Some Questions to Help Students Ponder…

Part of what I see as an important part of my future job as an English teacher is to help draw out student voices. Some questions to help students pursue answers to:

What’s your story?

How is it like or unlike the stories of others?

What do we owe one another?

What does it mean to be human in the twenty-first century?

What qualities and dispositions and knowledge are of most value to humanity?

How can we nourish, develop, and organize full access to those valuable qualities?

Why are we here?

What do we want?

What kind of world could we reasonably hope to create? 

How might we begin?

Questions from: Teach Freedom

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Teaching and Collaboration

Academic Success for All Students: A Multi-tiered Approach

Summary:

This video discussed the P. K. Yonge Developmental Research School and its multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS). This system stresses teacher collaboration in order to create an environment where teachers are teaching the same material across the classrooms. The three “tiers” in the system help students learn material at the same pace despite differences in learning styles and previous academic ability and achievement.

How will this affect my teaching strategy?

I found this style of teaching to be an interesting take on answering public school’s need to both equalize what students are learning as well as address students learning as an individualized pursuit. How they treated teacher collaboration particularly struck me as being very key to helping students succeed across the board.

Common Core Refusal Expands Nationwide

Summary:

This article addresses the protest against the upcoming implementation of the PARCC tests.

How will this affect my teaching strategy?

The results of these and similar protests may affect standardized testing in the future. More likely than standardized testing being completely abandoned, these protests will likely mean that future standardized tests will not be implemented so suddenly. Either way, paying attention to changing public opinion on standardized tests and the protests against them will be key as I prepare students I teach for standardized tests.

Teaching and Special Needs

Our BIG List of Resources on Assistive Technology

Summary:

Though not a “true” article, this post discusses the different internet resources and tips available for educators and parents for teaching children with various disabilities.

How will this affect how I teach?

Being aware of the struggles children with disabilities have to work through in school and the resources available to help me to help them will change how I structure my teaching and help me to know how to alter my teaching methodology to better assist all of my students.

On Wondering What Your Kid Would Be Like Without Special Needs

Summary:

This blog post is written by a woman with a child who has special needs who talks about what it is like to love a child but still wonder what they would be like without special needs and grieve over the incongruity of knowing that the special needs child learns and grows at their own pace but still fighting the comparison of children without special needs who are the same age.

How will this affect how I teach?

Growing up with a sibling who has learning disabilities and watching my mom struggle with similar issues as the ones expressed in the post, it continued to drive home the point for me that there is a balance between pushing a special needs child to succeed and knowing that no matter how much extra help you give them, they won’t always be on the same level as other children their age.

Teaching and Misconceptions

Time Magazine Cover Leaves Teachers Outraged

Summary:

This article discusses a recent TIMES magazine cover that reads “Rotten Apples: It’s nearly impossible to fire a bad teacher.” While the actual article discusses things other than teacher tenure, making the cover hyperbolic and misleading, the cover perpetuates a negative view of teachers that is very damaging.

How will this affect how I prepare to go into the classroom?

Reading this article has made me realize that acknowledgement of these false images of teachers means that I will need to create a more positive image of teaching for myself so that I do not fall into the trap of believing the things that popular media says about teachers.

What are your thoughts on this TIMES cover? Leave a comment!

Teaching and Feminism

How Teachers Can Help Girls Lead

Summary:

This article discuss the statistics of women in leadership roles in politics, business, as well as education. It goes on to propose ways teachers can encourage girls to engage in leadership behavior. It also proposes ways to create a classroom that promotes equal leadership responsibility for both genders.

How will this change how I look at teaching?

This type of gender bias in leadership is a deeply engrained social norm and way of thinking that will require teachers, myself included, to approach teaching with this in mind in order to alter how children view this gender bias.

Women Earn 29% Less Than Men, 42% Less as Manager

Summary:

This article gave statistic on the wage gap between men and women in different countries, both in supervisory positions and otherwise. It discussed how this wage gap damages women’s ability to be treated equally in the workplace, as well as suggesting how individual women might go about asking for equal pay.

How will this change how I look at teaching?

One of the things that will change this wage gap is women demanding to be treated equally. However, if girls believe in school that they are inferior to boys, they will be more likely to accept pay even if it is less than their male counterparts are receiving.

What do you think? Leave a comment in the comment section!

Teaching and Common Core

Common Core: A Really Big Reset

Summary:

This article looked at a fourth grade classroom in Massachusetts as they implemented the Common Core. It also looked at the previous Massachusetts Framework, and commented that Massachusetts has the highest possibility for succeeding with Common Core.

How will this affect teaching?

The article raises the question that if Massachusetts cannot properly implement the Common Core, what state can? It challenges teachers to consider how they can implement the Common Core standards in their classroom.

Carpe Diem: Seize the Core

Summary:

This article looked at the role of art in Common Core. Giving an anecdotal example of young boys looking at, investigating, and discussing a piece of art, the article argues the emphasis on higher level thinking and evaluation that Common Core seeks to bring to the classroom.

How will this affect teaching?

As a future teacher, higher level critical thinking skills are one of the goals of the classroom that I will be seeking to promote an environment that encourages the development of these skills.

What are your thoughts on the Common Core?

METP?

Since this blog will be about teaching articles, ideas, etc. that I find, as well as my journey as a college student studying to be a teacher, I figured it was kind of important to explain what the MET program is. Here’s the Official METP About Page if you would like the spiel, but I want to give you my explanation as well.

First off, METP stands for the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program. The MET program was designed with the need for better teachers in mind, both better educated in their class material (Math or English) and more prepared for different possible classroom environments. The basic structure of the program is very similar to many teaching grants–your college tuition gets paid for and you have to work in the state as a teacher for x amount of years. Our scholarship is fantastic. Every single student in the program (no more than 20 per school, 10 Math, 1o English, per year) gets a full ride paid for by the program, which is funded by the Robert M. Hearin Support Foundation in Jackson. We all receive our specific school’s projected cost of attendance in scholarship funds for use for housing, food, tuition, as well as other expenses like gas, as well as a $600 textbook fund per semester, and a technology allowance (read: free laptop!) our freshman semester.

Beyond the money, the MET program does something that most teaching grants couldn’t dream of doing. Because the aim is to produce excellent teachers, the program recruits students with competitive GPAs and ACT/SAT scores, as well as requiring students to be apart of their school’s honors college. But the program is also helping us to create a network of teachers who I truly believe are going to be an extraordinarily positive force in Mississippi education. We’re an unusual group of people, all hardworking, all excited to teach, but each with different backgrounds and perspectives that are brought to the table. Throughout the course of our studies at college, we will make teaching friends outside of the MET program, but already, only one year into the program, our year group has banded together in a way that would be hard to replicate outside of the program. Though we’re all different, we embrace our differences because we need to–we’re going to be together through a lot that no other group of friends will be able to identify with.

We’ve begun to rely on each other in a way that I think will drastically change our first few years of teaching and beyond. We study together (as many of us are taking the same classes, both in and outside of our major), critique work, encourage, and desire for the others to succeed. While this extremely helpful now–I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have other MET people in my classes to ask about homework questions–I can only imagine what it will be like when we are in the classroom and we have other people who we know intimately to bounce ideas off of and ask questions through those nerve racking first few years of teaching where we’re still learning the hands on things about teaching that are so very hard to learn in a college classroom.

Which brings me to the other huge advantage of our program. The staff of our program are dedicated to giving us as many learning experiences outside of our classes as possible. Last spring, during our “cross campus visit” we do each semester, we had the privilege of listening to the National Teacher of the Year give a lecture on what makes a good teacher, as well as visit a special program in Oxford that uses different techniques (demonstrations, hands on projects, etc.) to give students a love for Math and Science. While many teaching students won’t see the inside of the classroom until junior or senior year, our year has already spent ten hours in the local middle school observing teachers. I personally got to observe both a substitute teacher and a 6th grade English teacher, which was an incredibly interesting contrast.

That all sounds a lot like the “official” METP spiel, so I’ll leave you with this: what the MET program means to me. When I first got my acceptance letter to Mississippi State, I registered as an English Major. Why? Because I have a passion for English. But I also have a passion for children. My problem was that I had always worked with elementary aged kids and younger, so when I started to consider what I wanted to do with my life, teaching never crossed my mind. I didn’t want to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic to a bunch of small children. I don’t have a passion for Math, Science, History, etc. I have a passion for English. So I didn’t even consider teaching as a possible profession, because I had already dismissed it as something I wasn’t cut out for. But when I heard about the MET program, which is just for Secondary Education majors (middle school and high school) I realized that there was a way for me to do something I truly loved for the rest of my life. But, not only that, this program is also helping me become the teacher I dream of being–engaging, aware of each child, passionate, and dedicated.