After reading and processing the different works, clips and readings for this week’s assignment, it took me quite a long time to narrow down what I wanted to focus my reflection on. Thankfully, there was a directive on keeping our responses tight and really choosing which would be the best way to share our learning. For this process, I needed to map out my thoughts to see which one I connected with the most. I am sharing my post from my blog because I feel as if this is a place where I am working through the journey of the program. This is where my thoughts are mine to have, in a medium that has been developed into an acceptable place to share what growth I am experiencing after reading and viewing the different texts.

Reflection Week 3 Cultural Models Master Myths and Figured Worlds (1)

I used an app with my iPad called SimpleMinds+ to help me organize my thoughts. From here, I was able to structure my response to the following prompt:

How many master myths/cultural models/figured worlds are at work in your school situation? How do they conflict or agree with each other? If there are too many, choose just a few to describe in depth.

The connection I made had to come from inside of myself before I could even connect it to my life at school. The mapping above represents the process I went through in order to see where I stood as an individual. I was then able to connect it to being a part of a society in school. After working with a new administration for the past year, I have seen a significant shift in the expectations of teachers and students. It’s not just a new “TEVAL” initiative that is taking over our professional development time. It is a shift in education and teaching/learning styles. I work with professionals whose teaching styles range from the “sage on the stage” to the “guide on the side” models. These differences are extremely prevalent for me because it is part of my job to work with teachers who have not made the instructional “shift” in their teaching that correlates to administration’s expectations.

Common Core Standards and new professional expectations have changed how some teachers teach. I truly believe that the majority of these teachers would adapt to any situation positively and create learning environments for their students. It is not that these teachers could not teach to the standards, it is that they were not held accountable to do it. The new administration is holding teachers to the shift of educating students of today. So, here is the question… Are the students today different than 5 years ago? 10 years? 20? The answer… absolutely. However, that does not mean that students can not learn. Many teachers are resigned to changing themselves because they say that the students are “unteachable” in today’s society. Is that a master myth? Are they? Or, does this mean that the teachers need to be adding tricks into their “bag o’ tricks” in order to be effective. That means that they have to accept the fact that they need to grow as educators.

Students are students, regardless of whether they are driven to school in a Mercedes, take the bus or walk. As teachers, it is our responsibility to support each one and create an environment for learning and growth. I work with students who come from all different countries. Currently, there are 29 ELL (English Language Learners) in our middle school. Of those 29, 15 are in specific ELL programs (pull-out services), while the remaining students are serviced on a more global reading intervention service.

I work at training teachers to understand the differences in each students “figured world” and create an environment where students can be nurtured, regardless of their situation. One might think that an experienced teacher would have had more interactions with more diverse students, therefore, leading to a broader acceptance of differences. However, I have seen the opposite where there are some teachers who then create a narrower view of what “should be” because it fits in better to his/her comfort zone.

There are some teachers who take on the responsibility of creating positive learning environments for students, and some who feel it is the responsibility of others to educate these learners. Our jobs as educators is also to teach our fellow colleagues about the different cultural norms of our students. To not know how a student will react to sarcasm or scolding should be more than just a learning experience. I have had students be afraid of teachers due to their insensitivity to the diversity of an individual’s background and deliver the message that the student needs to get accustomed to “our way.”

Gee talks about how “the taken for granted nature of the figured world, however, often stands in the way of change. Reforms just do no seem “normal” or “right” or “the way things should be” (page 100). This resonated with me due to the necessity for the change in our teaching styles, as well as the change our students. An awareness of cultural models and figured worlds will make teachers better. It will set them apart from being the teacher wants students to change to fit his/her figured world, and create a place where the two can live a mutually respectful life.

I believe that teachers need to be role models and contribute to creating a society that helps students grow outside of the home. I believe the old African (from my online research) proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is quite accurate. I depend on others to enlighten my daughter on the way of the world, instead of keeping with just the cultural model of our tight-knit family. She needs to see how the world operates on a larger scale. I, as a parent, can not do that for her. Therefore, I rely on caregivers and others to guide my daughter through different experiences in life. Pulling all of this together is still a process that I am working through. Unfortunately, there was a cap of midnight tonight in order to submit responses. These readings and viewings of Dr. Todd Risley’s interview have enlightened me, while at the same time, solidifying what I believe to be a must in the experience of all children. Modeling behavior for our students, as well as creating vocabulary rich environments is our responsibility as teachers, parents and members of society.

Is it (as Gee suggests) “the job of the teacher to allow student to grow beyond both the cultural models of their home and those of the mainstream and school culture? Should it be more than “allow,” should it be “require?” How does this play against (or with) the right of every individual to be him or herself and stay that way? 

Resources:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0J4yNRaPx24

Gee, James Paul. Social Linguistics and Literacies: Ideology in Discourses. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2012. Print.

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