Dealing with Challenges
I have a few goals for the end of the semester:
- I've been reading a lot of teachers' blogs lately, and I really want to get to the point where I blog about my experience as a personal reflective tool. I assume that most of the teachers whose blogs I read were not told that they had to blog, and it seems like a great way of processing your experience whenever you have time. I've seen similar things happen on twitter with #edchat, #ntchat, and #1stchat, but blogging can just be a record. For the rest of the year, I'm going to try to do a few shorter blog posts when I have things to say instead of gathering them all up at the end of the week.
- I want to continue working through my narratives in Literacies of music, tech, and linguistics.
- I want to engage more with the class community in Literacies--on twitter, here, and in person. I know that I've been spending a lot of my time looking out to the world through social media for this class, but I think more intra-class communication would help me grow more.
I'm thinking about using Storify to tell my thrice-told tale once. What storytelling method are you excited about?
This week I am revisiting the Lugones reading about world-traveling and feeling at ease in the worlds we travel through. When I first read the reading, I disliked it very much. I did not understand exactly the terms the author used and I definitely could not understand them in relation to literacy. I realize now that the Lugones reading was not something I could read and just immediately get. Instead, I had to experience what she meant by world-traveling and this experience played out this weekend when I attended the Posse Plus Retreat (PPR).
For those who do not know, the PPR is a weekend-long event open to Bryn Mawr students, faculty and staff invited by the Pose scholars on campus. It is an annual event and its goal is to get people connected and to be challenged by conversations about a central topic. The one I attended was on gender & sexuality.
This weekend, I travelled to a new world and it was not without unease. A little ignorantly, I thought that there wasn't much to learn about the topic because I had two gay best friends, I went to a very open high school, and I go to Bryn Mawr, a school that is very supportive and vocal about the LGBTQAAII community. Of course I was completely wrong. Even worse, I left the retreat feeling like I had never belonged or felt at ease in that "world" even when I thought I did at first. Feeling, in some ways, excluded, I left PPR with more questions than answers to my frustrations. I think they are very relevant to the Lugones reading so....
I had an amazing experience in my field placement on Friday. I'm in a charter school where the special ed program is primarily inclusive. I frequently work with a student named "Jeremy" who often struggles to stay with the lesson, especially in large group instruction. One specific behavior that can be disruptive is when he calls out in the middle of the lecture--it is frequent enough that his classmates are distracted and that it interrupts the flow of the lesson. Throughout my time at this school, the teacher and administrators have been working on various interventions for him, including a paycheck for good behavior, check-ins with the teacher after every subject, and "choice time" when he makes it through a lesson. On Friday during the Writing mini-lesson, when he started to interrupt, the teacher told him to get a piece of paper and write it down. He did! He makes so many connections to the material, and he wants to share it with everyone, but in the middle of the lecture is not the most appropriate time. By writing it down, he got to express himself without requiring anyone's immediate attention. He made it through the rest of the mini-lesson and worked productively and independently throughout Writer's Workshop, specifically answering the prompt from the mini-lesson using appropriate vocabulary and responding to the feedback I gave him.
"...if our option is for (wo)man, education is cultural action for freedom..." ---Paulo Freire Saturday, I began my first day on the job as a MAST writing tutor to high school students excited at the chance to be a resource and mentor to four brilliant, students of color. Not wanting to impose, as Ivan Illich would say, my views around education, teaching, and, of course, literacy, I gave my students the freedom to design the writing curriculum and classroom space.I was very pleased with the outcome! My students wanted to learn how to write resumes, research papers, SAT prompts, and to write poetry! I was extremely impressed, not because their answers were not expected, but because I definitely did not worry so much about these things my freshman year of high school. Before the start of class, I had been instructed by my superiors to collect writing samples from my students. And so, on a topic of their choice, they each wrote a one page argumentative paper. However, when reading their writing samples, I became incredibly sad and discouraged as a tutor. My kids, who knew what was expected of them academically and even professionally, did not know how to write "well." It was more than grammar and spelling (these areas could be worked on easily), it was the style, the flow, the tone, the words used in their writing that I knew would be looked down upon in higher education. They had not mastered what one of my students had labeled as, "white writing."
Our in class conversation on Monday with author Michael Chorost's skype was certainly dynamic. Although I enjoyed the topics discussed, I found that at one point I asked the wrong question and didn't get the more appropriate one across. If I could get the chance to speak with Chorost again, I'd ask him the following: