Good afternoon again everyone. Last week we left off on a definition. It was content literacy is taking in the information you are learning by reading or listening, being able to explain it via writing and speaking, as well as being able to apply or recognize these subjects in your life. The…
No. 2 #Resistance in the classroom: Starting Small
Micro-resistances. The after my my first few years of teaching I discovered freire, alinsky, and a few more along those lines. Revolutionary ideas flowed easily. His lovely translated words meant things. Prefaces and introductions to his writings were also chock full of words and phrases I could use. Phrases about empowerment, revolution, resistance, and maybe an ultimate change that was down the road. That if “I” could organize our teachers, communities, etc. something big could happen. I thought I was doing this work.
I was resisting, yes, but in a different way. While I hoped for something grand - a total and permanent revolution, at least in education - I was hard after another sort of work. My students were too. I think they were more aware than I.
We, daily, carried out micro-revolutions and micro-resistances by engaging in tiny acts of defiance. One kid might refuse to pick up her pencil when told the first time, another might ask a question completely unrelated to the topic. How ridiculous that I probably got annoyed with this from time to time. There was ample time to chase rabbits. I couldn’t see it then all the time. I see differently now. My daily resistance was wrapped up in openly deconstructing the curriculum and the structure with the learners. I didn’t know the word deconstruction then. Hell, I barely know it now, but I feel it. Basically, I made it a goal to be honest with my learners. If we thought something like the test for instance, or some of the punitive decisions made by administration were rash or unnecessary (they all were), then we’d talk about it with as a class. We’d think/talk about why these things were problematic. Why the test related to disciplinary action. Why school felt like a prison. Why none of us could leave when we wanted.
These “why’s” were usually prompted by a student question. I suppose I was resisting also by allowing such questions to be asked. It wasn’t uncommon for such questions, questions!, to result in a trip to the office in some other classes. I recall getting into trouble as a child over such questions. These defiant acts of questioning(?) we’re usually punished with a paddle, ISS, or at least a phone call home. Punishing questioning and criticism. Wow.
It should be pointed out too, that the hands of administration seemed to be tied too. Everyone there was doing their best to not crumble under the weights of myriad policies/rules/dung, or be pulled apart by the day to day struggles of keeping a school/prison running as smoothly as possible. There’s something wrong…
I never did anything of use that wasn’t out of some sort of defiance. Teach to alter the curriculum/environment of my classroom. Resist the vomit yellow cinder block walls and make a classroom an inviting place to learn and explore whether Old Father Curriculum told us to or not. By making a classroom a place to chase rabbits and follow lines of flight into amazing territory AND still managing to cover the curriculum and have kids pass or improve on their test scores (#idontcondonetestscores) we learned, we had a good time. We suffered together. Experienced loss together. Hope and joy. These moments aren’t written in to the curriculum. And there certainly isn’t time allotted. These stolen moments are the moments when we approach what is truest and most wonderful about teaching: the moment when we all forget that we are student and teacher, the moment when we become human together. The moment we remember we aren’t there to memorize and regurgitate State defined rubbish. It’s the moment when we all experience life/humanity/existence/turmoil/resolve together. In these moments teaching ceases to be a learned method or formula, and becomes human interaction and exchange. Togetherness and other seeming warm fuzzies. It’s funny that authentic learning (you define it) is not valued by the curriculum which shapes nearly everything we do in our classrooms, whether we resist or not. Not resist, choose not to repeat and reproduce what is not useful or beneficial, or refusing to be defined by a narrow definition.
I just don’t understand why everyone can’t share the same mindset as me! I know everyone has different perspectives and opinions, but I feel as though caring is just so simple and a character trait that everyone should possess. Not saying that we all have to care about the same things, but if…
I am new to this, so please, bear with me. I have been taught all my life that having connections is essential. Having connections makes it easier to find jobs and also gives you people to lean on for help and support in the field you are working in. Because of this importance, I have begun this…
I am simply one student roaming around a college campus full of future teachers, artists, doctors, lawyers, engineers, businessmen and other world changers. As I pass by my other colleagues each and every day I realize that I am walking along side other journeys, dreams and adventures.
No. 1 To Hope, New Teachers, and Re-awakenings #education #learning
I started this blog a little more than two years ago to voice what I was experiencing in my classroom and the systems I had worked in and was working in at the time. I didn’t know where to start, I just needed a place to shout from. After shouting for awhile a few folks started shouting back. Finally one of them (adventuresinlearning.tumblr.com) invited me to come shout with a group of other shouters (coopcatalyst.wordpress.com) and the rest of the tumblr education group). This made a tremendous difference in my life as a teacher - and a person, and on and on. Connecting to you expanded my increasingly myopic view. Stress, burnout, and cynicism from teaching in less than perfect communities and systems had narrowed my view and weakened my soul. I felt like I was done.
As many do, I left the public school system with the hope of untangling my experience/s and hopefully opening up some new possibilities for others. The future is, of course, unclear. I sorely missed teaching face-to-face. Interacting with my students, fellow teachers and being a part of the communities I served. It was disillusioning. I had jumped from one isolating system to what seemed like another. I was wrong - about both institutions (being wrong is a skill that is cultivated with age and humility I suppose).
My path crossed with former students over the holiday as I travelled to visit family and friends. One was a student from the very first class I taught. The other was from my most recent public school teaching experience. The first was such a surprise. I didn’t know if I’d ever reconnect with that group of kids. S is now a few years into college and is doing marvelously. I’m so happy. D is also doing well. He’s in a new school in a new district (I started educatedtodeath while in his former district) and is thriving - “killing it,” he said. I told them both that I was about to start teaching soon to be teachers, and that I was nervous about it. I asked D, “Where do I start? I know the content, but what do I teach?” He replied, “Just be honest like you were with us. You had bad days and good days. We did too. But you were always straight with us.” Where did this 10th grader get so much wisdom? Brilliant. So I’ll have a go at that.
I’m coming back to this blog as a new teacher. A teacher of teachers. They are marvelous people with such hope in their eyes that I can’t help but start seeing a bit of that same spark in my own when I glance in the mirror. They all have lives that are on hold - electricians, geologists, scientists, camp counselors, missionaries, athletes, musicians, coaches, students, and on and on - as they are working to become teachers. They can’t wait to get their own classrooms. I’m looking back and they’re looking forward. We’re going to learn quite a bit together.
I’m teaching them about literacy in the content areas, and I’m hoping to facilitate this through blogging and other social media outlets. In other words, I’m sending them to you, the way I went, to learn from masters - I’ll put my two bits in along the way as well. The network I built changed me tremendously. My voice and experience is just that, mine. We need each other. I thank you for your support, and ask that you will join in support for these brilliant minds. Thank you and cheers.