Learning Experience 3

For our final learning experience, we had the chapters “From Outrage to Organization Building Community Ties Through Education Activism,” “Why Community Schools? Public schools as Greenhouses of Democracy,” “Q/A: How can I decide if a reform project is worth supporting?” “Aren’t You on the Parent Listserv?”  Working for equitable family involvement in a dual-immersion elementary school,” “Blood on the Tracks  Why are there so few Black students in our science classes?” and “Little Kids, Big Ideas  Teaching social issues and global conflicts with young children.”

In the first chapter “From Outrage to Organization Building Community Ties Through Education Activism” the main focus of the chapter was the need for communities and how they can tie in activism. A story that came for the chapter is when in New Jersey a group of black teens were walking home and the police stopped the teens from going home because of the assumption of where they live and what their income was based on the color of their skin. The police actions were “justified” because of what they assumed was the students intentions. After that, T.J Whitaker was also a teacher at the community school and decided to implement a program. These meetings were held in his own house and the learned from readings, media, guests and most importantly each other. The Maplewood South Orange Freedom School(MAPSO) founded by Whitaker and his Community went on to educate the adults and kids in the community. And they also took action by removing the chief of police. 

The second chapter was ‘Why Community Schools? Public Schools as Greenhouses of Democracy.” The chapter focuses on 6 different pillars of community schools. It talks about how the community schools need to have an engaging curriculum, high-quality teaching, inclusive leadership, community support services, positive discipline practices, and significant parent and community engagement. The first one was Strong and Culturally Relevant Curriculum which explains how educators need to engage students with challenging, culturally relevant curriculum using teaching strategies. The second topic was High-Quality Teaching and the focus of this topic is Creating student-centered classrooms, teaching problem-solving and critical thinking, and engaging students with rich, challenging curricula are a central school wide focus. The third topic was Inclusive/Shared Leadership and the main focus of this topic was leadership must not end with administration or teachers. The students and entire community must be involved for it to be effective. The fourth topic was Community Support Services, and the main focus of this topic was creating student-centered classrooms, teaching problem-solving and critical thinking, and engaging students with rich, challenging curricula are a central school wide focus. The 5th topic was Positive Discipline Practices, and the sixth one was Family and Community Engagement. And the 5th and 6th one had the same focus as the 4th topic. 

The third chapter was “Q/A: How can I decide if a reform project is worth supporting?” 

The chapter talks about how Educational Reform is a “top-down” process meaning most of the effective placements are take by more experienced members. And that there are questions that we need to be asking if the reform plan is important to you. Those questions are: Has the Project been created in a response to a top-down directive or is it the product of a teacher, student, community, etc.?, Does the plan have administrative or political support?, What is the timeline?, How does this project concern opportunity (race, gender, sex, faith)?, and How would this affect the community? 

The fourth chapter was “Aren’t You on the Parent Listserv? Working for equitable family involvement in a dual-immersion elementary school.” The chapter talks about, 

how Mrs. Grace Cornell Gonzales noticed that the majority of the PTA parents were upper-middle class and white. She teaches at a bilingual school, yet the minority races still were not included.  She wanted everyone to be a part of the conversation. She wanted to find a room parent who was a native Spanish speaker, and start the conversations that were avoided the years before. She made a list of how she wanted the parent to be involved in the classroom. Gonzales created community guidelines and the first point was that all communication must be bilingual, important communication cannot just be through email, teacher-to-parent communication needs to fit the family and determine which families require more effort. One of the things that the chapter mentioned was to communicate why there needs to be communication. And to always include parents even if you are not sure on which way is the best approach.     

The fifth chapter was ““Blood on the Tracks  Why are there so few Black students in our science classes?” The chapter talks how when a student see graphs on Ms. Lindahl’s desk, the student  was confused on what the graphs were showing but when Lindahl explained to the student that the graphs were the science classes shown by race, the student was shocked. The chapter also mentioned that, in 2009, African Americans were 12% of the US population, yet Black Students earned only 7% of all Bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields. Only 4% of African Americans earned a Master’s degree, and only 2% earned PhDs.  Another thing that the chapter mentioned that I thought was interesting was how white students with college-educated parents of higher socioeconomic status often “chose” the most demanding class. Lindahl and two other teachers in the department wrote a successful grant for laptops, which included a commitment to get an increased enrollment of underrepresented  racial groups in advanced sciences classes.  And because of what they were doing there were some changes that were put in place: End the AP Biology and replace it with Advance Biology- earns student community college credit,  all sophomores have to take Chemistry, and Anatomy and Physiology Class- college-credit. One of the things that Lindahl wanted to do was have a conversation with the black students and see how they felt in the science classes. When she talked with the black students.  Lia talked about how her chemistry class was group work, and she didn’t like that, because she would say something and then get ignored. And then a white student would say the same thing just with advanced vocabulary. They would get the praise. Monique would ask for help in her group but then they ignored her. Then she would go to the teacher and then he would just send it back to the group. And in the end she felt isolated.

The sixth chapter was Little Kids, Big Ideas  Teaching social issues and global conflicts with young children.” The chapter was about a Rethinking Schools editor who was a chaperone on a field trip, when he heard a 2nd grader say that he wants to “nuke the world.” And when he asked the student what he meant he said, “Everything is just so bad. We should just nuke the word and start over.” When continuing the conversation the student brought up Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un. And after that the editor knew that the little kid knew enough about the situation to feel helpless, which led him to wanting destruction. Kids listen to snippets of news reports, hear things from siblings, parents, and classmates. And they play video games that have global conflict in it. Kids also feel the stress and anger that adults around them are feeling. One of the things that we need to do as educators and as adults is to listen to children’s questions and respect them, even if we don’t have the perfect answer for them. Even though young children can’t fully grasp the topic you are talking about in depth, they can understand it in broad strokes. It is important to inform and involve the parents  in the process, without allowing individual parents to dictate what should be taught in school based on personal biases or prejudices. Young children learn best by acting out the world around them and putting themselves in other people’s shoes, and students should be able to look at the world in a perspective that is not their own. When we teach in this way, we cultivate empathy, especially for those who are different from us.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s