threaded discussion for 10-15-98 : LUSENET : M.Ed. Cohort II : One Thread

Hi Cohort:

It's Friday, October 16, and I'm modifying the threaded discussion from what I posted in the Nuts and Bolts section of the Alco site.

Since we spent lots of time in class talking about the "Woodland incident" you are welcome to respond further to that with any thoughts you have.

Also you may choose to talk about your reactions/responses to the updates of works in progress toward the thesis or the human subjects research presentation.

Looking forward to hearing from you

-- Anonymous, October 16, 1998


I felt the discussion that we havd in class concerning the Woodland incident was valuable but I felt we spent too much time on the subject. Dealing with chaos and conflict in schools is an ongoing issue that we as educators have to deal with so I'm not saying it doesn't deserve our attention. I attended a two-day class this summer on this very topic and the bottom line is that every situation of conflict is different because the people involved, the time and place vary. I agree that there must be a degree of consistency in handling conflict but we can't ignore that each situation will also require some degree of handling that is individualized. I would propose that we address this issue of chaos and conflict during a planned class session. Dana

-- Anonymous, October 17, 1998

The discussion on the Woodland incident left me questioning the way I use touch with my second grade students. At present I do use it to comfort when they come to me upset. I see it also as a way to encourage by using a light tap on the shoulder. At times I may use it to direct, gently moving a child when verbal a response isn't getting through. I make sure I back off if I am upset with a child so to remind me not to use touch at those times. I"m not sure now that I should be touching at all. I know I ask them to keep their hands and feet to themselves. I need to follow the same rule. I know that at times they reach for me and at those times I am careful not to reject them. I need to know a child and feel they trust me before I would ever think of a touch of any sort. I see teachers guiding students by the hand in the halls and I see high-fives given between students and teacher. Are these touches okay? Do quidelines change as a child gets older? This is one area I will be evaluating on an ongoing basis.

In thinking about my knowledge of other cultures and how to best interact with students of other cultures I too am unsure of how to be a good teacher for these students. This may be one area we need to spend some additional time on this year. As we learn more about the research being done with Native Americans and other minorities we may gain a better understanding of what we can do to reach all students in our classrooms. The diversity in our cohort needs to be explored and used as a resourse. We need to focus on changing what is not effective and look for ways to understand the differences between the cultures of the families in our classrooms and our own backgrounds. I no not see feeling guilty as productive. As we grow as teachers we need to move on and make changes. Communication is the key.

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

Reaction to discussion re: Woodland Incident. I am sorry that I missed the bulk of this discussion, but I do have some thoughts on this topic. Teachers need to be respected in the classroom--if they are going to have any credibility with their students. Also--teachers need to respect students, treating them as human beings coming from many different types of families, all with different backgrounds, values, customs, etc. I feel that teachers should set reasonable rules for students and then be consistent in enforcing those rules. I also feel that families need to be informed about the rules of each classroom and the rules about hall etiquette. We put ourselves in a very vulnerable position if we begin to fear what families/students aregoing to do if we try to have control in the classroom--society hass boundaries and limits that we as citizens need to follow--and classroom and school hallways should, too. Teachers need the support of families. This morning in the Sunday paper, I came across the following from John Rosemond (although I do not always agree with Rosemond, this hit a nerve). "A teacher in Rhode Island recently was reprimanded for telling a youngster he shouldn't do to others what he didn't want others to do to him. This after she stopped the child in question from bullying a smaller child. The bully's parents complained that the teacher was imposing her moral values on their little Most Highness. Need I point out that the controversy in question involved nothing less than the Golden Rule? Her administration, fearing litigation, caved in and disciplined the teacher." I think we all have fears of this very scenario happening to us. Also, I would like to respond to the multicultural issue that we discussed briefly. I want in the worst way to know more about the correct and respectable way to bring multiculturism into my classroom. I have done some reading, took a class this summer on children's multicultural literature, and I'm concerned. I do not want to feel guilty about my approach (or non-approach). I truly do not feel that guilt is a healthy emotion (I know shame is not). I agree with Joanne that we should spend some time on multiculturism during classtime this year.

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

I would like to comment on the Woodland conversation we had last Thursday. I work with preschool children and their families. I cannot imagine a world in which we could not touch each other! I say this not as a naive person, I know there are serious issues surrounding a statement like that, but jeeeeez! A world with hugs and gentle touches is what we need. (Thanks, Frank, for the caring questions and hug last Thursday, it helped!) I feel that teachers should be able to touch, but in nice ways, by giving needed hugs, and gentle touches on the arm or shoulder, but NOT to coerce or urge a child to do something. Developmental stages, child's life environment, individual situations, personalities between the people involved, and other variables all have an effect on the outcome of any touch...will it be accepted or rejected? Will it be considered friendly or an attack? comforting or scary? .... I thought that Frank had a good point when he said that he made a conscious effort to know the names of the students, and this small thing probably deterred many problems. When Rebecca said to have clear rules set, this too, saved some hassle in the classroom. We also discussed fostering respect, kindness, and nurturing. It is also really true that the more experience we have, the better we are at understanding the children and their needs. Here's another thought to ponder...there are other kind of "touches" like smiles, laughter, caring words, and body language. I think that teachers need to be good at all of that stuff to help children through the chaos and conflicts of their everyday life. I use these strategies with my Head Start families, and I'm sure you guys all do too. Respectfully submitted, Sarah Madden

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

I think I sent my response to the wrong place so here it is again.

There were quite a few good discussions on Thursday. I felt it was good people were able to talk about what happened at Woodland and their experiences. I remember in my second year of teaching, I asked a 7th grade student to remove his hat after a pep assembly. We were walking in front of the band which was playing and he couldn't hear me. I tugged on the arm of his jacket to get his attention and he removed his hat. When I got out of the gym, he was waiting for me and he told me to never touch him again. He was really upset. I had him in 9th grade and we got along great. We joke about what happened and laugh about now, partly because I feel he is a little more mature and knows I don't disrespect students' space.

I try not to touch a student unless it is returned, like a handshake or a high five. This doesn't always work because you want to show praise with a pat on the back or comfort with a pat on the hand. I have been warned by veteran teachers not to smile before Christmas, to be in the class alone with a girl or to touch a student. If I did all of those things, the students would not feel comfortable talking to me and asking for help and I wouldn't enjoy teaching as much. The best part of teaching for me is the relationships I build and you don't build relationships by not showing emotion or caring about someone. If a student wants to sue me, they can go ahead and try because I know I am not crossing any lines and am always a professional.

We can teach morals and values all we want in school, but if they are not getting any of it at home, what good is it doing them? We need to educate the whole family some way some how.

I believe to begin to understand a culture, you can't just read about, you have to experience it. Maybe we can enjoy a cultural celebration such as Chinese New Year or a Native American Powwow?

See everyone on Wednesday.

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

It was great to have open discussion regarding the Woodland incident. I am sad to hear that the school has become such an explosive environment. I am appalled that the girl's parents were not notified. I can't imagine how distraught they must have been! I would hope that there would be enough concern on the part of the principal to follow up on a student who was removed from school to see how she was doing and to confirm that her parents had been notified. I realize that we are only hearing one side of the story, and there may have been other factors involved.

The discussion regarding multiculturalism that resulted from the research project review was also good. It's hard to be sure you are on the right track sometimes. I agree with Ed's suggestion that we and our students need to experience other cultures, not just read or talk about them. On our Depot Outreach roster each year we try to offer artists of many cultural backgrounds. Ideally, these artists would like to have at least a week to spend with children and their school community, but many schools opt for several large assembly programs. Exposure is the first step to understanding. As we introduce students to other cultures, we are building bridges that can further be completed by showing respect daily for all students, parents, staff and members of the community.

The response from our group regarding checking out a teacher surprised me. I research teachers each year before requesting a teacher for my son and daughter. I hope that no one takes offense at this. I want to ensure that my children have the best possible teachers for their individual needs. As a parent I know what type of classroom environment my children will thrive in. I know of many parents who do the same. I wouldn't dream of asking about credentials, as was implied in our discussion. I haven't had the opportunity to consider teachers from other cultures; our schools are pretty mainstream. I think it would be a great learning opportunity for my children to have such a teacher. I hope that the research on recruitment gets put to good use!

I hope that we can have more discussions like these so that we can learn more from and about each other. There is so much knowledege and experience among this group! We need to share more!

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

I was so interested in and impressed with our cohort members' research topics and plans. I've been thinking on and off these last few days about Gayle's and Jackie's project -- they are bound to get some original and fascinating information. I can hardly wait to read and/or hear about their results. It was so useful to have Betsy Quintero come and give each group her opinion about getting approval for our human subject research. If only we could always learn exactly the information we need to use at the moment! And our students probably feel the same way.

I get depressed thinking that white teachers are less than optimum for some students, just because they're white. I know that people of color face those assumptions and prejudices all the time, but aren't we supposed to see those assumptions as bias and stereotyping? Then, I was wondering -- if people of color become a majority in the U.S., will colleges start recruiting white teachers for our minority white population? I wish we could operate without regard to skin color, but I know it doesn't happen and that we have to compensate. I would definitely like to know what kinds of classroom methods and approaches do NOT work for students of color, especially Indians, so that I can be the best teacher I can be -- DESPITE my skin color.

-- Anonymous, October 19, 1998

This is a test

-- Anonymous, October 20, 1998

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