All posts tagged: Culture

What is Equity in Education?

Equity is a topic that has been on everyone’s minds and lips lately and it has caused quite a lot of debate about what the term actually means. Here is the prevailing definition:   Equity is the purposeful unequal distribution of resources in order to obtain equal outcomes.  At first glance, that statement seems unfair. When I read that definition for the first time, I was similarly indignant, “How could anything other than equal be okay?” Here in the United States, we are socialized to believe that “All men are created equal” and are thus just as capable of achieving their goals as the next person. This is of course, not a reflection of the truth of systematic racism, but it is the shiny image we like to cling to. Despite the way the wording of that definition offends us, it is something we employ daily without a second thought. For example, three people go to an emergency room, one with a broken leg, one with a minor cut needing stitches, and one having a heart attack. The …

Importance of Perspective

I spent today in a train-the-trainer training hosted by my state’s licensing board for teachers. This training was not at all what I expected based on the new state standards for relicensure. It was better. One of the things that I took away from today was that getting teachers to see themselves as active agents in the world who respond to the world through their own biases is the first step. While I subconsciously already knew this, the way the information was being presented offered examples of just how this can be accomplished in meaningful ways. As a white, male functioning within my own comfort zone of cultural interaction, I can easily walk into a room without considering the lives of those around me. In fact, I do this every day. I think we all do. But the important first step of recognizing how that lens affects everything else we do as a human allows me to think about other perspectives and notice differences. It’s like when you learn another language. It’s not until you understand …

Post Civil War Education

EL 200 surprised me today. They were well engaged. Mostly. I have to check in with a student who has really been struggling in the class. I know that he is more than capable. I am assuming that the issue is outside of class where he may be struggling with work, other classes, or both. I am glad that tomorrow we are given a bit of time at the end of the lessons for checking in. Anyway, today we focused on learning the way to add the -ly ending to adjectives to make them into adverbs. Obviously, this is day one. D-day. They are going to struggle for at least a bit of time. I will probably give them a quick pop quiz tomorrow. I am really liking those. I give students full credit for completing the pop quiz. Then I take the data from what they get wrong and use it for the next day’s lessons. For example, today’s pop quiz was on the difference between have and has and when to use each …

War Culture

I have a memory that occasionally floats its way back to the front of my thoughts. Today, as I looked at the news of the two mass murders, acts of terrorism, I couldn’t help snapping back to the summer of 2008. I don’t remember exactly what we were doing or why, but I do remember that we were on a patrol. I was in the turret of one of our vehicles. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of sitting behind a machine gun and chain smoking your boredom away, I can tell you that the mundane action of patrolling Iraq is a great way of freeing up mental space for random thoughts and philosophical discussions between vehicles on the radio.  One day, as I sat there turning the turret back and forth in my section of coverage, I noticed something that had never really crossed my mind before. Just on the other side of the road passed a convoy of Iraqi police trucks, filled with officers sitting in the bed of …

Mindset changes

When I first started this blog, I wasn’t sure what direction it was going to move in. At first, I just wanted to share things that I had learned through my experiences and professional development, especially considering the lacking background of general and content educators in regards to ELL education. Yet, every time I posted, I felt a little more pretentious than the previous day. Often, I would stare at my screen trying to find ways of sharing that wouldn’t sound off-putting. Now, as I am writing, I strive to maintain that this is simply my point of view. My perspective placed out in the world for others to read. This is just one of my own mindset changes that I have had over the course of the last 2 years. In fact, I have made many realizations and mindset changes even in the last 24 hours. One is that my blood boils far too easily, but the other is that we need to make changes in how to explain concepts to people as advocates of …

Accommodating and Educating Somali Students in Minnesota Schools

I don’t know about your school district, but my school district is still facing many challenges in regards to behaviors and culture bumps with our EL population, especially with out Somali students. This is why when I was introduced to this book at the MELED conference, I jumped at the opportunity to purchase it. The book itself is easy to read and very short. At a total of 76 pages, plus the bibliography, it can easily be read in one sitting. The text is broken down into short vignettes, historical facts, and cultural and socioeconomic demographics, which are very easy to digest.While it is from 2004, and I believe that the Somali student demographics have changed, there are still some valuable lessons for teachers that can be found in this book.  What Teachers Can Take Away1.    The vast history of a country devastated by multiple wars, years of occupation, and several colonial changes of power have played a large role in how Somali families view the world. 2.    Somali families sometimes live with extended families in …

Holidays & Culture

Now that Thanksgiving is over, we are well into the holiday season for the majority of teachers in the United States. One thing that I frequently hear from people year after year is that they don’t know how to talk about their values and holiday culture while in the classroom. There is a mass of confusion brought about from school districts having different, open ended policies, Supreme Court cases involving the first amendment, and a large collection of rumors. I am not an authority figure in the world of education. But I can share some insights I have learned over the past couple of years through 3 rules to follow when considering sharing personal values in the classroom. Rule #1: Know yourself This may seem a bit off key, but let me explain. We are teachers. We are in a position of great influence. Know that students model their behaviors after us, even when we don’t think so. If what we are about to share about a holiday or tradition could possibly be coming from …