news awareness, gender equity, and music’s influence – oh my!

Over the past few days, a few things have come to the attention that I thought would be worthy of sharing with all of you:

News Awareness This one is a personal development target for myself. I have never been one who turns on the the news on TV to catch up with national and global happenings, mostly because I find the news to be very disheartening, monotonous, and skewed in its representation of different perspectives. However, I have realized recently that, as a teacher, I have a responsibility to keep up with important current events that my students may have been hearing about and have questions about that we can address as a class. As of now, if a student came up to me and asked, “Teacher, what’s happening in Ukraine?” I would have no way to answer them. That is not what I want for my future classroom. So I have perused the App Store on my phone and downloaded a handful of news apps that I am trying out in order to spark myself to get with the times and avoid future embarrassment over my obliviousness to recent news stories. I’ll let you know which ones I have found most helpful after I have given them all a fair shot!

Gender Equity In my ECS 210 class, groups of us are doing Inquiry Projects on a topic of our choice, and mine is “Gender Equity.” My instructor (check out her blog and Twitter account!) lent our group a couple of textbooks to pull ideas from, and I found one particularly insightful: “Rethinking Early Childhood Education” (by Rethinking Schools, Ed. Pelo, 2008).

Image (this is what the book looks like)

Here are just a few of the points that I gleaned from my short time reading:

  • Science kits in toy stores had NO female figures (girls or women) on the boxes –> What does this say about our society’s beliefs about girls’ interests and capabilities?
  • The word ‘tomboy’ makes a girl into a boy, simply because she doesn’t act in a stereotypically associated ‘girly’ way –> just because of her actions, she can no longer retain her identity as a girl? Is it, then, abnormal for girls to be ‘tomboys’? And what could be a possible alternative for this word ‘tomboy’? I’d argue that she is a girl just as much as her female classmate dressing up as a princess, wouldn’t you?
  • Game Boys have a similar effect –> Does this mean girls can’t play with them? Do you think a video game console today would be named something similar that rejects one gender? Is this just an innocent mistake, or does it have deeper repercussions?
  • The children’s story “The Three Little Pigs” creates a hierarchy of living spaces. Houses made of straw or sticks are significantly symbolized as ‘less than’ those of bricks, when people in other countries live in these types of ‘lesser’ homes. –> Yes, this one isn’t related to gender, but I found myself so taken aback that I just had to include it. It makes me wonder what other, hidden messages we are portraying to children in classic fairy tales and fables…
  • Something that I realized as a result of this lens of gender… There have been types of Lego that are specifically advertised towards girls because they have pink and purple pieces and all the sorts of things that little girls will (presumably) like. Aren’t these blatantly ‘girly’ toys just perpetuating these stereotypes, though? Why can’t girls play with normal Lego? This is creating the idea that girls can’t use boys’ toys and must have their own, separate, girly-fied versions. I see no reason for boys to have superhero dolls to nurture or girls to have frilly Lego to build princess castles with. I don’t think we need to change the nature of the toy in order to try and market it towards a certain audience.

girl lego

 

 

 

 

 

 

Music’s Profound Influence While listening to an “Epic Film Scores” playlist on my Songza app (which I HIGHLY recommend that everyone download!), I could easily recognize which movies certain tunes came from – sometimes within just a few bars. As a huge lover and advocate of music, I enjoyed this simple reinforcement of how easily music sticks with us and embeds itself into our memories – often infused with a deep, emotional connection. This is the driving force behind my firm belief in using music daily in my future classroom – if a song I sing in a Grade 1 class can be recognized fifteen years later when my students are in high school because of something they learned from it, or the way it made them feel, then I am definitely doing my job right. Music is such a powerful force, why not harness it for learning?

Thanks for reading! Until next time,

-KKF

improving professional communication

A big, cheery “Hello” to everyone reading this! My ECS 200 volunteering today got cancelled due to a power outage, so I decided to blog away a little bit of the enormous open time slot I now have.

I have realized two things about my professional communication that I can work on improving:

  1. I have always really enjoyed blogging and sharing my thoughts with the world online. Until recently, however, I have never really put an equal amount of effort into reading others’ posts. Then I realized: if I get a warm, fuzzy feeling from someone commenting on one of my posts, I should be sharing this warm, fuzzy feeling with others. How am I building my professional personality by expecting others will read my posts and share their ideas about them, when I am not reciprocating the action? ECS 210 has really helped me to realize that it is a two-way street of sharing your thoughts AND your thoughts on others’ thoughts. What good is putting information out there when you are not taking other perspectives’ in? So, it is my new goal to read a lot more of the blog posts that come up on my WordPress feed. If you know of a blog that I should be following, please comment it down below! 
  2. Image  I saw this tweet from a fellow ECS 210 classmate (@parker3e – go follow her!) recently, and it made me realize that I do this too much. In a conversation, I am frantically thinking up relevant responses that link to what the speaker is saying, and then end up missing half of what they shared because I am either caught up in my own thoughts or trying to remember what I wanted to say back. I really need to practice listening fully to someone until they are finished talking, and then give myself time to reflect on it and bridge off with my own response. It is a shame that our society views silences in conversation as awkward, because I find that I need that extra time to really think about what I’ve heard in order to make a thoughtful reply. Do you catch yourself doing this, too? It would be nice to know I am not alone – haha.

Those are my professional development goals, for now. Wish me luck!

Do you have any current goals that are guiding you towards becoming a better professional, educator, citizen, or person in general? Do you have any thoughts on my goals? Share them with me in the comments!

-KKF

in-school mentoring

A few weeks ago, the university hosted an Education Career Fair, with presenters from school divisions and other organizations that can help future teachers gain resources and volunteer experience. Because I am only a first year, lots of people just gave me a smile and waved me on to the next station, as their information was mostly for third and fourth year students who will soon be applying for jobs in the field. However, I still found the experience very exciting and useful. It got me thinking about where I would like to intern and eventually work (and I got to talk to the reps from my old school division where I graduated from!). And some of the booths that were geared towards volunteers of any year in the program were of extra interest to me.

One of the first booths I stopped at was Big Brothers of Regina, and the friendly lady there told me about a program they have that Education students are usually interested in: In-School Mentoring. Volunteers 18 and over are matched up with a child between the grades of 1 and 8 and get to go to their school for one hour, once a week to spend time with the child and develop a relationship. You can play with them in the gym, do crafts or assist them with their homework. I was instantly interested in joining this program and within a week, got an application sent in as a possible candidate.

I have now been in contact with the coordinator and we have an interview booked this Friday! I am so excited to get a chance to be back in a school and spend one-on-one time with a child who may need a little extra help or has trouble making social connections with their peers.

If I am accepted into the program as a volunteer, I won’t be starting until September, but I am already very excited about the possibility (especially because there is no guaranteed work in a school or with children in the ECS 200 and 210 courses in the program)! Wish me luck and I will keep you posted on what happens!

interprofessional collaboration (pd event)

The second Professional Development Event I went to was all about Interprofessional Collaboration. I figured that this would be a good place to put down what I learned and my thoughts on the topic.

Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) is when different professionals work together in order to benefit the child as a whole. Occupational therapists (OT), Speech and Language Pathologists (SLP), Social Workers (SW), Educational Psychologists (Ed. Psych.), Educational Assistants and teachers can all work together to provide support for every need that a child has.

In order to have successful IPC, there must be good communication and conflict resolution skills. Also, stereotypes need to be left behind in order to work efficiently (this comes from both sides).

The most interesting and beneficial thing I learned is that IPC groups can observe each other in the field. For example, a teacher is having difficulty with a few children in the class’ listening skills. An SLP and OT sit in on her teaching the class and afterwards, they strategize towards ways to improve the learning environment. This saves time and efforts for both groups. It can also work the other way. Often times, teachers don’t know what goes on in the private sessions between a student and an OT or SLP. If teachers know what these professionals are working on with their students, they can reinforce these ideas in the classroom every day, and model other students to reflect this, so the child can learn it faster and more seamlessly.

This subject is very interesting to me because it really is so practical. Teachers work with so many other professionals, so the relationship might as well be an efficient one!