreciative and uninformed about our environment because the lesson of acknowledgment and appreciation of our land is virtually lost within modern school systems. As a future educator, I must be dedicated in teaching environmental education because it is a crucial step in regaining balance within our environments.

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11/20/17

This weeks topic, regarding inclusive education; shown through Dan Habib’s Ted Talk, “Disabling Segregation” + Kelsey Culbert’s blog posts, taught many interesting and thought provoking aspects. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the ted talk video and scrolling through Kelsey’s blog post(s).

I learnt:

  • Through Dan Habib’s Ted Talk, I learnt that there was a direct correlation between implementing inclusive education within the classroom and a higher grade point average (of students), 15% increase, to be exact. Though I had understood, prior to this lesson, that inclusive education provided many benefits, I had not realized the academic advantages.
  • Numerous studies have proven that, an inclusive classroom has numerous benefits, for disabled children, including; improved communication skills, better social skills, and fewer behavioural issues.
  • 56% of students with disabilities are segregated from their regular classrooms; while only 44% of students with disabilities are included within the classroom.

Connections:

  • “If a kid wants to play baseball, he will play baseball”. This, in essence, describes my personal educational philosophy as it shows that limits are not concrete. A child, when given the correct supports + encouragement and opportunity can achieve anything.
        • The disability does not define the individual.
  • I, like others in the video, have experienced initial hesitation surrounding working with and interacting with individuals with disabilities. It is shameful to admit, yet important to recognize.
        • Though, this semester, through volunteering at the Regina branch of Special Olympics bowling, I have learned how to adjust my understanding + communication methods in order to be an effective teammate, leader, and friend.

Question:

What strategies can we, educators, implement within our own classrooms in order to strengthen relationships between our students with, and without disabilities?

11/13/17

This weeks assigned video, “Secret Path”, ft. Gord Downie, taught:

  • The last Residential School closed thier doors in 1996; although I knew this fact, it seems impossible to fathom. Many individuals within Canada believe that reconciliation within our nation has already occurred, and yet, it is hardly begun.
  • Chanie’s story, unfortunately, is not one of a ‘rare occurrence’. The voices of the Indigenous Peoples must be told; thier voices need to be heard. Yet, relating to my connection regarding Gord Downie, more often than not, Indigenous peoples are not the ones’ telling thier stories- White people are, by virtue of our White Privilege.  
  • Yet, Gord Downie, and other Canadians are crucial in our, collective nation’s, path to reconciliation. We must work together to; become educated and educate others. Reconciliation has not yet occurred, actions of education need to occur before it may.

Connections:

  • During the panel discussion, it was stated that “Canada does not have a history of listening to Indigenous peoples”. Rather, the population would prefer to listen to those who are of white heritage, such as Gord Downie, because of white privilege.
    • It is hard to recognize white privilege, when you are faced with it daily- yet, it is so embedded within our society. The Indigenous peoples within our country do not have a voice, and although progress is currently being made, it has not occurred.
  • This semester, I am taking SOC 211: Culture and Ethics. This class has been an extremely beneficial class for me, as it has taught the everlasting effects of intergenerational trauma and how effects of colonization and the Residential Schools are still, extremely, prevalent within society.
    • I believe that this knowledge has allowed for me to gain a deeper understanding of our nation + the individuals within it. This has, and will continue to, give me the knowledge and understanding needed in order to begin to understand my Indigenous students.
    • Although I will never understand, as I have never experienced it, I can become educated and continue to update my knowledge and teaching methods for my classroom.

Question:

  • How can we, educators, gain trust from Indigenous families who have, and continue to, struggle as a result of colonization and the Residential School system?
    • What supports do we, teachers, have available from our school(s) to create relationships with the Indigenous families and communities?

11/06/17

The assigned readings, “How Schools Play “Smear the Queer” and “Can we learn Queerly?” taught:

  • While teaching areas of sexuality, one should should define “homophobic” and “homophobia” in order to bring light to the subject and the prejudiced viewpoints surrounding sexuality + breaking free of societal normalities. (I, for one, was never taught about homophobia- as it was normal to have homophobic views in my small town.)
  • Queering; the process of re-educating parents who are against teaching children about homosexual families; process of becoming educated through music and literature aimed at reproducing “gay friendly” ideals and healing relationships and understandings.  
  • Teachers should alter the curriculum so that the contributions of gays, lesbians and bisexuals are acknowledged; when we knowledge gays, lesbians and bisexuals by having them within the studies in our classroom we then have the ability to change the classroom culture by erasing discrimination and discomfort.  

Connections:

  • “Voicing one’s negative feelings about homosexuality is one of the last bastions of socially accepted behaviour..” This, in essence, perfectly describes the environment I grew up in, small town Saskatchewan. Within our town, people are slowly becoming more aware of not using “racial” slurs and assumptions towards others; as being seen as a “racist” has a negative condition. Though, using the term “gay” and “queer” is seen as a joke; a person does not want to be described as gay as it perpetuates the idea of being “less than” and “weak”.  Students within our school often do not promote thier sexuality as it is known it will “make things harder for them”.  Unless, of course, their sexuality and aligns with societal norm of being heterosexual.
    • The ideal in the  town is that a young person should not promote thier sexuality or other societal norm differences, as it will make thier life difficult- rather than educating the population and becoming more aware, the majority of the people within the town choose to hold very conservative views with little room for education on the subject(s).
  • Growing up, one young man identified himself as “gay”; everyone knew- yet no one felt comfortable speaking about it; the subject caused backlash as citizens did not agree nor accept his decision of being open. Rather, people often made comments, verbally, such as “keep it behind closed doors, I don’t want to hear about it.” and “What you do in your personal life is private, why are you shoving your sex life in my face?”

Question:

  • From my personal observations and discussion with others, I have found that small town communities are less inclined to learning about and supporting diversity; are their different teaching methods + resources that one should bring into a small town school compared to a city school? How do we ‘level the playing field’ as educators to begin discussions on topics such as sexuality?

Community Based Service Learning: Special Olympics Bowling

I have been volunteering with the “Special Olympics” (Regina Branch) for a little over a month; my initial reactions, although still valid, have adapted and evolved based on my varied experiences at this organization. Although, my perspective of enjoying myself, as well as realizing the crucial and invaluable impact this organization has on the individual’s, as well as on the community, is prominently shown.

  • In my first blog reaction, I stated that I was learning patience, variation in the degree of skill/ability levels of all individuals and that every participant/ person is worthy of our time and effort; there’s never a disability that defines an individual as ‘useless’ or ‘unable’ to succeed.
    • To expand on my initial knowledge, I have since learned that:
    • Special Olympics bowling is worth more than gaining skills through practice- Special Olympics bowling, as well as similar organizations, creates a community. This community is indispensable as it creates a support system for the participants, the volunteers, as well as those who organize. Support systems have many positive benefits as it increases the general well being, reduces depression and anxiety as well as decreases stress.
    • As well, I have learned to cope and adjust my understandings in order to effectively problem solve. For example, miscommunication is often an issue that arises. I have learned to ask leading questions, recognize body language and recognize common themes in order to fix the situation at hand.
    • Expanding on this, I have learned to, and continuously attempt to, put myself “in the shoes” of the participants; I fully attempt to recognize and understand situations through their perspective. Saying this, I realize that I will never truly understand the experiences of the participants. Although spending time with them and learning from them is teaching me valuable lessons in understanding that I could not learn in a non “hands on” situation.

Connections:

  • My boyfriend’s brother has autism. His personality, mechanisms and actions are very common to those of (some of) the participants. I am constantly able to reflect upon my prior and current knowledge of him, his ‘cool down’ and ‘relaxation’ strategies in order to apply them during my hours volunteering.
  • Furthermore, I am able to make connections to + compare the opportunities presented in a city for those with disabilities (both physical and mental) to those presented in a small town. I am able to conclude, from my understanding, that it is easier to build a community of support, ie. through special olympics bowling, in a larger urban setting.

Question:

  • Referring to my connection, how may we, as educators, create a community when there is no, or very little, ‘extracurricular’ activities presented for our students that have disabilities?

10/23/17

This week’s reading, “Teachers, Administrators, and the Schools” taught:

  • Administrative authority relies on mechanisms:
    • Traditional authority- individuals obey because they hold positions which require obedience. (former most popular authority).
    • Legal authority- control through means of possible promotion, advancement and privileges. Administration has the ultimate ruling within a school; therefore they evaluate based on aspects which the educators are legally obliged to follow.
    • Charismatic authority- the personal characteristics of a leader influence the staff.

 

  • The ‘perfect’ leader is an unrealistic ideal; the perfect characteristics of a leader depend on the certain and specific situation in which the leader is put within. (as shown through the contingency or situational theory of leadership).

 

  • The section devoted to salaries taught that if a teacher is placed in a rural or isolated community, they may receive a higher pay grade or an ‘isolation payment’.

 

Connections:

  • I was able to connect to the section regarding ‘working conditions’ through the conversations + observations I have shared with current educators as well as my cooperative teacher in ECS 100. For example, the text speaks that it is increasingly more difficult to deal with a classroom, as well as effectively teach to and FOR them if the students within their classroom have extreme behavioural issues which may cause a distraction for other students.
    • Although difficult, it is important to note that teaching a classroom of students is never impossible. We, as educators, must adapt our teaching patterns + understanding in order to be effective for all students.
    • During my field placement in year one I was faced with a student who was described as being a behavioural problem- my cooperative teacher was extremely effective in adjusting her schedule for this student and learning to teacher FOR him specifically, rather than teaching in a general way that was deemed ineffective.
    • Through my observations I also found that the students learned many valuable skills, such as patience and understanding, because they worked with other students with disabilities and diagnoses.
    • Although, it is important for me to note that the school, as well as the educators, were equipped with valuable resources which aided in the success of the educator and her students.
  • As well, regarding the ‘working conditions’ section, I connected the debate of ‘split-classes’ to my own home town. In elementary school we often had split grades, although I personally was never placed, others were. This was seen in a negative decision within my town as the community often noted that split level classes are not beneficial for the children as it divides the attention of the teacher, the students were unable to fully communicate with peers their own age and the material presented was either below or above grade level for the students.
    • I, personally, have never been in a split classroom so I feel uneducated in the aspect of deciding whether or not they are beneficial for the students. Although, through my studies I can conclude that I believe it would be difficult for the educator to be properly educate the students to the best of thier ability because their attention would be pulled and their efforts ‘run dry’.

Question:

Reflecting on your personal experiences, what qualifications + characteristics create a good administrator/ which have a negative impact- why? Comment below!

10/16/17

This weeks assigned readings, “Teachers and the Teaching Profession” (Young and Levin) and “Exploring Teaching Identity: A Yearlong Recount of Growing from Student to Teacher” (Yerkes) taught:

  • “Teachers and the Teaching Profession” expanded my knowledge surrounding collective bargaining + collective bargaining procedures. I found the description of the collective bargaining procedures to be especially enlightening because it gave me insight into the negotiations, behind the scenes. I was able to connect to these descriptions as I referenced them to the discussions and insight I have gained from the many current educators that I converse and learn from, as well as with.
  • “Exploring Teaching Identity: A Yearlong Recount of Growing from Student to Teacher” taught that your personal teaching identity is ever changing, evolving and creating. A teacher never stops learning and adjusting. A teacher has, and will forever be, a student on a constant learning journey.
  • Furthermore, this paper stressed the importance of relationships within the workplace. Stating that, “I cannot stress enough the importance of relationships during this entire process. Creating the right relationship with my mentor, with my associate, and with the other interns was key to my success and growth in this program. The relationships built with these vital people must be based on trust, compassion, faith, and hope. The “right” relationship has a foundation of all these qualities, and every member of the relationship feels the emotions fully and equally.” Her personal experience further reinstates that all relationships are important, and must be treated as such. I have, and will continue to work towards gaining and maintaining relationships as they are crucial for my personal and professional development.

Connections:

  • “Teachers and the Teaching Profession” further expanded my knowledge upon the subject of “lock out” and “strike” in connection to the collective bargaining process. As stated within the paper, the idea of educators going on, and participating in, a strike is extremely controversial as it has an impact on the education of our students. I connected to this reading, and reflected, by gaining insight and comparing the description to the two-day strike which took place in 2011 (teacher strike).
  • I appreciated the second reading, “Exploring Teaching Identity: A Yearlong Recount of Growing from Student to Teacher”. Specifically, the quote, “going from the role of a student, which I have played for twenty-one years, to the role of a teacher was and sometimes still is a battle.” I loved this quote as it gives justification to my past, current and future feelings of struggling; education is a battle, although, it has, and always will be, a battle worth the effort and struggle to succeed in. Everyone, including myself, has doubt- the author further reinstates that every person is entitled to their personal emotions and thoughts.

Question:

  • “Teachers and the Teaching Profession” spoke of the controversial topics of “lock out” and “strike” in connection to the collective bargaining process; as I explained earlier in my blog this is controversial. What is your opinion on the teacher strike of 2011 (Saskatchewan), furthermore, do you believe that you would participate actively in a strike (or do you side with the ideals of strikes negatively impacting the education of our students)?  Give me your thoughts in the comments!

10/09/17

This weeks assigned readings, “Philosophy of Education” and “Sociology of Education” (Wotherspoon) taught:

  • The “Sociology of Education” reading further expanded my knowledge regarding Indigenous style of organic education. Organic education is suited to the practical needs of a family, clan or community. The idea that it is an educator’s role to facilitate learning through being aware of each specific child’s progression through the stages of development. Allowing children to learn, naturally. I appreciate organic education as it allows me, as an educator, to gain a deeper insight into how to reach my classroom and teach for my students, rather than to.
  • I found the description of idealism to be very enlightening in the “Philosophy of Education” reading, specifically the quote, “adolescents may accept the political views of thier parents as real without reasoning, but this is not true knowledge because they are relying on unreasoned assumptions”. I learned through this example as I had never taken time to consider the definition of knowledge; this quote portrays that in order for one to have real/true knowledge they must, themselves, have an actual understanding of that knowledge.
  • I also learned, through the “Philosophy of Education”, about the concept of essentialism. Essentialism has the goal of preparing students to be productive citizens; through the basic industrial model of education. Reading about Essentialism allowed me to further connect my understanding of this theory to the current curriculum through the core (seen as most important) subjects. This allowed me to question and be critical regarding my own schooling experience and which subjects were most efficient.

Connections:

  • Furthermore, I was able to connect to the concept of knowledge created through unreasoned assumptions (explained through idealism) as I have come to realize that I am only now beginning to form my own opinions in many topics that differ from what my parents believe. In my adolescence I often agreed with all the beliefs my parents held, covering a wide array of topics. University has allowed me to gain knowledge and insight in which has changed my understanding of the world around me, I’ve changed my opinions. (Ie.) I have branched out in terms of my political views due to my education; my parents are extremely conservative, I was raised with this notion being from a conservative small town- due to this we have differing opinions on the acts and policies that Donald Trump has, and is attempting to, put in place in the United States.
  • I was unable to look at one philosophy theory and feel completely engulfed in the understanding; saying that, I believe that I am able to take aspects of each philosophical theory and create my own for my future classroom and future students. I am currently, and continuously creating this theory. My personal educational philosophy is always adapting to my surroundings and students.

Question:

My question for my fellow educators is what tools, resources, and understandings have you used in order to create your own educational philosophy; furthermore, do you believe that there is only one correct philosophy to apply while teaching?

Community Based Service Learning: Special Olympics Bowling

This semester I have been given the absolute privilege of volunteering at the Regina branch for Special Olympics Bowling. My given title is as an assistant coach through the program; my position entitles me as a motivator, supporter and companion as well as, a rule keeper, score keeper and overseer.  My initial volunteer experience was this past weekend, September 30th, 2017. I volunteered during the afternoon, totaling four hours. These volunteer hours have taught me:

  1. Patience
  2. Variation in the degree of skill/ability levels of all individuals
  3. Every participant/ person is worthy of our time and effort; there’s never a disability that defines an individual as ‘useless’ or ‘unable’

Personal Connections:

  1. I have prior experience working with a child with special needs through my previous employment at a daycare. This particular child was diagnosed with a physical, as well as a mental disability; I worked as an aid in order to build a personal connection with him. This personal connection allowed for an improvement in confidence, trust and compassion. I truly believe that we, as educators, must gain a personal connection with ALL students in order for us to make a positive impact on thier lives. This may mean that you must go out of your way in order to find a common ground, or a common interest. Regarding my connection with this particular child, I learnt about and began to understand the world of “Pokemon” in order for us to have discussions that he was not only interested in, but could easily engage himself with. This, in return, taught him valuable and irreplaceable communication skills which he can carry through to different situations.
  2. I decided to volunteer with the Regina branch of Special Olympics Bowling because this organization is dear to my heart. My boyfriend’s brother is autistic; throughout the past few years I have had the opportunity and pleasure to interact, engage and communicate with him. He, as part of a social communication aspect, has been working with a mentor who has taken him to various activities such as special olympics bowling. He has told me personally, that this activity is one of his favorite pastimes as it allows him to work independently in a social environment. His social skills, as well as his confidence, have improved greatly through this, and many other, organizations.  I believe that special olympics bowling, and other organizations catered to individuals with special needs are essential for our communities.

Question:

How can I, as an educator, learn to adapt my teaching in order to benefit and enhance the education of EVERY student; furthermore, what resources are available to me?

 

09/25/17

September 25th, 2017:

The assigned readings, “Chapter 11: Social Cognitive Views of Learning and Motivation” and “Chapter 12: Motivation in Learning and Teaching” taught:

  • Factors that affect observational learning;
    • developmental status
    • model prestige and competence
    • vicarious consequences
    • outcome expectations
    • goal setting
    • self-efficacy

These bullets further explained that observational learning is incredibly beneficial for students. Students tend to pay greater attention to competent, high student models. This directed attention allows students to observe appropriate behaviours, and model themselves through this behavior.

  • Self regulation is “the process of activating and sustaining thoughts, behaviours, and emotions in order to reach goals” (pg 381)

Influences of self-regulation:

    • Knowledge: students need knowledge about themselves, the subject, the task, strategies for learning, and contexts of learning.
    • Motivation: students are motivated to learn; as well, have a desire to gain knowledge.
    • Volition: students have willpower to reach goals.

Self regulation is important as it allows students to gain personal achievement through their learning. Being a ‘self starter’ ensures that people will continue to be students throughout their entire lives, continuously learning and exploring.

  • Guidelines to cope with anxiety, as described on pg 424:
    • Use competition carefully
    • Avoid situations where highly anxious students have to perform in front of large groups.
    • Make sure instructions are clear. Uncertainty can lead to anxiety.
    • Avoid unnecessary time pressures.
    • Remove some pressure from tests/exams.
    • Develop alternatives to written tests.
    • Teach students self-regulation strategies.

Connections:

  • Regarding my last point, I was able to connect to the guidelines given to help students cope with anxiety. Throughout my school experience, one of my best friends suffered from anxiety, primarily around speaking/presenting/demonstrating around peers. I was able to connect her personal experiences by the way in which my highschool teachers chose to deal with her situation. Our former teachers often allowed her to demonstrate in a different situation in order to avoid the anxiety she experienced as a result of public speaking. I believe this helped her greatly as it allowed her to learn and develop without the fear of being ridiculed. I believe that it is naive to believe that one can always ‘overcome’ a fear of speaking in public.
  • I was able to connect my personal educational experience in chemistry 30 to the guidelines given on building on a student’s’ interests and curiosity (pg 421). Personally, scientific and mathematic areas of studies have never been my strong point, nor have they intrigued my interest. Although, my highschool teacher was able to draw in the following points in order to make me excited and interested in the new material being presented.
    • Support instruction with humour, personal experiences, and anecdotes that show the human side of the content (this was the single biggest thing that allowed me to thrive- my teacher was relatable and personable; I desired to learn and gain understanding because my teacher inspired me.).

After reading these two readings I have to ask:

  • How, as young educators, can we assert dominance and impose penalties without losing personal connections and relationships with our students?