10/18/17 Chapter 3
Participants: Susan Ednie, Cathy Leaker, Janine Graziano, Lisa Paler, Tara Thompson
The discussion began with us informally talking about what aspects of our job we take home with us and how much do we allow our personal selves to become emotionally attached to our work. It is a difficult balancing act at best.
On page 137 we talked about the book’s declaration/assumption that students “generally enjoy thinking about why they learn..” — Most of us had an issue with this notion because that is generally not our experience or perception of our students. This grew into a general discussion about what in the book is making us uncomfortable (we disagree with) or what about it helps us to confront ourselves/our bias.
A pedagogical approach that was mentioned was Relationship. Relevance and Rigor in that the teacher focuses on establishing relationships with his/her students, consciously tries to make the curriculum relevant, but at the same time rigorous and appropriately challenging. This brought us to a discussion of how it is sometimes difficult to develop those relationships with our students.
Learning Contracts – an exercises recommended in the book we found to be a bit problematic with our student population. However, we admitted that we do kind of do versions of these in a sense. We make rubrics and conference with students and explicitly discuss goals and steps to move forward when they notice their academic progress is in jeopardy. We try not to play the blame game and consider that sometimes it is we (the teachers) who need adjust, not the student.
We also discussed the idea of choices and how giving students too many choices can be problematic. How do we balances student wants vs. their needs. How do we manage the level of discomfort a curriculum places onto a student? What happens when that discomfort is unevenly distributed and aligned with privilege? What is the culture of our community college? What is the general struggle of our students here at KBCC?
Finally, the session was concluded with a brief look at how we might try to incorporate Gardner’s 5 entry points into an assignment to speak to students’ different learning styles and multiple intelligences.
10/11/17 Chapter 2
Participants: Susan Ednie, Peter Fiume, Janine Graziano, Kirstin Polizzotto, Dorina Tila
We struggled with some of the ideas in the text, but, as Susan pointed out, we appreciate that the book has caused us to really think and question our assumptions. We recognized, however, that assumptions are an integral part of our cognitive processes and that the norms of inclusion, themselves, represent underlying assumptions. We saw the process of questioning assumptions as moving us away from what used to be “solid ground.” We likened this to the state of midair suspension that a trapeze artist experiences.( I found this quote by Marilyn Ferguson – maybe the one Regina referenced – “It’s not so much that we’re afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it’s that place in between that we fear . . . . It’s like being between trapezes. It’s Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There’s nothing to hold on to.”)
Or, as Peter said, like a baseball player trying to steal a base; he also likened our work to facilitating the crossing between borders.
We also recognized lots of places where we might inadvertently be less than sensitive and felt that the best way to approach this might be to develop relationships with our student where we are explicit about our best intentions and then welcome then to point out places where we might fall short (as suggested in the text). Kristin shared her strategy of giving students blank index cards that they could use to write down such places and leave on her desk for her to consider. She also shared a Dichotomous key activity.
We also talked about building community and groupwork, and Dorina shared her experiences in using what can be called “experiments” or “games” in her economics classes. Susan expressed her interest in jigsaws.
9/27/17 Chapter 1
Participants: Susan Ednie,Cathy Leaker, Janine Graziano, Lisa Paler, Tara Thompson
Discussion began with participants’ questions and goals, which included
- Gaining insight into our own unseen biases and discovering ways to incorporate those insights in practice in order to reach as many students as possible
- Learning more about how to carry out what can be seen as our ethical responsibility to facilitate learning for all students.
- Concerns: Developing more stereotypes – desire is to find ways to focus on students as individuals.
While the need to address students as whole persons drove much of the conversation, participants also touched upon the challenges of a CRT approach, including the danger of not providing enough challenges for students.
Subsequent meetings will be at 3:00 in M391 on 10/11, 10/18, 11/1, 11/15. and 11/29.
The group decided to read Chapter 2 for 10/11.