We are less and less connected

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In Wadi Rum with some Bedouin 

 

I think I’m going to try to focus on an article every once in awhile and write a small reflection on it. That might help me with both the idea of writing, and the process of researching. Happy days for sure.

There is a wondering in some of the literature about if a sense of place is important any more (or I guess if it ever was). One of the points that really popped out at me today was this idea that as international school teachers most of us are preoccupied with what a place can give us (reputation, pd, pay, location, etc.) so when we are looking for a place to live, we’re not really looking for a place to live, we’re looking for a place that meets our economic and social needs first.  The culture of a place isn’t always our first priority. However, most of what we are asked to do (maybe in the hidden curriculum) is pass along values and culture.

There seems to be a tension in these two areas, we’re being asked to represent some culture we come from without really caring about the culture we are going to. We need to be aware of who we are, but not in relationship to a place, rather who we are in general. It seems a little neo-colonial at times.

How do we really belong to a place if we don’t ask questions about that place, or try to fit into that place? How do we connect when we aren’t really listening?

If “(Place has) power to direct and stabilize us, to memorialize and identify us, to tell us who and what we are in terms of where we are (as well as where we are not).” (Casey, 1993, p. xv) Then how are we interacting with that power, and what does that mean for our future as teachers?

 

Casey, E. (1993) Getting back into place: toward a renewed understanding of the place-world (Bloomington, Indiana University Press).

Freema Elbaz‐Luwisch (2004) Immigrant teachers: stories of self and place, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 17:3, 387-414, DOI: 10.1080/0951839042000204634

 

Trying to write

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So far my research has been going alright, I’ve thought of some interesting thoughts related to what I’m reading, and I think (for now anyway), that I’m on the “right” path.

So, that means I have to write, and this part is always a struggle. One of the main reasons I wanted to blog early on is to get in the habit of writing. When you get into the habit of something it becomes easier, it makes more sense, and things flow a little better when they have to. So, now I’m wondering if I have to try to up the output of this blog.  Not really for something worth writing, more for just the process. I’m not sure if this is a good idea, or a bad idea, or just an indifferent idea, but it’s something that often comes up in my thoughts.

One of the interesting ideas that hit me this week was, we are actually nothing without place, as in we would not exist.  I guess to be more technical, we are nothing without a space, which we develop into a place. But we need a place to survive, and that place, very likely does shape us (more than just socially, and we do more than just shape it) we are dependant on that place. I know that some of the literature goes into this at different points. But it never actually hit me before that we need place. Places (from the research I’ve done so far, and I’m not sure how we could get it from a human point of view) don’t need us. We might help shape our perception of that place, but I’m sure that a space will exist without humans (and if it doesn’t I guess I’ll never know).

Anyway, trying to write, trying to think, trying to sort out the thought process.

Life takes place

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Deep into research right now, getting deeper into sense of place (which is sadly stopping me from doing my lit review).

I guess what I’m wondering now, and it’s not something I’ve deeply thought about before, is how do we really build a sense of place (and is it worth it). I’ve thought of some ideas before but haven’t really applied any research to it, or any sort of methodology.

The whole researching world is getting a little more complicated, this idea of transitioning between just someone who is, and someone who researches and creates is pretty difficult.

So, this week is mostly reading, next week is mostly writing. Meeting once more next week to make sure I’m on track and then I really write the paper.

I guess, my biggest idea now is what is sense of place really all about, why does it matter, and who creates it.

Need a recharge

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Almost time for our first break. This last week feels especially long, and I’ve been wondering why.

One of the books I’ve been reading lately is the Handbook of Nature Study. There are a bunch of interesting quotations, here’s one:Screen Shot 2018-10-02 at 8.09.10 PM

I’m not really saying I feel like I know everything, but I wonder if I’ve been actually wondering anything lately. One of the ways I can refresh is just by reinstating my wonder, trying to be excited again.  The book goes further to suggest that by spending unstructured time outside, we will be more refreshed.

Often as teachers we think seeing friends, going out, getting things done are important on our weekends, and they are. However, we need to spend some time just outside, looking, observing and getting ready to wonder again.

As our first break comes up, I’m going to take some time to get out and explore.

Week of learning

 

This week was full of learning. Our conferences with students and parents were on this week. I learned a lot about what their shared goals were, how the parents interacted with their kids, and it’s always interesting to see how the learners interact with their parents (and two teachers) around.

After that was PD. This year was pretty good, we had some exciting speakers, and I’m interested in seeing how I can apply more critical thinking into my classroom.

On the final day in the final session I presented the above slideshow. One of the exciting things about working in such a large school is that you don’t always know who will be in your presentation and that person’s job will be much different from yours (or sometimes the same).

I knew as a school we wanted to focus on assessment and how to record it in a meaningful way.  I’ve been using forms for about four or five years to really show the depth of the conversations I have, and how that relates to learning or goals. I’ve embedded Victor Wooten’s video outlining the idea of economy of motion. At school we’re always trying to get so much done, but often we can do the many things in one or two motions, we just need to practice doing those motions.

Anyway, it was an interesting time, and I hope the participants had enough time to really work on what they needed to work on so their forms help students learn more effectively.

Exploring the brain

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We’re looking into the brain right now in class. The students started exploring google expeditions and the brain tours are really interesting. Students were able to zoom into the brain, check out inside parts of it, explore the central nervous system and just get a really good understanding of the different parts by seeing the connections.

I was wondering about the different ways we could “see” the brain to tune us in, and I hadn’t used google expeditions before so wanted to try it out.

My main dilemma was whether to guide them or not. I chose to let them explore. I feel they learned a lot more this way, because they had the opportunity to see what they wanted when they wanted and explore a little more deeply into the ideas that connected to them.

 

How is it connected?

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As a class we’ve been looking at connection in our brain unit. Last night was our parent curriculum night. I’m a team lead with seven new teachers on my team (including myself).

So I’ve been thinking a lot about how to support my learners, my parents and my colleagues and wondering how all of these things are connected.

I’m not sure, but it seems like in previous years I’ve been pushing myself to help in some way, or be present or be something. This year I’m trying (rather unsuccessfully) to listen and just make sure other people are heard.

Parents want the best for their kids (so do I, but it’s not really about me), so last night I tried to listen, and be available for the real worries the parents feel. I tried to support my team by acknowledging and listening about stressful situations, because they are real and time consuming and at times encompassing. I try to listen to what my students are actually saying, to see how they see connections, without me trying to put too much of my voice in their work.

I think a lot of teaching is about making others better, not really taking part in the process, but encouraging and suggesting and at times teaching specific skills, but only when the students really ask, and really need the help.

I think it’s probably the same with parents and team mates, the more I work on making them better (and the better they want to be, not necessarily the better I want them to be) the more likely they will achieve success.

It’s hard though. Stepping back, removing my self and trying to just focus on other’s needs.  It’s hard not to take some things personally, it’s hard to just get things done on my own, my work, my study, my life. But I think it will become easier, at least that’s my hope.