Are you ‘Basic’?

This is probably harder for some to answer then others, but what type of teacher are you going to be? Growing up, I remember the majority of my classes consisted of sitting in class doing our work and if we had the time or were good, sometime we would be allowed to watch a part of a movie in class. At that age, it was the best thing the teacher could let us do. Now looking at the elementary classes that I have been lucky enough to intern in, they would rarely go a day without using a laptop or an I-Pad and there wasn’t a classroom that I had been in that didn’t have a Smartboard on the wall. I however had the opportunity to go into the K, 1,2 classroom back home (yes, 3 grades per teacher!) and she was the same teacher that taught my kindergarten and sadly she had hardly changed. The school had all of the electronic resources you could wish for that would make learning much more hands on for students and much more interesting for them to do but she enjoyed her old ways of teaching and so her old ways was what she continued to do. This to me is an example of a basic teacher.

Another changing life event besides technology that teachers need to keep up to date with is the vast incline of immigrants coming into our country. It is important that we need only make our immigrant students feel welcome, but also at home. This is crucial and can be very beneficial to their learning. If we have immigrant students joining our classrooms but doing nothing to accommodate their needs and learning styles then we aren’t going to see any improvement in their learning. I feel this has happened lots recently in the education system, where we seeing teachers failing these immigrant students because they apparently don’t know anything, but the teachers just expected them to join in at the level they were at and succeed like the rest of the students.

As educators it is important that we stay on top of things, whether that’s tweaking our lessons plans every year to benefit our class better, staying up to date with the newest technology and useful tools or doing some homework of our own to get to know more about our immigrant students backgrounds, we need to keep up to date and keep our brains sharp. It is easy to find something that works and stick with it for many years, but that’s not always beneficial.

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Why Treaty Ed?

Growing up I never had any First Nations students in class, in fact there was very few throughout the whole school. This was probably due to the fact that I lived in a small town in the middle of nowhere! This didn’t effect my learning on treaty education though. I’m not sure when or how it was taught in large schools, but as soon as we hit grade 8, it was incorporated into our Social and History classes. I feel now that I am learning more about treaty education in university I am grateful that I was taught the basics but realize that there is still so much more that I have to learn about.

Treaty Education is such an important piece of our history. It teaches us about colonization and the sharing of land. Without that background information, you miss out on a large chunk of history and the creation of our land. Treaty education also talks greatly about the promises made between the Europeans and First Nations people. This is still a large part of our country till this day and we still do what we can to make peace with the First Nations for our past actions. I personally don’t understand how a school system could work without the teaching of treaty education to our students. I truly feel that treaty education should be incorporated right into the curriculum from kindergarten through grade 12.

Reinhabitation and Decolonization

We see reinhabitation and decolonization throughout the reading by speaking Cree language, sharing knowledge, creating a connection to the land, and by the gathering of the community. What really caught my eye from this text was the word community. I truly believe that community is crucial for our children to learn and especially at a young age. Being apart of community that you can trust and talk to makes life so much easier to get through. It will give you a sense of belonging and help make you a better person. Some might question how you teach community to children, but even simple things like taking your students for a walk through the community to observe different actions and traits that they see as a community will help give them an understanding. Or having a elder come in and speak to the class about community would be very beneficial in not only learning about our community but it also gets our students engaged and involved with our elders which will help them build those key relationships that they will find very beneficial as they grow older.

The Downside to Being a ‘Good’ Teacher

There might not be any set in stone definition of a good teacher and there probably never will be. There are however many stereotypes to go with being a teacher but they aren’t always beneficial. I see myself as a ‘good’ teacher. I am a white catholic female and those are all stereotypes that go with the ‘good’ teacher vibe. This worries me though because it might push me over the line of being a ‘white savior’ and that is not something I want to become as an educator. All educators want to better their students, that why they become educators, but it is just as important that we remember to constantly try and better ourselves and I think this is something that gets forgotten as the years go on. We are going to find many things that benefit for us as teachers and we are going to continue to use and do those things but how long until they no longer benefit us and these things then become something that simply just works for us?

Another large aspect that makes a good teacher is the passing on of our biases and beliefs. We as educators aren’t supposed to have bias, especially with the large increase in immigration rates. They make to curriculum anti-bias and we educators are supposed to make our minds anti-bias, this is much easier said then done. It’s only human, you grow up your whole life being taught and practicing your beliefs with your family and some might even continue to do this at home with their new families it’s a way of life. But as educators we are expected to leave this biases and beliefs at home and be completely open and agreeing with our students and their beliefs. This is a challenge for everyone but I do believe this is a strong aspect of being a ‘good’ teacher.

When it comes to the hidden curriculum, we all know it’s there and it can be hard to find the time to discuss it. If we keep it on our mind, it becomes easier to pull from throughout our day and we are able to shine light on it as best we can and as often as we can.

Who is our Curriculum?

When most people (the old me included) think about the curriculum they usually just think teachers and school. They know there is a curriculum and they know that the teachers are the ones who teach it and that’s all. However, many don’t realize that the curriculum actually goes much deeper than teachers and schools. When thinking about curriculum, we have to go as deep as the government, the ministry of education, the school boards and etc. There are so many people of higher power that have say in our education and the curriculum that we teach even though they haven’t stepped foot in a classroom since they left school themselves. Sure there are a few teachers who have some say on the curriculum but there are many more who know nothing about education.

This could easily put teachers in a crunch. They have this full curriculum in front of them that they have to get through in order to succeed as an educator. It’s a pretty intimidating thing to think about and can daily discourage teachers. We educators need to see the curriculum as an opportunity, as a set of guidelines that we should stay between. It is not a set in stone piece of work that we have to follow. There are so many opportunities for teachers to add their own touch to certain outcomes. We have the power to work with and better the curriculum based on our students needs.

We might not feel that we have much say as educators when it comes to the curriculum, but there are many ways to get more involved. We can join the board so that we have the opportunity to have our voice heard and our ideas shared. We can revise and re work the curriculum and the indicators as much as we need to suite our students every year. There are ways we can work to better the curriculum it just takes a little more work.

Who are the ‘Good’ Students?

Common sense talks about the ‘good’ students in our classrooms, but who are our ‘good’ students? A good student achieves at least an 80% or higher, the speak only when spoken to, they always say the right things, they sit quietly without fidgeting, they never question or critique the teacher, a ‘good’ student always abides by the teachers rules.

If those are what makes up a good student, does that mean that the students who don’t meet all of those guidelines are ‘bad’ students? With all of these expectations that we believe make up a ‘good’ student makes it hard for our students to actually learn. When children try this to follow all of thee guidelines and tribe to be a ‘good’ student it can affect their work and their actual education performance. We view the children who are able to follow all of these ‘good’ student guidelines and meet the 80% level as privileged. They are the total package and we want all of students to be like that and to be able to do that.

In saying this, what does this mean for the children who don’t meet every guideline? What about the ‘bad’ students? Do we give up on them? Why would we worry about the students that don’t meet our guidelines when we have so many other students who do? Not everyone is going to fit into this cookie cutter formation no matter how bad we want them to and as educators we can’t expect them to.

Education is Life

For my quote, I chose to write about the first quote on the list by John Dewey “Education is not preparation for life; education is life itself”. This quote jumped right out at me as soon as I read it. We spend thirteen years of our lives going to school and doing everything we can to graduate and get that diploma, only to go back to school but at a much harder and much more intense level for usually 4+ more years. That is 17+ years of our lives spent studying and for what? Well, the sad truth behind it is that without these 17+ years of school, most of us would be working a minimum wage job (maybe even 2) just to make ends meet to raise a family. Without a grade 12 diploma and GED, some places such, as McDonalds won’t even hire you.

When thinking about how important education is in our lives, you also have to think about the amount of pressure that it puts on us educators. We are the ones that prepare these students for the rest of their lives. They rely on us to teach them the necessary skills and knowledge they need to get through the rest of their educations and carry them through life afterwards. As a student, this is probably an intimidating quote at first to think about. For myself, it was more of an eye opener. I have survived 13 years of school and almost 2 years of university. I am 2 years away from being done my schooling and moving on to get a career and eventually provide for my family. 2 years fly by and although I find it important to have fun in life, it is also very important to focus on these two short years and make sure I do everything I can to succeed the whole way through.

When thinking about this quote and the curriculum, it makes me question the content a little. I understand that many well-educated people and many teachers themselves construct the curriculum, but going through the elementary years, you don’t see very many life skill outcomes coming up. I am twenty-years old and have no idea to pay my taxes; I don’t know the first thing about buying a house or getting a mortgage and still don’t fully understand life insurance. Will I every use the Pythagorean theory and have to quote Shakespeare? I will never know, but I do know that these are the issues I will face more than once in my life and mean much more then a math equation or Shakespearian quote.