response to 10-15-98 class : LUSENET : M.Ed. Cohort II : One Thread

There were so many points that came up on Thursday nite that were interesting and thought provoking. My Thursday was very hectic and beyond full, so when I got to class I didn't know if I would truly be able to think at all. I have to admit though, that even though I arrived late the discussion that was going on about the incident at Woodland was GREAT! It is so good to hear other people's stories and concerns and information. It pushes me to look and think and adjust my own knowledge base and my own feelings. It also gives me a place to get feedback. Thanks for the time to do it and for everyone's input.

The thing that stuck out most in my mind upon leaving Thursday night was the discussion that focused around Gayle's research report. I left there feeling sad and wondering how I can "fit in" becoming more informed about other cultures. I feel that I have always been respectful to all my students but if I don't understand their background maybe I have only thought that I have been respectful. Is there anyway that we can fit in specific information on a variety of cultural backgounds (speakers would be great) into our course work? I would truly value this information. Does anyone else feel this way or have any other suggestions on how to bridge this knowlege gap?

-- Anonymous, October 16, 1998


I'm so impressed at the variety of topics that we have going on in our class. We will not only be experts in our area of research but we will be "mini-experts" on the other topics in our class.

Gayle's comment about a Native American teacher being asked about credentials is totally unacceptable. No one should be asked about their qualifications if the inquiry is based on culture. As I once told a Native American student I had in class when he said the "white people just don't understand" (was his motive guilt? My actions since would prove yes) I cannot be responsible for the actions of the "white people" that came before me but I must take responsiblity for those that come after me. I have been engaged in extensive reading and research on the Native American culture and have tried to learn and understand as much as I can. I'm doing this because I am taking my responsiblity seriously. Dana

-- Anonymous, October 17, 1998

I also feel we could benefit from learning more about cultural diversity and sensitivity. I would like to be sure that I am being respectful in my way of teaching and am introducing multicultural topics in a way that is true to each culture. I remember Gloria saying that she worried about introducing a topic, and then dropping it... ok now we covered THAT.. kind of thing. We don't want it to feel that way, but how can we introduce all of the info we need to and still be respectful and sure that we are giving value to each culture in appropriate ways?

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

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?

-- Anonymous, October 18, 1998

Hello All, As I read through your responces I am impressed by the different ideas and approuches that you bring to our topic. As classroom teachers we should remember that we are in complete control of and are responsible for our classrooms. What we teach, how we teach it and the climate and tone of our classroom is all our responsibility.As is the saftey of the children we work with. Both their physical safety and their emotional safety. It is within our power as a classroom teacher to create a mini culture that reflects certain standards of behavior and feelings of respect. If we serve as role models to our students, and I believe we do, then we can indeed teach some wonderful lessons about race, culture and religion and the way that we feel everyone needs to be treated. Our treatment of all children, their families and the other people that come in and out of our classroom sets an example of how students should act. As teachers we sometimes mistakenly assume that students behavior is prejudiced when in fact the student has just never had anyone take the time to show him how to handle or respond to certian situations. We are with students the vast majority of their day. We have a bigger impact than we sometimes realize,especially for the child who has little or no adult supervision in his life. One of the schools that I taught at in Chicago was South Shore High School. It was the largest all black high school in Chicago. There were seven white teachers in the building. In this school, the white teachers and the black teachers did not sit at lunch together. I found this to be very strange! Weren't we all professionals? Didn't we have much in common as teachers in the same school? I was very upset by this, but to young to do or say anything about it. I was then offered a job at a grade school in the Cabreni Green Housing projects. Again, the white teachers sat in one room and the black teachers sat in another for lunch. I was so confused by this that I started staying in my room for lunch. The principals of both of these buildings were black. They were two of the most admirable men I have ever worked with, so it wasn't their leadership. I still to this day do not understand this....but in terms of teaching or role modeling....... they all missed. No matter how good the lesson or activity, if we do not put it into practice for children to see,we have missed teaching them anything.

-- Anonymous, October 20, 1998

Tonight (10-20-98) I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by an author who was examining "What White Folks Ought To Know" at CSS. The thing that struck me the most was his postulation that youg black men do what they do because of self hatred. This comes, in no small part, from a sense of little or no self worth and no vision for the future. Could we, and I know this is idealistic, change the world one child at a time by letting them know we BELIEVE in them, their dreams, and the overall brotherhood of mankind? If each of us reach one child, just one, and they in turn can share with someone else we have begun a revolution in a quiet peaceful respectful way. Kind of exciting to think about. Have we ever really touched a life? Hard to answer most of the time, but it should be what we are about. We learn the culture that nurtures us. We need to allow ourselves the space to explore other cultures and to make some mistakes along the way as we go. None of us has all the answers, but we have resources! Lets use them and build the bridges I learned about te Cheyenne because I made a friend, just like I learned about Norwegians, and Scots, and Finns, and Swedes (you can't do much about your relatives you know!) and just keep on learning. It's not so much where you are going, as it is how you are getting there.

-- Anonymous, October 20, 1998

The discussion about the Woodland incident was irritating to me at first because we were basing a lot of our comments on partial information. A couple knew one thing; others knew more information, but we didn't have all--or most--of the information we needed to make some judgments or conclusions.

I did, however, enjoy the discussion that resulted from the topic: the idea of touch, the power we have in our classroom to set standards, expectations, and a healthy and safe learning environment, the issue of race, the new vs. seasoned teacher and the wisdom that comes with experience.

Continued updates on research projects was again fascinating. I enjoyed hearing the direction people are going and the topics they find worthy to investigate.

Do we want further study on conflict resolution? I am "up" for more learning/discussion on how to manage conflict after talking about the Woodland incident. Covey was good last year; more time on Covey would be fine. AM I SOUNDING WISHY WASHY?? Ok, maybe I am. Another topic Frank mentioned was multiple intelligences. Two colleagues of mine are finishing writing their masters paper (from Hamline cohort in Grand Rapids) on multiple intelligences. Could be interesting.


-- Anonymous, October 22, 1998

I appreciated the discussion regarding the Woodland incident, but I have a hard time discussing and drawing conclusion without all the facts. I'm writing this entry on 10-26-98 and all the facts are still not available to most teachers. I have heard that the teacher was not a first year teacher and that she was very much liked by the students and that the school was concerned about what would happen when the student returned to school. Although I have often heard teachers comment on not touching students it is something that I engage in on a daily basis. Many of my students with autism are overwhelmed by auditory stimuli and require "alot" of physical prompting from staff. For some it truely is a communication tool and without it they would have no link to their environment. My son, who is 9, sat with me when the Woodland peice was on the 10 o'clock news. I chose not to say anything after the issue was discussed and waited for his reaction. He sat for a few minutes and looked at me and asked if it was illegal for teachers to touch their students. While I was attempting to compose an answer he told me that his teacher touches them everyday, especially when they do something good. Afterall, he said, we DO know the difference between good touch and bad touch... He then proceeded to tell me about how he knows that his teacher would get into trouble if he used a karate move on him, not because the teacher would have struck him, but because his teacher should know about the rules of conflict,(which his karate instructor has emphasized numerous times). That's when I realized how important providing solid social information to our kids is. This flows over into the issues we discussed concerning cultural diversity. My sons attitudes regarding people of color came from our family and the community. He was not "taught", as I was, the negative stereotypes that unfortunately still are alive and well today. My parents continue their predjudices and I realize how very difficult it can be to try and change that. But we have to continue to try.

-- Anonymous, October 26, 1998

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