Emily Columpsi

"The art of teaching is the art of assisting discovery" -Mark Van Doren

Parts 1 and 2: How Stories Shape our Lives

Part 1:

1. ‘Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of Schooling-As-Usual’ pg.43 

The main point that is covered in this story is how difficult it can be to be a new teacher. There will be many challenges along the way and mistakes will happen; however, as long as you learn from the situations and carry on in an optimistic manner then everything will be okay. It is important to never take your eye off your intended goal, and thus it becomes equally important to confront these obstacles early on in your career.

 2. ‘The Brown Kids Can’t be in Our Club’ pg.83

This story is revolved around the subject(s) of race and racism. It discusses how students at a very young age are already coming into the classroom with preconceived ideas about race and stereotypes. Thus, it is important for teachers to confront their own biases first before they can integrate the topic of race and racism positively into lessons and activities.

 3. ‘What Can I do When a Student Makes a Racist or Sexist Remark?’ pg.93

The main point in this short story is how the curriculum is “everything that happens,” as well as how to deal with racist or sexist remarks in the classroom. It is important for teachers to address the issues right away and not to dismiss them. Furthermore, teachers need to be sensitive to those who are affected by the comment, as well as to those who said it.  Teachers need to take these incidents as learning opportunities for students as they can promote deep and meaningful classroom discussions.

 4. ‘Framing the Family Tree: How Teachers can be Sensitive to Students’ Family Situations’ pg. 95

Family situations and home environments are going to differ for every child and student. Thus, it is important that teachers are sensitive to, and gain knowledge of, their student’s family and home life. This awareness can help teachers educate students, and inform them, on family diversity. Resulting in inclusion and acceptance of “non-traditional” families.

 5. ‘Heather’s Moms got Married’ pg. 103

This story emphasizes the topic of same sex-relationships. It is important that teachers have discussions about these relationships, but remain aware to the variety of viewpoints that student’s may have. Many students in a classroom may feel uncomfortable or uneasy about the topic, and as a result teachers need to highlight what family means, as the author calls it “the circle of people who love you.”

 6. ‘Out Front’ pg. 111

The main point that is highlighted in this story is how teachers need to be allies and supporters for their students, in spite of their own sexual orientation. Homophobia is an increasing issue throughout many schools; therefore, teachers need to establish safe environments in order to facilitate meaningful and deep discussions. Furthermore, teachers need to tie homophobic topics into the curriculum as it can result in a sense of inclusion and understanding. Teachers need to talk positively about homophobia and provide guidance so they can become role models for their students.

 7. ‘Curriculum is Everything That Happens’ pg. 163

It is very important that teachers realize that the curriculum goes way beyond the formal, written documents that they have to teach. The curriculum is “everything that happens” in the classroom, including relationships, attitudes, interactions, and feelings. Furthermore, teachers should be encouraged to think ‘outside the box’ while teaching. During the school year, it is essential that teachers gain knowledge of their students so that they can teach them to their full abilities. As well, a safe environment needs to be set in place so students can get to know each other and create positive relationships in order to feel comfortable and help one another grow. Also, teachers need to create networks with other colleagues so they can grow and learn together.

 8. ‘Working Effectively with English Language Learners’ pg. 183.

English Language Learner’s need teachers that are patient, clear, and concise in their instruction. In order to help ESL students, teachers can’t teach one way. Instead, it is significant for teachers to incorporate a multitude of different teaching methods and strategies such as: using visuals (pictures, PowerPoint’s, photographs, graphs etc.), preparing them for future lessons, encouraging them to work and practice at home, and learning more about their culture, traditions and language. Furthermore, teachers and students need to be aware that even though ESL students need assistance and alternative modes of assessment, they are not students with disabilities or special needs.

 9. ‘Teaching Controversial Content’ pg. 199

If a teacher decides or wants to teach controversial content, they first have to attain the appropriate knowledge on the subject before they can present it to the students. As well, teachers must come to a decision on whether or not they want to advise the parents or administration ahead of time about their instruction. In the end, teachers have the authority to teach what they want to teach.

 10. ‘Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year’ pg. 317

Classrooms are 99% of the time culturally diverse; thus, the differences in holidays can become an issue. To avoid such issues, teachers can teach for social justice by educating their students about different holiday traditions and holiday cultures. However, it is important to start small within your own classroom first, as not to offend the other teachers and administrators. Although, when a teacher does express their opinions to the school staff it is important for them to be clear in what they mean to avoid confusion and misunderstanding. What’s more, colleagues have to be open minded to each others ideas, feelings, concerns and opinions in order to foster growth and mutual understanding.

Part 2:

Story I choose to examine critically and in-depth: ‘Framing the Family Tree: How Teachers Can Be Sensitive to Student’s Family Situations.’

Other stories I connected to: ‘The Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’ and ‘Heather’s Moms Got Married’

Form of representation: Visual multimedia piece


I gave my written explanation of this piece personally to Michele.


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