As a write this blog as part of my own going reflection and my Masters of Education course Innovation in Teaching & Learning , I can confidently assert that I value the enrichment of professional learning. Throughout the course my teaching career, I’ve never shied away from continued learning and take pride in that fact that as Communications Technology teacher my concern is not overtly technology but the way in which students can leverage the technological tools to share who they are. It’s who students are and who they want to become as people that truly matters.
Within the context of my Communications Technology class, I overly assert that my mission is not to create Steven Spielberg minions, but rather empower students to grow in their voice, share their point of view and through their distinct and personal lens, create new meaning or critique established norms. Its within this context that I embraced an opportunity to co-develop a PLC on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for my school community and to produce a Culturally Relevant Teaching video for the Ontario English Catholic Teacher Association (OECTA), which is still in production.
Both experiences, recent as of this past summer, provided for incredible learning. In regards to the PLC module, it provided me an opportunity to research with purpose and to reflect on my own practice within the context of Institutional, Personal and Instructional frameworks as outlined in the Ontario Ministry of Education’s Build Capacity Series on Cultural Responsive Pedagogy:
- do educational districts or schools provide traditionally marginalized groups with empowered mobilization;
- do we as a teaching village reflect on our own bias (conscience or unconscious);
- do we within the context of the classroom, ultimately nurture an environment that is not about “curriculum” but the “souls of the classroom.”
Just yesterday, I had the distinct opportunity to welcome Dr. Marlyn Morris to my school as a guest speaker during staff PLC time. I had the privilege to collaborate with Dr. Morris in the production of the OECTA video resource produced over the summer. In working and learning from Dr. Morris, her assertion of students as the “souls of the classroom,” challenges teachers to intentionally embed students’ personal cultural experience into their teaching. As such, the students are the continuous driver for learning and provide each student and the teacher with opportunities to engage in an educational experience that is unique, diverse and culturally relevant to those in the classroom. As students are charged to be active citizens in a globalized world, we as teachers must be charged to nurture the promise of dignity for all. As a teachers, it’s urgent to embrace diversity, equity and dignity in our classrooms if the goal is for a better today and tomorrow.
As shared by Dr. Morris, Culturally Responsive Pedagogy is a mind shift that recognizes the importance of reciprocal learning; one that acknowledges that the teacher is not the sole vessel for learning and knowledge. In that, students can provide a great richness to the shared experience of a classroom setting if who they are is known and intentionally leveraged. Furthermore, our pedagogy must be informed by those students in our classrooms. We are not to teach from how we learn but how they learn as a collective and individuals. This mind shift won’t be easy and my sense from yesterday’s PLC is that teachers, although enthralled by the ideas Dr. Morris shared, need time to reflect. To invite students to share who they are, we as educators must know who we are. What shapes as the adults in the room? What is our purpose in teaching?
As teachers, we must reflect on our purpose. If our “calling” was formed on the the promise of a good pension, extended holidays and two months off in the summer, then perhaps a new career is in the waiting. As Dr. Morris shared yesterday, our work must be with purpose beyond a particular subject or assessment.
More to come!