Constructions of Teacher Identity

3 things I learned

  1. I learned that teacher identity can be shaped not only by personal experience and view point, but also by external sources, such as curriculum, students, other teachers, administration, classroom, etc. It was interesting to understand that there are also policy discourses when it comes to the teacher identity: STF (in SK case), Education Act, Ministry of Education, Accountability policies, Standardized testing, Funding, Curriculum, Teacher training, School board policy, etc. This reminded me of the “No child left” policy. I knew that when this policy was enacted, the education system in America has been affected and shaped in so many different ways. But now I rethink about it, I believe that the teacher identity of most of – and I don’t think it’d hurt to say ‘every’ – teachers have been somehow changed/challenged/affected. I have been heard of several negative consequences of this, but I wonder if there’s any positive change has been made in teacher identity due to this policy?

 

  1. From today’s lecture, I realized that there are certain discourses when you think about the teacher profession. It may be positive or negative, but regardless, I think that the media plays a significant role in shaping these discourses. Moreover, I think that these discourses being prevalent in the society affects a lot, particularly when it comes to the expectations of teachers. Quite often, people expect the teachers to be always morally good, unbiased, accept everything, be able to teach anything and solve any problems that students have, be on call 24/7, etc. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be this kind of teachers, but I think sometimes that it can be a burden for teachers to meet those expectations.

 

  1. From the class discussion, I realized that there is a rock-solid stereotype when you imagine the idea of teacher/teaching: A classroom with a blackboard at the front, students’ chairs and desks are lined up toward the blackboard, and the teacher is standing by the board with a chalk and students are sitting tight while taking notes. It is a very standardized setting of classroom image, and I think that the reason why this image of classroom became an ‘ideal’ or ‘norm’ is also because of the dominant discourses we have discussed above, and again, media has influenced a lot.

 

2 connections

  1. In my ECE325 class today, we also talked about our own teacher identity and what we think about the role of teachers. I came up with some idea of the role of teacher, including listener, supporter, facilitator, etc. But then, I realized that the teacher can also be a researcher, as well as documenter. In terms of being a researcher, it is important because it’ll broaden the area of professional development, enhance our understanding/knowledge in the subjects we teach, and teaching skills/ideas, etc. Being a documenter is also essential part of teacher because it can be used as a resource in supporting a child in academic/social/cognitive ways, and can be provided to their parents/care givers so that the child can be better supported at home as well.

 

  1. Today, I also thought about what makes a good teacher. Of course, a teacher should have enough academic knowledge to teach children. But I think more important aspect that a teacher needs is to being able to understand their students. Knowing their students equals to knowing how to support their students, which most likely, will lead to various positive results including cognitive/social/emotional/physical development, building strong relationships with students, as well as better academic standings achieved.

 

Question:

As mentioned above, I wonder if ‘no child left’ policy has led any positive influence on teacher identity? If so, how?

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Curriculum as Numeracy

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the lecture today. However, I noticed from the Wikispace that Dr. Gale Russell was invited as a guest speaker. I have met her in my other class in ECE325, and luckily, I still remember her lecture. She delivered such a powerful and awakening message about mathematics and its place in the classroom. I really enjoyed her presentation because she empathized with my and many others experiences of struggling with math, from young age to adolescents, as well as adults, especially those who are in the field of teaching. And if I may connect my memory of her lecture at that time with the readings today, her view was focused on how math is generally taught using a one-sided, Western dominant approach. This angle is often the reason behind why so many students feel disconnected with math. Although, I believe, the basic skills of measuring quantity and problem solving are so natural to us and we begin using them from such a young age. Along with this, I thought that math can be used and understood by everyone, not simply those who are “born with the skills”. The Western approach can be discriminatory towards those who have different cultural backgrounds, as it considers their knowledge illegitimate.

Speaking of which, looking back, I appreciated her notion of how Western math can be very much a colonial practice, because it supports the idea of one way as the ‘only’ way. Even though I was educated in South Korea, our mathematics was similar with, or perhaps the same as Western math. I did not learn about other approaches to math, and it may sound very self-centred, but I did not expect that there could be another way of approach math, aside from Western ways of knowing. I assumed that math would be done the same way all over the world, because that was all I knew. Poirer’s article, Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community expanded my understanding of how Indigenous ways of knowing differ from Western ways. At first, I wondered why they used base 10, but after realizing the significance behind it, using the “parts of the body”, it made perfect sense to me (p. 60). As Inuit people’s tradition is “essentially an oral one, the Inuit have developed a system for expressing numbers orally.” (p. 57). I can understand how the opposing cultural values of Western written vs. Indigenous oral would cause issues in understanding math.

 


References

Bear, L. L. (2000). Jagged worldviews colliding. In M. Batiste (Ed.), Reclaiming Indigenous voice and vision (pp. 77-85). UBC Press. Retrieved from: http://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/LittleBear2000JaggedWorldViewsColliding.pdf/593340214/LittleBear2000JaggedWorldViewsColliding.pdf

Poirier, L. (2007). Teaching mathematics and the Inuit community, Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 7(1), p. 53-67. Retrieved from: http://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/Poirier%282007%29%20Teaching%20mathematics%20and%20the%20Inuit%20community.pdf/609038285/Poirier%282007%29%20Teaching%20mathematics%20and%20the%20Inuit%20community.pdf

 

Constructions of Teacher Professionalism

3 things I learned

  1. Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation

STF is a professional organization consists of teachers employed in Pre K – G 12 schools across Canada. STF works to ensure the responsibilities, rights and benefits for teachers. It also plays a critical role in assuring a voice for teachers, while providing various opportunities for teachers to conduct researches, as well as other professional developments.

 

  1. Salary grid

Salary grid is a table that tells a range of salary that a person could earn in a year. Salary grid changes annually. Also, I learned that salary can be varied by individual’s circumstances, including the number of degrees/certificates/diplomas, number of credit hours an individual has earned, length of the actual teaching period, as well as other factors. There are two indicators: Class and Step. Class would be differentiated according to the degrees or credit hours that an individual earned, whereas Step would be decided based on the years of teaching experience. For example, according to the most recent salary grid (effective September 1st, 2016 to August 31st, 2017), if I were to graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Education and hired at a school as a full time first year teacher, I would be classified as Class 4 with Step 1, which indicates 55474 per year. It can be increased as a person earns more credits or teaching experiences. And of course, it would be different by province.

 

  1. Benefits

There are variety of benefits ensured for teachers, including health benefits, dental plan, disability plan, life insurance, pension plan, etc. Among them, what really attracted me was the fact that health benefit could cover out-of-country cases. I’m sure this doesn’t mean that it can cover every cost, or every case, however as a person who would like to experience teaching abroad, I thought that this would be really beneficial to me.

 

2 connections

1 . While exploring the STF website, I was reminded of the SK curriculum and the decision-makers of the curriculum. From a different class this semester, I learned that there are certain groups who gets to exercise power in formalizing curriculum; government officials, principals, senior administrators, post-secondary staffs, elected local authorities, and teachers, and the group is organized by the ministry of education. Knowing this fact saddened me because I realized that the actual people who get impacted mostly have the least voice in this process: students. Then, as I get to know about STF and it is made up of the teachers in field, or who have experienced in filed, I thought that if these people can step in more, they could express issues from the point of view of the field, hence the students and teachers could receive/work with a better quality of education system. Hence, it made me wonder if STF gets voice in the process of formalizing/revising the curriculum? If yes, in what part of process and how powerful would it be?

 

  1. The other connection I made has to do with Saskatchewan Professional Development Unit (SPDU). Although I grew up in a different country, I remember that many of my teachers would be engaged in research related to their field, go to educational conferences and trainings during summer/winter vacations. I have a feeling that it would not be too different in SK’s case, and I think that SPDU – and other supports STF provides – is absolutely helpful and useful resource for teachers, and to extent, students too, as teacher’s professional development would benefit the students in the end.

 

Question

Does STF get to have a voice in the process of formalizing/revising SK curriculum? If yes, how powerful it can be?

 


Reference

Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation available at: https://www.stf.sk.ca

 

Curriculum and Treaty Education

  1. What is the purpose of teaching Treaty Ed (specifically) or First Nations, Metis, and Inuit (FNMI) Content and Perspectives (generally) where there are few or no First Nations, Metis, Inuit peoples?
  2. What does it mean for your understanding of curriculum that “We are all treaty people”?

This first question has a basic answer to me: to teach the historical background of where we are today and the reasoning behind how it happened. This means that every person in Canada – whether he/she was born in here or is an immigrant – has been impacted by colonialism in one way or another. Treaty education is the story of how this country came to be, but it also indicates that there were many more stories here on this very land long before that. The act of not including treaty education is to succumb to the fable that Canada was a vast, open wilderness which brave European explorers discovered and tamed. It is innocent appearing, yet harmful views such as these which support the idea of Canadians not having a culture. As Dwayne Donald explains, this perspective puts Canada in the position of being without diversity, and any other cultural groups as being ‘foreign’ or different. He states that Canadians “perceive themselves as without culture” and feel guilty (Donald, 2011). These attitudes show how dominant beliefs in society become accepted as the norm, and push everything else aside as “other”. This proves the exact need for treaty education, which is to present multiple ways of viewing history, culture, and belief systems; shifting ideas of “the way” to “a way”.

 

To me, it is important to understand that “we are all treaty people”, because it displays how I and everyone else have become to the place that we are in today. Being a treaty person means recognizing that this agreement took place over the land we now call as Canada, and that it changed the course of everyone’s lives involved. For First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, this title involves reclaiming the promises that were made by their ancestors. It points out that these agreements were not meant to be temporary, but rather to last ‘as long as the sun shines, the grass grows, and the river flows’. Continuing to support the treaty also involves advocating for amendments, in order to update certain conditions on promises that were made and broken. The age of the treaty, or the original intentions behind forming them are not excuses for leaving them in the past. Instead, they must continue to be held as valid arrangements and treated with high respect and importance.

 

I might not be a White person, but I am a settler in Canada. And as a settler, being a treaty person means realizing the privilege that has been received through treaty promises made between the two groups – Indigenous peoples and the settlers. The history around treaty formation is violent and white supremacist, full of threats and oppression directed towards Indigenous peoples who were the First Peoples of this very land. Representing as a treaty person recognizes the purpose of these important contracts, but also admits that land was stolen from Indigenous peoples in order for the settlers’ benefit. Going deeper into this claim, the treaties involve the genocide of the First Peoples, which was transmitted through education, health care, and political actions of the settlers. Overall, this statement that “we are all treaty people” confirms the past and present outcomes of colonialism in Canada, as well as ignites the stride to changing the future.

 


Reference

Donald, D. (2011). On What Terms Can We Speak?. (Video). Available online: https://vimeo.com/15264558

Week 8: Social Identity and School Systems: Hidden Curriculum and Reproduction Theory

3 things I learned

  1. Factory model in education – Ken Robinson

Robinson talked about factory model in education system, where students are ‘produced’ by following a certain instruction to contribute to the society. What it means by ‘contribute’ is to become a responsible citizen that is actively participating in the economic/social systems in a society. Ultimately, this lacks the divergent thinking, as students lose ability to see lots of possible questions/answers.

 

  1. Reproduction theory

This criticize liberal notion that schools create equal opportunities for all students. In this theory, school is a place to ‘reproduce’ the status quo to maintain the current social, economic and cultural circumstances as well as power relations/authorities. It suggests an assumption that if you are poor going into school, you are less likely to succeed in school, therefore you are more likely to stay poor. To me, this theory seems that students’ possibilities are determined by one’s certain conditions/backgrounds, hence one being successful in his/her life gets already estimated by external factors without consideration of their effort/interest/willingness, etc.

 

  1. Silenced dialogue

Created by Lisa Deplit in 1988, talking about the issues of power that are enacted in the classroom and how they relate to a culture of power. The culture of power indicates codes/rules that act or participates in culture. The rules of the culture power reflect the culture of those who have power, and those with power are often least aware of its existence. Therefore, those who are privileged are the ones with power

 

2 connections

  1. First connection I made has to do with how culture is embedded into the classroom and in the ‘hidden curriculum’. From what I have experienced throughout my schooling, even though it was completed in South Korea, the European culture and ideologies are strongly embedded into the classrooms and in the way we learn and teach the contexts. This ideology and way of living and thinking continue to be a mainstream, dominant discourse within our society and our schools. However, when looking at the Canadian society nowadays, I think that the classroom is beginning to represent diversity more than ever, and trying to adopt the idea of multiculturalism. With this thought, I hope to become a teacher who recognizes the hidden curriculum and knows how to achieve more inclusive classroom by embracing any diversities in my students.

 

  1. Another connection I made was about the discourse we had in the class that without realizing, teachers and administrators coming in with bias already. I realized that the school/curriculum expects children to arrive in the classroom with a basic set of skills and knowledge. However, I think that we, as educators, need to recognize that not every child shares the same background, hence it is possible for them to come with different level/area of knowledge, so that we can meet the different needs of students accordingly.

 

Question

How can we as teachers unlearn the hidden curriculum? What would be the examples of the biases that are embedded in teachers/administrators/school systems without even realizing it? How can we avoid it?

Curriculum as Place

The article suggests that a “critical pedagogy of place” aims to:
(a) identify, recover, and create material spaces and places that teach us how to live well in our total environments (reinhabitation); and (b) identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places (decolonization) (p.74)
1. List some of the ways that you see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative.
2. How might you adapt these ideas to considering place in your own subject areas and teaching?

 

Reinhabitation and decolonization were key themes in this article, shown through the examination of a community based project. By taking an excursion along the river, a map was formed, highlighting major cultural and historic areas. Indigenous languages were also incorporated, through teaching some original words/ names of nature in Cree. The indigenous land is divided and regulated by Crown, Treaty, and reserve spaces.This control and manipulation has huge impacts on social networks, economic development, survival. It also contributes to language loss, as the linguistic connection to traditional territory becomes weakened. This results in lost knowledge of organized travel routes, that led to food, resources, and survival of the seasons in the past.

“When we hear frogs singing, we know the water quality is safe for our consumption. We listen to the song of the birds to know what kind of weather is approaching. The moose will know when we need food and allow themselves to be taken. Such is the contract we have with the animal world.” (Elder and community member, Fort Albany First Nation)

Although this is translated into English, it shows the indigenous philosophy of deep relationships between humans and the earth. The word “Paquataskamik” in Cree, describes the natural environment and traditional territory of these people. Reinhabitation involves rebuilding these strong, sacred ties with the land, and trying to salvage the invaluable land based knowledge.

Decolonization is also presented in this article, providing a change of perspective on past colonial actions and their impacts. The youth of Fort Albany First Nation were very active in broadcasting their beliefs on the subject of decolonization, rejecting old dominant ideas AND promoting new cultural patterns. Their “zines” and radio documentaries share experiences and perspectives of youth, adults, and elders about the river to the greater community of Northern Ontario. These interviews and stories provided personal context for this decolonization process. The group also organized an excursion on the river, during which, youth and elders explored: history, languages, issues of governance, and land management. These all contribute to the value of the land, and affect both social and economic well being.
After reading this article, I have begun to realize just how important place is, and the role it plays in education and life as a whole. Recognizing Treaty land is an important action, but it’s only just the beginning. This declaration must be followed, by sharing the historical context of the Treaties of Canada through an Indigenous perspective. It is important to provide this because the experience of the settlers/immigrants (which is often taught), and the indigenous peoples were very different. I find it incredibly necessary to explain what happened in the past, and what injustices continue today in regards to this land we now call Canada. Treaty promises were broken, in order to benefit white settlers over First Nations peoples. It must be made clear, that this was not the choice of Aboriginal peoples, they did NOT want this. In teaching Indigenous ways of knowing and values, the great importance of this land and its effect on Indigenous peoples can begin to show through.

 


Reference

Restoule, J., Gruner, S. & Metatawabin, E. (2013). Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing. Canadian Journal of Education, 36(2). (pp. 68-86). Retrieved from: http://ecs210.wikispaces.com/file/view/RestouleEtAl_2013_Learning%20from%20place.pdf/597510552/RestouleEtAl_2013_Learning%20from%20place.pdf

Week 7: Constructions of School Systems

3 things I learned

  1. Hidden Curriculum

In the lecture of this week, I learned a new term: Hidden curriculum. It “refers to the unwritten, unofficial, and often unintended lessons, values, and perspectives that students learn in school” (Great Schools Partnership, 2015). It includes unspoken or implicit academic, social, and cultural messages that are delivered to students while they are in school, such as how they perceive different races, groups, or classes of people, or what ideas and behaviours are considered acceptable or unacceptable. I think that hidden curriculum has more powerful influence on students than the formal curriculum does, as it has a great possibility to embed false ‘common sense’ in students.

 

  1. Four Philosophies of Education

There will be many more philosophies of education obviously, but we have explored four among them this week. Each has its own distinct point, however I find the purpose of education and the role of teacher are quiet interesting points to look at:

 

  • Perennialism: Purpose of education is to transmit truths through the use of “the great classics” and historical accounts. Teacher as expert.
  • Essentialism: Purpose of education is to teach basic skills and mastery of subject matter. Teacher as expert.
  • Progressivism: Purpose of education is to develop the whole child. Teacher as facilitator.
  • Reconstructionism: Purpose of education is to challenge inequity and create a better society. Teacher as facilitator.

(Source from: February 26th Lecture PowerPoint)

 

It is hard to say which one is better than the other, as all philosophy features both pros and cons. However, I wish I could learn more about reconstructionism, as it goes along with one of my teaching philosophies: Create anti-oppressive environment of embracing the diversity in classroom.

 

  1. Interrelated impacts in societal and educational aspects

Last thing I noticed from this week –  actually I have been recognizing this more and more, as I study education – is how much society and education have impacts on each other. Although it may take long time, and may result unexpected outcomes, adjustments are made in the education when the society feels that students are not learning what they need to learn. Whereas, education shapes what the society looks like and how it functions. It is reciprocal relationship that can make a huge change on each other.

2 Connections

  1. First connection I made is about the philosophy of perennialism and essentialism. Throwback to my schooling, I think that many of my teachers valued these two ideas. Especially in high school, when you are supposed to devote the whole effort and time to prepare for college entrance exam, I remember that the lessons were very teacher-oriented and I would just sit straight and take note all the time to make sure I am not missing a single information the teacher is delivering; I saw my teachers as experts in what they were teaching.
  2. Another connection I made was with hidden curriculum. It was interesting to learn how different the views are toward the hidden curriculum. Traditional views see this in a positive way, as it helps pass on social norms and values, whereas contemporary views negatively because the creativity gets oppressed while passive acceptance of norms is promoted. And I think that until this semester, I was more familiar with the traditional views because the majority of teachers I have met shared this viewpoint. However, now I am glad to learn that it could bring negative results in students, because this understanding will keep me from teaching the false common sense to my future students.

 

Question:

One of the critical roles of teachers is to help students unlearn inequities, biases, and prejudices. To achieve this, there are some of topics that I would like to incorporate in my lessons, such as Indigenous and LGBTQ education. However, I was wondering what would be a good starter to initiate anti-bias education? Is there an ideal grade year to talk about? If yes, when and why?

 


Reference

Great Schools Partnership. (2015). Hidden Curriculum. In The Glossary of Education Reform for Journalists, Parents, And Community Members. Retrieved from: https://www.edglossary.org/hidden-curriculum/