Find 5 Friday 2-22-2019

My assignment for this week was to identify some allies and mentors for myself or others who might support me when I wobble. Here are some resources I would like to share that I find helpful for creating an equitable classroom community and growing as an educator:

1.      The Connected Learning Alliance

This is a group I follow on Twitter that works towards promoting “equity, access, and opportunity for all learners.”  Research shows “learning is irresistible and life-changing when it connects personal interests to meaningful relationships and real-world opportunity.”  This group has tweeted about the benefits of play, equity, utilizing technology, making real-world connections, STEM education, project-based learning, and even using an online tool for annotations.  I’ve learned and read more about all of these topics through my ED 677: Equity in Education course as well.

2.      STEMfinity

This is another group I follow on Twitter that provides project-based STEM resources for PreK-12 students.  If you are interested in incorporating more STEM activities into your lessons, and you would like to learn more about robotics, 3D printers, and makerspaces, this is a great group to follow.  During 2019, you can enter to win a free STEM giveaway by filling out a form and entering the drawing.  For the month of February, you can win a Brown Dog Gadgets kit bundle.

3.      List of Multicultural Books for Children by Goodreads

I am currently taking a children’s literature course that has increased my knowledge of creating equity through the books I include in my classroom library. I’ve always known it was important to include literature with people from different ethnic backgrounds, but now I’ve learned that educators need to evaluate books based on accurate portrayal of different cultures right down to the illustrations.  This list is a helpful way to start if you feel like you need to add more multicultural books your students can connect with to your own classroom library.

4.      The Children’s Literature Forum

Here is a link to a website create by Kira Baker-Doyle’s students in ED 608.  It has great book reviews and reading guides written by graduate students about many books that will help promote equity and connected learning in the classroom.  I am finding it very helpful to be a member of this forum because I am seeing how other teachers would use multicultural books in their classrooms. There are great ideas for activities that go with the books to help with the lesson planning process.

5.      Globalization, Localization, Uncertainty and Wobble: Implications for Education

I saw this on “moosesykes” Find 5 Friday blog on Tumblr from my ED 677 Equity in Education course.  While looking for resources to support me in my wobbling, I had a hard time finding articles other than the ones we were assigned as weekly readings for class.  I was glad to see that “moosesykes” found this one and it gave me more information to help me understand wobbling for educators.

Find 5 Fridays

Week of 2/18

1.) 10 Free Ways To Grow As An Educator

https://blog.education.nationalgeographic.org/2017/12/14/10-free-ways-to-grow-as-an-educator/

This is part of a blog for National Geographic.  This resource relates because this week’s main focus was reflecting on problems that arise in the classroom and growing from it.  This article talks more about ways educators can grow as professionals. Within each tip there are links to multiple resources in the form of articles, blogs, and podcasts.  A nice little resource when you have some time to look it over.

 2.) Video-Bridging Cultural Differences

https://www.ted.com/playlists/411/bridging_cultural_differences

Some of the articles required to read for grad class this week got me thinking more about culture and diversity in the classroom.  I looked around a bit a found a great Ted Talks video on ways educators can “bridge” the cultural gaps so that learning can be maximized.  I feel this relates quite well to connected learning and building equity in the classroom.

3.) Examining the persistent tensions in US public schools

https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2017/11/21/american-education-event-examines-persisting-tensions-in-public-schools/

This is an informative article that delves deeper into tensions in the public school systems across America by organizing a panel of experts on the topic.  I know first hand about the public school system in Philadelphia and I can relate to this article.  Tension was one of the main topics this week and exploring more about tension in specifically public schools is important to anybody planning to teach in a large public school system.  There is also a video that goes along with the articles.

4.) GLOBALIZATION, LOCALIZATION, UNCERTAINTY AND WOBBLE: IMPLICATIONS FOR EDUCATION

http://ijds.lemoyne.edu/journal/7_1/pdf/IJDS.7.1.10.Fecho.pdf

I found another in-depth article from Bob Fecho about the wobble in education.  This article also goes into great detail about how global and local education can relate and if education can ever keep up with technology.  Fecho theorizes about the uncertainty’s in the classroom and dialogical self practices.  A very deep read for sure.

 

5.) Connected Learning Alliance Website

https://clalliance.org/about-connected-learning/

 This is just a general link to a website dedicated to connected learning.  Explore the website to find publications and resources that will help educators gain a deeper understanding of what connected learning is. The Connected Learning Alliance envisions a world where all young people have access to participatory, interest-driven learning that connects to educational, civic and career opportunities.  

Like Water off a Duck’s Back

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 winner Jinkx Monsoon‘s famous catch phrase on the show was “water off a duck’s back”. The performer said that their mother shared this phrase as a way of taking in criticism, accepting it, and letting it roll off your back so that you can move past it.

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I have thought about this phrase often since season 5 of the show, but I have always struggled to apply it to my own life. I often get caught in an agonizing cycle of beating myself up when I think that I have failed at something. While reading the chapter “What It Means to Pose, Wobble, and Flow” from Antero Garcia and Cindy O’Donnell’s book Pose, Wobble, and Flow: A Culturally Proactive Approach to Literacy Instruction, I was thinking a lot about my own teaching practice and about Jinkx Monsoon’s catchphrase.

Thinking about my teaching “poses”, or the intentions behind why I teach, makes me feel happy and excited about being in the classroom, but thinking about the “wobble” moments leave me feeling overwhelmed and wondering if I’ll ever achieve “flow”. Reading Garcia and O’Donnell’s work helped me to relate my teaching practice to other endeavors I have taken on: yoga practice, marathon training, dance classes and competitions. In each of those practices I have allowed myself to follow the Pose, Wobble, and Flow (P/W/F) approach.

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My second Color Run in 2014.

As a beginning runner, I never could have imagined running a marathon. I ran my first Color Run 5k in 2012 as a way to just have fun with my friend. I don’t think I even put running shoes on again until doing a second Color Run in 2014. At that point in my life, running became a way for me to explore Philadelphia, escape work pressures, and prove to myself that I could accomplish things I never thought possible for myself.

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Enjoying a complimentary beer after my first half-marathon.

After the second Color Run, I decided to sign up for the Philadelphia Broad Street Run, which I successfully completed in 2015. This success pushed me to try running The ODDyssey, my first half-marathon. I surprised myself by pushing through and completing this race in 97 degree weather. I finished with a time nearing 3 hours, but that didn’t bother me at all. I felt such a sense of accomplishment from finishing that all I wanted was more!

This initial running success reminds me of the way I felt when I first got into teaching. When I began teaching at Holy Cross High School in 2011, I was 21 years old and had just graduated from college a few months earlier. I was incredibly excited to be a teacher and I felt overjoyed because I had landed a real job so quickly. The reality that I didn’t know what I was doing and had 0 teacher training didn’t set in until I felt myself wobbling. I was having fun, I was teaching, I was talking about literature every day: wasn’t this exactly what I wanted?

Back then, I hadn’t thought about the impact of teaching. I hadn’t set my intentions about how I would teach or why I would teach. I never really planned on being a teacher, anyway. I started to plan to go to grad school to get a Master’s degree and a teaching credential, but that quickly fell apart. Because I had no pedagogical knowledge, I was incredibly confused by

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Probably how I looked walking out the front door of the school.

constructive criticism from my students, coworkers, and supervisors. I didn’t know how to be okay with the wobbling and I left teaching because I thought the pressure was too much.

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I’m smiling, but everything hurts.

I’ve had failures in other areas of my life as well. After completing my first half-marathon, I ran two more before signing up for the Philadelphia Marathon in November of 2015. At that point, I was still pretty new to running and didn’t have all of the knowledge I needed to train properly. I got hurt and ended up only finishing the half-marathon. I was disappointed, but I picked myself up and sought out running advice from books, friends, and trainers. I completed the Pittsburgh Marathon six months later.

After reading about the P/W/F approach, I have been thinking a lot about why I allowed myself to wobble in my marathon training, but not in my teaching. What made me walk away from teaching, but commit to running a marathon? Part of it was certainly naiveté: I didn’t yet learn how to ask for help when I needed it or how to use constructive criticism to my advantage without changing my personality to fit someone else’s idea of teaching. The other part of it was that I hadn’t set any poses for teaching. In running, I knew what my goals were. After reading Sakyong Mipham’s Running with the Mind of Meditation, I was actually setting intentions for both my individual runs and my race training plans. I understood how running connected to my personal and professional goals; I truly felt how it influenced my experiences and interactions with the world around me. This was not the case for my initial attempt at teaching.

When I finally made it back to teaching in 2017, I had become a very different person than I was the first time. I came to teaching with specific poses in mind. I wanted to help marginalized students build their own power and autonomy. I hoped that I could engage students on their terms through Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy. I felt empowered as a queer person, rather than feeling scared, defeated, and confused. I wanted to bring this energy into the classroom.

One of my teacher poses that I think about a lot is allowing students to lead conversations. I don’t believe in telling as teaching, and I wanted my students to be engaged in discussions where they expressed their own opinions and created their own knowledge about content. I wobbled a lot in this pose. I had to balance curriculum standards, near-prescribed lesson plans, and standardized test prep with my dialogue-based pose. Additionally, it was often very hard to get students to engage in class discussions or to stay focused during small group conversations. I felt myself wobbling and wondered if I should just give up and structure my classroom in the way that my coworkers did.

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Most other teachers in the school sectioned class into four parts: an opening activity, direct instruction, guided practice, and independent practice. This meant that students were either silently listening to the teacher or silently and independently working for the majority of the class period. I tried this approach, and I couldn’t stand it. It made me feel like I wasn’t myself, it made my students feel like I didn’t care about them, and it led to a lot of behavior issues in class.

Instead, I implemented a new way to start our small group discussions. I asked students to write or draw a response to a question. When they finished, they passed their papers to the left and that person would write or draw a response in another box on the same paper. They would repeat this process again, then return the papers to the original commentator. I then asked students to rotate groups so that they were in a new group of three. This way, students went into the discussion prepared not only with their own thoughts, but also with the thoughts of their original group. This helped students to stay on task, have productive group discussions, and feel more confident in whole-class discussions. I felt that I had given power to my students to engage with content on their terms while still having examples of written work to share with my principal. This helped me to move into a “flow” state in the classroom, rather than constantly pushing against my students, principal, and my own values. Below is an example of some student work.

An student artifact related to a question about Animal Farm.

This experience helped me to realize that in order to be happy and productive in my school community it is okay to let some things slide like water off a duck’s back, but sometimes it is helpful to make changes in my practice based on constructive criticism. No two teachers are exactly the same, and that is what makes our profession such an exciting and vibrant one. I can’t be “just like” my mentor teachers, but I also can’t make it on my own.

FIND

My co workers provide a lot of support to me through teaching. My co workers and I often bounces ideas off each other when we are struggling with different issues with in the classroom setting. My peers in other classes have also provided me support without even knowing. For example when I read other peoples discussion posts in different classes or the blogs in this class it provides me with new strategies and ideas to use in my current practice.

“Wobbling”

This week I found it very interesting to read the different stories teachers shared about their experiences with “wobbling.” One story I read was titled “You can’t please everyone” which is very accurate in teaching and also in life in general. In in this story the teacher shared that one student was upset by the amount of time spent in history class talking about current events and felt it made it so that there was not time to go over information that would be more relevant to tests. The teacher was very surprised by this as he thought spending time on current events was very useful in keeping the students engaged in learning.This learning experience provided him with a reminder that you cannot always assume a lesson is going well for every student in the class. Some students may be silently struggling. Another teacher shared their story of the messages being sent to students on the loud speaker or on posters and how they struggled with some of these messages for students because they weren’t conveying positivity in the classroom environment. For example, one poster outside of a classroom door was “Attitude stops here”. I know if I was a student and walking into a new classroom and saw this I would be frustrated feeling as though this teacher who hung up this poster is already having a negative view of students before even meeting them. The complexities I found in these stories is trying to reach as many students as possible while also still catching the ones who may be struggling and not as vocal and presenting rules/regulations in the school setting in a way that students will want respond to positively. One thing I would have liked to see would have been more stories of wobbling with much younger children. As a preschool teacher some of these struggles were harder to relate to as they typically dealt with older aged students.

Through my own notes and reflection I have found my own wobbling moments  as a preschool teacher. My current moment of weaknesses or “wobbling” is trying to get one of my students engaged in classroom activities throughout the day. He often refuses to sit for circle or participate in the art activity for the day. My preschool tells us that we can’t force a child to participate in an activity they don’t wish too however when this student doesn’t want to take part it provides a huge distraction for all the children that do wish to participate. By taking notes on my lesson plans though I’m noticing he stays engaged longer when it is an activity that involves movement, therefore sitting activities like circle time are difficult for him. I’ve ordered him a “fidget cube” and plan to try letting him play with this at certain activities to keep him engaged.  I’m still working on different techniques to get him to want to participate and when I figure this out I will have reached my “flow”.

Some work that my two year old classroom is producing is a lot of process based art. Therefore I try not to give them an art project that is supposed to look a specific way as the end product (product based art) but instead provide them with art materials where they can use their own creativity and independence to make what they want while also working on fine motor skills and interacting with peers. For example, one week for the winter theme lesson plan instead of asking the to draw a snowman and give them an example to follow I told them to make me a winter picture providing them with glitter, paint, cotton balls, snowflakes, glue etc. We discussed what winter is and what activities we like to do in the winter. Having themselves express themselves in this way helps me to get each one of them a little better individually especially since many of them are not very vocal yet. 

My Pose, Wobble and Flow Journey

For this blog I am tasked with acknowledging and reflecting on my own pose- wobble- flow process. This task is presented for the role of a teacher but since I am not teaching in the classroom I will respond in my blog, from the perspective of an education support staff. To guide my blog post I am required to document my assessment with a diary or journal. I am choosing to do voice recordings since that is not something I normally do (I do talk to myself, I just have not ever taken the time to record any of it :) ) After one week I will be able to answer the following questions,

  1. List the areas that I struggle with. What stances am I taking within my role? Are these struggles, poses?
  2. What is my wobble? What am I finding to help me work through my struggle to improve my poses?
  3. The third question is a little difficult for me to answer because it requires me to reflect on my outcomes from a student perspective. My current interaction with students is limited due to how my program is structured. However, I am able to reflect on the following questions,
  4. What is it like to learn, and to wobble, in connected communities? What are the implications of wobble for connected learning and equity?

I have already started to make notes on my pose, wobble, flow process and I am looking forward to sharing my conclusions in six more days.

My Find Five Friday – Mentor and Networks Edition

This week I am tasked with highlighting mentors, network and professional organizations that can support educators through their wobble process. 

The first resource I would like to highlight is a book that I read in a previous Connected Learning course titled “Thrive” by Meenoo Rami. In this book there is a chapter dedicated to networks and a chapter dedicated to mentors. This book explains why networks and mentors are a key component to the success of educators.

In the Thrive book, Meenoo encourages the readers to expand their networks by joining through online forums such as linkedin,  twitter and facebook groups. So for my second, third and fourth resources I am highlighting these sites for any person who may be reading my blog and thinking, “there’s no way that twitter and facebook are useful for teachers.”

Here are some examples of twitter hashtags my previous classmates have used to connect with others in the field of teaching, @usedgov and @educationweek

Here are some linkedin hashtags #classroom management #teachersandschoolemployees #educationandschools

Here are some facebook pages and group examples The Autism Helper, Technology in Special Education and Special Education Teacher Facebook Group

The final resource that I am listing is the PAC-TE. As a current employee of an institution of higher learning, I felt it would be appropriate to highlight The Pennsylvania Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators, PAC-TE. It is a state focused organization that promotes itself as a viable influence in teacher and educational leader preparation affairs within the state, providing resources and services for teacher educators. This is a professional organization that offers networking resources for educators.

My 3 Reflections on Wobble in PWF

Blog three for this week is to read through 3 stories about on the STORRI site and to reflect about wobble for the educators within each story.

The fist story that I read is “Play, Fail, Play, Repeat.” by Melissa Baldwin. From this reading I understood her wobble moment when she realized that she was not as inclusive with her explanations and planning of her “Genius Hour.” It was not until she began explaining her lesson to administrators that she realized her flaw. Melissa used her wobble moment to re-evaluate her lesson by sharing her experience with others at a conference and gaining new insight on how she could improve her lesson to connect better with standards.  Melissa was able to use her wobble to not only improve her lesson but to also teach her students of the importance of learning through failure. It is through that secondary lesson that she develops the phrase “play, fail, play, repeat.”

The second story that I read is “Not What I Imagined” posted by Lora Hawkins. In this reading the author is a new teacher supporting in a classroom and is supervised by the main teacher, Mrs. Smith. The author is identifying fears that their expectation of classroom teaching is too idealistic.This is almost identical to what is addressed in the PWF introduction, the idea that there are some teachers who have everything under control. I think this wobble moment is very relatable because when a person is just beginning a career, it is easy to imagine what the ideal outcome of our efforts would look like. After reading the PWF framework, I think that this teacher has to come to terms that their future classroom is most likely going to be different from the current situation. Mrs. Smith might be in a position where she feels she is her flow moment. The author just may have a different flow moment.

The third story that I read is “Shadows and Supposes” authored by Angela Dean. I am pretty sure it is the same Angela from Bob Fecho’s chapter! In this story, Angela’s wobble moment comes as she realizes that her classroom group discussion is not facilitating the type of feedback between students she was hoping to take place. She notes that when one student mentions God, there is a shift in the discussion and other students did not offer opposition to the statement. Angela is clear on her wobble issue, she does not want to intervene in the students’ discussion but she does want to encourage the students to consider alternative points of view. I do think that Angela has a starting point for her flow because she comes up with one solution with her plans to discuss humanitarian action and foreign policy. I also think that this is an opportunity for Angela’s students to create additional dialogue regarding the subject of faith and politics.

My reflection on the working through tension chapter.

The second reading for this week is titled Working with Tension by Bob Fecho. For this reading I also annotated both publicly and privately. My reflections on the reading were from the start. The author described the physical layout of the school as double wide trailers which took me back to my high school which utilized trailers until they constructed a building. Right from that moment I became connected with the chapter. The chapter begins by stating that there were polarizing tensions regarding the implementation of a gay/ straight alliance within the school. There were many opinions regarding this topic and some of the teachers were unsure of how to move forward in their classroom because of the tension. The chapter continues on to discuss how a teacher named Angela was able to use the tense situation as a learning opportunity for her students. The author also provides a similar example of a different tense scenario. He reflects on the use of metal detectors and how it created a tense classroom for some of the students. Instead of ignoring the circumstances of the students, he implemented an opportunity for them to write and reflect their thoughts. From this activity, students were able to express their feelings which then created a classroom more suitable for traditional lecture discussion. The conclusion of this chapter was to demonstrate that tension does not have to be feared but can be used to facilitate learning in other ways.

My Reflections on Pose Wobble Flow

This week is about Pose Wobble and Flow. This is a framework developed by educational professionals Antero Garcia and Cindy O’Donnell-Allen who support educators to make continual updates to their teaching practice by reflecting on their professional growth through the pose- wobble- flow framework. During the reading I was instructed to use the marginal syllabus again, only this time to annotate both publicly and privately. Here are my impressions about the reading. Pose Wobble Flow or PWF is framed by a focus of educational equity. It is designed to support educators to continuously evolve their teaching based on their own reflections of what is working and what is not working within their classroom. This model supports the idea that there is no set standard for an ideal classroom or perfect teacher. They believe that this profession can be open ended without realizing what the end result may look like. What I enjoyed the most about this reading is that it is designed to help educators realize that they should not compare themselves to others and also should not limit themselves to certain expectations. Educators should want to practice in an environment that is equitable to the learners and should want to adjust their teaching practice to meet the needs of all children in their classroom. I like that the PWF framework demonstrates that it is okay to grow and develop in the field and that learning how to teach does not end after graduation but is lifelong.

Here are my impressions about the annotation process. What I like about private annotating- it is easier for me to read what my current classmates have to say about the reading.It felt more like a class discussion and less like a public internet forum. It was visually easier to read with the annotations on because there were less of them.

What I like about public annotating- reading similar annotations to determine if there are others who think similarly to me.