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Reading Response-BELL_KNOWING OURSELVES AS INSTRCTORS

    This article tells us what issues teachers might face in raising a social justice discussion. Author used a very convincing way to give readers solutions to problems happening in social justice discussion through talking about different teacher’s experience in teaching social justice class. Also, author has addressed the value of having social justice discussion in class. Through reading this article I understood that having such discussion, student could learn about how to use different perspective to look at oppression and bias. Moreover, they might just start to change their ideas of things along with the discussion.

    This article not only just showed us how to solve issues that happens in social justice class, but also, it talks about different effective teaching methods which could help teachers to become more confident in teaching. For example, the silent moments in a discuss might just make a lot of teacher freak out. Therefore, author has deciphered that issue with an example of how to breakdown these silent moments in discussion. I really like this reading, which I think all these examples and way of teaching that author talks about can be very useful in helping my feature carrier as a teacher.

    Author gives us a lot of examples about ways to face fears and solve problem, emotional issues of being a teacher, I feel like author attempt to resolve the issue through a lot of psychological point of view. In addition, I do think these teaching methods that come out from psychological point of view are very effective methods.  Therefore, I start thinking maybe we all (teachers and student) should take psychology classes, especially before taking classes that involve with social justice discussion. I know that psychology class is often an elective class in the school. Should our education system just make it into a requirement class? I feel like it would be necessary to do that nowadays. 

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Comment by Jennifer Diaz on September 16, 2014 at 5:14pm

Psychology is useful for self-regulation. The environmental factors and individual histories of teachers and students are ever present in the classroom. I believe it would be helpful to have an introduction to the history of philosophy and psychology before entering the classroom. Understanding and relating to others begins with the understanding of oneself. 

 I believe the article largely invites public and private political conversation as education as a forum for social issues that highlight the contemporary problems with education as enterprise. The curriculum acts as social regulation giving the illusion of equal learning opportunities. We have to learn and teach while negotiating the past, present, and future of education. The reality of a democratic education is that there will always be a social injustice in discussion. We are all human and the balance of democracy in the United States currently is a complete mess. There is no standardized answer or solution for inserting ideals into reality overnight. Why are teachers being held responsible for economic failures? How do we level the playing field as teachers if we ultimately do not control or regulate the field? We are players in a game that forces us to fail. Who controls the game if the field morphs into a different shape with new measurements/new players before half time? Who is regulating the regulators? 

Comment by Rachel Campbell on September 16, 2014 at 5:02pm

While I agreed that the teaching methods based in psychology are effective, I also feel that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.  I think that classes centered on the psychology of students at the age range you are teaching could be extremely helpful but I don't know that general psychology should be required.  There is a big difference between knowing how children develop psychologically and where they are at mentally while in your classroom vs. learning broad psychological theories. 

I remember taking a psychology class in high school and the most interesting things to all of us were the abnormalities.  The disorders or complex situations that cause someone to think or act differently.  My concern is that teachers could take their very limited exposure of psychology and these extremities and use it in the way that people use websites like webmd.com to overly diagnose.  How many times have people incorrectly decided that they were suffering from a serious illness when in reality they just had a headache?  If we are talking about requiring specific classes, for example, the psychology of students age 5 - 10 for elementary school teachers then I'm more supportive but I think psychology 101 might end up doing more harm than good.  On the other hand, I do think it's important to have someone trained in psychology like a counselor or therapist available at the school for both the student and the teacher.  

A lot of professions require regular meetings with a psychologist, should this be required for teachers too?

Comment by Rita Crocker on September 16, 2014 at 6:49am

I agree with you, and believe that psychology should be a required course in education curriculum. In industries where professionals have to work with clients on both primary and secondary levels, such as teachers, one must be able to develop interpersonal relationships as well as fulfill their professional duties and administrative tasks. I am not sure if that is an option in this program. If so, I'd appreciate any information.

Comment by Mary Milliken on September 15, 2014 at 10:42am

I agree with Jen, in that the topics and methods discussed in this reading can be applied to all students in teachers because these are issues we all confront when we interact with each other on a daily basis or travel to a new place. I also agree with what Ariella said. I do not think psychology classes should be necessary before entering the classroom, especially because psychology classes are not education-specific. I do think that schools should provide support for teachers when it comes to understanding mental health by recognizing issues that are specific to the school, like mental health issues, issues of race and class, and behavioral issues. I think a lot of teachers find themselves feeling like it is “sink or swim” when it comes to assisting some students who may require special attention to their background. It seems to me that schools should at the very least provide a support group and ideally provide a workshop. It reminds me of how here at SAIC, when it was discovered that the student population here has a high prevalence of mental health issues, they started providing a rigorous mental health workshop for students and faculty twice a semester. I like how Joe put it: “it's normal to have fears about instructing such controversial or potentially heated discussions.” I think that it is important to understand that when it comes to the human experience, we are all students, and schools should take that into consideration so they do not end up alienating a teacher or student.

 Should schools provide support groups for teachers where they can have a safe space to discuss issues they have with students or faculty and exchange ideas? 

Comment by Jennifer Yoo on September 15, 2014 at 2:49am

This reading is very likable and relatable. First, I liked the format of it because it was easy to read and understand through the explanation and dialogs. The explanation of how to deal with each situation was helpful in that it listed common examples of situations, and then gave helpful ways to overcome or own up to certain circumstances. Personally, although this reading is geared towards social justice teachers, seems as though the topics and methods can be applied to all teachers and students, because it talks about molding the classroom into an atmosphere where vulnerability and honesty is a part of the discussion and learning method. In addition, using the examples and subcategories as a strong foundation, I think it is important to be able to be a part of the classroom instead of being the leader of the class in these particular class conversations. In the reading, they state that the teacher plays a facilitator role rather than an authoritative role. Does this give the classroom discussion a more vulnerable environment or do you think that this can be carried out even if the teacher takes on a role of authority? 

I think that it is important to understand psychology to a certain extent in order to understand student background and situations, but not to the extent where it should be required to take classes. Psychology can be learned in many different ways through examples, although taking a class may be helpful in learning terminology and a better perspective. 

Comment by Ariella Miller on September 14, 2014 at 6:58pm

I think that the art classroom can be seen as a "social justice classroom". It can be a place where social identity is explored through creating. Bell notes that "as teachers we can offer our experience with both dominant and targeted identities as a way to join with students." This is one reason that it is important to connect on a personal level with students. It brought to mind the identity mapping activity, which is a great way to for teachers as well as other students to initially connect with each other. This ties in to the concept of 'personal disclosure' or self-disclosure that is touched on later in the reading. Sharing personal struggles with various issues in a safe space is a good way to jump start a conversation and give permission to students to begin their own path of self examination.

I don't think that taking a psychology class would ever hurt an educator's understanding of student's development, however I do not think that it is necessary. However, knowing specifically about ELL and exceptional learners and their development can be very helpful, as you cannot always assume that those students with learning disabilities wont be in your classroom, or that they will be with an aid. 

Comment by Joseph A Hladik on September 14, 2014 at 2:40pm

I definitely found this article comforting as well.  I think it's normal to have fears about instructing such controversial or potentially heated discussions.  As an educator of social justice topics you want students to be able to form opinions and make considered points in a discussion, but mediating as well as being conscious and understanding of your own opinions can sometimes be difficult.  On the flip side to things I would possibly find it more difficult to initiate and encourage discussion when sometimes students do not want to offer up thoughts or contribute.  I did appreciate the tips on creating a positive environment of discussion and establishing boundaries in the beginning but I think you will always run into some students feeling as though their thoughts are not valid.  I'm curious then what sort of tips and tricks may be out there to encourage full participation?

As far as having some sort of psychology background, I will say that unfortunately a lot of that sort of learning happens on the job.  I have a strong psych background with undergrad and unfortunately a lot of the things we discussed and learned about were theoretical and hypothetical.  Even doing this reading that I found potentially useful will help me become aware that I need to mentally prepare for conflict, but at the same time I do think it is one of those things that you figure out what works best for you and is situational.  I agree that having a basic understanding of psychology would help with understanding  dynamics, relationships, and even why students may feel they way they feel, but I think first hand experience is always the best learning curve.

Comment by Anna Lentz on September 13, 2014 at 6:50pm

I appreciate the format of this chapter in discussing how social justice learning is conducted in the classroom.  Particularly having more experience as a student than a teacher in these types of settings, it is reassuring to hear that teachers and students share vulnerability and emotion.  In fact it is in the moments of vulnerability that empathy can play an important role in bonding a class or even helping each other see disparate points of view.  This reminded me Ayers and Alexander-Tanner reading, which mentioned that crying was allowed in the Lawndale Little Village High School. Perhaps because I am such an emotional person and have been known to shed some tears or speak in a quivering voice that this principle struck me as refreshing and comforting.

Of course there are times when discussion can lead to a paralytic standstill as a result of a traumatic statement. The article advised to redirect the energy of the class by taking a break or turning the response into an individual reflection.  I find this advice helpful and reassuring to know that those in the teacher role can be as unsettled as the students.  If we are all bringing varied identities and experiences to the classroom forum along with varied identities imposed upon us by society and social groups there is bound to be a messy-business in the classroom devoted to social justice.  I have found that this can lead to not only discomfort and unease, but also the greatest learning opportunities that have staying power in my life.  As the article insists, we have to constantly evolve and interrogate our worlds and ourselves as teachers and students.  Has anyone else experienced the uncomfortable learning moments in classes discussing injustice surrounding race, sexual identity, religion, class, etc.?

Comment by Casey Mae Carlock on September 12, 2014 at 10:49pm

A psychology class could be beneficial forteachers but I don't think it's necessary for several reasons.  If you are an art teacher/specialist, you see a whole range of student at different ages. You would end taking a lot of psychology classes in order to know about all the age levels you teach.  Also, just because you take a psychology course, doesn't mean you know enough to professionally diagnosis/treat a student. This is why schools have certified counselors and therapists. 

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