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The Rookie Teacher



Teaching from the Thinking Heart 0

Posted on November 06, 2014 by Sarah

Nothing has been more transformational to my teaching practice than my experience with a Tribes certified instructor for my year long Teacher Education/B.Ed year. Though some people come out with a mixed experience when they pursue Tribes certification, it is certainly a course that whole heartedly depends on the instructor. I was fortunate to have someone who deeply understood the Tribes philosophy, a holistic approach to teaching that nurtured individuals, fostered positive social interactions and grew community.  Moreover, I had Gail for an entire year, not just the handful of hours it takes to get the Tribes Basics training.

teaching heart

Not only did Gail have a direct impact on my teaching strategies, she encouraged me to pursue my Masters at OISE and highly recommended a course with Jack Miller, all of which has led to this post. Jack is a leader in holistic education with almost 40 years of experience in the field. In his course, which I optimistically wrote about with the Rookie Teacher here, we practiced meditation daily, participated in various visualization exercises, kept a journal of reflections, gave mini workshops practicing our holistic approaches and had an authentic Chinese tea ceremony, always sitting in a circle. Our final assignment was a reflection piece on Holistic education and our experiences with it thus far. Needless to say, mine centered around my year with Gail. A few months after the course had completed, Jack e-mailed me asking if he could publish my final paper in his next book.

Fast forward 2 years and it’s here: Teaching from the Thinking Heart – The Practice of Holistic Education. I’m obsessed with the cover art. I’m chapter 4: Tribes – A Transformative Tool for the 21st Century. The book itself is also quite innovative for its narrative content. As an academic text used predominantly in courses, it is quite rare to have something written in the first-person. This further speaks to the Holistic approach, validating teachers’ and people’s experiences for what they are, no citations required. As such, this book is very approachable for non-academic readers as it’s not bogged down in scientific or educational jargon.

The foreword by Nel Noddings (so awesome!) speaks to the recognition of our current context of standardized curricula, objectives and evaluations and the stigma surrounding the mere mention of the word ‘soul’. Teaching to the head. But throughout the book you gain confidence and insight into the practice of teaching to the body, mind and spirit. Our students are more than just heads, their humans with emotions. As educators we must find the courage to stand up for Holistic curriculum, nurture the soul and work to make each moment in our students’ lives loving and joyful.

Copies of the book can be ordered from here or by contacting me personally.

 

 

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A listening exercise to change the world 3

Posted on November 29, 2012 by Sarah

Okay, maybe the title is a bit ambitious haha. But I would very much appreciate you taking the time to listen to a radio program I made in my Popular Culture, Media & Education course this term at OISE.

The course examined what messages are embedded in our media that maintain power structures and marginalize the voices of many. Our assignment was to create a 10 minute radio segment voicing a story that isn’t covered in mainstream media. We must ensure that definitions of cultures are being defined by themselves and not a dominant narrative, often times the privileged white male.

This is a great exercise to bring into the classroom. Let your students tell their stories and create alternative media, whether a magazine, a video, a website, music or radio. Radio has an interesting way of telling stories allowing many people to hear it at the same time and teaming up with a community radio station is a great learning experience for students. Help them examine the messages that are being sent, why they are being sent in that way and empower them through highlighting choice. We are active recipients of media and if we don’t voice our opinions the capitalist-agenda will continue to manipulate and distort our reality.

Audacity is a great free program available for download that you can use but I made this program with Garage Band.

Please don’t hestiate to ask questions if you have any!

 

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Bits from Books 0

Posted on October 13, 2012 by Sarah

So this is my final course term in the  M.Ed program at OISE and it’s probably my busiest! This semester all my courses are exceptionally interesting while aso challenging (though I could probably argue that for the other semesters). I’m taking Education and Media/Popular Culture which discusses gender, race, identity  power, and media. Transformative Learning which has a similar atmosphere as my previous Holistic Education course where 20 of us sit in a circle discussing world issues, collective consciousness and a shifting global worldview. And finally I’m taking Environmental Finance at the Rotman Business school at U of T, where I am the only education student amongst a crowd of MBA’s who can talk circles around me. That being said I am able to stay afloat through my environmental motivation and willingness to learn. I attended the PRI-CBERN Academic Network Conference today in fact, as suggested by our instructor, which gave me a fascinating insight into the business side of things. If there’s one theme that prevails it’s the need for members of civil society to become active and engaged in the realities of the world. It will take each one of our best efforts to inspire, empower and change a dominant ideology that engrosses the world marginalizing and distracting many from what’s important. I look forward to writing more specifically about each course but have many projects on the go this month. At the very least I’m going to try to update with quotes from some of my reading material in what I’ll call “Bits from Books.”

“The crucial task of the educator will be to develop an awareness that sees through the logic of destructive globalization and to combine this with critical skills to resist the rhetoric that now saturates us.”

Edmund O’Sullivan, Transformative Learning: Educational Vision for the 21st Century, 1999, p. 33

photo by: ericmay, via flickrcc.net

photo by: ericmay, via flickrcc.net

 

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Holistic Education 0

Posted on July 24, 2012 by Sarah

For July and August I am taking a highly recommended course in Holistic Curriculum with Jack Miller at OISE. Halfway through and I can already say it’s been a transformative experience. With every class starting in an unobstructed circle, our group of 24 eager graduate students share experiences and learn from each other. From kindergarten to young adult language teachers, middle eastern to South American natives, rookies to veterans, we’ve all been given the opportunity to discuss and collaborate in a safe, respectful environment. Finally you can feel what it’s like to be a part of a holistic classroom that values the people in the room and not just brains on sticks. As we begin our small group presentations I am excited to see the contributions from my peers and to share them.

@sarlowes

“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your values,
Your values become your destiny.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

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Learning Together! 0

Posted on March 28, 2012 by Sarah

As some of you may know, I provide The Rookie Teacher.ca with some reflections from my experience at OISE studying an M.Ed. I’m currently enrolled in a Co-operative Learning (CL) course which, as the name may suggest, discusses learning collaboratively. It is important to recognize that this is different from many conceptions associated with conventional groupwork. CL involves several key elements that involve careful structuring or design. An essential element is creating positive interdependence, or tasks that have students interconnected in meaningful ways. It is sometimes very difficult to escape the competitive nature that is internalized in many Western schools. Students are constantly ranked and compared, who is better, who is worse, forced to submit to an oppressive hierarchy.  But can’t we create so much more together? Even from an efficiency point of view, it is wiser to have multiple people learn various parts of a complex task and share information than to have each master the parts individually.  Anyway, I think just by taking the CL survey I’ve made, may lead you to understand CL in a different light. It is a complex task to manage people in ways for them to be successful. It involves explicit teaching and practice of many skills: how to communicate and express one’s ideas, how to attentively listen to others and responding in ways that promote the success of a group, amongst others. But where better to practice than in a safe community in your class?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and how you use collaborative learning in your classroom for my research project in this field. Please take the time to complete my survey be a part of the results. They will certainly be shared!

Find the survey here!

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What’s behind the food we eat? 2

Posted on March 08, 2012 by Sarah

Here’s an update on what we’ve been discussing in my Pedagogy of Food course at OISE. First of all, we have a severely broken food system. Do you ever think about just where did your orange come from? Was it handpicked in a developing country? Was the worker paid fairly? How old are they? Are they happy? We partook in a mindful eating experience that reflected on these questions while also slowly, mindfully experiencing one raisin at a time. This blindness is called commodity fetishism. It’s an unhealthy attention to a commodity without regarding the social relationships that brought the commodity to us. It’s a product of our economic and political systems, creating a veil so we are unable to make informed decisions as consumers. We are unaware if the

The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lombard by lyzadanger

photo: lyzadanger, flickrcc.net

orange was picked by a child or by a woman who was sexually harassed. These types of veils are found everywhere in systems that affect us everyday, but when a small handful of corporations control the entire food distribution of the world, it becomes quite worrisome and dangerous. A phenomenal amount of money is spent selling and buying food, eating out, transporting and storing food, yet such a public necessity stays in a fairly private light, rarely being discussed. So what can we do as educators? Help foster critical thinking! Encourage, nay, praise questions! Excite students to make a difference and challenge them to form values and stand up for what they believe in. Model what active, citizen engagement is and have conversations about food. Plus, the only way you can inform others is to inform yourself.

 

An excellent resource for more information is “The No-Nonsense Guide to World Food” by Toronto author Wayne Roberts. It’s an essential read for everyone!

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Online learning, Epistemology and Unemployment 0

Posted on February 03, 2012 by Sarah

Just wanted to share (again) a couple of education related articles in the news recently in case you missed them!

Reading (318/365)

Reading by Jack Amick, flickrcc.net

The Globe and Mail released “Canadian schools falling behind in online learning, report says” discussing Canada’s lack of embracement of online education technology… but is that a positive or a negative? Many of the comments are particularly interesting. Is Internet-based learning where we should be focusing our attention and resources? Perhaps schools should instead try to maintain and grow the relationships and interconnectedness the school can bring to students, teachers, parents and the community. How you respond to this discussion may depend on your epistemology, or theory of knowledge. Is knowledge something concrete that exists independently of our minds? Or is knowledge a social construction that changes throughout time?

 

Rows Upon Rows

Rows Upon Rows by N.Dunn

The second article may be the reality many of us Rookie Teacher’s are experiencing hi-lighting that 24 percent of new teacher graduates remain unemployed. “Teacher’s college applications plummet” through Maclean’s discusses the unprecedented capping on the number of first-year education students at 9,058. Another initiative I’ve heard being mentioned around OISE is the possibility of making teacher’s college a 2 year program. Yet the more disturbing part in the article for me was the picture chosen to display the education topic: rows of desks. Will we ever internalize the school as being something co-operative, interactive and personal?

On a different note, classes have resumed at OISE for my M.Ed. This semester I’m taking Pedagogy of Food, Co-operative Learning, and Post-structuralism and Education. I like to tweet about insights as I have them and am always looking for feedback and discussion so don’t be shy! @sarlowes

 

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Thinking critically before teaching critical thinking 0

Posted on November 24, 2011 by Sarah

Lately I’ve been reading articles and discussing in my classes hegemony, oppression and education. Hegemony is that accepted state of consciousness, the paradigm of the day, the status quo, the underlining dominant logic. Its the implied construct  that feeds into the way you live your life. It’s unfortunate that B.Ed programs don’t ask for a deeper reflection into the institution we are expected to teach within and the hegemony we’re being asked to reproduce. Yet of course the system doesn’t want us to look critically at the embedded power structures that allow people at the top to flourish. Although the purpose of education can be debated in its own topic, we can agree that education should not oppress. Instead, we can argue that it should be anti-oppressive, promote an openness to freewill and self-actualization. But we cannot escape that education is grounded on ideology that forms power

not quite clear on the concept by WoodleyWonderWorks

photo: WoodleyWonderWorks, flickrcc.net

structures, a system that creates winners and losers. If students don’t fit into our educational model, if they don’t identify with the system, they are marginalized and can internalize that they are less valuable or less successful by definition of education. Hegemony can saturate our consciousness to the point where we don’t even realize we are reproducing it. Teachers are bogged down with standards, new methods, “best practices” further distancing them from the heart of the matter. Our educational system is one, arguably arbitrary, way of streaming individuals into societal roles. So when you ask your students to question “who benefits” from a particularly text, be sure to extend this question to yourself regarding your current role in society.

“While schools may in fact serve interests of many individuals, and they should not be denied, at the same time, though, empirically they also seem to act as powerful agents in the economic and cultural reproduction of class relations in a stratified society like our own”
Michael Apple – Ideology and Curriculum (1990) p.8

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Sarah Lowes 2

Posted on November 09, 2011 by Sarah
Sarah Lowes - Picture

photo: Mlle Lowes

Hey friends! How are you? My name is Sarah Lowes, but some may know me around Halton as Mlle Lowes as I’ve recently been hired on the French Occasional Teacher list. My more time consuming current life adventure is completing a Masters in Education at OISE. Having round table discussions with professors, researchers and doctorate students in Toronto is always offering new perspectives to keep me sharp. I hope to share some of my learning experiences with you! Check out my twitter chatter at @sarlowes!

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