Inclusion – (Anthea Holczer)

We tend to be frightened or uncomfortable when we see someone with a disability; they look different from us, which unnerves and scares us. We need to understand that they are just the same as we are. They want to be included in our society, with us. People with disabilities have hopes and dreams just as we do. Just because their bodies don’t function the same way as ours, doesn’t change who they are and the gifts they have to offer society.

A person with disabilities wants to be included. They want to feel like they belong. They are part of a family, but want to belong to the neighbourhood, community, and school. These are all parts of our society we take for granted but it isn’t always shared with someone who has a disability. They need to be included too.

The children who are challenged and are included in society have better outcomes, socially and cognitively than those who don’t. Their inclusion also benefits regular students. It has been proven that regular students school work increases by 15% when having a special needs student in class. The students are more engaged with school work and are motivated to help their friend succeed. In helping the challenged student, the other students learn and understand the material more thoroughly. Everyone benefits.

Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems, apply to everyone; not only able-bodied people but to those with challenges also. The microsystem, mesosystem, exosystem, macrosystem and chronosystem all work in the same way for those who are able bodied and those who aren’t. We all want to have a healthy social identity, and school plays an important role for all children no matter what their challenges are.  We all need friends, and want to be accepted.

I have a sister who is blind, although she is accepted within the family, she has a tough time with society. People shout at her, thinking shouting will help when talking to her; her ears work perfectly it’s just her eyes that don’t. Thankfully she has an outgoing personality, and takes others lack of understanding in her stride.

How do you break down the barriers of peoples’ prejudice?

How should people start a conversation with respect?

‘The Secret Path’ (Anthea Holczer)

Gord Downie was inspired to write the songs and orchestrate the movie ‘The Secret Path’ when he learned about the story of Chanie Wenjack. The train tracks in the movie are an important image, as Chanie is trying to find his way home, and the tracks are an easy path to follow. But, the tragic irony of the tracks, is that trains were used to ship Indigenous children to residential schools. The trains were full of crying children forced from parents and homes; these trains were nicknamed ‘trains of tears’ and it’s easily understood why. The families had to comply as it was the law, if the law was broken they were arrested, put in jail, or fined. Chanie’s walk home following the tracks makes sense; the train brought him to the residential school and the tracks will lead him home, unfortunately he doesn’t make it that far.

It is surprising to learn that only 66% of Canadians know about residential schools. Everyone in Canada should know about this part of our history, it’s part of our Canadian story. It’s even more surprising to learn that 40% of Canadians have heard about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. What have 60% of the population been doing? Maybe, this is our colonial blindness resurfacing; not listening to First Nations issues, and blocking out any ugliness we don’t want to see.

Canada has a history of not listening to First Nations peoples and easily turns a blind eye to their issues. Gord Downie, a white man, has championed the Indigenous fight to be seen and heard with his work “The Secret Path’. Downie was a beloved Canadian rock icon, he used his fame and influence to make the plight of Indigenous people common knowledge and main stream. Well done Gord Downie!

As teachers we will have First Nations students in our classes, and it’s important for us to understand, respect, and honor traditional ways. We need to learn the truth of our ugly history, own that truth, and work towards an anti biased society. As teachers we have influence on the students in our classrooms, and we will help the healing process which has only just begun.

We are very lucky to be students at the University of Regina, it’s an excellent school, that also has the First Nations University on campus. I try to take as many classes as I can at the FNU, and participate in social activities. I want to learn ‘Indigenous Ways of Knowing’ and make Indigenous friends.

Is it possible to build High School’s on reserves? Keeping young teenagers at home with their loving family is so much better than sending them south to finish school.

 

Constructions of Identity (Anthea Holczer)

The classrooms and hallways within a school are unkind and cruel to those who are different.  High school is a place where students are learning about their sexuality, and if they don’t conform to the heterosexual narrative, they can be subjected to verbal and physical bullying. If this isn’t bad enough the students can also feel isolated and invisible; they feel broken, and deviant. Fitting in and having friends is important at this age, and when they don’t, LGBTQ students are at risk mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Teachers and schools have a role in stopping the bullying behavior, and supporting the LGBTQ students. There needs to be an openness within the classroom for safe discussions about gay’s, lesbians, and bisexuality. Harassment needs to stop, and acceptance of different sexuality needs to be explored without condemnation. Issues of sexuality affects all students and they need to understand the whole spectrum. The more the students are educated in the area of sexuality the greater the chance we have of stopping bigotry in our youth.

Bigotry and harassment targeted at LGBTQ students decreases their chance of academic success, they have a higher rate of substance abuse, and are at risk of suicide. When there are reduced levels of victimization within the school, students have been found to be statistically just as successful at school as their heterosexual peers.

Anti-bias education stresses the need for students to have a strong sense of self worth, understand others feelings, understand human differences, make caring connections, take action and understand fairness. These goals are strengthened as students are empowered to act against prejudice and discrimination. We teachers need to stress and incorporate these core ideals into every classroom to ensure differences are accepted and everyone is respected.

In Bronfenbrenner’s model the teacher has an important role in the student’s micro-sphere. It is up to us to be nonjudgmental regarding sexuality, and give as much objective information as possible. We need to be open minded and supportive of all students. Our attitudes help to uplift, and empower students to be their true selves. We want students to be free to be themselves and fulfill their destiny.

How can we make ourselves more approachable to help students who are truly in danger of self harm?

 

My Time With ‘Kids on the Block’ (Anthea Holczer)

This experience has been wonderful. Working with the ‘Kids on the Block’ team has been rewarding; the team goes into schools and gives puppet shows teaching children how to keep themselves safe. I knew this was a special placement, and my initial thoughts and excitement of volunteering here were correct.

Having now presented puppet shows, I realize this work is even more empowering for the children than I imagined. The children really identify with the characters and scenario’s in the show. The facilitator encourages questions, and gives feedback half way through the performance, which reinforces the material taught. The children are involved as well as the teacher, which is exciting for everyone.

Learning my lines was stressful, but the facilitator allows us to read the scrips under the table which has lifted my cloud of worry. I know the flow of the play and how my character is meant to respond which is the most important thing. I can read my lines, and if I make a mistake it’s OK. The puppets are still heavy, but as the facilitator talks to the children half way through the presentation, I have a quick break and rest my arm. It’s not the physical ordeal I’d thought it would be.

The enthusiasm of the teachers has really surprised me. We ask them to join in with our Safety Presentations, and sometimes they go way off script; the teachers’ responses get the students really excited and focused on being safe. The more the teachers respond, the more the children respond, and the more enjoyable the puppet show is for everyone.

My greatest area of growth through this experience, is to ‘go with the flow’. Life is not scripted, so when we go off scrip I’ve had run with it. Every member of the team knows what to do and what’s expected, and we roll in whatever direction we’ve been pushed. Being able to think quickly on my feet, and respond in character, has been challenging yet fun. The ‘Kids on the Block team do great work. I’m pleased to be part of the team.

Constructions of School Leaders – Anthea Holczer

In the past teachers had an isolated profession. The teacher worked with students and had little interaction with adults while working; although this approach still occurs today new interventions are being introduced. Some progressive administrative staff encourage collaborative professional development, which consists of team teaching and school based learning. This approach means the isolation of teaching is reduced, and the workforce environment becomes positive as staff work collectively as a community to grow and support each other.

Each teacher has their own unique personality, and when they teach they create their own teaching style. There are no guidelines that outline the prerequisite skills necessary for a good teacher therefore, how can we evaluate a teacher? There is no set standard to measure their teaching style against. Hence, evaluation is a difficult issue. Evaluation reports generally produce positive results, but teachers want constructive feedback so they can improve themselves. For an evaluation to take place for one short period it is not a good enough base line. To properly judge and evaluate the teachers’ true skills more evaluation is necessary.

It’s interesting to learn that a teacher can be allocated any grade and told to teach any subject regardless of their background and training (Teachers, Administrators and the School System, p. 201).

The principal has a guiding role to play when creating the culture and environment within the school. When the principal is actively involved with the teachers and sees what’s happening in the classroom they can give immediate and constructive feedback. The principal can act as a positive role model for the students as well as the staff. I have worked with principals who are actively involved with the teachers and students, their positive attitudes thrive within the school and are infectious for everyone.

I applaud the affirmative action plan initiative to have more Aboriginal and minority group teachers in the education system. As Canada is becoming culturally diverse our teaching staff also needs to be equally diverse. Teachers from other counties and cultures have rich traditions for the students and staff too connect with and learn from.

The amount of preparation time given to teachers varies widely from province to province and school board to school board, why is this?

 

 

 

 

 

Personal and Professional Boundaries (Anthea Holczer)

Are teachers’ professionals? This is a debatable point. Teachers continually upgrade their knowledge through professional development, and their work is considered essential to the development of our society which are prerequisite qualities of professionals. However, teachers do not have the ability to discipline themselves within their own ranks, because of this they are not considered professionals.  Teachers are not monitored through self-regulation, as most professional bodies are; it is the minister of education who has exclusive authority to issue teacher certificates and deal with misconduct issues therefore, teachers are not professionals.  Teachers as professionals is an ongoing debate, as is the issue of self-regulation.

Most professionals keep their knowledge locked away and secret, which gives them an air power. These professionals such as doctors and lawyers are impersonal, and use their power, to give themselves airs of superiority. Teachers on the other hand, share their knowledge with students, parents, and all members of society they engage with. Teachers are approachable and down to earth not like the professionals they are measured against.

Occasionally within the workforce conflicts occur, during these awkward and difficult times it is important for teachers to maintain their professional manner. It is not appropriate to criticize and undermine another teachers’ professional authority. There should not be any personal criticisms, and disputes should be handled in a professional manner. Teachers need to treat all staff with respect at all times.

Connections

When I have a positive attitude, the students will also have a positive attitude. When I’m excited about the material I’m teaching that excitement is infectious. It’s important for the teacher to remain positive and engaged, as the students will respond in kind creating a fun place for leaning to occur.

Although the teacher looks alone at the front of the class, they have the help of family, friends, colleagues, and administrative staff behind them. This supportive group, is Bronfenbrenner’s’ microsystem. Our society supports us, and it supports the students we teach. We are never alone, as each person is an integral part of our society, and is equally important.

Should teachers be allowed to self-regulate? If teachers were allowed to self-regulate would they then be classified as professionals?

 

School Systems – How They Have Changed (Anthea Holczer)

It is interesting that schools when they first were established in Canada were modeled after military and religious training. Schools had desks lined in rows where manners and punctuality were considered great assets. Societal norms and our changing views in our developing world have changed the military concept of the classroom to a place that welcomes industry and technology.

We now have more schools than ever before, which is good as our population is growing. Due to our changing society we have more programs in place, and a wide range of courses that are offered to the students. The classrooms are better equipped, the teachers are more qualified and our curriculum is more diverse; which ensures that students have a wide range of skills and attitudes when they enter the workforce. Gone is the regimented, punishment driven school system.

It is interesting to note that there are many different philosophies of teaching styles and techniques. Each individual will gravitate to one style more than another, and the curriculum may want to emphasize a philosophy that is different from the teachers’. The teacher has to adapt their own style with the philosophy of the school district which shows creativity and adaptability of our proffession.

The education profession has had to adapt and change as social norms change. Teaching styles and philosophies that were once the norm have changed as our society and environmental cultures have changed. However, the caring connection teachers have for their students, hasn’t changed as time passes. Teachers still want the very best for each student they work with.

It is interesting to note that the current curriculum places emphasis on child directed learning, which is a form to Aboriginal ways of knowing. This is where education isn’t separated into individual parts, but concepts are looked at from a holistic perspective and all connections are explored between ideas.

What will the emphasis and educational philosophy of the province be in the next 10 years?

Kids on the Block Program (Anthea Holczer)

The ‘Kid’s on the Block’ program is affiliated with the Regina Sexual Assault Center. It is a program that uses puppets to focus on sensitive issues: child safety, bullying, and abuse. The ‘Kids on the Block’ team, visit schools and give puppet presentations to a wide age range of students. The children watch and learn how to keep themselves safe and the puppets give the children techniques to protect themselves and their friends from harm.

My initial impression of the ‘Kids on the Block’ program is that it provides schools and teachers essential learning tools for dealing with difficult issues. The puppets emulate typical social scenarios, and use language that is age appropriate, therefore, the children easily relate to the story. The puppets also teach the children strategies on how to handle themselves in these situations: safety, bullying, and abuse and how to provide positive outcomes.

Although this is an excellent program, I am concerned about the time and effort I have to contribute to learning the scripts. There are many different scripts to learn, depending on the age level, and the theme of the story. The puppets don’t seem heavy at first, but they quickly get heavier and heavier. Each puppet is tall and needs to be standing up straight, which again works my arm and hand in a way they aren’t used to. My hand and arm get tired very quickly. I want to do a good job as this is a worthwhile cause, and don’t want to let the team down.

I anticipate that this will be a rewarding experience. It will be interesting to hear the children’s comments on safety, and bullying and see what they have learned due to the puppet show. The children will see that they can be resilient against strangers and learn techniques to protect themselves. They will learn the skills necessary to work through bullying and overcome the fear and humiliation. They will understand the risk of telling their friends about their feelings, and see that friends are supportive and care. Through support from friends the children will learn how to solve problems in an appropriate way.

Why aren’t more schools requesting the abuse/sexual abuse puppet shows? These sensitive issues need to be openly discussed, to help children to protect themselves.

Socio-Emotional Development and Motivation (Anthea Holczer)

The definition of motivation is  “[it’s] an internal state that arouses, directs, and maintains behavior” (Woolfolk, Winne, Perry p. 399). There are two forms of motivation: intrinsic, and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is where we look for challenges and find overcoming the challenge rewarding; incentives are unnecessary as accomplishing the task is reward enough.  Extrinsic motivation on the other hand, is motivation created by external factors therefore rewards or punishments are given to create a desired outcome. Intrinsic motivation is by far the best motivational tool, but both forms have their place within the classroom. The teacher should encourage intrinsic motivation, and ensure that extrinsic rewards encourage learning.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, state that survival, safety, belonging, self-esteem, and self actualization, are what motivates us; we need to achieve each state before we can complete the next level in the hierarchy. Maslow’s theory although highly criticized, is a good way of understanding students as it incorporates students physical, emotional, and intellectual needs while demonstrating the interconnection of these needs on the individual. Belonging to a social group helps to promote self esteem which is important for everyone, and once this level on the hierarchy is achieved self actualization can be striven for.

Self determination in the classroom is an exciting concept. Self determination plus autonomy increases interest and curiosity from the students. The students have the authority to make real choices, which allows them to feel empowered to achieve their own educational goals. The students feel engaged, confident and competent when learning new things hence stimulating high intrinsic motivation.

Connections:

Having motivated students who want to learn and are engaged is what teachers strive for. Rewards of stickers, sitting in the teachers’ chair, and feeding the class pet have its place within the classroom, but motivating the students intrinsically is key.

I always thought that motivation was the driving force for success, but I’ve come to realize that although motivation is important we need to have self discipline and volition. Volition is the follow through, and without it nothing is accomplished no matter how much drive and ambition you might have. Teachers need to show that they care about the children’s interests; students will be emotionally engaged in school, and strive for success.

Should teachers explain the difference between rewards and incentives to their students? Will the students respond differently to a reward or incentive?

Reference

Woolfolk, Winne, Perry. Educational Psychology. Ed 6th. New Jersey, USA. Pearson Education Inc., 2016.