Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Resilience; A reflection of Promising Practices

On November 5, 2016 I attended Promising Practices where the keynote speaker Robert Brooks lectured about resilience and the importance of being a resilient student and active part of society.
Resilience is being put down and making mistakes but learning from them in a mindful way. Mindsets are the assumptions and expectations which we as humans create for ourselves as well as our peers and this guides our behaviors. Brooks discusses how reinforcement of positive emotions and purpose plays a significant role in creating a climate in which hope and resilience will thrive, he calls this The Island of Competence! After the keynote we separated into the workshops we previously chose and from there we meet with two more instructors in a far smaller group and discussed "Resilience Through Mindfulness" as well as "Resilience Through Play". In these workshops we turned our theory into practice and used mindfulness and play as a way to help build resilience. I thoroughly enjoyed both workshops and feel as though I left with a real tangible sense of what resilience is and how to utilize it. Here are some examples of traits portrayed by an emotionally resilient person
The material we discussed in these lessons are not far fetched from the types of discussions we cultivate in our FNED classroom. We talked about how in order to create a healthy environment to grow resilient children it is up to the educator to create "safe spaces" for these ideas to grow. We also discussed how the tougher your life the more resilient you'll be.

Through reading the article "Safe Spaces" by August we understand that it is impossible for for people to learn in an environment that feels unsafe, cold, and unwelcoming. August says "classrooms are not neutral spaces- they are charged with emotion" and it is largely up to the educators to create these safe spaces so students may excel and create a sense of belonging. Brooks would agree with August, he believes that it is up to us as future educators to advocate and protect students in a positive and warm environment within our classrooms. This means no one will be discriminated against no one based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or any other means. Brooks says that by creating these types of environments for learning the students are sure to progress and personally improve.
If you are unsure how to create these types of safe spaces in your classroom Rebecca Alber outlines 20 Tips for Creating Safe Spaces!

In articles "Amazing Grace" and "The Land of Limitations" Kozol and Kristrof talk about social and economic class vs. opportunity. They say that people from the lower class bracket often do not grow beyond their social limits or economic barriers. They insist that "your outcome is largely determined by your beginning" and that demographics create a huge gap for opportunity blaming society for their outcome. On the other hand Brooks says that the tougher you have it the more likely you are to become resilient and the more likely you are to use this tool to benefit your outcome. People who grow in a garden full of racism and poverty have to work much harder to gain the same opportunities of someone in a higher class bracket. This means that these types of people are the kind who are less likely to take their privileges for granted and often see the positives in small things. In cases these types of resilient people live in a way that happiness will proceed success in return making them happier people. My beliefs lay somewhere in the middle. I understand that where you begin in life plays a huge role in the type of opportunities achievable to you but i also believe that a persons outcome is of what they make it. Kristof and I believe that in some cases by making the right choices and working hard for what you believe in you can overcome the probability.
Here is an article which discusses how to rise above social conditioning in order to live a wholesome life.

I myself am a resilient person, some of the obstacles I have over come throughout my whole life proves two things; 1, you are what you make of yourself. If you work hard, set high goals for yourself, and don't give up because of your situation then you can graduate high school as a homeless adolescent and be the second in your family to attain a college degree. It is possible!

Pecha Kucha Slide Show

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Empowering Education

Empowering Education-“Education is Politics”
Ira Shor


So, after reading Ira Shor's first few chapters in "Empowering Education" I've summed it up as a pretty decent way to end our reading selection for the semester. There are so many voices, opinions, and ideas that pop into my mind from the pieces we have covered this semester about what we must begin shaping our education system to be in order to keep our students engaged!
Shor suggests that schooling is a prominently social experience for children this mostly means that although children are learning about history, English, science and math, they are most intently learning about the society they live in and their role in it. The system we have in our schools now is pushing students away from asking questions about the world and wanting to learn. We have begun duplicating genetically formed kids to think, act, and dream a certain way in order to fit in.. As Shor says "curriculum is one place where dominant culture can either be supported or challenged, depending on the way knowledge is presented and studied" and I believe it's time to challenge the norms and begin using the creative and innovative methods to keep our children engaged and curious!


Tracking: Why Schools Need to Take Another Route
by Jeannie Oakes

Argument and quote discussion:

"Since so much of importance was omitted from their curriculum, students in these low-ability classes were likely to have little contact with the knowledge and skills that would allow them to move into higher classes or to be successful if they got there."

This article discusses how “tracking” students by their academic ability level is detrimental to their learning experience. Student who are tracked as “high-ability” have access to a richer education, better teachers, the importance of development of problem solving, critical thinking, and are expected to do more class/ homework. These “low-ability” children supposedly get a duller education, average educators, and are taught to focus more on life skills. These students are disciplined more often and greatly focus on socializing, class routine more than academic learning.
This topic is definitely a controversial topic because there are two sides to every story.
I do believe that certain aspect of learning are altered when you "track" or group children together by academic ability. As the facts show there are disadvantages, but I've become interested in the advantages of grouping children by academic need. I view ESL as a form of tracking, and these students are all put into a classroom under one impression; Spanish is their first language. SO these students are all clumped into this one classroom.. But is this not beneficial to the kids to be in a classroom full of students who struggle in the same ways? Are their needs not better met in a classroom that specializes in the education of a student whose learning English as their second language? Do the students in these types of classroom not learn because they are considered lower-ability based off of their background? I see an exponential amount of one on one work with teachers, TAs, and mentors, and as our research has shown and Kahne and Westheimer discuss, students strive in these kinds of environments. So in my eyes is see this controversial topic as just that, there are advantages and disadvantages in grouping children and who is to say if this is right or not?

In the Service oh What? The Politics of Service Learning
by Joseph Kahne and Joel Westheiner


Service Learning
Joeseph Kahne and Joel Westhemier suggest that learning and service reinforce each other and have benefits when used hand and hand. It has been know that Educators and legislators insist that this service provides rich and educational experiences for students at all ages, meaning it it good for the students who are servicing and the students who are learning. The main purpose of service learning is to point out the various ideological, political, and social goals while promoting self-esteem, the development of higher order thinking skills, and making use of all abilities in order to provide an authentic and wholesome learning experience.
Kahne and Westhemier also suggest that students who are interracial or lower-class need this service the most. School is a place where ideas and interests should grow independently and mixing in mentors who are young and actively showing compassion, interest in academics, and social matters acts as living prof that there is more to the world than what your parents preach.

Down Syndrome, so what?!?

This week, we are orbiting around the idea of the inclusion of all students in classrooms no matter their abilities is necessary as well as beneficial for all students involved. 


                               "I don't think, that those special education kids drain anything. That class would not be half of what it is if anyone of  those kids got segregated. We're all together in there." 

"When she enrolled in a regular public high school as a freshman,Christine's Individual Education Plan was passed on from her segregated school; it suggested that she had extremely poor motor control, low-level cognitive skills, low-level communication skills, a lack of adaptive skills,
 and aggressive "acting-out" behaviors. In the general curriculum of the regular high school, however, these images of defect were dramatically transformed "

"'Now we know that people with disabilities can learn and have a full, rich life. The challenge is to erase negative attitudes about people with developmental disabilities, get rid of stereotypes and break barriers for people with disabilities."

Points of discussion:
I found this website called Kids Together Inc and they're an organization whose mission statement is "To promote inclusive communities where all people belong" and on the site I found some benefits of inclusive education for both mainstream students and those with special needs. The evidence is as followed:

Benefits of Inclusion for Students With Disabilities
  1. Friendships
  2. Increased social initiations, relationships and networks
  3. Peer role models for academic, social and behavior skills
  4. Increased achievement of  IEP goals
  5. Greater access to general curriculum
  6. Enhanced skill acquisition and generalization
  7. Increased inclusion in future environments
  8. Greater opportunities for interactions
  9. Higher expectations
  10. Increased school staff collaboration
  11. Increased parent participation
  12. Families are more integrated into community
Benefits of Inclusion for Students Without Disabilities
  1. Meaningful friendships
  2. Increased appreciation and acceptance of individual differences
  3. Increased understanding and acceptance of diversity
  4. Respect for all people
  5. Prepares all students for adult life in an inclusive society
  6. Opportunities to master activities by practicing and teaching others
  7. Greater academic outcomes
  8. All students needs are better met, greater resources for everyone