Reading Response #8: Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity

This weeks assigned readings were informational in the sense that they demonstrated looking deeper past your comfort zone when it comes to sex and gender. As a student coming from a small farming community, I never needed to think about sex and gender, since it was never brought up throughout my friend group or my small school. Before learning about sex and gender, I was an example of heteronormativity. I would look at an individual and guess that they were heterosexual unless they would tell me differently. What I learned very quickly through my education classes, and other classes I have taken throughout my first year of university, is that I can not assume someone’s gender, just like I can not judge a book by its cover.

Before the reading, I never fully understood the difference between gender and sex. I can now distinguish that sex refers to the chromosomes you are born with that form your genitalia and reproductive organs that distinguish you as female or male through biology. Gender refers to gender identity referring to one’s feelings and emotions to being female, male or other without the use of biology context. By understanding these basic terms, it makes it easier to understand one’s gender identity and how they wish to identify themselves.

I was able to make a connection to a previous reading that we have done this semester. The reading “The Heart of a Teacher” discussed some important points that also were talked about in this weeks reading. The previous reading touched on the importance that teachers need to fully understand themselves to be able to teach their students successfully. The same topic was discussed in this reading that teachers need to understand their identity so they will become confident and comfortable in talking about a student’s identity and teaching about gender diversity in the classroom. To understand all the complexities that make up a child, we must be able to understand the complexities that are within us as individuals.

Understanding the importance of learning about gender diversity, we as future educators must be ready to teach about gender diversity in a comfortable setting for all students. It not only helps the students that are trying to find themselves, but it will allow your classroom and all students to be more diverse and educated on topics that are often ignored because it makes people uncomfortable. As well as being future educators, we must steer away from our personal beliefs and ideologies to ensure that all our students get a whole, well rounded, and un-bias education to teach them all the possibilities this life has to offer them. Teachers also need to represent sexual diversity throughout the school before a child comes to them for help or advice. Teachers can do this by teaching gender diversity openly and making Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) groups available to students. This shows the students that the classroom and the school are open to discussion.  School plays a strong role in finding one’s identity and we as teachers need to recognize the diversity and encourage it.

We have been taught that having an openly diverse classroom is important for the development of all your students, but how are we supposed to do that when we are not fully educated on the topic to be able to comfortably discuss these touchy issues? Just like inclusive education, I believe a class on sexuality and gender should be mandatory to all education students no matter what education program they are in.

I am left puzzled because the reading states that it is against the law to discriminate an individual for the way they choose to identify themselves, but we see discrimination in the classroom and in media all the time. On the news, President Trump recently stated that transgendered people are not allowed to serve for their country. How are we supposed to form a classroom that respects all individuals for the way they identify, if children are still seeing heteronormativity throughout the world and by very powerful leaders of our world?

Understanding all the diversity I will see throughout the classroom, I have many lessons I want to learn before I enter my own classroom, so I can speak comfortably on all topics rather it be inclusive education or the topic on gender diversity.


Deepening the Discussion: Gender and Sexual Diversity

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Field Placement Week #7

Yesterday was a bittersweet day as I attended my field placement for the last time. Although I will have more time to focus on my studies without this placement, I will miss it dearly. The field placement was not only good experience and hands-on learning in the classroom, but it was also a time that was used as a motivation toward my studies. I looked at my placement as a destination that if I put my mind to it will soon reach that point and be able to work in my own classroom. I am very pleased that I was given the opportunity to be in a classroom in my first year of university! I am now sure that this program is where I want to be.

The kids were sad to see my partner and I leave. Through these short seven weeks, we were able to make strong connections with most of the kids, so when it was time to say our final goodbyes we had a few kids in tears. I never realized how strong of connections we were making with the students until it came time to say goodbye one last time. Luckily both of our placement teachers said we could go and visit anytime we would like, so if I need some inspiration throughout my schooling I will be sure to contact the teachers.

Through this opportunity, I not only got experience in a classroom, but I have already begun taking key concepts from the placement. I think the biggest take away that I will use throughout the rest of my education and in my future classrooms is the concept of knowing your children as individuals and not as a class. When dealing with such a young age group it is more beneficial to focus on the student’s lives, personalities and well beings rather than focusing on the curriculum. Another key concept that I will bring with me is the sense of community throughout the classrooms and the school. It is very important to build a community with the parents of your students and understand their family dynamic to understand the individual child fully. I also need to understand that things are not always going to go the way I planned, so I need to be able to adapt to the changes that occur through my work day that will accommodate the students in the best way possible. These are the main concepts that I am going to keep, but there are many other concepts I will always think about as well. Some of these concepts include co-teaching, use of technology, movement in the classroom and class management.

I did not think I was going to learn so much in my first-year placement, but I have learned many valuable lessons that have shaped me as a person as well as shaped me as a future educator. I will remember my first placement as being an amazing school and I will remember the little grade ones and twos who ensured me that I was in the right field. I am beyond grateful to my placement teachers and am excited to see where my education will take me.

Currere Paper: Analytical and Synthetic

When I look in the mirror, I not only see the physical characteristics that I am composed of but also all the intricate details both physically, mentally, and emotionally that have made me the person I am right now. When I look in the mirror, I am astonished of the person I’ve become. Who would have thought a little blonde-haired baby girl would have turned into the caring young woman that I am up to this point?

I am a daughter of two loving parents that have raised me to shoot for the stars and to become anything that I aspire to be. Their continuous support has made me the person I am today, and I will be forever grateful for all they have done for me. I am a granddaughter to two sets of grandparents and two great-grandmothers, along with the ones who have passed and who are watching me every step of the way, being my inspiration and drive to become this young lady. I am a niece to my aunties and uncles that have helped me find myself when I was lost. I am a baby sister to my brother who taught me how to be tough both physically and emotionally. I am a friend to many people I have met throughout my life who have picked me up when I was down and have shown me the true happiness life has to offer.  I am a partner to my boyfriend who only sees the best in me and has never stopped me from pursuing my dreams. All these individuals in my life have formed me into this young, happy, eighteen-year-old girl.

I am a small-town girl who moved to Regina, Saskatchewan to become a student at the University of Regina. Pursuing a degree that will result in receiving my dream job; a teacher.

I am a future educator. I will never be able to put into words the love I have for children. They warm my heart where no one else can touch. Teaching is my dream, and I understand I am not yet at the final step to becoming one. As I look at myself in the mirror I see myself as an educator that will be able to reach out to so many students and not only teach them but allow them to teach me.

I am dedicated. As I begin to see myself for who I am, I acknowledge all the hard work I have put into my studies, relationships, jobs, and extracurricular activities that have made me the strong, independent women I see standing before me. With each new experience, I endure I can add another piece of myself that has been missing.

I am beautiful. As I sit here, thinking about who I have become I can finally say that “I am beautiful” which I have never been able to say that before. I am beautiful on the inside and the outside. I am openminded, accepting to all that I meet and have learned that everyone is beautiful in their own way. I am happy with who I have become and looking through the lens, I can finally say that I am proud of myself.

After uncovering the past, the future, and now the present it amazes me how they all connect. All these images and self-reflections I have made throughout this course have allowed me to see why I am the way I am, what brought me to this point, and why I aspire to be what I have explained for my future.

The past relates to the present and future. My experience that I mentioned in my regression is the biggest drive to becoming a teacher. Knowing at that moment I did not want any child to feel the way I felt at that very moment is why I am here at the University of Regina receiving my PreK-5 education degree. As I look back, there were many pivotal moments that have shaped who I have become, and those moments cannot all be recognized in one class. I also recognize that my dreams I have for myself regarding my career and family have also shaped who I am now.

I have formed an individual image of myself and as I move through the rest of my life I hope I am able to look back and realize how I got here and remember the amazing people I have met for me to reach this part in my life. This paper was challenging in the sense that it allows you to think personally about yourself, something that many people try to avoid at all costs. I know I have avoided it up until this point. However, now that I have looked back in the past, looked ahead in the future and looked at myself now at this very moment, I can understand how I got here and why I have become who I am now and where I want to end up. I feel enlightened about how much I have learned about myself and am excited to see where this new-found knowledge takes me throughout my life.

Reading Response #7: “Oh Canada: Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion”

I was very intrigued with the assigned reading for the week. I have never really had to think about inclusivity in the classroom or even in society since I personally have never been affected by a disability and no one close to me has been affected by a disability. This reading and the week’s lecture has helped me understand the importance of being educated on inclusive education and how we, as future educators, need to uphold it in our classrooms.

A key component I took from the reading was the lack of classes future educators are taking to understand the importance of and how to manage an inclusive classroom. After I thought about how little I know about inclusive education, I could understand that for me to be a successful teacher, I need to gain experiences that will help broaden my horizons and assist me in helping include different individuals that I will meet in classrooms throughout my career.

To succeed in an inclusive classroom, teachers also need to understand that changes must be done to suit the best quality of learning for all students. In the reading, it states that the curriculum needs to see changes for all students to be accommodated. I learned that this doesn’t mean to make the workload easier for all students, but rather broaden the assessments and make changes to the assignments which will allow students to go above what is expected and allow students to go under the grade level when it is fit. An example of this is in my placement when my teacher had an inquiry assignment for the students and the students she has this year were not at the same level as the students last year. This resulted in her having to make a completely new booklet. This time she decided to make the booklet so that all students can use it throughout the classes she will have year to year, and to help with the diversity in the class she has this year.

From the reading, the presentation, and my weekly placement, I have learned about many techniques that would benefit an inclusive classroom. Co-teaching and smaller classrooms may be more beneficial to the child’s academic and social needs and allow them to grow faster than they would if they were being secluded in a private classroom with an education assistant. My placement teachers use the technique of co-teaching and it works perfectly when there are some kids that need some extra attention. I also find the pyramid that was mentioned in lecture to be a very suitable way to allow inclusive education. The pyramid allows all the students to be taught at the same level and when further teaching is needed for some students, they can move up the pyramid and get the one on one help that is needed.

The question I am left with after the reading is: Is it more suitable to place children in an inclusive classroom with children the same age or is it more beneficial to put children in an inclusive classroom that matches their social and academic ability, even though those abilities may not match their age?

I am left puzzled over the word “disability”, how are we supposed to form a completely inclusive classroom when we still view people with varying abilities as lesser than the “norm”?

To conclude, I now understand the importance of inclusive education and the importance of allowing all children to be in the same environment no matter their skill levels.

Reading Response #6: Ignorant School Master

For this week’s assigned readings, the class was asked to read the introduction and first chapter of “The Ignorant School Master.” I found this week’s reading challenging. Although I found it a challenge I was able to get some key points drawn from the two chapters. As well as make some connections with the reading and in-class discussion.

A big thing I learned about from the chapters was the concept of universal teaching. Universal teaching is thought as a teaching method that allows students to be able to teach and learn themselves without someone explaining the content. I find this form of teaching very interesting and a good way to allow my future young students to gain some independence within in their own learning. Humans have used the Universal teaching method since we were infants. The teaching method was used when we were beginning to walk and talk. Humans are a lot more capable of teaching themselves basic knowledge then we think.

After learning about the universal teaching method, I looked back throughout all my schooling and realized that independent learning was discouraged. Instead of being able to read silently either our textbook or a novel we were studying in class, we were forced to read and listen to our teacher. The reading called these people the explicators. The explicators are the experts on the subject and the students are supposed to learn the information only from that specific source. I think the role of the explicator is good in some situations but, as a future educator, I also need to understand that for my students to gain independence and a good work ethic they need to be able to solve problems themselves without the help from the expert.

After reading the chapters and discussion in class I learned that the role of the explicator plays a huge role in society. The explicator can make the student feel powerless and unintelligent by going past their knowledge, thus making a hierarchy in the schooling systems. I can even use this reading as an example, the reading was past the classes knowledge and vocabulary and left most of us more confused over the reading than learning anything. This method does not support equality and freedom of speech, it does not allow for diversity in learning nor in the natural thought process of each individual student.

I question I have from the reading is when is it a good time to use the explicator method of teaching and when it is a good idea to allow your students to self-teach themselves? Does it depend on the student, the subject, or the class? I believe that self-learning is a great technique, but when should that type of learning be incorporated?

I am left puzzled after the article to why the explicator method is used primarily in schools? Are we not as teachers trying to allow the children to gain independence so why do we take that away from them during their prime years of learning? Taking the sense of self-learning away will do more harm than good once our students get out to the real world and have to figure out problems themselves.

Although this reading was slightly challenging I was able to pull out some key concepts from the text and learn more valuable information towards my role as a future educator.

Field Placement Week #6

In the two classes, my partner and I visit the students are young and only can do so much of one thing at a time, that is why they often do short intervals of classes throughout the whole day. Every Monday in the one class we switch between math, English, French, and library time. It is a split class, so the teacher will teach the one grade for half the time and send them off to work in their booklets while she teaches the other grade for the remainder of the time. For the past six weeks, the classroom has been working on their addition and subtraction skills. Through the different grades work booklets, although they are learning the same units, you can see the difference between the two. The main difference is the numbers just get bigger as the grades move up, focusing still on the one skill.

We mainly focus on the reading section of English and today we got to see the differences in the two classrooms when it comes to reading levels. Some kids are way above their reading level while others are slightly behind, the teachers spot that and can make changes to either challenge the student or give the student an easier book to build confidence. Even the levels between two different grade one classes are huge.

I noticed that the students learn and work better in a hands-on situation than working individually. They seem to be more engaged and can stay engaged if the class is working together rather then working alone. Therefore, the teachers really focus on an inclusive setting allowing the children to interact with each other and learn by doing.

The students not only build relationships with their peers but also learn valuable lessons such as patience and manners. I notice that the children when they are working as a group or alone and their confidence usually is lower when they work individually.

Through show and tell and story time the children are given the opportunity to relate the stories they are hearing about, to their own lives and make connections to their prior knowledge and experiences.

The teachers follow the curriculum while allowing some modifications for individual students which is needed at times. They run their classrooms very well and I have begun taking notes and the amazing things they do throughout the classroom.

Field Placement Week #5

This week’s topic we were asked to look for in the classroom was looking at how the classrooms honor diversity. This is closely related to last weeks post, however this week I will be focusing more on race, language, traditions, and sexuality.

The two teachers my partner and I get to work alongside with are superior at making all their children feel the sense of belonging that young children thrive. As I look around both classrooms I can notice a variety of different ethnic groups being represented. However, unlike what we sometimes see through society the classrooms are not grouped because of the different groups, they are all associated with each other and know no differences between the two, the way it should be.

Since there is a wide variety of ethnicity groups being portrayed throughout the classes, the two classes get to participate in a variety of celebrations. In my school, we got to celebrate the basic traditions such as Christmas, Halloween, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and Valentine’s day. These children get to experience these traditions and many more. They all partake in Chinese New Years, Ukraine Christmas, and many more. This allows the children to learn about not just what they celebrate but what their peers also get to celebrate. By doing this celebration it also allows the students that come from other parts of the world to feel more at home and more accepted since they can see their traditions showing through in a classroom setting.

Another thing that I find very important is the students are taught at a very young age to be proud to be a treaty person, and they are taught about our First Nations people and learn to respect all the people in this country.

Another way our teachers represent diversity through the classrooms is through language. The children partake in a French class as well learn some Cree throughout their learning. I believe this is very beneficial to the students as well as to the school when they can sure how diverse they are.

A topic we were supposed to look at this week was how gender diversity is shown throughout the classroom. The kids are at a very young age still, so they have not completely expressed who they are, however, the kids are encouraged to play with both genders and are encouraged to play whatever they want, no matter if it is not a gender “norm.” Our teachers are very observant and when they spot a child being mean to another child they can react and find a solution to the problem.

Overall the classrooms I have had the pleasure to be in for the past five weeks encourage and respect how diverse their peers are. They are taught to treat others the way they wish to be treated and I believe that is a very beneficial skill the should kids to learn.

Field Placement Week #4

When we look at two children standing next to each other we can understand that they are different just by their appearance. When we were young we were taught that no one is the same, because if everyone was the same the world would be very boring. I believe this is an important lesson to hold onto as I go into adulthood: not one child is the same, we can not expect them to act the same.

During field placement this week my partner and I were asked to look closely at the diversity of children in the classrooms we attended, we realized right away that you don’t have to look too far to see all of the bright young individuals in the classroom and understand that they are all different. Diversity is a wonderful thing in the classroom, however, sometimes challenges can arise when diversity is so strong.

In the classrooms my partner and I get to work in, there are a lot of differences between each student. Some of those differences are race, gender, behavioral issues, learning abilities, and maturity levels. In a grade one classroom, the levels of abilities between the children can be dramatic. They are at a young age, so it all depends on the environment of their home life to how they react and learn at school.

Our teachers that we work with have learned to handle their classrooms very well considering all the different abilities in the classrooms. Both teachers have taken an extreme amount of time to learn about each individual student both academically and who they are as individuals. By doing this they can learn about the child’s life and then understand why they do certain things the way they do them. I am amazed how much these two teachers put into not just the curriculum but also learning and responding to the life of the student outside the classroom. I can now see the importance of knowing your students and not just teaching them subjects.

Diversity is appreciated throughout the school and in the two classrooms. The two teachers have many techniques that help the students learn to their best potential. Using iPads, fidgets, standing desks and different types of chairs, the teachers understand what works best for each student and when that student is having trouble staying focused they change the environment for the student to be able to work in a more suitable situation.

The school encourages diversity throughout their students. The school brings in many different counselors and therapists to help individuals that need the one on one attention that they don’t always get when they are in a classroom with 24 students to one teacher. This kind of support not only helps the students, but it also helps the teachers as well.

Teachers also understand that kids need a break, using body breaks in the classroom and little movements, all the students can stay engaged with the lesson that is being taught.

This week I got to work specifically with a young boy that was having trouble focusing in class. Instead of learning the lesson being taught in the classroom, the boy and I went to the hallway and worked on the iPad. Once he was removed from the environment and got the one on one attention he was able to do his work quickly and precisely, he is such a smart boy, he just needed a change to be able to do his work.

It warms my heart that these teachers take so much time engulfed in their students. They know what is in each student’s best interest and put that above just learning subjects. As a future educator, I know the very importance of understanding your students and understanding what they need to grow academically.

Currere Paper: Progression

Twelve years later…

A beautiful Wednesday afternoon is wrapping up as I finish yet another work day doing the job I love, teaching. As I am tidying up my kindergarten classroom, I cannot help but stop and watch the two hummingbirds flying around the feeder my class and I put up. These children bring me so much joy and happiness every day I walk into these big school doors, and I cannot be more thankful for how lucky I have become. One last look to make sure everything is cleaned up and I head out my classroom for yet another night. As I am leaving, I say my regular goodnights to all of my coworkers that have become a second family to me. This small central Saskatchewan school, that has 150 students in its entirety, is my home away from home.

I leave the small school for the night and walk out to my mini-van sitting in the teachers parking lot. On my way home, I make a quick stop to pick up my two beautiful children from the local daycare. My little boy just turned four yesterday and my little girl turned two in the winter. My children are the best things that have ever happened in my life and I cherish these small moments greatly. I get my kids loaded into the van and we head home.

On the drive home, we decided to take the long way home on the gravel roads and past my mom and dads. The kids love to see grandma and grandpas house any chance they get. As we pull into our long driveway the kids scream with excitement when they see their loving dad is already home. They jump out of the van as soon as I come to a halt and run to greet their dad with a hug. I unload my school work from the passenger seat and haul it into our beautiful log house that my husband and I built right after our wedding.

As I begin making supper for the family, I send our little boy to help his dad feed the cows. I think it is beneficial to have my kids involved with the farm, and once my little girl is old enough she to will start helping, too. For now, I set her in the living room to play. My husband has been in the cow business since he was young, and he is now a partner with his father in the business.

We all gather around the supper table to enjoy our family supper that we have every night. Soon after supper is done, the kids get to bed. Once they are in bed my husband goes out to finish his chores and I begin some lesson planning. I like to wait until my kids go to bed before I do work, family time is crucial to me because before I know it they will be starting families of their own. These young years will fly by in a blink of an eye.

When the night begins to come to an end, I take a long hot shower and crawl into bed next to my high school sweetheart and now, husband. He has been around through so many important milestones of my life, and I am ready to spend every day with my first love and only love.  Things will not always run so smoothly, but at least I know I will have him by my side for the rest of life.

When I wake up the next morning, I will be able to live yet another day of this amazing life I have formed for myself. I am so internally grateful for who I have become and who I have in my life. I have worked so hard to get to this moment in my life, and I would never change a single event before this. Through failures and lessons, heartache and success, I am the person I always aspired to be.

Field Placement Week Three

It was good to get back into the classroom this week. On the first day back from the break the kids were super excited to be back to school and to see all their friends! The smiles and joy on their gleaming little faces warmed my heart. I do have to say that this short placement is the best part of my week and I will be sad when it is time to say goodbye to the kids and teachers I have started to bond within just three short times so far.

In the two classrooms, I have had the pleasure of working with many different variations of children. Although the children are around the same age, does not mean that all students will mature and develop at the same pace, this concept is prominent throughout the two classrooms. Some of the students are very mature both intellectually and socially and some students are a little on the immature side for their age. In the grade one/two split, I find it interesting how the grade ones are so much more mature than the grade ones in the class that is strictly grade ones. The maturity level of the grade twos allows the grades ones to fall into that maturity level as well. Allowing split classes into schools both can be beneficial as well have some struggles but for children that need work socially, I think it is a great program to put them in!

The two teachers I have been working with have taken much emphasis on getting to know each student individually and knowing what that student needs to succeed. I believe this is the greatest aspect a teacher needs to be able to do to have a successful classroom. In the two classrooms, we see differences in learning rather it be behavioral, intellectual, or language barriers. By knowing all your students allows the teacher to be able to work towards new teaching methods and new ways to keep the children motivated in their school work.

I think the two teachers that I specifically get to work with rely mainly on each other. I have never seen two teachers that can work so well together and have that support of two teachers to handle a situation, teach a lesson, share lesson plans or even just to talk to would be so beneficial throughout their day. It is inspiring to see these two teachers work so closely together, they just click, and it is something I hope I will find when I am working in a classroom. The teachers also rely on their principal and vice principal along with the teachers that come in to teach their classes French, music, and art. Without a big support system of people and helpers, I don’t think the ship would run as smoothly in these two classes as they do now!

I believe teachers continue to build their professional knowledge through experience. Throughout every new class they get each year and through all the differences between their students, I believe with time they build more knowledge and understanding towards their career. Even though every student will always be different, through experience teachers will learn many great techniques that can hopefully be used with many different students.

The two teachers I get to work with have truly been an inspiration to me as I will soon be running my own classroom. Although I have a few years to go I will take many of their tips and guidance with me throughout my years and into my own classroom.