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Transcript of Conceptual Framework
Context of Community
I grew up in a small town where mostly everyone knows each other. My view of community is very much based on my experiences as a child growing up in this community. Each person has their own job and the occupations do not overlap much. Each person worries about their own family and well-being, but the community rarely comes together as a whole.
My view of a school is largely shaped by the elementary school I attended. It was a one-story, long, rectangular building in which there were three or four classrooms per grade. The grade levels were kindergarten through fourth grade.
The hallways of the school are decorated with paintings of animals, historical figures, and children learning. These paintings enhance the atmosphere of the hallways by brightening them and fostering joy.
The library in my school was quite large, although I did not realize it at the time. It was full of books about different topics and organized by grade level. In class we were read to often and also encouraged to participate in AR.
My visualization of a play-ground is a large, nice playground on top of mulch. It includes a nice blacktop area for basketball and tetherball, swings, and a nice grassy area for kickball.
My perceptions of a classroom include a colorful classroom full of bulletin boards and posters. The desks are arranged in groups facing the chalkboard. The classroom is a fun, inviting space that fosters learning.
Technology in the classroom includes a few classroom computers in which the children share. I also perceive a TV in every room with a VCR.
I also envision a reading corner or area in the classroom in which children can feel comfortable to retreat to and read during free time. The teacher should encourage this reading and allow children the freedom to choose their books.
My town had many city-wide events, but often many people were not very active. I participated in club sports and crafts programs in the summer as a child and found these very fun and beneficial for me. However, I do not believe that parents fully took advantage of these programs for their children.
My perceptions of students include an all-white class with little to no diversity. The children are dressed appropriately, but not in uniforms. The students are happy and excited to be at school.
First Impressions of the Whitely Community
LOW ON RESOURCES
Coming from a small town, most people in my town were not impoverished. The only experience I have had with this type of community is simply the images I see on TV or what I read in books. This has caused me to have a very stereotypical view of an impoverished community that lacks resources, is dangerous, and stagnant. I also envision the people lazy and unwilling to work to change their situation.
Week one was a huge learning experience as I was immersed in a completely different college setting than I was used to on campus. From the very first day, I was captivated by Wilisha Scaife's introduction to the community and the Muncie P3 Program. I was immediately charged with the fact that my perceptions of the Whitely community were very stereotypical and incorrect. Wilisha described the community with such pride and commitment that I only caught a glimpse into what the Whitely community is truly like.
During the neighborhood walk, I was inspired by the close-knit community I experienced on our short walk. Mr. and Mrs. Scaife waved to everyone they saw and often knew them by name. I was surprised by the sense of community here, but it did reinforce my idea of how close-knit the Whitely community truly is. I was also amazed by the pride I saw on the community members faces as they described and presented their community to us. I could tell this community was entirely different from my community and my initial perceptions of it. Though some people in Whitely community may be lacking financial security, others in Whitely are more than willing to compensate and seek out the resources that others need in order to help others succeed, and I find this very inspiring.
Camp Adventure was an awesome opportunity where I was able to learn an immense amount of information about the group and cooperation. Throughout the day, we were required to work together and collaborate in order to complete a task. I was amazed by the camaraderie we had established by the end of the day and how much better everyone knew each other. Looking back on the experience, I was easily able to connect this experience with the community and cooperation my mentor Mary Dollison described in the Whitely community. Just as we had to come together, brainstorm, and cooperate to finish tasks at Camp Adventure, Mary described to me how the people of the Whitely community have also had to come together and brainstorm how to improve their community. Only through their cooperation, passion, and hard work have they been able to restore the Whitely community.
One word to describe how I felt after week two was "astonished." I was able to delve deeper into culture and what it truly encompasses through different readings and discussions. There are so many aspects of the culture that in order to truly understand it, you must immerse yourself in it like this program allows us to do. Without immersing yourself in the culture, you only see the tip of the iceberg, while there is still a plethora of information that is unseen. During this week, I was also able to tour Longfellow Elementary School as well as Huffer Memorial Childcare Center. I was able to understand that once again my initial perceptions and ideas about the schools in this community were incorrect.
Tour of the Schools
Both Huffer Memorial and Longfellow Elementary seem like amazing places for children to spend their time, learn, and develop. I was impressed by the organization at both locations and the love I felt from the teachers to their students. My initial perceptions of both places were that they may be run down and not as accommodating for the students. However, I was very pleased and surprised to see that each school is working to better the children, the teachers, and the community. The school is a community created to love, nourish, and encourage the children to succeed. Each school continues to strive for excellence however they can, and I was truly impressed with their philosophy and organization.
The poverty simulation was a great experience. Although this was my second time participating in a simulation, I was even more affected than I was the last time. It definitely opened my eyes to what poverty looks like, even if it was for only an hour. I struggle to think about the lives of the people who are in poverty for weeks, months, or even years, and it breaks my heart. The most beneficial part of the night was hearing the true accounts and understanding their stories. It is important to understand poverty and hear these true stories because the children in my classroom could easily be living in these conditions and I need to understand how it may affect the children, emotionally, socially, physically, and academically. This simulation opened my eyes and broke my heart for those impoverished. I desire to help these people in poverty in anyway I can, not only as a teacher, but as a community member as well.
This week was another great growing experience through all of the lessons, discussions, and activities. I had the opportunity to learn and practice the Daily 5, discover the uses and purposes of technology in the classroom, and better understand the implications and components of race. I have found that my prior understandings of race are completely wrong. Instead of being a set way to categorize people, race is truly a socially constructed idea. It should not hold as much weight in our society as it does. The United States still remains a society divided by race, but in the future I hope to instill values in my family, classroom, and community that changes these standards and appreciates diversity.
My Instructional Context
For our courageous conversation this week, we participated in a privilege line. It was a very eye opening experience. I know that I am a privileged person: I grew up in a nice town with loving parents and no social prejudices against me. However, it was an eye opener to see that not everyone was as privileged as me. Some people were back behind the starting line where as I had probably moved ten steps forward. It did make me feel guilty almost that I had the upbringing that I did, but honestly it is just the life that I was born into. I think it did raise some righteous anger in me just that people have to live like that. My heart breaks for the people everywhere who are living impoverished without the resources I believe every person deserves, and also for the people who are repeatedly discriminated against because of the way they look or act.
This week we were asked to create a desktop publishing assignment that graphically represents the instructional context I intend to create for students and how that context supports the content I will teach, my pedagogical practice, and instructional technology use for my students. In my design, I created a poster featuring the words "imagine, create, inspire." I aspire for the children of my classroom to imagine the possibilities in every circumstance. I want them to use creativity in the lessons they learn and the products they create. Create is the second word I used as I desire that my students simply create to show their understanding in any form they can. Finally, I chose inspire because I want to inspire my students and in turn allow them to inspire others and desire to make a difference in their community and in the world.
In my instructional context, I also highlighted the elements of technology, teamwork, use of manipulatives, individualized help, and success. The top picture of the whole class instruction emphasizes the teacher using the Smart Board. In my classroom, I value the use of technology and believe that the students will truly benefit from the use of technology in educational ways. I also believe that my class is a team and we need each and every student in order to be a complete team. I will encourage teamwork in my classroom and the importance of every person in the class. I will also allow my students to use different manipulatives in order to learn lessons instead of simply talking at them and allowing them to regurgitate. The students can discover other avenues of learning with different resources and materials. I also desire to allow my students time for individualized help if they need it. I care about every child and desire for each and every one of them to succeed. I will implement all of these aspects in my classroom in order to achieve the goal of every student succeeding and improving throughout the year.
A Link to My School Context:
This was a jam-packed week, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and learned so much through the process! Monday was my first day in my placement at Longfellow Elementary. In the morning as Dr. Pat was taking us around I was getting increasingly nervous as we neared closer to my classroom, but it did not take long for me to feel comfortable. Mrs. Couvalt was very welcoming and informative the first morning before the children came. I soon found that my perceptions of classroom management differ greatly than what is implemented in this classroom and my vision of students has drastically changed. This week I was also able to delve into the world of children's literature and continue searching and researching for the "canon" of African American Children's Literature. We also explored white privilege and I know understand that I am even more privileged than I know.
My First Day
In the morning I started out nervous, but I soon became very comfortable and was able to truly get an understanding of how Mrs. Covault runs her classroom. As the students came in and began their daily routine, it was clear that Mrs. Covault creates a very structured, organized classroom environment. This is very different from the classroom atmospheres that I grew up in and I began to wonder if this change is because of the diverse population that attends this school. As we talked and dissected this idea in class, we did notice that most of the teachers were somewhat strict and structured and seem to have a different way of talking to the children. I believe that this does have somewhat to do with the children and how they were raised. They may not respond as well to nicely asking them to do something, but rather have to be told straight forward. I believe there is a balance between these two techniques and I will strive throughout the semester to find this balance.
From the beginning of this semester, my perception of students has already drastically changed as the majority of the children in my classroom are not white. Now, I have a much more diverse picture of students and I'm sure this perception will continue to change throughout the semester.
The two main aspects of the classroom that I am struggling with is classroom management and engagement. Mrs. Covault uses dojo for classroom management as well as a columned chart that has each child's name and different consequences across the top such as warning, lunch detention, referral, etc. As the week went on, I tried to figure out what kind of classroom management is most effective because I can see dojo working in some aspects, but not in others. The students do quiet down when Mrs. Covault adds a point to someone's score and a positive sound occurs. However, I do not agree with some students accumulating a score of -15 throughout the week because they will never try if they are always negative. As I struggle to put the pieces of this together, I look forward to discussing classroom management in class and learning more about the different opportunities and management plans that are successful in classrooms.
The second aspect I have been struggling with is engagement. Being in a first grade class, I believe the students need to be interested and engaged and this can therefore affect the classroom management. However, the students are rarely out of their seat and are often working on pencil and paper worksheets or other worksheets that may require some coloring, cutting, or pasting. Mrs. Covault rarely deviates form her normal teaching strategies and if I am sitting there bored I cannot imagine how the students feel. Throughout the semester I will strive to create interesting and engaging lessons in hopes of teaching the children that learning really can be fun, and hopefully Mrs. Covault is able to see and understand this as well.
The visit to the Maring-Hunt Library was a great experience because I was able to immerse myself in children’s literature and truly get an idea of what culturally responsive books look like. I had the opportunity to read different pieces of literature and collaborate with the other students to decide whether the books were acceptable or not. Through this exercise, I am learning more about the importance of culturally responsive books and how important it is that children see themselves and can connect to books. This will encourage students to read and allow them to acquire a love for reading. It will also instill in students a sense of pride for their culture and diversity and hopefully diminish some of the white privilege that we have learned is so prevalent within our society. As we continue to search for the “canon” of African American Children’s literature, I become increasingly excited to collaborate with our mentors and other community members in order to truly understand what makes up a good culturally diverse book.
Once again, this was a wonderful week full of learning experiences, challenges, and new opportunities. I am learning more about my students in order to form relationships with them, and I can really see the benefits of this in the classroom. The students are better behaved for me and I can see the students working harder in the time when I'm there.
I also had the opportunity to teach my introduction activity to my children, and the activity went very well. The students were receptive and loved being read to. I was delighted the next day when Mrs. Covault actually read the children a story for the first time since I have been in the classroom.
Mrs. Covault also surprised me this week by allowing the students to interact with the Smart Board. The students were so excited and engaged for the first time, and I was so happy to see this change.
Back to Buley Fundraiser
Full Day in Classroom
Longfellow Open House
At first I was a little nervous because I did not know what to expect, but open house started as Shawn Davis made a welcome speech for all of the parents. Her pride and compassion for her school and her students amazes me every time I hear her talk. I can tell that she believes in her school as a whole, the teachers, and each and every student. She even asked the Ball State students to parade in front of the audience, and I felt as if she believed in me the same. After the opening speech, we walked back to the classroom and I had the opportunity to meet about eight of my students’ parents. It was very interesting to see the differences in students as some of them wanted to show their parents everything in the classroom while others showed them their desk and wanted to leave. I also enjoyed meeting their parents as some parents asked all about the program and the work that I do. I believe that the parents can lend a lot of insight to a teacher about why a student acts a certain way. It can also reveal motivations and aspects about children that you may never learn otherwise. Overall, it was a great experience and I gained a certain insight into the lives of my children that was very beneficial.
Tuesday was a wonderful chance to truly understand how the school day runs at Longfellow and how the students are instructed throughout the rest of the day. The school day at Longfellow is so short. I felt as if Mrs. Covault never had the opportunity to sit down and relax or collect her thoughts, and this was in part due to the short day. At my elementary school I have substitute taught a few times and I felt as if I had the opportunity to sit down and relax while the students were out of the classroom, but the school day is also an hour longer there. The students were rarely out of the classroom and when they were Mrs. Covault had errands to run or other tasks to complete in the classroom. Mrs. Covault also worked straight through her lunch break and ate on the run. It really hit me how much extra time teachers put in and how under appreciated they truly are.
I also noticed that all my students learn during the normal school day is reading and math. They never learn about science or history, and I find this very sad. I believe that it is important for teachers to learn how to connect these subjects and maybe read a book about history or science so the students are learning about the content, but also encouraging literacy through reading aloud. It is important for teachers to build this early knowledge base in students in order to prepare them for the future.
As I spend more time in Longfellow Elementary School, my concept of students is dramatically changing. At the beginning of this semester, I pictured all white students who enjoy school and strive to learn as much as they can. They are mostly middle-class, come from healthy families, and have parents who are concerned about their education. At Longfellow, I have experienced a complete change in my perception. When asked to picture students I picture diverse students from all different backgrounds and family situations. Some of the students in my class and other classes have heartbreaking stories, and it is my job as a teacher to love these students and encourage them to succeed no matter the problems. Although some parents are very involved in their child's education as I saw during the open house, some are also not involved at all. All of these concepts and lessons I'm learning have changed my views and will continue to change my views as the semester goes on.
Thursday evening was the Back to Buley Fundraiser. I believe it is amazing how the community and town of Muncie pull together in order to keep the Buley Center up and running. It was truly a time to reminisce on all of the wonderful programs the Buley Center offers in order to keep the children of the community safe and off the streets. I think it is a great community center and many other community and towns would truly benefit from a center such as this one.
This week was truly a week of new information combined with old in order to form an entirely new information base. I formed new connections and was able to make the information I was learning in articles, at the conference, and in class relevant to me and my teaching.
I also had the opportunity to attend the Indiana State Reading Association Conference this week. I was able to visit booths, listen to speakers, and attend sessions in which I learned a lot and received many free books and manipulatives.
Discovering the importance of truly engaging children in learning and creating a classroom environment in which children feel encouraged to be themselves and set goals was a very important lesson I learned this week. I hope to create a joyful experience in school for the children and allow them to see how fun school can be!
Indiana State Reading Association Conference
It's All About Connections!
The Indiana State Reading Association Conference was a great experience! I learned a lot not only about reading, but also about the common core, using manipulatives, and making the classroom an exciting place. The first large lecture by the keynote speaker, Harvey Daniels, was hard for me to concentrate because there were so many people out of their seats and talking that I found it hard to pay attention. However, he did bring up some great points illustrating the common core and a few pointers that we should know. I think it is important that the teachers understand the common core and how they are organized in order to understand how best to teach them to the children. I also had the opportunity to go to three different sessions about how to promote reading comprehension in fun, enjoyable, and relevant ways, how to use hands-on manipulatives in math and language arts, and how to incorporate songs into learning. My favorite session was the session detailing how to use manipulatives in the classroom. We also received three great samples of manipulatives that are available to buy. I feel like the speaker did a great job of detailing how to help students gain skills in literacy and math using these manipulatives and see how students can gain a better understanding through the use of them. The other two sessions I thought were good, but I wish I would’ve chosen other sessions because they were not as beneficial for me.
This conference also allowed me to realize how much I’ve learned through SCC about the reading process and the types of reading programs available. At one booth I visited, the lady began to explain her product and company. The more she talked, the more I realized it was a very bottom-up form of teaching reading. She explained how, in this K-2 reading curriculum, the kindergarteners begin by learning all of their letters and sounds. Then as they arrive in first grade, the students read more complex books and continue to sound out words. The curriculum focuses solely on decoding as the pictures in the books they use in this program do not match the words because they do not want children to use the pictures for clues. Instead, they want the children to focus on decoding and as they move into second grade try to integrate meaning into the stories they are reading. Walking away from the booth, I found myself saying that I would not teach my kids utilizing that program and I find it sad that children really go through that program. I believe that reading is so much more than decoding, as I’m learning in SCC, and I found it so disheartening that the curriculum was so close minded and focused on that one aspect of reading. Instead, I believe teachers should use a variety of different strategies and encourage their students to use the pictures and discover the meaning behind words. Before SCC I did not realize that there were other ways to teach reading besides decoding, and I would have been perfectly happy with that program described to me at the conference. However, through SCC I have learned that you can read without knowing the letters and reading is so much more than decoding. In fact, there is a child in my first grade class who does not know all of her letters. If I ask her to write an “M” she may not be able to do it, but she can read a sentence out of her basil reader that include words with “M”. After learning this in class, I was amazed to see it actually play out in my classroom. It was like a revolution occurred right there, and when I allow this girl to read her book using the pictures and asking what word would make sense in the sentence, she became so excited. It definitely changed my schema of learning to read, and I am so excited to see the progress this little girl makes throughout the year.
This semester is all about making connections, and this week I was able to make a specific connection between our discussions of classroom management and our readings of Vygotsky. Vygotsky discovered that children need to discover in order to learn and students should be encouraged to seize opportunities for cooperative learning. With the students’ desks in groups, the students should be encouraged to cooperate together and seek others’ help or advice for aid. The students should also be encouraged to use language to organize their thinking and to talk about what they are trying to accomplish. During the classroom management talk, we discussed a teacher who really got to know her students and sought out an expertise that they all had. Each child would be labeled with a special expertise. When other children in the class need help with certain items, they can go to that expert for help. This may include an expert “cutter”, drawer, hand-writer, or friend. This will allow each student to feel special, but also encourage cooperation between students and truly establish a community in the classroom. This classroom community can be encouraged through the classroom environment such as placing the students’ desks in groups instead of rows.
We also discussed how placing the children’s desks in groups and expecting them to work silently to themselves is simply wrong; however, I see it happening in my classroom. In my first grade class, the students’ desks are arranged in groups, but the teacher does not encourage or allow the students to collaborate and work together. Instead, the teacher insists that the students remain quiet while working. According to Vygotsky, insisting on total silence when young students are working on different problems may make the work even harder for them. Instead, students should be encouraged to self-talk in order to guide learning. The students can give themselves reminders to go slowly and carefully. I believe that this would be beneficial for my students, instead of insisting that they are completely quiet although the set up of the room does not encourage it. This was just one interesting connection I was able to make throughout the week.
Another connection I was able to make was between Vygotsky and the reading instruction we are receiving from Dr. T. Vygotsky believed that children need to be guided in their learning. Scaffolding is important for teachers to implement in their classrooms in order to allow children time to understand. The teachers should explain directions, remind, and encourage the students until eventually they can do more and more on their own. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Covault, explained this to me in the first few days of working in her classroom. She said she does most of the work with the students through large group instruction at the beginning of the year and gradually allows the students to complete the worksheets on their own as they become more comfortable. I believe that this is very beneficial for my students as it allows the students to gain a full understanding and see a problem worked out before they are sent out on their own. In the same way, Dr. T is describing the different modes of reading including read aloud, shared reading, guided reading, cooperative reading, and independent reading. In a way, it is much like scaffolding because the students receive directions and encouragement and less support as they grow older and can do more. Dr. Clausen also promotes scaffolding as we work to create mini lessons utilizing different modes of technology. Overall, I’m learning to discover these connections and how important they can be in order for me to truly understand and remember the information at hand. In my own classroom, I will strive to combine and integrate subjects together in order for my students to better understand and retain the information I am teaching them.
When I was warned this week would be a lot, I did not truly understand how much I would learn in five short days. I had the opportunity to invest in my first graders and teach my first lesson to them. It was a great learning experience!
This week we were finally able to hold our African American children's literature day! It was a great success and I was so proud of how we all pulled it off. I gained so much insight into not only African American children's literature, but into the community members hearts and struggles as well.
The third major event was the Longfellow Fish Fry in which I had the opportunity to serve the families of Longfellow and the Whitely community in order to gain more insight into this fascinating community! It is so different from my own, but I am learning so much from it that will truly help me immensely in the future.
My First Lesson
African American Children's
First of all, when we began this process I had no idea what the end result would look like, and we still have not reached it, but I am convinced that we are doing something completely unique and amazing in this project! On Thursday, I loved being able to sit down with Mary Dollison and hear how she is doing and what is going on in her life during breakfast. I really do wish we had more opportunities with our community mentors, but I know they are very busy people. At the beginning, I was sort of nervous what the community members would think of the books we had chosen and whether they would even like them at all. I was also nervous to do the book talks I had prepared because I was afraid I would not do the books justice in the one minute talk I had to share with them. However, the book talks and each session with the community members went so well. My initial nervousness wore off quickly because the community members are so loving and inviting. I do not think I truly understood the significance of this event until I caught a glimpse into the hearts of the community members and truly understood what this meant to them and what it will mean to the children. I learned so much through the stories that were shared and through the first hand accounts of racism. Wilisha and Yvonne shared stories with me that I will definitely remember for a long time. When I think about issues of racism, segregation, and prejudices, I often think about times before I was born back when slavery was a more pressing issue. However, through the stories of the community members I learned that these times are so much closer than I have always imagined. Yvonne told of segregated waiting rooms at a doctors office merely years before I was born, and Wilisha described struggles that still occur today in the Whitely community and elsewhere. My eyes were opened as I listened to their stories and began to understand the gravity and nearness of these situations. I never before would have been aware of these, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to be in this program and understand these issues still facing our communities today, and the children who may be in my classroom.
This week I had the opportunity to teach my first lesson. The night before my lesson I was preparing and making sure I had everything ready and I decided that I was not completely happy with my lesson so I decided to tweak and change a few things in order to make it better. Overall, I was pretty happy with how my lesson went. I really enjoyed being able to be in front of the class and reading to them! They loved the story I read because it was very relatable to them, and immediately after I finished they asked if I could read it again. The only problem I had with my lesson is that the spaces in the worksheet were a little small for the children to write in. However, they did a great job of following along, answering questions, and finishing the activities that I had planned. I cannot wait to begin planning another lesson! One thing my teacher did critique me on was that I allowed them to talk too much. This was difficult because my teacher does not allow any talking at all where as the talking, as long as it is not too loud, does not bother me as much. However, I will keep that in mind next time and try to be consistent with the classroom teacher. If I were to do this lesson again, I could create or find my own worksheet in which the boxes for their answers were bigger. I think it would be easier and better for the children. I would also make sure to keep the class quieter and abide by the classroom teacher’s rules. I think overall I found my lesson easier to teach than I suspected. I did not get too nervous before teaching the lesson, but the idea of the observation or grading made me the most nervous. I was able to understand the importance of implementing culturally relevant aspects of the lesson because it allowed the children to connect and understand the concept better. I think that overall the lesson went really well and the children learned a lot through it and were able to make connections outside of my lesson.
Longfellow Fish Fry
I found that by the end of the book talks as all of the community members reached their last table, I really was attached to a few of the books at my table. I am so happy with our top twenty, however, and I cannot wait to read all of them! I hope to someday acquire them and be able to share them with my students and my own children. I believe they will add an aspect to my personal library that is not represented currently. I also think it is a wonderful idea to record the community members reading the books for the children. This will not only be extremely exciting for the children, but I know the community members were also very excited and honored to be able to do that. (I would also REALLY appreciate one of those CD’s.)
I found myself comparing this community again to mine where I grew up, and I truly find it amazing that these community members took time out of their busy schedule to come and help us out with this program. However, not only were they willing to help, they were so thrilled to be there and to do this for the children. Their commitment and love for the children was evident as they explained how much this meant to them and the role they were asked to play in it. I was so moved and amazed by this. Conversely, I do not believe that my community would have been so excited to play the same role. I believe that there may have been a few who would volunteer for this type of job, but the commitment and care for the children would not be as evident as it is in the Whitely community. This is truly amazing to witness, and I hope one day I can be part of a community that cares and surrounds their children much like Whitely does.
Friday was a great opportunity to volunteer and get involved not only in Longfellow, but with the Whitely community. I was able to volunteer and serve food for about three hours on Friday, and it was such a blessing! Although the food line did get a bit crazy sometimes, we were able to work through and get everyone fed! However, I found it absolutely amazing how Longfellow offered this night to the parents to show how much they appreciate them and value them. They offered all you can eat food and entertainment in order to invite the families of students in and learn more about them. This was very different from anything I experienced in my elementary school, and I was very pleased to see this and how beneficial it was to the parents and children. I must admit I was caught off-guard when Shawn climbed up on stage and broke out the dougie and stanky leg. I was very impressed, but I thought it showed her compassion and commitment to the children. I can definitely say that for one, those songs would never have been played at my elementary school, but two, my principal would never have come up on stage to dance with us! I think that the fish fry was a great way to invite families in to the school, offer them dinner, and really show their appreciation.
One thing I found interesting at the fish fry was how willing the students were to climb up on stage and perform. They were so comfortable up there and seemed to thrive in that atmosphere. I think this is definitely something the teachers should keep in mind when planning these lessons. I think many of the students enjoy that setting and putting on a show, and it can definitely be implemented into lessons. Through this, I was able to see the importance of truly getting involved in the children’s lives because had I not attended the fish fry, I would not know this about my students. It’s definitely something I will keep in mind and remember when I am teaching children anywhere how important it is to truly understand their culture and community in order to better reach and educate the children.
This week was not near as crazy and intense as last week, but I still learned a lot of information and I feel as if we got a lot accomplished. I really discovered through our discussions and readings how important a culturally relevant classroom management plan is in the classroom. In order to implement this, however, teachers need to invest in the lives of the students and their parents in order to learn about their cultures, customs, and behaviors. This will allow a teacher to cater his or her classroom and instruction to the students. This is definitely a new concept that I have learned this semester that was not evident in my teaching framework before.
This week we also continued research and planning for our dream unit in MP3. We made a lot of headway this week and I am very excited for the plans we have so far and the outcome we will eventually reach! I think the students will love it!
Union Missionary Baptist Church
This Sunday I had the opportunity to attend service at Union Missionary Baptist Church. Overall, it was a very eye opening experience as I was able to understand and see for myself how large of a role faith plays in the community. I found the sermon especially meaningful as he was talking about Christian families and each family member's role. He discussed the importance of committing ourselves to the children of the community in order to make a difference. I find this amazing because he is correct. He even mentioned Shawn Davis' name and the work that she is doing in Longfellow Elementary, but he stated that she cannot do it alone. She needs the help and cooperation of the parents and other members in the community in order to truly make the school successful so the children will benefit.
I agree with everything Reverend Jackson was discussing during the sermon and I believe that his sermon ties directly with some of the goals of this semester. Shawn Davis has made amazing strides in Longfellow Elementary, but she needs the help of community members and parents in order to make the dreams she has come true. It is extremely important for teachers to get involved in the children's lives outside of the school and connect with the parents and community in order to understand the children and their culture. Parent engagement in the schools in crucial and that is the parents' responsibility, but also the teachers' and schools' to give the parents these opportunities and form relationships with them.
These aspects have affected my teaching philosophy immensely. As an educator, I would have never known faith was a major part of the culture here in the Whitely community until I attended church here and experienced it. I was able to see the delight on one little girl's face when she spotted me out in the crowd and feel her embrace after the service as she expressed her excitement. It was wonderful to see the children thrive up on stage and see them exemplify their faith like that. As a future educator, I believe it is very important to get involved in the community surrounding the school. This allows the teacher to truly experience the culture and better understand the children in the classroom.
Having a little time to breath, I was able to really focus on the impact that this semester is having on me so far, and focus on how this will affect my future as an educator. I believe that I have not only become aware of the culture and community of my students, but aspects of my teaching philosophy and classroom management plan have changed immensely.
This week we had the opportunity to visit Second Harvest Food Bank and though I learned a lot, I have a feeling the tailgate will be much more influential. We also watched an amazing movie titled, "Gifted Hands." It was an amazing story of a man overcoming prejudices, lack of resources, and other disadvantages to become one of the best neurosurgeons. It was a wonderful reminder to believe in each and every student no matter what, and teach as if every child's life depends on you.
Second Harvest Food Bank
Visiting Second Harvest Food Bank was a great experience in which I was able to learn a lot about the food bank and how they operate. I have actually worked at a Second Harvest Food Bank in Indianapolis. I worked there through Ball State Gives Back before I was a freshman here at Ball State. We took a bus down to Indianapolis and spent the day at the food bank. I learned a lot about the food bank and we completed a variety of tasks for the organization. There were big bins of granola bars that we had to sort through and package in plastic bags. Those bags of granola bars were then separated and counted for distribution. Later on, we sorted items and loaded them onto pallets. The pallets were then transported by the forklifts to the plastic wrapper. This machine would wrap the boxes of food on the pallet and prepare them for distribution. The pallets would then be collected and stored for distribution. I got a lot of experience that day, but I did not learn as much about Second Harvest as an organization as I did on Monday. In Indianapolis, I was simply sorting and preparing food to hand out, however, I did not get to see the people I was helping, and I think this will be very influential to me next week when I actually get to hand the food to the people and see the reactions on their faces.
At Second Harvest, I was able to learn about the organization and truly see the multitude of the people that they help. Even after working at the food pantry in Indianapolis I was not aware of the different organizations that Second Harvest supplies with food. Hunger is a reality for 72,000 people in East Central Indiana and Second Harvest works to alleviate this hunger in this area. Through the tour, I was able to catch a glimpse of the multitude of items that Second Harvest collects and distributes as well as see where the items are housed and how they are sorted and packaged. I believe Second Harvest works hard to create a friendly, welcoming environment in which volunteers can come and donate any of their time in order to help out the community. I cannot wait to serve at the tailgate next week and truly see Second Harvest in action affecting and influencing the people of the Muncie communities.
This week I absolutely loved the extra time I was able to spend in the classroom. We were able to spend two full days in the classroom and one day working Second Harvest tailgate. Each of the three days this week were very influential and I was able to learn so much even through a short week.
My days in the classroom allowed me to further invest in relationships with the children in my classroom which I think is so influential and important. This aspect of relationships is definitely something I will remember when I have a classroom of my own.
Attending the field trip and working the tailgate also allowed me to think deeper about my job in education and how children should be treated. It was a fantastic week full of learning experiences and memories with my children that I will not forget!
Second Harvest Tailgate
Field Trip to Muncie Children's Museum
At the Second Harvest tailgate we had the opportunity to serve almost one thousand cars, and it was a very rewarding and humbling experience. Touring the facilities was not as influential as actually seeing the faces and loading the cars of people who are in need. I was able to load the cars and talk to a few of the people who I was helping. It was very beneficial and humbling for me, I believe, to think about all of the time these families waited to ensure that they got food. Some of the cars at the beginning of the line could have been waiting four or five hours in order to ensure that their family receives the extra food. A few of the cars had young children in them and I could not help but wonder to myself if this was normal for the children. I cannot imagine wondering as a child if there would be enough food for me or if I would get to eat, but I’m sure this is a reality for some of these children. This was humbling for me, and also makes me realize that children may go through so much more than I can even imagine. As a teacher, I need to keep this in mind because the children in my classroom may have so many other things on their minds besides school. I need to be understanding for these children and allow them to come to me with their cares and worries. I thought the tailgate was a very beneficial experience and it definitely affected the way I think about the children in my classroom.
For the first half of the field trip the students were allowed to roam the main floor of the museum and play with anything they wanted. I was so impressed by the Muncie Children’s Museum because I had never been there before! It was such a great opportunity to see the children of my classroom running, playing, and discovering around the museum. I got so many cute pictures of all of them! My favorite part of the museum personally was the little village that contained a doctor’s office, post office, grocery store, school, house, and playground. This would have been my favorite part as a child too! I think I just really appreciate how real they make the little rooms look and how the children can pretend play and interact with each other while still learning and discovering. I think play is a very important part of learning and especially this part of the museum encourages this type of play and allows the children to interact and pretend.
The second half of our time at the museum was spent learning about fire safety. We sat in a pretend room and listened as a museum employee taught us about fire safety and the actions we can take if there is a fire in our houses. We also watched a video, discussed the equipment firefighters need, and practiced crawling around underneath the smoke. I think it is very important for students to learn this in case there is some kind of emergency in their house. However, I think the museum staff should think of a way to make it more relatable to the students. I thought it was hard to relate to and so far off of their radar that they may not have retained much. It is especially important to connect lessons like these to real life for children this age in order for them to retain as much information as possible.
I just feel so grateful for all of the experiences I have the opportunity to have and all of the great information I am learning. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, but simply the conversations and interactions I have with my students leave me smiling and feeling so blessed each day.
I am also learning so much from the articles and discussions in class about how to educate the children in effective, interactive, engaging, and culturally relevant ways. Although I believe it will be a lot of outside work, I think creating lessons like these will be so beneficial for not only my students, but for me as well. When I create a lesson I am excited about, I think the students get more excited as well. They enjoy engaging lessons in which they get to have fun and learn in a different way than they are used to. All of these are great ideas to take with me into the teaching realm.
Teaching Children to Read
With Dr. Tancock on Thursday we discussed different ways of teaching children phonics and how to read. This is another thing as a pre-service teacher that makes me nervous. Reading is such a fundamental skill that all students need, and it makes me a little nervous to have all of that riding on me as their teacher, but this semester has been so helpful in teaching me different ways to teach students how to read. In my elementary school, all I remember learning is each letter, its sound, and how to sound out words. However, we are learning that this is one of the most ineffective ways to teaching students to read. Instead they should be learning to use the pictures in books and trying to decide what words make sense. Learning the letters and sounds is part of it, but not all. This is definitely something I will implement in my classroom when teaching students to read. I will strive to use a variety of resources and methods in order to teach my students how to read. I will find the most effective ways using a variety of teaching methods and appealing to all different types of learners.
Each and every day has been filled with an immense amount of information that has strengthened, challenged, and transformed my view on education, children, and the classroom. I am learning how important phonemic awareness is in children and effective ways of teaching it in the classroom. I am also learning the significance of technology and how quickly it is growing and developing in our culture. I have also learned ways to implement this technology through our digital stories and Buley commercial. Through multiple discussions, I have gained a multitude of strategies on how to remain culturally relevant for all cultures of children no matter what subject I may be teaching.
As I build upon my knowledge base, my views have been transformed and build up throughout the semester. I am very excited to see what I continue to learn and experience through this semester.
Buley Center Commercial
In order to learn more about the digital story telling aspect of our Dream Unit, we were assigned a project where we create a commercial for the Buley Center. We were encouraged to try a variety of technologies and programs for the commercial. I am partnered with Megan, and we prepared throughout the week by taking videos and pictures of the children. After collecting enough material, we began piecing together our video and deciding how we would construct the commercial. We decided to use iMovie because we were both pretty familiar with it, and it was easiest to upload the videos and pictures to that program. Through this project, I was able to realize the importance of technology and how important of a role it can play in the classroom. Technology is expanding and growing so quickly and students need to gain experience using all different kinds of technology. A digital story was a fun and simple way for us to become acquainted with different technologies and programs. Our commercial was to be a around minute so we did not have to conduct extensive interviews or work significantly on the video. Instead, we were able to play around and conduct a short, but quality commercial. Children in the upper grades could easily mimic this same sort of project while connecting it to persuasion or even learning about informative texts. Standards can be attached to any kind of digital story piece.
Knowing and using this technology can also be beneficial for educators as creating a quick and easy educational video to express an idea to the students can be fun and exciting for them. Teachers can utilize this technology and create videos of their own to share with the students over any subject or topic. I have never made my own videos for my students, but I have utilized videos in my classroom. Sometimes it is hard to find exactly the video you want so if you know and understand this kind of technology, it would be much easier for you to make a video illustrating the topics or material you want to cover. I will definitely attempt to implement a variety of technology into my classroom no matter what grade I am teaching. I think it is simply another great avenue of materials for teachers to utilize as it is becoming such a prominent part of our world and culture.
My Buley Commercial:
Engaging ALL Learners
Something I have been struggling with lately is how to include all children in classroom instruction and discipline in a fair way. I understand that this is a hard task, but I want to make my classroom as fair to all students as possible. Sometimes it is very difficult to keep your patience with children who are continually unruly and distracted. However, it is some of these students who need the most help. My younger brother has been diagnosed with ADHD and Aspbergers, a syndrome on the Autism scale. Throughout the years, I have seen him struggle in school not because he does not understand, but because of ignorant or uncompassionate teachers. He is unable to stay focused on any task for too long and if he does not want to do something he cannot make himself like most of us can. This is not him being defiant or obstinate, his brain simply does not work correctly and therefore he cannot complete a lot of the same tasks as people with normal functioning brains have. It has been hard over the years to see him struggle with school, especially because I know how truly bright he is. I would not hesitate to say he has an immense vocabulary that exceeds mine. He also has knowledge on certain subjects that I know nothing about. He is a very smart person, but because his brain does not function properly he is often unable to use it. It is students like him that are sometimes the most frustrating for teachers, but they are the students who need the most understanding and compassion. My brother has had many teachers who do not understand that his brain simply does not function the same way and will therefore discipline and scold him in a manner that is unnecessary.
There is a child in my practicum class, Dylan, who I see a lot of the same tendencies in as I see in my brother. Dylan has a very hard time staying on task. Some days are much better than others, but he simply cannot stay focused without prompting and constant reminders most days. However, Dylan is very smart. When I quizzed him on his sight words, he knew every word without hesitation. During a discussion on owls, he also offered that they were nocturnal without ever discussing that word in class. He is a very smart child, but because his brain is not functioning properly, he cannot complete his work and therefore is receiving bad grades. This saddens me to see him turning in incomplete work or falling behind on a worksheet because he cannot make himself focus.
As far as behavior plans, I have seen these go very negative for children with these kinds of problems. Any kind of step behavior plan where the student moves from green to yellow to red will help to regulate some behavior, but with children with these kinds of disabilities, they will often always be on yellow or red. In Mrs. Covault’s class, any student who stays on green the whole week is allowed to eat lunch in the classroom on Friday as a celebration, but there are a few students who never stay on green the whole week. Students like Dylan will never have the opportunity to eat in the classroom because he cannot control his behavior most of the time. This is something that I want to remain very aware of in my classroom. This is why in my classroom management plan, I have decided to stick to whole class awards instead of individual awards. I will admit it is very hard to keep patience with these children, but it is something as teachers we need to be aware of and understand. These children need compassion just like every other child in the classroom. I hope to use this knowledge to create a caring classroom where each and every student feels loved and accepted. Every student in my class will get to participate in rewards when earned, and I will strive to create a management plan and classroom lessons that include everyone and keep them engaged.
This week was yet another opportunity to grow, challenge, and stretch myself outside of my comfort zone in order to learn more about how to become a truly effective and successful teacher. It was full of hands-on learning experiences in the classroom, as well as in depth conversations, and engaging opportunities that allow me to truly immerse myself in the Whitely community.
As my time in this immersive semester draws to a close I find myself continually acting like a sponge and soaking up as much information about this culture, community, and how to become an effective teacher. I believe this semester has been so beneficial for me and I cannot wait to use everything I have learned in real life situations as I grow and develop into a new kind of educator. The educator that genuinely cares about students.
Classroom Management Plan
This week we were required to turn in a Classroom Management plan. This plan's purpose was to create a document that outlines and describes what our procedures and overall philosophy is as a teacher. Firstly, I researched many different theorists and education experts on the topic of classroom management in order to create my teaching philosophy. I backed my statements up with the theories of certain philosophers, and included my research. I then used my background knowledge and previous experiences in the classroom as well as my research in order to create a comprehensive plan for my classroom. My plan details my curriculum, my classroom environment, classroom rules and consequences, routines and procedures, as well as how my plan is culturally relevant. I believe this plan will be very beneficial as I venture into the teaching realm and begin planning my own classroom.
A Link to My
Classroom Management Plan:
MP3 Dream Unit Dinner
The major event of the week was the Dream Unit MP3 Dinner. It was actually very successful, and it went even better than I was planning! Tensions were running high as we all made preparations for the dinner. We set up the tables, hung up decorations, and made last minute errands to get pop. As parents started to arrive, people seemed to settle down and truly get excited for what we were doing. I had the opportunity to sit down with two families at a table who both had a child in MP3 and a child in my first grade class. It was a great way to meet the parents and gain an insight into the children’s lives. I think events like this are so important for parent involvement and engagement. You can learn so much about a student through meeting their parents and I truly feel like I did through this event.
I also got to see the children in yet another setting. It was so neat to see the students run into the room holding the hands of their parents and see the excitement on their faces as they showed their parents their writing samples, dream boxes, and book boxes. The students were so excited that their parents could hardly keep up. I was glad to see the students cared about the work that they had been doing. It was such a neat experience! I also know that the parents really appreciated it. I was told multiple times by the parents that they were very appreciative and impressed by how well the event ran! I was so glad to see everything going so smoothly. The interviews also went very well. I think all of our planning worked out and paid off! It was definitely a successful event, and I will remember this for the future! I think events like this can be so beneficial for all of the parties involved. It is important to allow parents to be engaged in what their children are doing and to see what they have been working on. It is also important to get to know parents and understand how the child’s family dynamic may affect their personality and performance in the classroom. It really was a great event and I am very happy with the outcome! I cannot wait to see how the end video project turns out!
This was a rough week because it was a week of lasts, and it is hard to see this experience end. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving break I taught my final lesson, and it did go very smoothly. I was very pleased by the reaction I got and how well the students did with the writing prompt. It was a great way to end my lessons at Longfellow!
This week was also my last day in the classroom, and it was a very hard day! I enjoyed the children so much, and cannot wait to go back and visit! They are all such unique children and I hope that the lessons and insights I have learned from them will continue with me until I have a classroom of my own.
As the semester draws to a close I am realizing how much I have truly learned and how my perceptions and ideas of a teacher, classroom, and community have changed immensely.
My Last Lesson: Riding the Mayflower
My Last Day in the Classroom
In my final lesson, I was required to implement a fifteen-minute writing time into my lesson as per the teacher's request. At first, I was not thrilled about this component, but instead of dwelling on a boring piece of my lesson, I decided to make the first half of my lesson as exciting and engaging as possible. If the students were to sit down and write for fifteen minutes I knew they would need a good prompt that would keep them interested, and I wanted to keep it Thanksgiving themed. In order to help the children imagine what it truly would have been like on the Mayflower I attempted to make the situation as real as possible. The students truly enjoyed how engaging the lesson was as I had them all sitting right up front, sitting close together on a rug. They also enjoyed the real videos I showed that simulated the waves the Pilgrims would have experienced. The students loved creating the storm as well! It was so great to see all of them involved and listening so well because it was so engaging for them. All of these stimulating pieces of my lesson allowed the children to stay interested and engaged the entire time.
I also created suitcases for the students to write on instead of plan writing paper, and they were actually excited about writing. Afterward I had the opportunity to look over the papers they had written, and most of them were extremely well written! I found it funny to read the items that my students said they would pack such as make-up or their Game Boy. The students responded so well to this lesson, and I don’t know that there is one certain thing that I would change if I were to teach this lesson again. My teacher even sent me a very encouraging email after my lesson complimenting me on it and appreciating all of the time and effort I put into it. She even expressed that she wished she had enough time to plan lessons like that all of the time, but there is just not enough time. I appreciated her comments greatly and realize that when I am a teacher it will take a lot of time managing on my part in order to at least ensure that my lessons are engaging and I have one extremely engaging and time consuming lesson like mine perhaps once a day. The time aspect of teaching will be a hard realization when I get my first teaching job, but I think I am ready for the challenge.
Friday was some of the best time I have spent with my kids so far. Mrs. Covault gave them warning before Friday that it would be my last day; so many of the kids were prepared when Friday came around. However, I don’t feel as if I was prepared to say goodbye to them, but then I don’t know if I ever would have been. Today I truly realized how much these children have taught me and how they have effected me in so many different ways. I gave each of them the book “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Book,” and I wrote each of them a poem on the inside cover and a personal note. I hope that the children can read those notes and even if they are too young for them now, they will truly understand how much I cared for them later on. My hope is that I also affected these children in many ways and that each and every one of them feels loved and cared for.
At the end of the school day the children wrote me notes and drew me pictures. Other than walking around the room and certain students coming up to show me what they had drawn or written, I did not look at them until I was home, and I ended up crying. Many of the students drew themselves crying and wrote that they would miss me. A few students even drew me in my Pilgrim outfit and said that they enjoyed that lesson. I am so proud of these students and how much they have accomplished already! I was so happy to hear that they remembered that lesson and they enjoyed it! And to think I was so bummed and upset about that lesson because of the writing portion, but they really did love it and still remember it! I don’t think I can stay away from the children so I will be returning either next week or finals week to help out in the classroom. Many of them just kept telling me that they would see me in a few days and that I better come back to visit! They are such sweet children, and I have realized that each and every one of them is unique and special! This experience has influenced my life greatly, and I cannot wait to use what I have learned in my own classroom someday.
I grew up in a small town with a population of about ten thousand. Before this semester, I may have defined community as a group of people living in a certain geographic area. However, now I would define community so much differently. I believe community relies on so much more than your geographic location; it is also comprised of caring individuals who are working together towards a common goal. In my small community, I did not see a lot of these aspects. In order to understand this kind of community I had to step outside of my comfort level and immerse myself in the Whitely community to see how rich and vivid a community can truly be.
My Final Concluding Understanding:
The layout, organization, and environment of school buildings can be both positive and negative in a child's school experience. It is important for children to have a safe place to come that fosters community and learning. At Longfellow Elementary School, the principle, Mrs. Shawn Davis, greets each child as they walk in, and I believe this welcomes the students and allows them to understand the school is a safe place. It also conveys the message that she cares that those students are there each day, and she is happy to see them.
In a community, each individual has a certain role or talent that they can contribute. Each person contributes a certain piece of the puzzle and every piece is necessary to create a complete, effective community. Although some people may lack resources, they find other ways to help out and contribute. Everyone works together in order to reach their common goal and achieve success.
The walls of the school are filled with posters and images of children of many different ethnicities that dream of accomplishing big goals. These inspiring posters allow the children to picture themselves in those roles and foster an environment where children are allowed to dream and work towards goals.
On a wall in the main hallway of Longfellow Elementary hangs this poster. It states, "It takes a village to raise a child." This quote exemplifies the schools close tie with the community and how important community involvement is in the students' lives and the school's success. The community is an "Education forward community," serving and speaking for the youth in the community, and the partnership that Longfellow has with the community is very unique. It is easy to see the resources and benefits that Longfellow has received through their close bond with the community.
My perceptions of a classroom have not changed much since the beginning of the semester, but my ideas have been reinforced. I have realized the importance of creating a welcoming learning environment. In my classroom, I planned to have colorful posters and visual aids to create a bright and welcoming environment. Through this semester I have also realized the importance of including posters that
portray a variety of races, genders, and people types. Allowing the children to see images of themselves in posters like these allow children to believe in themselves and understand how important being unique is.
My perceptions of students has changed immensely throughout the progression of the semester. Instead of an all-white classroom, I now perceive a diverse classroom that contains students of all backgrounds, ethnicities, shapes, and sizes. These students each are unique and have story of their own. They bring to the classroom their culture and backgrounds, positive and negative, that add to the diversity and unique composition in the classroom.
These students need love and compassion that they may or may not experience at home, but each child needs to be loved and nurtured and made to feel safe and welcome. The students desire to learn and be engaged in exciting lessons.
In each classroom I perceive a SMART board. Throughout this semester I utilized the SMART board in my classroom during every lesson, and it has proved a useful and effective tool in conveying websites and videos to the children. The SMART board and other technologies can be very helpful and effective in the classroom, and I hope to be able to utilize this technology and others in the future.
First Impressions of the Whitely Community
LOW ON RESOURCES
The True Characteristics of the Whitely Community
My first impressions of the Whitely community were that it was run-down, impoverished, dangerous, and low on resources. However, I found that Whitely truly is a rich community, perhaps not in monetary value, but in character. Whitely is a close-knit community full of optimistic, hard-working, compassionate, and hospitable people. Before Schools within the Context of Community I had little to no experience with poverty, and I had a very stereotypical view of poverty formed by the images and videos portrayed in the media. I would often blame poverty on laziness and insist that these people must not want to help themselves. However, I found that this type of situation is very rare. Through the poverty simulation and discussions in class I was able to discover that usually people in poverty are attempting to rise above the poverty line, but there are so many forces pushing them back. I found that my initial perceptions and ideas about the Whitely community were completely off-base and inappropriate, and through this semester I was able to prove my initial perceptions and thoughts wrong as I immersed myself in the community in order to truly understand what a community is and how Whitely attempts to portray this ideal.
From our community walk in the first few weeks of this program I was able to truly see for myself how close-knit the Whitely community is. As we were walking around the community with our mentors they would wave, greet, or stop and talk to almost every person we passed. I related this to my community where you may see a few people you know walking down the street, but waving to strangers and knowing people by name isn’t a usual occurrence. I remember being blown away that this community in the large city of Muncie could be so close-knit and united. I also saw evidence of this in the schools and after-school program. The families knew each other and teachers that lived in the community knew their students and the parents better. It allowed me to understand that Longfellow’s motto of “It takes a village to raise a child,” truly is taken seriously. The parents and grandparents of the children join together with other community members and form relationships in order to create effective after school programs and activities that help the children. They also create effective programs and resources for all ages: children, adults, and seniors. Through these programs the community becomes even closer-knit and they share with each other their expertise and resources in order to ensure that everyone has a chance at succeeding.
I have also discovered how optimistic the Whitely community is. Through discussions with Mary and Cornelius Dollison and attending Whitely Community Council meetings, I was able to observe and understand how important this council is to the community. It truly serves as a voice for the community, and it is one of the sole contributors for the optimism in the community. The Whitely Community Council has identified seven general goals for the community and each month they meet in order to gather ideas, hear from the public, plan events, and analyze how they are going to work towards each of their seven goals. These goals foster optimism and confidence in the community in order to work towards a better place to learn, work, and live. However, having the optimism and goals for a better community will not work alone, but when paired with hard-working people like I have witnessed in Whitely, they can create a truly effective community.
The Whitely community is full of hard-working and passionate people. They have a goal in mind, gather the resources they need, and work hard in order to achieve all that they desire. I have seen this characteristic in a variety of ways throughout the Whitely community, especially in accordance to the goals implemented by the Whitely Community Council. In September they hosted a neighborhood clean up in order to beautify and improve the infrastructure of the neighborhood. The Whitely community had a goal, and they were optimistic that they could achieve it, but they needed hard-working community members in order to make their goal a reality. Each neighborhood clean up more than one hundred volunteers come and help clean up the neighborhood in order to better themselves and the community as a whole. It is this selflessness and hard-working attitude that separates Whitely from many other communities. Other events in Whitely’s history lend themselves to the truth that the Whitely community as a whole is hard working. For instance, the reopening and preservation of the Buley Center took many hard-working individuals in order to make their dreams a reality. The opening and maintenance of the new Connection Corner also proves that Whitely community is hard working and productive.
However, the fact that all of these community members lend their time repeatedly to community causes not only proves that the Whitely community is hard working, but compassionate as well. Over one hundred volunteers show up to the community clean up each time this event is hosted because they are compassionate and they care about the beauty and infrastructure of their neighborhood. The community also shows in a multitude of ways how compassionate it is about the children of the community. On the Whitely Community Council website, it is stated that Whitely is an “education first community.” This is a community that truly cares about the children as evident by the numerous parent nights in order to get the parents involved in their education, multitudes of classes that are available both at the school and the Connection Corner in order to educate parents on their children and how to parent them, and also the abundant amount of programs that are available to children of all ages both after school and in the summer to enhance their education, keep them safe, and allow them to continually learn. Through these events and observations, I was able to see how compassionate the Whitely community truly is.
Along with their compassion, the Whitely community exudes a quality unlike most other communities, and that is hospitality. The Whitely community is one of the most friendly and welcoming communities to guests as I was able to experience many times throughout this semester while immersing myself in the community. One example that truly sticks out most in my mind is when I attended Union Missionary Baptist Church. This experience left me in awe with the hospitality and generosity of the Whitely community. Church members continually came up and welcomed my friends and me to the church and gave us hugs and handshakes. During the church service the minister also welcomed any guests and actually had the guests stand and thanked them for being there. They also invited us to a home cooked lunch following the service. However, this hospitality was not just exemplified by the middle-aged portion of the congregation. At the college lunch, the college students welcomed us and invited us to join their bible study. All of this kindness and hospitality truly made me feel welcomed into the church family, but also the community.
How the Whitely Community Affected Me
I have learned so much through my immersion and observation of the community that has truly affected me both personally and professionally. Personally, I have come to the realization that community is so much more than simply a group of people living in a certain geographic location. It is a group of people that work together in order to achieve common goals. I have witnessed this in the Whitely community and believe that my community can be similar to this if certain characteristics of the Whitely community are applied to my own community at home. I think that it is important for me to take what I’ve learned here and instill these ideas and characteristics in my community at home. Coming from a much smaller town than Muncie, I believe that it is definitely achievable. I just need to keep in mind the Whitely community and the characteristics that I have observed and experienced here and realize how I can implement those same qualities in my own community.
Professionally, this information that I have learned will benefit me in the classroom and in my interactions in my future school. Through this semester, I have learned the importance of community and how immersing yourself in the community surrounding the school can truly promote the effectiveness of the teacher. Through this semester, I participated in a variety of community events and I learned a great deal about the community, the people, and the children. With this information I was able to reach my students and create exciting, engaging lessons in which they were more motivated to learn. In my future career I plan to immerse myself in the community surrounding my school, even if I do not live there. I plan to get involved and understand how the community works and the dreams and goals of the community. With these goals and dreams in mind, I will better be able to evaluate and understand how my role as an educator fits into this community and how I can truly benefit the whole.
Through SCC, I have realized that I can be a culturally-responsive educator engaged in context and I now visualize myself succeeding in this role.