Part 3

            I have been a bit passive in my ECS 210 education and really tried to search for some answers about my teaching identity. I found it very hard to respond in large lecture spaces, but easy to post my comments online. My hope was that I could have an engaging conversation with my peers, but the blogs turned into a reflection space with little comment. At the beginning of semester, I tried my best to leave some words on blog posts. On one post about the three teacher images I commented:

“I have always been a bit curious to connect with a student from another teacher program. I want to know how it differs from ours and what learning is the same. I also feel strongly that most of my learning has come from practical experience. However, this doesn’t always mean being in an actual classroom. In drama education we get to try out new techniques on our classmates and see how possible scenarios might play out. I am not sure I agree entirely that the majority of my learning has come from practical experience. I would award it half of my knowledge, but I also learn best from reading or seeing others teach.”

            This comment prompted a response from the blog owner about furthering my thoughts on the subject. I enjoyed exploring other people’s assignments and collecting bits of technology information that I can utilize in my classroom someday. I perused that creative response to The New Teacher Book blog responses and made this comment:

“I want to thank you for sharing this new technology to the class. I had never heard of a voicethread before. I noticed that you need to have an account for this online software and permission to view it. I will probably explore it further and perhaps put it in my future classroom toolkit. It would make a fun drama or English lesson.”

            While the blogs didn’t exactly form into a place I could have an active conversation, I did try my hand at joining in the Twitter universe. I recently signed up for Twitter after the repetitive mention of #useful in the classroom. I am still in the learning stages of creating an education community here, but I still used it as an opportunity to engage with my classmates. There are some kinks in my Twitter process. It took me a while to understand how the concept of tagging a person in the tweet so they could view it or even how to jump into a conversation. During the art gallery viewing of the ‘100 Years of Loss’ exhibit, I made two tweets that I wanted to reach the Twitter world. I never received any comments back, but I am also lacking in followers at this point.

“Staring at the faces of the children at the ‘hundred years of loss’ exhibit brings on some overwhelming emotions and guilt”

            I felt a strong connection to the exhibit when I volunteered there for a few hours. I felt the comments Mike made about being a racist really sinking in during that reflection period. At one point Mike came into the gallery, and it was nice to share my experience with him. I had the opportunity to watch an elementary school class interact with the display. It was frustrating for me, and Mike helped me clear my mind on the issue of pulling students away from their learning for discipline. I have a second tweet that goes along with the final ceremony after the survivor walk. My hope was to catch the attention of those who weren’t able to attend. Again, I received no comment, but I felt the statement was important. I really enjoyed spending time with those that were at the beautiful ceremony, and I think there was a silent connection that was made between all of us.

“Remember the Tupperware when you attend a ceremony or you’ll be feeling the berries slosh around in your tummy #useful #FNUC #beautifulfood

            I feel strongly about the idea of sharing articles and videos of interest with my peers. I will note two examples that I shared with my Twitter community. The first is an article from Korean pop singer, PSY, discussing how his popularity has helped influenced people around the world to want to learn English.

“Your time to shine Korea! “@psy_oppa: #NICE!! Psy draws a crowd in the classroom | Inside Higher Ed http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/11/11/psy-draws-crowd-classroom#.UoG6vNilaXN.twitter …

            The second tweet was an off the internet connection I made with two of the people I sit with in lecture. I found a video titled Love is all you need on Youtube. It takes a look at a world where heterosexuality is viewed as queer. I am using this video in an ELNG unit plan and thought it would benefit other teachers. Tori showed me how to properly format that tweet on Facebook.

“Challenge heternormativity and gender roles! Fantastic 20-minute video: http://tinyurl.com/mdewmjq . Thanks, @edufishschool! @JonSoroka #ecs210

            My strongest learning transfer occurred off the World Wide Web. I enjoyed discussing lecture topics with my educator peer group. It was always nice for us to debate opinions outside the large lecture. There is a certain comfort level I feel when I discuss my thoughts with smaller groups over even one on one. The discussion that sticks out the most in my mind was a one on one where I talked about standardized testing with another peer. We had opposing ideas on the topic. The person involved was convinced of their idea, and I struggled to have them look at standardized testing as more con-based. We had a group lecture on the topic at another date. This really helped prove some of the points that I had made, and that person started to view the negative side of ranking students and handing them standardized tests.

            My contributions to the narrative our class is developing could have been stronger. I struggled to make connections with many different students in our large lecture and even the unfamiliar ones in my seminar. The format that I engage the best with is having less than twenty students together and being forced to interact with them all in some form. However, in my own small peer group, I feel like my discussions have made their presence known in lecture. We have some more vocal participants among my peers. They are willing to share our thoughts to the larger group. While I do not directly participate in that act, I have had some influence on it. All the small discussions, one on one or in groups, have been beneficial to construct this expanded narrative of our ECS experience. We have all been growing and enjoying that growing process together as a whole.

Standardized Testing and My Thoughts

If our classrooms were set up like the ones that Katia mentioned in lecture, I would be considered one of those ‘good’ students who should take a standardized test. It is not hard to memorize facts to a beat and recite them back during a test. If I am given the format beforehand, I can deliver top results. However, this is an awful way to assess students or even schools for that matter. There is no need to rank people. By doing this, we are only enforcing hierarchical behavior as a society. If there is a call for equality, standardized tests are not the answer. The implementation of standardized tests forced one narrative onto the masses and blurs out any other cultural influence on our lives. We will inevitably receive a test based on the test makers cultural ties and single narrative knowledge. Sure there may be people who fit into that narrative, but how fair is that to those who do not? The New Teacher Book article really stresses the idea that multicultural classrooms are lost when we focus heavily on one story. There is no learning that goes on when you teach to a test. There is no deeper understanding that can be found and applied. I gag at the thought of having a standardized test in an English Language Arts classroom. ELA is meant to be interpretive and influenced by experiences. A standardized test would mean that only one interpretation of a text was right. That very thought goes against everything I am learning in ELNG. As English teachers, we need to guide students to critically responding to texts and forming their own ideas. It is very frustrating to think that Saskatchewan wants to implement these tests. I see this province regressing if this happens in the future.

New curriculum definition and addressing crisis within it

Curriculum is everything that goes on inside the classroom and outside the classroom. It starts as a document provided by the government that is influenced by the teacher’s background and where the students are coming from. The curriculum can easily become teachable moments that are seized in the classroom environment and not swept under the rug. Student’s thoughts and opinions should be listened to and analyzed. While the curriculum should focus on a variety of learning’s, it should also be the foundational area for students to address controversial topics and start to form opinions on these topics are seeing both sides. The curriculum and teacher should be challenging students to become critical readers and learners in the classroom. They should be carefully examining texts that they are given and addressing social justice in society to become participatory citizens.

Crisis in the curriculum will come into play when students are met with controversial materials and have their opinions challenged. They can learn through this crisis by using their critical thinking skills and being given both sides of an issue. Students will also learn through crisis when they are prompted to view social justice and how they should begin to apply it outside of the school environment.