Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!

Super Teacher's Job is Never Done!
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Teaching is the profession that teaches all the other professions. ~ Author Unknown

My goal is to reveal one teacher's humble journey of self-reflection, critical analysis, and endless questioning about my craft of teaching and learning alongside my middle school students.

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth'." ~ Dan Rather

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Breaking Out of Our Comfort Zones

This week, our important staff discussions of race and equity continued. Many of us found the race and diversity article (previously discussed in another blog entry) both provoking and affirming. The information it contained reminded me of diversity trainings and staff development lessons and experiences I previously participated in. From several conversations with colleagues, there are two additional topics worth sharing with you.

First, our middle school students seem to be open to interacting with each other. I think this collaborative climate is good. While there are certainly still issues, we are starting in a better place than some other schools in the area.The students I teach this year appear to have a genuine interest in each other and display a level of caring I have not seen in other schools where I have taught. Many colleagues have also discussed their previous school experiences that were quite different in how students did or did not interact.

From the little bit of Spanish she knew, my colleague shared one impactful story with me:

"Often, you would hear students speaking their native language in and out of class, intentionally or unintentionally excluding other students from the conversation. There were times when they were talking about things they didn’t want a teacher to hear, and I get that, but also there were just casual conversations, that could have been engaging to others if they could have understood. We often encouraged our new to the country ESOL students to speak English, to practice of course but to also try to make new friends that didn’t speak Spanish. We also would hear students insult each other’s Latino heritage, discussing the flawed language or dialect of other Spanish speaking countries, this type of stereotyping was common and caused a lot of friction. We also would see Latina’s hugging and kissing their way up the hall between each class. Encouraging these students to arrive on time would provoke an angry response about their culture and how we don’t understand or care. These types of behaviors don’t seem to happen here at our school, and students all seem to want to accept each other more readily. This makes it easier to problem solve or create teachable moments when there are issues here."

In addition, we need to acknolwdge that we all have some level of discomfort for people not like us, and that we need to reflect and be aware of our inner feelings. Part of that awareness will help us see how others perceive us. I took part in a Staff Development exercise that facilitated that awareness and caused me to really reflect and learn about myself. I have pasted the link here if you care to try it. The research and the process are described in detail, so I hope you find it meaningful:

For it is when we dare to reach outside our comfort zones that we often learn the most, about both ourselves and our students.

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