Cathedral Building

Another Teaching Blog

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When Teachers Romanticize Their Students' Poverty

girlwithalessonplan:

weareteachers:

We don’t often post a piece *because* we dislike it, but here goes. 

Misleading title. The piece is really about how one TFA teacher “discovered” poverty and continues to romanticize it.  Favorite line: “My modest goal was to simultaneously teach 11th grade English, pocket some life experience, and write a novel.” 

I didn’t know the weareteachers tumblr could be sassy.

Poverty can only be romanticized by those who don’t have to spend any more time with it than is necessitated by the kind of thing they go into specifically for the “life experience.” A few AmeriCorps alum and I refer to this — which is part of many AmeriCorps programs as well and, as much as I love my AmeriCorps, is also not something I think works on the level expected — as Poverty Tourism.

People go into an experience in which they are required to “experience” what it’s like to be in poverty. In some cases, this will, or should at least, be eye-opening, and is meant to impart a new level of urgency, appreciation, or concern for those living at or below the poverty line.

But here’s the thing — that is not how poverty works. Poverty is not a brief period of time during which one can say to one’s self, this will end soon. Even when people are thrown into poverty by unexpected situations, there is not a guaranteed end point, no counting down. Often times Poverty Tourists can go to relatives for help if they end up in dire situations, because often times these individuals are not from a low-income background and may know people with money to spare. But that is not generally the case with people who have been living in poverty for most or all of their lives.

You cannot fully comprehend the feeling of “poverty” when you know it will be over in ten months, a year, two. This should be part of the things you are taught when put into these programs — that this is an immersion experience that does not actually show you another person’s reality but makes you think on their context — but, in mine and others’ experiences, it is not.

And beyond those people — those who do attempt to understand and feel the weight of the experience, even if they cannot fully — there is the larger problem of those who still wholeheartedly view the experience not as sombering, but as an adventure, without that tempering reminder that it is something that chips away at so many people. There are still many people out there who do NOT have the perspective to remove themselves as the hero of the story, who either do not see people living with poverty as full people rather than sad background characters waiting for aid or who romanticize the people themselves, which is also problematic because it also romanticizes the problem. And the whole thing just twists my stomach.

So I can’t tell if I’m glad that this individual gained that perspective, or still concerned about some of the viewpoints — and I KNOW that it makes me concerned, as I usually am, and frustrated, about the whole issue.

547,041 notes

we-could-have-danced-all-night:

queerenby:

filisexual:

royalpancake:

a short poem:

do teachers
understand
that you take
other classes

another short poem:

yes but see
they are all
required
by the district
or state
to assign a
certain amount
of gradable
material per
semester so
they can get
paid and earn
raises and bonuses
and keep
their jobs and
funding

a revised short poem:

does the district
or state
understand
that you take
other classes

another short poem:

no

(Source: frenchtoastkarma, via nouveauqueer)

Filed under Thought this one was too interesting not to share education

0 notes

mozzie-slayer asked: Hello! (-: I'm interested in taking environmental studies? Could you tell me what your experience has been like and some advice?

Hm, I’ve never taken environmental studies — but I’m sure someone in my followers must have?  Anyone have any feedback for our friend here?

Filed under environmental studies mozzie-slayer ask

28,045 notes

abwatt:

doubleadrivel:

did-you-kno:

Source 

I’ll take two.

I went to a conference on learning and the brain once, to help teachers understand how the latest brain science could help us become better teachers.  The two pieces of the brain I learned the most about during those two days were the Hippocampus and the Amygdala — and it turned out that those two pieces of information have been the keys to my best teaching days in the last six years.  Any time I forget these pieces of information, I have a bad class or a bad day or a bad week. Any day I remember these pieces of information, I have a great class — and chances are, my student will, too.
Want to know them? Here they are:
1) The amygdala takes all the sensory data you receive, and analyzes it based on two themes, every 6-8 minutes. The two questions it asks of the data are “Am I safe? Am I having fun?”  If the answer to the first question is no, it immediately turns off the brain’s connections to the front hemisphere of the brain — where all the learning happens; the person relies exclusively on the back-brain, where well-learned responsible operate from. So if a kid doesn’t feel safe in school, the kid won’t learn anything.  If the answer to the first question is yes, the amygdala asks the second question, and if the answer is no, I’m not having fun, the brain begins rooting around looking for some way to create novelty and entertainment, even if that entertainment puts others at risk.  So if a kid is having fun, she’ll learn the material presented, but if she isn’t, she’ll create disruptions, including disruptions that cause other people not to feel safe — and thus shut down their learning. So you can work with “class clown” kids who keep things on topic, but you have to get kids out of the room who behave in ways that make other kids feel unsafe.
That’s number 1.
2) The Hippocampus controls three things: position in space/time (it keeps track of where you are and what ‘time-ish’ it is there), short-term memory, and long-term memory. In other words, the key to knowing some piece of information is remembering where you were when you learned it.  It turns out that the ancient storytellers, seers, and lawyers were right, too, and you can use Palaces of Memory to keep track of things you must remember, and navigate through your memories by tracking in what sort of place you stored them. The really cool thing about this is that your palace of memory can be a real or a fictional place — the hippocampus doesn’t care if it’s being fed false sensory data or true sensory data — if you close your eyes and ‘remember’ standing in your hometown public library, and you go over to the shelf where your mental copy of Beowulf is stored, you have a much better chance of recalling word-for-word quotations than if you just close your eyes. You still have to do the hard work of memorizing the quotation, but remembering the place you memorized it may help bring the memory back even if you forget.
And that’s what I learned at the Learning and the Brain conference.


Colleagues and I have been trying to help local educators and administration understand that when a child doesn’t feel safe in school, they are not available for learning.  Combine a lack of feeling of safety with a need to create novelty, and you have some of the challenges faced by teachers who work with some of our kids; most of these teachers are incredibly patient and open to learning, but for administrators who have to deal with the safety concerns brought on by children whose behaviors are so big that they put other students at risk, this information seems fine in the abstract but difficult to address in the context of immediate large conflicts.

abwatt:

doubleadrivel:

did-you-kno:

Source 

I’ll take two.

I went to a conference on learning and the brain once, to help teachers understand how the latest brain science could help us become better teachers.  The two pieces of the brain I learned the most about during those two days were the Hippocampus and the Amygdala — and it turned out that those two pieces of information have been the keys to my best teaching days in the last six years.  Any time I forget these pieces of information, I have a bad class or a bad day or a bad week. Any day I remember these pieces of information, I have a great class — and chances are, my student will, too.

Want to know them? Here they are:

1) The amygdala takes all the sensory data you receive, and analyzes it based on two themes, every 6-8 minutes. The two questions it asks of the data are “Am I safe? Am I having fun?”  If the answer to the first question is no, it immediately turns off the brain’s connections to the front hemisphere of the brain — where all the learning happens; the person relies exclusively on the back-brain, where well-learned responsible operate from. So if a kid doesn’t feel safe in school, the kid won’t learn anything.  If the answer to the first question is yes, the amygdala asks the second question, and if the answer is no, I’m not having funthe brain begins rooting around looking for some way to create novelty and entertainment, even if that entertainment puts others at risk.  So if a kid is having fun, she’ll learn the material presented, but if she isn’t, she’ll create disruptions, including disruptions that cause other people not to feel safe — and thus shut down their learning. So you can work with “class clown” kids who keep things on topic, but you have to get kids out of the room who behave in ways that make other kids feel unsafe.

That’s number 1.

2) The Hippocampus controls three things: position in space/time (it keeps track of where you are and what ‘time-ish’ it is there), short-term memory, and long-term memory. In other words, the key to knowing some piece of information is remembering where you were when you learned it.  It turns out that the ancient storytellers, seers, and lawyers were right, too, and you can use Palaces of Memory to keep track of things you must remember, and navigate through your memories by tracking in what sort of place you stored them. The really cool thing about this is that your palace of memory can be a real or a fictional place — the hippocampus doesn’t care if it’s being fed false sensory data or true sensory data — if you close your eyes and ‘remember’ standing in your hometown public library, and you go over to the shelf where your mental copy of Beowulf is stored, you have a much better chance of recalling word-for-word quotations than if you just close your eyes. You still have to do the hard work of memorizing the quotation, but remembering the place you memorized it may help bring the memory back even if you forget.

And that’s what I learned at the Learning and the Brain conference.

Colleagues and I have been trying to help local educators and administration understand that when a child doesn’t feel safe in school, they are not available for learning. Combine a lack of feeling of safety with a need to create novelty, and you have some of the challenges faced by teachers who work with some of our kids; most of these teachers are incredibly patient and open to learning, but for administrators who have to deal with the safety concerns brought on by children whose behaviors are so big that they put other students at risk, this information seems fine in the abstract but difficult to address in the context of immediate large conflicts.

(via alamaris)

15,507 notes

msnbc:

Rachel Maddow reports on an expected executive order from President Obama that would bar discrimination based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of Americans working for federal contractors.


Posting here as a matter of education because many people still believe that there are no real reasons for pushing for LGBTQ rights; that marriage is our only issue; that people have opinions and those are all we have to contend with.

msnbc:

Rachel Maddow reports on an expected executive order from President Obama that would bar discrimination based on the sexual orientation or gender identity of Americans working for federal contractors.

Posting here as a matter of education because many people still believe that there are no real reasons for pushing for LGBTQ rights; that marriage is our only issue; that people have opinions and those are all we have to contend with.

(via girlwithalessonplan)

Filed under lgbtq education

238 notes

letsdancelove:

adventuresinlearning:

gjmueller:

The 1 Thing That Will Improve Math Learning

How can we do a better job of teaching kids math? A different curriculum? New pedagogical strategies? Personalized instruction through technology? All these worthy ideas have their adherents, but another method — reducing math anxiety — may both improve performance and help kids enjoy math more.


I have found that math anxiety is one of the biggest blocker to math skills. Last year I was asked to work with a group of second graders who were struggling with math. I decided to just start with a little group discussion and share about their feelings around math. I was striking. Each one confessed to hating math. They shared their pain and fear around it. Hearing each second grader share their struggle was heartbreaking, but also created a sense of hope among the group. They heard that others struggled too. We made light of it, we laughed. We talked about math as if it was an arch-energy to conquer. We were open and honest. Then I asked them one by one, what would make math less scary or painful. We listened and then and only then did I start the lesson. The lesson was on tricks and tools to conquer that fear. I can’t say that they all became fearless around math, but I can say for that moment some of the fear around math disappeared. Math should not determine your worth, yet often those that struggle most internalize this struggle to the point that it stays with them long into their adulthood. My hope as a teacher is to never let that be the case. Sometimes I am successful and sometime the fear of math wins out… but I will keep trying!
-Adventures in Learning

This is so true. I wish that my teachers would have said that it was okay to be anxious or scared about doing math as a way to relate to me as a student. As a teacher, I want children to know that it is okay to feel that way, and that they’re not alone in feeling that way. I still have anxiety about math at times because I was never extremely good at it; my confidence in my ability as I got into higher levels pretty much depleted. I’ve told students in my practicum classrooms that I am not good at math and that it sometimes is hard for me too as a way to see that I understand why they are saying “I hate math” or “I hate school” as a result of a math lesson. I hope by being able to use these experiences of discussion and relation to each other and myself help students not shy away from learning. 


I will tell this story a million times without regret: when I was in middle school I was an A+ student at math and wanted anything I could get my hands on.  In high school I had some difficulty.  My friends in the upper-level classes were, for some reason, all male, and spent their free time programming their own games in their calculators.  When I had trouble with math they didn’t know what to do about it.When I asked the teacher for help after failing a test she offered me the chance to redo it as a take-home packet.  When I still failed, she told me, “I don’t know why you don’t understand this.”  She never offered me a walkthrough; she paired me up with one of my male friends, and between the two of us we still couldn’t figure out what I didn’t understand exactly, because for him it came naturally and because I didn’t know enough about what I didn’t understand to explain it.I kept failing things.  I started believing I was just terrible at math, and that it was a matter of natural ability more than practice.When I got to college I opted to take a higher math class than the lowest I had tested into.  I wanted to try again.  I was paired up with a fellow student in my dorm who was kind, energetic, patient, and majoring in math.  I got so upset and anxious that I avoided him, and when we did spend time together it was while I was making art or doing other work, like approaching a nervous animal in moments of calm instead of going right after it with a net.  I only gave him the chance to actually help me a couple of times, but even when I was just doing homework with him sitting near me he always gave me positive feedback and insisted that I could do this — that anyone could learn to do and love math.I got a B+.  A B+ in college-level calculus was worth confetti and party blowers and cake, let me tell you.Confidence and positive exposure is so, so very important in math — as is abolishing the idea that math is naturally difficult, terrible, and that few people are naturally predisposed to being good at it.

letsdancelove:

adventuresinlearning:

gjmueller:

The 1 Thing That Will Improve Math Learning

How can we do a better job of teaching kids math? A different curriculum? New pedagogical strategies? Personalized instruction through technology? All these worthy ideas have their adherents, but another method — reducing math anxiety — may both improve performance and help kids enjoy math more.

I have found that math anxiety is one of the biggest blocker to math skills. Last year I was asked to work with a group of second graders who were struggling with math. I decided to just start with a little group discussion and share about their feelings around math. I was striking. Each one confessed to hating math. They shared their pain and fear around it. Hearing each second grader share their struggle was heartbreaking, but also created a sense of hope among the group. They heard that others struggled too. We made light of it, we laughed. We talked about math as if it was an arch-energy to conquer. We were open and honest. Then I asked them one by one, what would make math less scary or painful. We listened and then and only then did I start the lesson. The lesson was on tricks and tools to conquer that fear. I can’t say that they all became fearless around math, but I can say for that moment some of the fear around math disappeared. Math should not determine your worth, yet often those that struggle most internalize this struggle to the point that it stays with them long into their adulthood. My hope as a teacher is to never let that be the case. Sometimes I am successful and sometime the fear of math wins out… but I will keep trying!

-Adventures in Learning

This is so true. I wish that my teachers would have said that it was okay to be anxious or scared about doing math as a way to relate to me as a student. As a teacher, I want children to know that it is okay to feel that way, and that they’re not alone in feeling that way. I still have anxiety about math at times because I was never extremely good at it; my confidence in my ability as I got into higher levels pretty much depleted. I’ve told students in my practicum classrooms that I am not good at math and that it sometimes is hard for me too as a way to see that I understand why they are saying “I hate math” or “I hate school” as a result of a math lesson. I hope by being able to use these experiences of discussion and relation to each other and myself help students not shy away from learning. 

I will tell this story a million times without regret: when I was in middle school I was an A+ student at math and wanted anything I could get my hands on. In high school I had some difficulty. My friends in the upper-level classes were, for some reason, all male, and spent their free time programming their own games in their calculators. When I had trouble with math they didn’t know what to do about it.

When I asked the teacher for help after failing a test she offered me the chance to redo it as a take-home packet. When I still failed, she told me, “I don’t know why you don’t understand this.” She never offered me a walkthrough; she paired me up with one of my male friends, and between the two of us we still couldn’t figure out what I didn’t understand exactly, because for him it came naturally and because I didn’t know enough about what I didn’t understand to explain it.

I kept failing things. I started believing I was just terrible at math, and that it was a matter of natural ability more than practice.

When I got to college I opted to take a higher math class than the lowest I had tested into. I wanted to try again. I was paired up with a fellow student in my dorm who was kind, energetic, patient, and majoring in math. I got so upset and anxious that I avoided him, and when we did spend time together it was while I was making art or doing other work, like approaching a nervous animal in moments of calm instead of going right after it with a net. I only gave him the chance to actually help me a couple of times, but even when I was just doing homework with him sitting near me he always gave me positive feedback and insisted that I could do this — that anyone could learn to do and love math.

I got a B+. A B+ in college-level calculus was worth confetti and party blowers and cake, let me tell you.

Confidence and positive exposure is so, so very important in math — as is abolishing the idea that math is naturally difficult, terrible, and that few people are naturally predisposed to being good at it.

(via gjmueller)

133 notes

My students are always surprised when they find out…

msleahqueenhbic:

potentialtomorrows:

edukaition:

itsssnix:

________?

-that I know all the words to Disney songs, especially Frozen.
-that I’m unmarried and don’t have kids (definitely not the norm at my school)

That I am not married.
That I don’t want to have kids.

- That I don’t have kids
- That I love rap music and am up on all their slang.
- That I can sing, which they now request at all the wrong times.

That I don’t have kids.
That there is no activity I will not at least attempt in a skirt (playgrounds, running, skateboarding, crawing, yoga…)
That I’m not remotely afraid of getting dirty.

Filed under clients students subbing for