Monday, November 30, 2015

Promising Practices Blog

For promising practices, I attended Transgender Wellness at All Ages and a lecture on a study done on the World View Lecture Series.

I arrived at the dining hall around 8:00. I grabbed my name tag and found a table a few of us from FNED 346 were sitting at it. I threw my stuff down and immediately rushed to get a tea in order to get some sort of caffeine in my system. Fed and slightly energised, I was ready to tackle the day.

The day began with the keynote speech by Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. A woman with a long list of credentials, (A specialist in treating infectious diseases and teaches at Brown University) she is not one to be trifled with. Her keynote address definitely lacked lustre, that's for sure. It focused on integrating healthcare services with social workers. I'm not completely unfamiliar with this topic. The nurses in the show "Call the Midwife" often make home calls and care for the sick and work to provide government funded services to them besides healthcare when their patients need it, however; I can't say I was overly thrilled at the idea of this being an hour long speech. It felt like it dragged on for at least three hours. Her PowerPoint was too dull to be seen from the back and it was cluttered with paragraphs on each slide. She broke two cardinal rules of PowerPoint: Don't use clashing text and background colours and don't read off the slides.

The question and answer period of the keynote definitely livened things up. The first girl implied to Dr. Alexander-Scott that the state government wasn't doing their jobs correctly and that all the changes she talked about would be pointless until the government changed. Perhaps the young lady had forgotten that the speaker also sits on the governor's board of advisors on medicine. Another woman came up, talked about her resume, asked Dr. Alexander-Scott if the state was looking for a certain position, and when told no, she sat back down. The final question came with an added political plug for a man's organisation. He told everyone that they could find him in the back with more information on dying with dignity legislation.   

The keynote addressed reminded me of the Kristof piece we read from the beginning of class. Kristof talked about how his friend was doomed from the start because he was unable to advance in society due to his birth in a lower social class. Dr. Alexander-Scott talked about how often times disease rates were higher in poorer neighbourhoods and certain communities, like the LGBTQ community, because outreach to them is often more difficult or not done at all.

I was extremely happy to get of the dining hall and go to the lecture on transgender wellness. The first session was definitely the most interesting one of the day. Professor Rowell was a small, spritely woman with enough energy to power a city. She moved about the room with amazing speed and was very passionate about her topic. Rowell discussed the importance of recognising transgender youth and allowing them to live as they are. Most importantly, she said they just want to be treated like everyone else. At the end of the lecture, she passed out a bunch of resources on LGBTQ issues for people to take home with them.

Just a few of the handouts from Prof. Rowell
Prof. Rowell's lecture reminded me a lot of August's "Safe Spaces". Rowell talked a lot about creating safe spaces for students where they could just be themselves. If they want to change genders, let them. If they don't want to have a gender at all, let them. She advocated, like August, that we should be allies for our students. It also reminded me of Johnson in that Rowell said we needed to say the words in order to get over the issue. We can't avoid transgender issues because ultimately, they become our issues as a society.

The second session was not as interesting as the first. It was about the impact of the Worldviews Lecture Series on students' diversity awareness. The Worldviews Lecture Series was a series of lecturers from around the world presenting topics about education. The goal was to get underrepresented minorities in the teaching field in to lecture about different topics. Lectures included an education specialist from Japan who talked via Skype and a group of educators from Israel. The presenters weren't expecting the audience they got. I believe they were hoping for a room of professionals or graduate students but instead they got thirty undergrads. They did their presentation. Before the lecture, they gave the audience a brief survey asking them if they agreed with a statement and rate it 1 (completely agree) to 5 (completely disagree). At the end, they gave the audience the same survey. The results showed that people were more aware of diversity and culture at the end than before. Interestingly, students who identified as homosexual saw higher spikes in cultural awareness.

My first Promising Practices was definitely an interesting day. I think I would go back if the focus was not on healthcare and instead was looking at education or a topic more closely related to my interest.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Kliewer: Reflection

Most schools have some sort of special education program in them. Out of the three high schools in Warwick, my high school (Pilgrim) had the largest population of students in special education program in the city. The students had three or four classrooms in the math wing of the building they used for their classes. They were always part of the school yet at the same time, they were segregated. At lunch, they always sat at one table near the entrance of the cafeteria. It wasn't that there was a rule designating them to sit there. Nor was there a rule barring other students from sitting with them but it never happened.

Reading Kliewer's article reminded me of integration. The broadcasts from This American Life, (Part One and Part Two) demonstrated that racial integration allowed students from different backgrounds to learn from each other which helped in creating a better learning environment for everyone. Kliewer demonstrated with Isaac that a student with different learning capabilities is able to be in a classroom with non-disabled students and hold his own. Isaac was able to learn from others and showed a deep interest in reading. He was understanding the story, enough to act out portions of it for his classmates which shows comprehension.

Integration began to happen at my high school in the last two years with a unified basketball and volleyball team. Non-disabled students are learning just as many lessons from those with disabilities as those with disabilities are learning from non-disabled students. At the MET, I noticed one student Friday morning who was disabled in the common room. Every time someone came in the building, he held the door open for them. The students thanked him and then went on their way. After reading this article, I'm curious to know if he is in an advisory with other students like him or if he's in a class like Shayne's from the article.

Pilgrim High School's Unified Volleyball Team

Monday, November 9, 2015

Finn: Extended Commments

You'll have to excuse the late post. Because of Promising Practices on Saturday, I had this weird idea in my head that Saturday was really Friday and so here I was, on Monday, thinking it was Sunday only to realise I had forgotten to do a blog post!

Anyways, for this post, I decided to use Erica's post as the base for extended comments. I really liked her usage of quotes, connections, and hyperlinks to bring this reading to life. 

Looking at the first quote she pulled from Finn, "The status quo is the status quo because people who have the power to make changes are comfortable with the way things are." (Finn XI). I had the same thought that he took this straight out of Johnson's mouth. Those who have power intend on keeping it that way. Nobody wants to lose out on the privileges they have so to keep that way, those in charge create a "culture of power"  that allows only people from that culture to remain in charge. 

37% of those surveyed thought the key to being in the culture of power was a college education. In order to get to that education, one has to already know how to behave in the culture of power.

Erica's next point about the language used by Finn to a lower level reading class also stuck out to me as a Delpit moment. One of these happened to me this past Friday while at my service learning. Before breaking into advisories, the students of the building were all gathered in the lunch room. The vice principal was about to speak but the students were all talking. She grabbed the microphone and said, "Why is everyone talking?" and I cringed very visibly and thought to myself, "What would Delpit say?" Sure, these kids are in high school and probably had some idea of what she meant, especially since they all quieted down but it still made me cringe.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Problem We All Live With: Quotes

These two radio broadcasts were really interesting to listen to. I found the first part to be more interesting though that part two. Part one's coverage of the Normandy School District being dissolved was sad enough, knowing that all those students had been failed by the city and the state. What was even worse was the meeting held at the new school district, Francis Howell. Listening to those parents go from bad to worse in the tone of their comments was disheartening. Two women in particular stuck out to me. First was the woman who made a connection to the public transit system running through. She said, 
"Years ago, when the MetroLink was being very popular, Saint Charles County put to a vote whether or not we wanted the MetroLink to come across into our community. And we said no. And the reason we said no is because we don't want the different areas-- I'm going to be very kind-- coming across on our side of the bridge, bringing with it everything that we're fighting today against."
She was worried that poorer people of a different race coming over to her city or just passing through would somehow bring violence or worse, people that didn't fit in with the image this woman had in mind of how her city should be. What amazed me the most was how emboldened the crowd got as the meeting went on. Like this woman who said,
"This is not a race issue. And I just want to say to-- if she's even still here, the first woman who came up here and cried that it was a race issue, I'm sorry. That's her prejudice, calling me a racist because my skin is white, and I'm concerned about my children's education and safety." 
"This is not a race issue. This is a commitment to education issue."
To say that this isn't a race issue is a complete lie, especially when a woman before her said in a "very kind" manner that she didn't want people of a different race coming to their side of the bridge. As much as they tried convince themselves and everyone else that education was the issue, race was the real issue.
An image from the Francis Howell-Normandy meeting
The second broadcast was definitely more uplifting but I found less interesting as a whole. One quote that I did like came from Kiana in the first third of the broadcast. She said,
"But if you're always in the same environment, always doing the same things with the same people, you become naive. Or like, you don't really know about the world. It's better if you experience something different, because you get a feel of other people. And you end up changing, you end up becoming a different person, a lot based on the community you're surrounded by. And that's reality. Your environment really makes you."
This cultural exchange is exactly what the integration policy is all about. It gives a chance for students who may not know the culture of power to learn it from students who do. It allows both groups to learn from each other by bringing different experiences to the table. Like Kiana said, it changes the student based on the environment.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Kahne and Westheimer: Extended Comments

For my extended comments blog, I chose to write about Mary Abby's blog.

I completely agree with her that these projects have helped us grow as future educators. Over the last few weeks, I've seen myself go from being timid talking to the students to taking charge at times in the classroom. One of those moments for me happened last Friday where my teacher was absent. She didn't notify me she was staying home so I still went to my service learning anyways. I got there and was told the kids were going to be split up into classrooms. I stayed and followed three of the kids into a different advisory room and got to help them. I helped of the girls do research for her project. While doing so, it gave us someone one on one time to get know each other better and share tips. While in between looking for articles or when we took a break, she asked me how I liked the class, what I thought of the different class we're in, etc. I had the opportunity though to ask her how she felt I was doing, what could I improve on, and how I could reach the rest of the class better. It kind of reminded me of Delpit. I was teaching the girl the rules of power in doing research and she was teaching me the culture in the classroom.

Learning how to be a better educator and teaching the students, like Kahne and Westheimer mention, is the overall goal for these projects. As Mary Abby and the authors mention, going into schools in poorer neighbourhoods can be daunting. I was kind of nervous at first as the first scenes of "Freedom Writers" and "Lean on Me" played in my head. My expectations have been completely blown away. Had I not gone into the schools, I might have wrongly carried these stereotypes with me all through college and then into my teaching career.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Christensen: Connections

While reading Christensen's remarks on how cartoons indoctrinate children at such young ages to learn the rules of society, I was immediately reminded of Delpit and her rule that, 
"If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture makes acquiring power easier." (Delpit, 25)
The cartoons, movies, and books we were read as children taught us the rules of power right from the start. Hansel and Gretel taught us to fear strange people. Red Riding Hood taught us to listen to our parents or face the consequences of getting eaten by a wolf. Delpit would completely agree that media is one of the main ways those that stay in power remain in power. It indoctrinates the next generation of power holders how to keep their power as they grow up.

Another connection I saw in this piece was with the McIntosh reading from a couple of weeks ago. Her list on white privilege and Deutsch's list on male privilege applies to the points being made by Christensen in her piece. McIntosh talks about how white people can almost always except to see themselves as the main characters in media. Christensen's discussion about two of her students angry that Disney, at the time of her article, did not have a princess of colour in any of their movies relates back to that point made by McIntosh. Deutsch's male privilege list how in most of the princess movies, the desire of the princess is to meet a man and have all her desires taken care of.
Trust me sweetheart, any man who picks their bride off of one dance and shoe size isn't someone you want to marry.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

August: Hyperlinks

1.Best Practices: Creating an LGBT-inclusive School Climate

This website is an excellent resource for not only making your classroom LGBT friendly but also helping improve your school. Topics covered on the list talk about the importance of gender neutral bathrooms, allowing same-sex couples at prom, forming a Gay-Straight Alliance, and countless other things to improve the school. This goes along with August talking about how it is important to show LGBT students that the school is not just tolerating them but actively seeking to embrace them.

2. 5 Ways to Make Your Classroom LGBT Inclusive
This article from the Huffington Post hits on some of the same action steps that August mentions at the very end of the chapter. Anthony Nicodermo discusses how it is our job as educators to make sure all our students feel comfortable and be able to be themselves while in the classroom. Both Nicodermo and August mention that it is important to patrol language and not only tell the students not to use terms like "That's gay" but educate them why they should not use it. August mentions how one teacher had his students look up the meaning in the dictionary while Nicodermo mentions in his article a poster in a classroom he went into telling students about all the other word choices they can make in place of gay.
The poster that Nicodermo discussed in his article

3. Being an Ally Teacher for LGBT Students

This video is of Justin Smith, a New York City English teacher and Assistant Principal. In the beginning, Mr. Smith talks about the importance of showing students that you're on their side by your language, opinions, or what you teach in the classroom. The second half of the video talks about one of his former students who came out after high school and how Mr. Smith had a positive impact on him when the students was in junior because of a lesson taught in the classroom. Smith used LGBT friendly curriculum, like what August suggests, and it was successful in creating a more positive classroom.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Rodriguez: Reflection

Reading Rodriguez's article about how America's melting pot system definitely made me feel insert word here. It reminded me back to a class I took my sophomore year at Rhode Island College on American history from 1877 to the present. Up until this point, I had seen the melting pot idea as this great thing; that America was a country made up of many different nationalities and that we could all blend together. It was then that I learned that the melting pot was the early 20th century way of stripping someone of their culture they had known to cherish from birth. 
Henry Ford established a school to teach immigrant workers. The Melting Pot ceremony had graduates walk into the pot and back out. When they exited the pot, they were deemed "100% American".

Melting Pot Ceremony at the Ford Motor Company
Though it is important to be able to function in a society, it is also extremely important to be maintain your way of life. Rodriguez's points about how hearing Spanish makes him feel more comfortable or how it reminds him of his childhood goes to show just how much of value words can mean. The Melting Pot ceremony at Ford Motor Company and the importance that English is spoken in schools relates back to the discussion of American-ness in SCWAAMP.

I definitely saw firsthand the power of language this past summer while working at the Newport Mansions. Most of the people that visit the mansions are not from Rhode Island. Many guests from Quebec and South America venture up. Because we offer audio tours in different languages, the mansions are a hotspot for tourists that might not have the strongest grasp on the English language. Just attempting to speak French or holding a conversation in Spanish made the guests visiting so much happier. It also put them at ease when I would ask "What language?" and then do the schpeel in their tongue instead of having to try and understand English.

Friday, September 18, 2015

McIntosh: Quotes

"I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race."
In this quote from McIntosh's list of white privileges, she talks about how if someone who's not white does something extra ordinary, they become an example of how that race should act or what the potential they have. Huffington Post has their own "Black Voices" area for news. The goal of it is to shine light on issues in the black community. One of the first articles was about a black, gay, woman who is shaking up the business world. I thought it interesting that if the persona had been a white, straight, man they probably wouldn't have gotten a whole news article just for themselves, Even if it had been a white, straight, woman, they probably wouldn't have gotten an article.

"For me white privilege has turned out to be an elusive and fugitive subject. The pressure to avoid it is great, for in facing it I must give up the myth of meritocracy. If these things are true, this is not such a free country..."
McIntosh is acknowledging in this quote that white privilege has given her things in life that other people might not have had access to. She says that privilege provides opportunities to people that didn't even do anything to warrant those opportunities. This relates back to her list mentioning the many things white people can do just for being white.
"...I was taught to recognize racism only in individual acts of meanness by members of my group, never in invisible systems conferring unsought racial dominance on my group from birth."
McIntosh says in this quote that when we're young, we're taught racism is only explicit acts to oppress someone of a different race. She now realises that white privilege is a form of racism even though it acts as more of a shadow; performing its racist acts behind the scenes. This relates back to the discussion we had in class on 17/9/15 about individual and institutional oppression.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Kristof: Argument

In this article by Nicholas Kristof, he argues that in today's society it is more difficult to escape the economic class one was born into. 

Kristof discusses how despite what politicians say about rising from the bottom to the top, the cases of it actually happening are few and far between. Despite it being nice to think about America being a land of opportunity devoid of the ways of olden Europe, it has actually become the society the founders were originally trying to escape.

By being in a lower class, Kristof argues, you are already set on a path towards more of the same. Because people in the middle class are given the tools from the beginning to succeed in society, they often do so. He uses the example of his friend who was born into a family where one parented left them and the other died of alcoholism. In order to feed everyone, Kristof's friend had to hunt for food which is something very Americans can even ponder doing.

Kristof's friend was arrested over thirty times and was at one point in their life an alcoholic and a drug addict. Despite having so much talented, he was not able to hold down a job a long period of time. If his friend had been giving the tools to thrive in a middle class culture dominated society, he would not have had such a difficult life. 

Kristof's best metaphor describing the chances of rising from the lowest rings of society to the cream of the crop was that a five foot six parent does not normally have a child that is six foot one. It happens, but it is rare.
Tall offspring and short parents instantly conjured up this scene in Mary Poppins. It wouldn't be funny if it was common.