Week 12: Constructions of School Leaders

3 things I learned:

  1. In today’s lecture, we talked about the school administrator, specifically about the principal/vice principal, and what makes an ‘effective’ principal. Hierarchically speaking, principal would be the head of the school. He/she is in charge of creating and sustaining effective and comfortable environment for students to learn, for teachers to teach, as well as for all admins and other staffs to work. I learned that there are several elements that determines what it means to be an ‘effective’ principal’, including establishing the vision, mission and culture of the school, having instructional leadership, being able to strategically allocate the resources, and engaging in planning, implementing, monitoring curriculum, instruction and improvement planning. Principal provides supportive environment for all school community members.
  2. Also, I learned that it is significant to build a strong relationship between the principal and the school community because it plays a key role for students in achieving success. The fact that principal knows his/her community well means that the school itself is able to understand the culture of the community, which would create a huge positive impact on each student’s learnings and lives at the school.
  3. Lastly, I learned that the role of principal is changing as multifaceted and complex role. Due to this, principals would need to be flexible, continuously set and adapt the goals as needed, while considering the needs of the school community.

 

2 connections:

  1. As start point, we had a turn and talk moment about any positive experiences we have had with/from principals/vice principals throughout our schooling years. People shared many great experiences/memories they have their principals, and all were described as ‘friendly’. Unfortunately, I have not had any vice/principals who was ‘friendly’ or ‘nice’ to the students. All I can remember from my experiences is that principals just staying in their office all the time, and only showing up when it’s a special occasion like a graduation. Actually, I didn’t know that a principal can be friendly and nice to the students because I have never had one. To me, the image of principal was always authoritative person who was busy with his/her office work and never smiled to anyone. Although being cold does not necessarily mean that he/she did not care about their students, I wish I had a warm principal because it would make a huge difference in my reminiscence of schools.
  2. Another connection I made this week was about how media portrays principals. In majority portrayals that I have seen, principals are viewed as the one disciplines students and values the rules. But, having a discussion about the positive experiences with principals in the class led me to connect with the last lecture’s topic, ‘teacher as identity’, and how it’s been affected by the media. In other words, disciplinarian principal is one of the ‘popular images’ of principals, which consists the principal identity. And as I said in the last lecture, having certain image of an individual creates certain expectation of that person that could bring either positive or negative results.

 

1 Question:

If you have a disagreement with your administrator that you strongly believe that your belief is right, how would you respond to this situation?

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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?

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

 

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?

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/

Week 6: Diverse Perspectives on Development and Learning

3 things I learned

  1. Reconceptualist and 3 broad focuses

I learned that there are dominance discourses in early childhood education (or the education in general), and reconceptualists question and challenge those dominance discourses, by “recognizing that privileging any particular set of beliefs and forms of knowledge can create power for certain groups of people and oppress and disqualify others” (Cannella, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693). They understand the idea of ‘othering’ people, while “revealing circumstances in which power and privilege are created for some groups of people … for hope and possibility as [they] move toward a newly evolving, liberating ‘third space’, an early childhood dreamscape of social justice and equity” (Cannela, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693 & 696). With this idea, reconceptualists suggest three broad focuses:

  • Challenging grand narratives
  • Recognizing and embracing diversity
  • Acknowledging social and historical context (power and privilege)

I think that it is important to understand reconceptualists’ viewpoint in order to recognize who are ‘othered’ in the discourses occurred in education, as it helps move forward to achieve inclusivity and equity within the education system.

2. Grand narratives

This is a term developed by Jean-Francois Lyotard, indicating a theory “include[s] everything from Western views of logic, to the Evangelical Christian discourse of salvation, to economic interpretations of human functioning whether Marxist of capitalist, to the imposition of Piagetian structuralism on all human cognition” (Cannella, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693). Reconceptualists challenge this idea in a variety of fields and from diverse perspectives, and Michel Foucault and Jacques Lyotard would be great examples of “deconstruction of such dominant grand narratives” (Cannella, Swadener & Che, 2007, p. 693). We talked about what would be the examples of a grand narrative that shapes educational practice in the class, and discussed that grand narratives describe the universal child and normalize some ways of being, growing and learning, and I wonder how this narrative has impacted on the construction of curriculum?

 

3. Cannella’s Assumptions in Education Discourse

Cannella has suggested five assumptions in educational discourse:

  • A belief in the existence of notions of change, thinking, learning and mind
  • Focus on the necessity of education
  • A movement towards logic and advancement
  • Particular knowledge as more important, more sophisticated, more legitimate; and
  • The inferiority of particular people within education

My friend and I discussed about these assumptions, and we said that there are certain subjects that seemed to be valued more than others, such as Math is deemed more important course than arts, etc. I was also thinking that when considering grand narratives that entails Eurocentric views, it is often seen that Western ways of knowing is more visible in the education discourse than Indigenous ways of knowing does. Along with this thought, I would like to put a quote from the article, ‘Nourishing the Learning Spirit’: “Today, Indigenous peoples around the world continue to feel the tensions created by a Eurocentric educational system that has taught them not to trust Indigenous knowledge, but to rely on science and technology for tools for their future, although those same sciences and technologies have increasingly created the fragile environmental base that requires us to rethink how we interact with the earth and with each other” (Battiste, 2017, p. 16).

 

2 Connections:

In the class, we talked about what would be the description of being a good student. This reminded me of a discussion I had in last month through ECS 210 lecture. At that time, what came in my mind first was: being diligent, punctual, and obedient. Then I realized that I was very influenced by traditional ways of teaching and classroom, the idea of ‘common sense.’ I think that this disallows students to engage in diversity, various ways of learning, and grow creativity, critical thinking, as well as other essential skills in learning process, and succeeding their lives in the future.

 

With the readings and discussions in the class, I got to think about Indigenous peoples and their ways of knowing in the curriculum. Although SK curriculum does have treaty education, and we are being taught to braid it into the classrooms, I still think that Indigenous ways of knowing is being faded and it made me very frustrated and sad, because this reminds me of my country’s history; Korea was once colonized by Japan, and they tried assimilation policy with various ways, to kill the spirits of Korean. Although there are still some issues going on in regards to the dominium problem of Dokdo island, Comfort Women, and distorted history in Japanese history textbook, etc. – we became a completely independent nation with fully preserved exotic culture, language, and heritage. I hope to see a true mean of reconciliation being achieved with the hope of revitalization of Indigenous language, knowledge and culture, like Koreans did. I believe that there are many ways that we can contribute to it, however as educators, the best way for us to do is “to continue to address racism and Eurocentrism … to offer what Elder Albert Marshall called Two Eyed Seeing: that is to normalize Indigenous knowledge in the curriculum so that both Indigenous and conventional perspectives and knowledges will be available – not just for Aboriginal peoples, who would be enriched by that effort, but for all peoples” (Battiste, 2017, p. 17).

 

Questions to think:

How the Grand Narratives have impacted on today’s curriculum? How can we make a difference in curriculum to achieve diverse narratives?

What would be the possible ways for teachers to pursue revitalization of Indigenous culture in the classroom? How can we apply?

 


References

Battste, M. (2017). Nourishing the Learning Spirit: Living Our Way to New Thinking. In Education Canada. 50(1). Retrieved from: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/1288354/mod_resource/content/2/EdCan-2010-v50-n1-Battiste.pdf

Cannella, G. S., Swadener, B. B. & Che, Y. (2007). Reconceptualists. In Early Childhood Education: An International Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: https://urcourses.uregina.ca/pluginfile.php/1288512/mod_resource/content/1/reconceptualists.pdf

Week 5: Culture and Diversity

3 things I learned:

  1. Five Dimensions of Multicultural Education

As a visible minority who is studying Education at a Canadian university, I was thrilled to learn about multiculturalism because it is one of my teaching philosophy, as well as a goal to adopt it into my future classroom. I used to think that understanding the diversity while encouraging students to recognize and embrace it would be the primary way of achieving multicultural education. However, I have learned more specific ways to achieve:

  • Content Integration
  • Helping students understand how knowledge is influenced by beliefs
  • Using teaching methods that reach all students
  • Creating social structures in schools that support learning and development for all students
  • Prejudice Reduction

With this understanding, I think I got a step closer to make my future classroom as a place of embracing diversity.

 

  1. Gender Schema Theory

I learned a new term: Gender schema, “organized cognitive structures that include gender-related information that influences how children think and behave” (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2015, p. 210). This schema can have a huge impact on a child, as “according to gender schema theory, children and adolescents use gender as an organizing theme to classify and understand their perceptions about the world” (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2015, p. 210). As such, I think that my role as an educator will be very critical in assisting children to build appropriate gender schemas while unlearning gender bias/stereotypes.

 

  1. Socioeconomic status (SES) and Achievement

I learned that socioeconomic status and academic achievement are moderately correlated: Students with high SES tend to show higher scores on tests than the students with low-SES. Low-SES students may suffer from inadequate health care, lowered expectations of teachers, low self-esteem, learned helplessness, etc. Also, it is said that the longer the child is in poverty, the stronger the impact is on achievement.

 

2 Connections I made:

  1. I was told that the males are more likely than females to experiment with same sex partners as adolescents. As a person who graduated from a girls’ high school, this was very interesting to me as I have not met a male adolescent who expressed this issue. Though, regardless of gender, I think that we as educators, would have to be mindful and open to diverse sexuality that can be occurring in the classroom. For example, when talking about their relationships or family structure, it is recommended to use the word ‘partner’ instead of mom, dad, girlfriend, or boyfriend, in order to avoid certain circumstances where stereotypes can be caused, as well as protecting students’ self-esteem.

 

  1. In the class, we talked about giving students food if they have not eaten in the morning or do not have lunch with them, and this is where I made another connection. When I was little, my family experienced a significant financial crisis, so until grade 3, I was a student with low SES. I remember that my school had provided lunch and milk with free of charge for me, as I was in low SES. (In most cases, Korean students do not bring lunch to school, because either the schools have Food Services, or a partnership company comes to serve food. Students are responsible for the lunch fee, but it is very affordable.) It was a nice gesture of school and government, but I was shamed because of the fact that I was a student who gets supported due to my family’s economic circumstance, and worried about what if my friends find out that I am low SES. Now my family is stable and I don’t have to worry about these things anymore, I was a bit sad in the class because it made me think back to those days. Then, this made me wonder, how should we approach students with low SES to provide support systems while protecting their self-esteem?

 

Questions:

How can we achieve inclusive classroom where all diversities are accepted?

How should we approach students with low SES to provide support systems while protecting their self-esteem?

 


Reference

Woolfolk, Winne & Perry. (2016). Chapter 6: Culture and Diversity. In Educational Psychology. (6th Ed.) (P. 210). Toronto, ON: Pearson.