Curriculum as Narrative and Community
‘Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of Schooling-as-usual’ p. 43
This article gave good insight on how to break free from what is usually done within in a school and being able to change your teachings so that you do not get caught in the undertow of routine. However, the author states that in order to do so, you must start simple and small. Do not try to achieve everything at once because you will overwhelm yourself and get discouraged. Start small and see where it takes you as a teacher and that will be the difference you can make with your teaching.
‘The Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’ p. 83
Even as six or seven year olds, the idea of race and cultures is already in their minds. Most of these students know that having lighter skin is better than having darker skin and students are already starting to feel ashamed of what colour they are. The teacher in the article wanted to show her students that even though they all look different, many of them share common things and she has them bring in special items (photographs, drawings, quotes) that they are proud to have in their life and share them with their classmates. It is through this activity and a few others that students are meant to see themselves as important based on who they are. The colour of their skin is unique, but it should not allow them to be put on a hierarchy of skin tones.
‘What can I do when a student makes a racist or sexist remark?’ p.93
When faced with racist or sexist remarks teachers should address it in a way that they feel comfortable with and their class feels comfortable with. They should not put aside the remark because that is saying just as much as if they screamed at the student for saying it. Addressing the remark and stating how they felt about it being said to them is where the teacher should start, followed by standing up for who the remark was intended for and then finish with having other students speak up about how the remark made them feel. A teacher can sometimes use these remarks as a way of a having a meaningful discussion with their class that is not always planned for the day, but still is just as important.
‘Framing the Family Tree: How Teachers can be Sensitive to Students’ Family Situations’ p.95
Each student has a different type of family, whether it is a mother and father, a mother and mother, a father and father, just a mother, just a father, etc. Being conscious of these type of families should be important for teachers to know so that they can include all students in activities without making them feel left out or sad. The mother in this article wants the teachers to be better aware of these situations and recognize that not every student has a perfect family and when doing projects for events like Mother’s and Father’s day, they should find a way to make these activities suitable for all students no matter their situation at home. Teachers need to let students know that is okay to not have the “normal” type of family and that if they are having troubles with how their home life is, they are more than welcome to talk to the teacher or school psychologist about the situation.
‘Heather’s Moms got Married’ p. 103
Even second-graders realize that it is just not fair that some couples can get married and others cannot. The diverse families that each student comes from should be talked about in school and celebrated as time changes. The teacher in this article brings up topics that most teachers are afraid to have with their students because they are too controversial to talk about and they feel that second-graders should not know these types of things. This teacher recognizes that her students come from diverse backgrounds and wants them all to feel safe and comfortable in talking about them. She realizes that they are not too young to know about different relationships and encourages them to be open minded about all types of diverse family settings.
‘Out Front’ p. 111
Talking openly about sexual orientation has come a long way, but it still has not come far enough. Schools like Berkeley are trying to eliminate the sense of being gay as wrong by allowing students to have a support group that accepts all types of sexual orientation. The teacher in the article is an out teacher and she feels as though she needs to give students a safe environment where they feel they can talk to not only her, but to others who have the same feelings about being confused or proud of who they are. She wants schools and teachers to start paying attention to the language that is used and start banning words like gay used in a derogatory way. By starting out small, she believes that slowly schools will start making differences and show that it is okay to be who you are.
‘Curriculum is Everything that Happens’ p. 163
Curriculum is not just the document you are to follow throughout the year, it is everything that happens inside and outside of your classroom. Getting to know your students and the culture they come from is curriculum. Gaining experience throughout your many years of teaching, looking for new ways to teach, asking for help from colleagues is curriculum. Getting to know yourself first as a teacher will help you to develop your own personal curriculum and will help you figure out what is important for your students to know.
‘Working Effectively with English Language Learners’ p.183
In order to help students who do not speak English as their first language you need to prepare yourself and do some research on the language and the culture. Make sure that you are not just lecturing the whole time to explain concepts, but rather use visuals like slideshows, books, videos, etc. and get students to be active in their learning by doing skits, or playing games, or having conversations with a partner. Make sure that you are speaking slowly and clearly and do not call out students to ask if they understand a concept, but rather get someone to volunteer to repeat the instructions. The most important way to help ESL students according to the article is to get to know your students, their language and their culture and start learning it yourself so that you can connect to them on a level they are familiar and comfortable with.
‘Teaching Controversial Content’ p. 199
This article addresses the notion of controversial topics in classrooms and should a teacher have to ask permission to teach them, or should they do it anyway. Most teachers find it frightening to teach topics like racism and sexism because they are extremely controversial. The teacher in this article suggests that you should take risks even if they scare you because the end result can be so rewarding. Having students engaged in social justice issues can be self-rewarding for you and the students. When designing your own unit based on what you want to teach needs to be extremely well thought out and prepared so that students are getting the most out of the unit.
‘Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year’ p. 317
The teacher in this article had to deal with some pretty heavy situations in her first year as a teacher. She first was involved in a strike for 30 days which happened to bring her closer to her colleagues because she was with them every day (or so she thought). Once the strike was over she then had to deal with the fact that many of the teachers that were at the school were not open to change because they had become accustomed to their way of teaching. Having tried to bring a bit of diversity to the school, this teacher felt as though her views on diversity were overlooked because she was a first year teacher and that most of the staff did not appreciate her efforts in trying to bring awareness of the different types of celebrations in December. She realized in the end that she may not have approached the subject of diversity correctly and that is maybe why some of the teachers did not accept her ways of teaching.