Welcome to my readers, old and new. Let’s begin.
Today’s readings were a real eye-opener and forced my to reevaluate my own teaching and the effectiveness of school leadership as well. The first point that really jumped out to me was from John Gatto and his article, “The Seven Lesson Schoolteacher”. The main perspective I gained from this article was the emphasis on Confusion in the classroom. Gatto states: “I teach the un-relating of everything, an infinite fragmentation the opposite of cohesion; what I do is more related to television programming than to making a scheme of order.”
Further perspective on these seven lessons can be found in the following video:
When I relate Gatto’s ideas of confusion to my own school, I think about the Government Mandated Assignments that are constantly added to the plate of teachers and students, often without any rhyme or reason. In order for schools to provide data for the Ministry of Education, teachers must force random assignments in at inopportune times, regardless of their current area of focus.
As a teacher, it can definitely be overwhelming to deal with the growing number of standardized assessments, and there’s no doubt the students feel the same way as well. The unfortunate reality is that there is not a lot that a teacher can do when the expectations are coming from Administration or Government Ministries. However, as a potential future leader/admin in a school, this is a battle that must be fought before it gets to your teachers. Leaders of school must pass the message along that the expectations on teachers and students are already so high. Government Ministries must learn to gain their information in new methods, rather than adding additional standardized tests that do nothing to achieve curricular outcomes.
Another important aspect for school leaders to consider with standardized assessments is the additional challenge faced by low-income students. The Washington Post has an article which states: “administrators at Govans, where nearly 70 percent of students come from low-income families, say the shift to online testing three years ago led to lower student scores on the PARCC than on previous paper-and-pencil assessments”. Furthermore, Towson University professor Jessica Shiller states: “Putting the test online just sets the city kids three steps back … It’s more a measure of income than skill.”
As School Leaders, we must ensure that school technology is not thrust in the hands of our students without proper training, for both the teacher and the student. If not, we are putting our disadvantaged students even further behind.
How can we improve our school?
The enlightening articles on the ISM’s in today’s society and shows a particular focus on how Cultural Genocide can be so damaging to the First Nations and Inuit Students.
For this section of my blog, I’m choosing to focus on the positive and what leaders in my school and school division are doing to help foster real growth and change. One of the best experiences with my school staff was our participation in a Blanket Exercise.
If you have never been a part of a blanket exercise, the following quote explains it quite well: “The blanket exercise is an activity where participants explore the nation-to-nation relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada, and explore a timeline of over 500 years. Blankets arranged on the floor represent land, or ‘Turtle Island’ known by the Indigenous peoples, and each participant plays a part, by stepping into the roles of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. I added my own touches to the presentation by noting some dates, specific stories and names that participants might relate to. When people leave, they will have a new, deeper understanding of the history, like they haven’t before. The activity really ties together all of the points of things we may have heard about such as the Indian Act, residential schools and the 60’s scoop”.
What struck me most about this particular exercise, was the fact that so many people were emotionally affected in so many different ways. Some people were upset when forced to move off of their lands, while others were saddened by their death due to an infectious disease. As the father of young children, I was particularly upset when the babies were taken away and parents were left on their own.
To wrap up, I continue to feel emotionally and intellectually challenged and motivated by the readings and blog prompts. It is clear that this class will be a departure from other’s I have taken and I am looking forward to the journey.
Any thoughts or questions, please feel free to comment.