Children’s Books

Wow. Wow! Wow!!! I’d just like to mention that I was extremely impressed with EVERYONE’s children’s book today. They were so good that I didn’t want to go to the bathroom…oh but the coffee…(it was good though!) Anyway, I am not just saying that to be nice or all inclusive, but I really truly beleive that everyone did an absolutley excellent job on their children’s stories. They were beautiful! You all were given an assignment and ran with it! I was blown away by the creativity in terms of the creative mediums of art for the illustrations and the deep and well thought out story development. I loved how some of you were able to write your stories in partially different languages (I had never considered or seen such a thing). Overall the insights for teaching children how to deal with these very complex issues were presented in such a fresh and interesting manner. They were cute, they were hillarious, they were thought provoking and just all out amazing. I love how many of you tied in your personal interests into your stories. That would be a great springboard to begin to start relating and sharing some of yourself with your children. When you guys make it big in the world of children’s books, don’t forget to give me the ‘hook up’ on your work! I feel so privelaged to be among this cohort of bright, creative, inspring women, ladies, girls–(which ever classification you feel personally fits you). Keep up the good work!

First School Visit

I feel even more motivated than ever. It felt wonderful getting to hear from the kids their expectations, likes, dislikes, and what they thought of school over all. I loved their spirits, their energy, their honesty. I was amazed at some of their responses. They were a really bright group of kids. I really will try to implement some of the things that I’ve heard today into my own classroom. My expert was Deja. She was such a bright little girl. She listened well, asked great questions and she inspired me.

I felt like we had some WONDERFUL ideas in class today as far as classroom management. I will definatley try to implement some of those. Thank you guys for the ideas!!!

Well, time to get back to working on the children’s book. Final stretch!

Failing Our Youth

What I took away from class today is that It is not our youth that are failing, but we as a society (especially in the school system) are failing many of our youth. I was alarmed at the statistics for minorty youth in prision–especially those of young black males. Before today I had never put the full picture together to realize that many of the inequalities faced by young school children begin from stages of infancy. Now it makes sense, if you are born into poverty, their are certain circumstances and conditions in which you are likely to be subjected. Some already considered behind in kindergarten, before they are really even given a fair chance to start. I want to go into the school system and not perpetuate these cycles. I don’t want to have the attitude of giving up on any students. I want to be able to help each and every one of my students as much as I possibly can. I will strive only to use suspension as an absolute last resort. I will strive for prevetative measures for behavioral issues like keeping the students engaged and keeping high expectations of all of them. I will try and build a repore with my students who have went through the system for a while–already know what it is about and are distrusting of teachers. I will make sure to let them all know that I care for each and every individual dearly. If they don’t feel loved anywhere else…I hope they will feel it in the confines of my classroom.

I feel inspired and empowered.

May 18th

I got so wrapped up in trying to do my illustrations for my children’s story, that I almost forgot to do my blog for today! This may be classified under May 19th because its now past midnight, but it was supposed to be attached to May 18th.This blog is going to be one of those stream of consciousness pieces. That is my disclaimer ahead of time in the case that it seems fragmented.

Anyway, I found the discussions in class today to be extremley fascinating. Now I don’t feel bad anymore for performing poorly on standardized tests. I was one of those who made pretty good grades, but for some reason standardized tests were a completley different ball game.

I enjoyed reviewing the Mutiple Intellegence theories, and I feel like many of them were verified today in our class. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a class that is more balanced in the sense that it coveres many of those learning styles over the entire course of a school year?

Bell curve….blah. Well, I just remeber in the past the curve working more to my advantage than it did to my harm, so I wasn’t against it so much…except to say that it’s better to not start with the expectation of failure and to have everyone strive for the highest level of achievement possible.

Censorship–this was a hard topic in class for me today because I could not come up with an across the board measure that would be fair to limit what is accessible to the minds of our young children. I was very surprised at many of the books that people we seeking to be banned from libraries and removed from schools.

The tracking system is TERRIBLE! It needs to be ended immediately. I can’t believe that we are setting up some of our children not to go to college because they are on something crazy like a career prep track. Although the stratification of the society is able to drive the workforce to some extent, the fact that EVERYONE does not have access to equal opportunity in society is INSANE.

On that note, the kindergarten teacher who started separating the students based on how she liked them unknowingly started a perpetual cycle of this “U.S. Caste” system.

Thinking back to high school and all those groups of people we listed–I was many of them because I found myself trying to fit in with everyone else most of my high school career.  I was goth, emo, nerd, preppy, rocker, skater, soccer chick, cello player, teachers pet, and many more, but those are just the ones that instantly come to mind. When the titles were listed in my group, I found myself to be a part of many of them.

It makes me wonder, what did my teachers think of me when I was coming up? What arbitrary reason was I allowed to take a relatively higher level grouping and track?

I remember when my teachers in 8th grade started signing off their recommendations for my classes in 9th grade. I was so upset because they put me in all the “normal” classes. I felt then as if I could handle honors, but perhaps those teachers didn’t…or maybe they didn’t want me to get too far ahead?

I also remember that when I got into the 9th grade, that when I was in those normal classes to start that I was bored out of my mind. I found those classes to be a complete waste of my time. All my ninth grade teachers (with the exception of math, because I really did have issues with math) continually appologized to me for the decisions that my 8th grade teachers had made, and promised me that they would put me in honors classes my next year. When I was in the honors classes, they were so much more on my level. It made me happy. Then when I was finally allowed to take some AP classes–some of them were challenging, some of them were not. I remeber, my AP Lit Class, –we watched Survivor most of the day (That teacher was a huge Survivor fan) because it was suposed to be related to the Lord of the Flies, a book we read and finished near the begining of the course. We were assigned books to read outside of class, and we wrote the occasional paper to try and prepare for the AP exam, but that was about all we did. Strange, yes I know.

Anyway, I get on my rants and I really can keep going on and on, but I am going to end this here so I can get some sleep sometime tonight prayerfully.

Goodnight…

Or Goodmorning,

whatever it is.

Free at last?

I was holding back tears while we were at the King Center today just thinking about what all those people went through so that we can even have the rights and privileged we have today. Just imagine if those key figures and collective agencies had never come to the forefront to actually fight for against those inequalities? I wouldn’t have went nearly as far as I have today, and my life as a minority in this country would be much different. I felt inspired today.

Are we free at last? Or have the means of bondage become so illusive that we are not even aware of their existence?  We are indoctrinated into the belief that our society is the norm, and we’ve moved past those years of oppression and struggle. The battle is not over, it has just craftily changed face! I’m not just talking black and white. We are slave to our mentalities!

Our minds are a battle ground….

And so are our hearts…

How could we in good conscious allow for injustice as it prevails in this society?

In this world?

In the 12 Step program for AA,–and any other addiction….(such as in this case the mental addiction to the ‘societal norm’ ) the first step to recovery is admitting that there is a problem.

Something I learned today….

I can make a difference, but how much greater the impact when WE can make a difference! I’m all for the idea of collective agency.

I’m going to have that starfish poem in my classroom with the understanding of how powerful that would be in the presepective of collective agency and figuring out the issues that cause them to continually wash upon the shore in the first place.

Conductors

I enjoyed the Dream-Keepers reading today, and I loved the analogy that was given about conductors. As stated in the book, “Conductors believe that students are capable of excellence and they assume responsiblity for ensuring that their students achieve that excellence”.  In the orchestra, each instrument has an individual voice but when they all come togheter they can make a melodious and harmonious tune.  The musicians wait for the cue from the conductor. The conductor is always very in tune with what is going on with their orchestra.  I’m even thinking that something like this would be an awesome name possiblity for our cohort (if its not already taken)!

Class, Gender and Sexuality

I was rather shocked to see the distribution of wealth in our country.  What blows my mind even more is that people that I would consider rich–really are just that rich–but have not amassed any where near the amount of wealth as that elite few who own the country. The government borrows from them? What?!?!? It just goes to show how much I really know. I was always of the mindset that the government was as tip top as you could go. Now I can see why politicans could be so corrupt. If they knew they could gain the favor of that top percentage of people with all the wealth, why wouldn’t they go for it? I am not advocating these people because their weatlh is and has always been at the expense of others. But that’s just in the Untied States, we are enjoying some privelages at the expense of others as well.  I thought a wonderful example of that was when Dr. Mr. Williams mentioned that there are so many countries out there with no drikning water and we are sitting here bathing in drinkable water everyday. Now again I am brought to understanding the privelage piece a little better—but what do I do? How do I stop that? My conservation of water would not bring more drinking water to those countries who have no or low suplies…

I am also starting to understand the saying more and more that says “life is not fair”.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a lover of life and all that it offers. It’s just that I now see all these inequalities around me and just begin to wonder, what do do, where to start, how to help and how to not help perpetuate these opressive cycles.

I enjoy the fact that the way this class is approached is not trying to tell you that “You need to beleive this way..” as many other classes that I have taken in the past, but instead encourages us to reconsider the concepts that we’ve already learned and adopted as well as considering new posibilties and perspectives.

Which brings me to the next topic. Gender…

I am a female sex and gender. I grew up with 3 younger brothers. I was the oldest and the only girl. I was quite the tomboy when I was younger. The sugar and spice comment meant nothing to me when I was younger because I knew it was just a saying.  I played with my brothers but my mom told me that each time that she got pregnant when I was younger that I would beat her on the belly and command that she have a sister for me. Each time another boy came, and I guess it didn’t work because the sister never came. I don’t remember ever giving much thought to my role as a female in society. I’ve always just kind of accepted it for what it is. I beleive the reasons why females have began to seemingly close the achievement gap is quite interesting.

As far as sexuality and sexual preference, I am personally heterosexual, However it is an interesting topic for me because in high school I found out that many of my close friends were gay. I never stopped being their friend, and I never minded it. I was all for whatever they wanted to do because I knew that my friends fell into this category and I just wanted for them to be happy.  Within the past two years however, I began to examine my thoughts against homosexuality with my newer religious/spiritual beliefs and I have come to the conclusion of one of the most widely held beliefs as seen today in class. In summation:

Love the sinner, hate the sin.

Jesus left the new commandments to love God and to love one another. As far as I am concerned, a sin is a sin. Although I now view homosexuality as a sin, I also view fornication (and all the actions that it entails)  as a sin as well.

Is that being closed minded? Some may believe so..but it is the belief I hold. But guess what? I am a sinner as well. I am a sinner saved by grace. I struggle and war against sin within myself in different forms and fashions daily.  Who am I to weigh the sin of a homosexual against my own sins as a heterosexual? All that sin fall short of the glory of God. I am included. All I can say is thank God for his grace.

The Matrix…by Chi

The perspective and insight of today’s reading is remarkable. I never imagined that childrens literature had so many social implications. Our children are being indoctrinated through a media that caters specifically to their young growing minds. After reading these articles I then began to question myself–are some of the beliefs that I have personally acquired over time attributed to the various stories, cartoons,  video games, tv shows and other outlets that I was exposed to in my childhood? How much did these ideals that seem to perpetuate what one group has classified as societal norms permiate into my knowledge and understanding of the world around me?

I love how the reading by Patrica Campbell mentioned that about it being easier to get the concepts into the minds of the children without being hung up on the terminology. I’m sure that especially applies to those of younger ages like–prek-1st grade and avoids having to get the parents getting upset. It was empowering to see how in the Article by Linda Christensen how she was actually able to get her students to go out and do something about the information they learned. I also liked how she mentioned that if she noticed that if she did not take a step soon that the information that her students learned would likley turn to cynicism.

I feel like I am living a live version of the movie–the Matrix. This whole new way of understanding is being opened up to me. Instead of starting with a phone call–like it did in the movie (as far as I remember) it started with me with my acceptance letter into this program and the first day of this class–after all the initial paperwork of course. It just keeps getting deeper and deeper. I cannot any longer ignore or go without addressing these issues once I see them in my own daily life. I feel deeply obligated to allow this change and transformation process to take place within–so that I may take what I have now learned and use it to impact change into the world around me.

There is one thing that stood out to me more than anything in that movie we watched today.  Jane Elliott was asked if one person could make a difference. Then she allowed that person to answer the question for her in realizing all that she had already changed in that small amount of time that she spent with those people. And just imagine, we will be teachers and have some of our students for a whole year! What a difference we can make.

I started this journey thinking that this program would prepare me to become a great teacher. I’m starting to begin to see how much more is going to be involved in this process than just addressing these issues in the classroom. The issue is clearly bigger than us all. But you know the saying…the bigger they are, the harder they fall? Right? We can start somewhere. The most detrimental action we can do with all this newfound knowledge is inaction!

Confronting Stereotypes and Percepiton… by Chi

Today’s discussion about sterotypes was eye opening. It  really started me thinking about some things I hadn’t really considered deeply prior to today. I have some of the very sterotypes that we listed in class ingrained in  my brain about certain groups of people and even certain groups in which I would be identified. Why do I believe what I believe?  Who has taught me these things and why are they my perception? Why would I assume ANYTHING about anyone before I meet them, if I clearly don’t like others doing that to me? If I don’t even fit any of those perceptions that were thrown out there, why is it so hard for me to believe that there are others who deviate from the stereotype? Somewhere in my mind I’ve been convinced that the stereotype is the “norm” and everyone else who doesn’t fit the norm is a special case or exception.

I have to now learn to unlearn many of my perceptions of people at face value and honestly take the time that is necessary to get to know them as a person. I have to notice the people who are against the stereotypes and stop classifying them as a special exception but accept the fact that they are a part of the complex group in which they have been labeled. Now I am sure this will be easier said than done, but I believe that if I can start by becoming aware of when these thoughts enter my mind and attacking them before I allow them to settle or confirm my views or opinions about a person.  I’m still chewing and digesting all that was said today. These discussions are like a mirror in which you are allowed to view yourself up close and personal imperfections and all. If we never had these moments for self reflections, there would probably be things that people could tell us about ourselves all day, but we would never really come to understand them ourselves without taking a good look.

Serenbe Retreat…By Chi

Wow. I am simply amazed at all I learned at the retreat. I have so much to write about, I don’t even know where to start. This is going to run like a stream of conciousness because I just want to get my thoughts out.

Serenbe was amazing. It was so calming to actually be able to step away and breathe fresh air and be in a different setting than I am everyday. I didn’t get to see everything, but I thouroughly enjoyed what I did see. The cottages were cozy and the beds were rather comfortable. I think the set up and concept was very cute. The food wasn’t bad either.

Now all that surfacy stuff aside, the discussion was pretty deep to me, especially what we talked about today after viewing the “Eyes on the Prize” video clip. I knew there were collective agents behind the scenes helping the individual agent, and the people we usually see of and hear of in the history books to be able to make the changes they did, but I saw it in a completely different perspective today. I didn’t realize how many of those actions were deliberate and intentional displays of standing up for what they believed in. I always just assumed they were put on the spot and just responded accordingly. What I also loved was the discussion we briefly touched on about intent. The intentions and motivations behind our actions can make such a large difference in the outcome–a good example is the one given about the man who kept attempting to grab onto the table to lift himself up. He could have chosen to have violent intentions and the result would have changed entirely. However, this man stood up for what was right and did the right thing. I feel like that’s what we have to do. It’s going to get difficult as a teacher, I know it, but we can either curl up and give up, or keep fighting(non-violently) and keep struggling for what we believe and know to be right. We have to remember that a vision doesn’t stop at one person (unless we allow it). That vision can be lived on and carried out in others. It’s so wonderful today that I learned, not only can we dream big to positively impact these students we will have, but there are ways that we can actually begin to achieve the dreams. I left that excercise feeling more empowered to be able to start or even sustain an effectual change in the community.I love how a distinction was made between values and policies because the concepts were slightly blurred in my mind. Both are important and both are going to be effective tools. Hmm? Idea? Teacher toolbox? Don’t ask…just brainstorming…

Anyway, I loved the coffee house!

The Sterotypes–Very nice settup I guess I was making sterotypes myself in guessing who was who. I loved the outfits and character portrayls.

The Gifts–I loved the idea. It was sweet, sincere and touching. We are giving several of our gifts and talents to the classroom, but we also have a lot to give to each other as well.

The Super Teachers–Hillarious! If I wasn’t already on the floor, I probally would have fell to it from lauging. It was very funny and cute.

Funky Five (my group)-Great job! It was cute and fun!

Last group--with all the hitch hikers—I don’t remember what you guys were called but that was a very creative and entertaining idea.

If you can’t tell, I enjoyed the variety show! Brandon’s Step routine was on point, and Dr. Williams made for an interesting partner! Fuuuuuuny!

I kept saying that I did not get Dr. Mr. Williams joke….but I love how Dr. Mrs. Williams came in and completed the joke. I thought it was a beautiful demonstration of unity.

The UACM song was cute and encouraging. It was just a really fun night!

I loved the colors activity. That blue card matched my personality to a T. I was almost scared when I was reading the description because it was so accurate! My 2nd color was green followed by gold, then followed by orange. I beleive that was a great activity to get to know and understand myself some more.

The “competition” was interesting. I am glad it was set up the way it was because it was the best way to get us truly acting as we would had it been a real competition.

I thorughly enjoyed getting to know some more of my classmates/cohort. I didn’t get around to everyone, but hopefully I will soon.

This trip has created memories that I am sure will stick with me the rest of my life, and I’m delighted and joyful that I was able to partake in such an expereince. I can already tell this is going to be an amazing and life altering program.

God knew what he was doing when he started me on this path!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend break while it lasts. Back to the grind on Monday!

PS. I had a request to post my poem that I read at the coffee, so here goes:

Out Goes the Income

With gas at a fortune a gallon

And groceries on the rise

The fact that the same amount buys less

comes at no suprise.


The piles of bills are becomming mountains

That are quite overwhelming to climb.

How is one to get that kind of money,

When given so little time?


Credit cards maxxed out,

Uncle Sam is knocking at the door

And if one more bill collector calls me…

Ooooh I can’t take it anymore!


Week to week paycheck

Becomes a daily routine

And out goes the income

Before any of it is seen


It’s a rough world out there

But I know I will survive

Even if the rate of foreclosure

Increases to five!


Because I have my Lord

He is always there for me

Not only can he conquer the devil

But the fallen economy!