Child teaching – Abilities Networks Fri, 08 Oct 2021 13:13:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Child teaching – Abilities Networks 32 32 I am passionate about teaching. Here is why I am not going back to class. Fri, 08 Oct 2021 13:00:00 +0000 As an educator of color who grew up in the Bronx and attended public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, I have long been committed to ensuring that students have educational experiences that meet their needs, value who they are and empower them and their families. As a child, I hoped to rectify the educational […]]]>

As an educator of color who grew up in the Bronx and attended public schools from Kindergarten to Grade 12, I have long been committed to ensuring that students have educational experiences that meet their needs, value who they are and empower them and their families. As a child, I hoped to rectify the educational inequalities I saw by becoming a teacher in the New York City public school system.

Since the schools in New York City closed in March 2020, I have continued to work tirelessly to ensure my students receive the best possible education, the kind of education that many of my peers and I never had the opportunity to. to live fully as students. It is the education that students deserve – not the “return to normalcy” that the authorities keep calling for, but a school system that is truly built for all students, including our most marginalized.

Selena carrion
Courtesy photo

I persevered, despite the many challenges. But the 2020-21 school year was my last in the New York Department of Education and my last as a teacher.

The COVID era has provided a boost of epic proportions in the world of education. At the start of the pandemic, parents struggled with distance learning and realized that a teacher’s job was so much more difficult than it seemed. They saluted us for our efforts to light up a dime and teach in a whole new way. The positive attention felt like a reprieve. Finally, my colleagues and I were appreciated for our hard work and service.

Although the 2019-2020 and 2020-21 school years were extremely difficult, I felt the tide was turning when it comes to educational justice. In New York, long-standing systemic issues have come to the fore. Bias and historically inaccurate programs and materials, the digital divide, collapsing infrastructure and racial disparities in health were now mainstream. These were conversations that had been repeatedly interrupted during the last generation of bipartisan education reform in favor of data, high-stakes testing and accountability. I felt new hope for a more equitable post-COVID world.

But nearly two years after the start of the pandemic, the dominant representation of public school teachers is as far removed from the hero’s narrative as it gets. Teachers are being ignored as we continue to advocate for COVID security protocols. Many are also exhausted, demoralized, and worried about being targeted for simply teaching in a historically accurate and culturally appropriate way.

What has changed since COVID first closed schools?

Nationally, schools have come under siege, thanks to an attack on state laws that prevent educators from teaching about race, gender, or oppression in historically accurate ways. Policies targeting critical race theory are actually an attempt to attack truth, civic engagement, and fairness in public schools. (The same goes for the ban on masks and vaccines in schools.)

To make matters worse, many education officials appear determined to return to the status quo regardless of how many people are still struggling in the midst of a pandemic. Even in a “progressive” city like New York, educators can feel helpless, isolated, and fearful of reprisals from administrators or supporters of traditional educational approaches. I know I have.

Granted, this problem predates the pandemic, but it is only now, after years of hostility and resistance, that I am ready to seek change outside the system.

Ten years ago, when I started teaching third grade to a class of all black and brown students in the South Bronx, many of them first and second generation immigrants, I saw how my students reacted. to a program and an education that valued and recognized them. their shine. The founding principal of our school at the time – a powerful black educator – hired me to support the culturally appropriate and sustainable culture she envisioned for the school. She commissioned me to help write a curriculum; she also asked me to lead a rigorous pedagogical framework on the academic level, to affirm the diversity of the identities of the students and to highlight the marginalized experiences.

The work she was doing was based on the community control efforts of the 1960s in New York City. By this time, many black and Latin educators were working hard to take control of their community schools, which they believed the city had long ignored in favor of white and wealthy neighborhood schools. They were inspired and led by many civil rights activists, anti-war movements and black power.

It seemed like a long time ago when I started teaching. After all, I entered the classroom at the height of bipartisan reform movements like Race to the Top and, before that, No Child Left Behind. I used to have teachers looked at with a certain level of scrutiny and suspicion as they were held to account for high stakes tests. Inequalities in education and the importance of culturally appropriate practices were poorly recognized.

Today, many teachers not only accept the failures of recent reform movements that got us nowhere, but try to correct them. While I had hoped the past two years would have been a wake-up call, the data and accountability framework persists. And it fuels current accounts of “learning loss”, “achievement gaps” and all the ways of thinking about deficits about how children, especially black and brown children, learn today.

Teachers who still attempt to transform schools with sweeping efforts may face a swift and concerted reaction. It is untenable.

I have been dealing with such a backlash for years. In the middle of my career, after my school principal retired and the new administration changed the organization’s north star to reflect the dominant reform rhetoric, some of my colleagues called me extremely keen to introduce ideas that they believe could harm students and make my white colleagues feel bad for being white. They challenged the same everyday practices that now face immense political and cultural backlash, such as critical discussions of race or gender, and the selection of texts centered on marginalized stories or perspectives.

At the end of the term, I moved to a well-known progressive school, hoping to find a community that embraces anti-racist education and a culturally appropriate curriculum. Over the next six years, I assumed greater roles and responsibilities, but never felt fully supported in my efforts for fairness, justice and true transformation.

The school I taught most recently seemed more committed to offering lip service or cosmetic changes, rather than implementing anti-racist practices and making sure teachers had the support they needed to guarantee the success of such measures. And as I continued to use my leadership position at school to advocate for change, especially when we returned in person, I encountered growing hostility. My advocacy put my job at risk.

As a child of color, I never felt like I belonged to the public school system; as an adult within the same system, I don’t feel fully accepted or expected to thrive. So after 10 years as a teacher in a public school in New York City, I look forward to continuing my work as an educator, in a new space – a space that fully embraces my humanity and that of the children, while working for transformative change.

Selena A. Carrion (@SelenaCarrion) is an experienced educator, librarian, writer and activist working in New York City. Along with her experience in New York Public Schools as a teacher, she worked at Columbia University Teachers College, NYSED, NewSchools, and PBS. His writings have been published in Chalkbeat, NCTE, Edutopia, and ACSD, among other publications. Carrión bases his work on critical pedagogies, anti-racist teaching and the equitable transformation of our schools.

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Artists Teaching Inner City-Inner Child Adopt Alternative Styles To Reach Different Children Thu, 28 Jul 2016 07:00:00 +0000 Each preschooler sitting on the classroom mat held a drum – some made from empty coffee cans, others from buckets of sand with neon tape stretched through the opening. But they all wanted a spin with the caxixi shaker, a hollow gourd covered with a net sprinkled with puka shells. “It’s kind of like a […]]]>

Each preschooler sitting on the classroom mat held a drum – some made from empty coffee cans, others from buckets of sand with neon tape stretched through the opening.

But they all wanted a spin with the caxixi shaker, a hollow gourd covered with a net sprinkled with puka shells.

“It’s kind of like a pumpkin,” Sylvia Soumah said. “Does anyone like Halloween?” “

His question sparked enthusiastic discussions about Halloween candy. This may not have been the direction she wanted, but for Ms. Soumah, known to her students as “Mama Sylvie”, there is no wrong answer.

Ms. Soumah is an artist-teacher for Inner City-Inner Child (ICIC), an arts awareness program that works with preschools in low-income areas of the district.

Since she started working with the program 20 years ago, her goals have been simple: to inspire children to learn, while keeping an open mind to diversity.

Diversity comes in all its forms and isn’t just limited to the language you speak or how you look, Ms. Soumah said. Diversity in learning is often overlooked in the classroom, as “children are placed in boxes” and little attention is paid to diversity in learning and teaching styles, she said. declared.

Children can be auditory, visual or practical learners, she said. Especially for children with disabilities, alternative learning styles are the most effective.

Ms. Soumah considers herself an outsider and sees her work as a teaching artist as an opportunity to fight for those who are like her.

“Sometimes African American children are at a disadvantage because they don’t have the same opportunities in the classroom,” she said.

ICIC Executive Director Ingrid Zimmer said the biggest impact the program can sometimes have is simply involving a child who previously was unresponsive.

In a learning center in the South East, children sat in a circle, forming a stage for 4-year-old Jaella to dance. Her movements were haphazard and jerky, Ms. Zimmer as Jaella had made incredible progress.

The preschooler lost her father to gun violence a few months ago and had “shut down”, she said. The dance was Jaella’s first time engaging with the class since then.

For the six low-income centers that the ICIC selects each year, its three-month program proposes to improve students’ skills in math, art, and literacy, and to engage students with developmental challenges and society or who have suffered a traumatic event.

Teachers call this fusion of performing arts and traditional subjects “arts integration”, a teaching tool that is growing in popularity. Instead of students learning subjects in isolation, programs like ICIC’s “Dancing with Books” use music, dance and art to help them fully engage with a book’s content. of images.

Finding the right book is no easy task, Zimmer said. It should be few words per page and inspire the teaching artists to create an original song, dance and art project that they will then use to convey the themes of the book.

Karen O. Brown, a visual artist for the program, uses books to create a “kid-inspired and led” program. She encourages the students to tear the paper rather than cut it. Using their imaginations, the shreds become buildings and trees, a library or a school.

The content of the book should also meet preschool standards, covering topics such as weather, transportation, and emotions.

Two decades earlier, the content wouldn’t have mattered so much. When Ms. Zimmer’s mother, Connie, founded the program in 1994, there were no curriculum standards in place for preschool education and many centers were not accredited educational programs.

Connie Zimmer’s first role in the arts community began when she founded Dumbarton Concerts in the 1960s, a “boutique” concert hall focused on intimate listening.

The concert series, now approaching its 40th season, has hosted renowned musicians and singers including the Vogler Quartet and the acapella ensemble, Nordic Voices, but perhaps its greatest achievement has been its outreach program. arts, which affects more than 3,000 children, ages 2 to 5 each. year.

When her mother retired three years ago, Ms. Zimmer took on the role of Executive Director of ICIC and has since worked to develop the program.

While the program initially focused on improving standards in early childhood education, today Ms. Zimmer’s focuses on “unlocking” the minds of children.

Using your imagination is an intuitive skill for kids, says Ms. Zimmer, but if you put a child in front of a TV for too long, they may forget what was natural at first.

It’s not that parents intentionally discourage this skill, but sometimes what comes naturally to children is considered bad behavior. To achieve this, the ICIC also trains teachers and offers workshops in which parents and children can participate together. From an investment perspective, early childhood education produces the “highest return,” said Ms. Zimmer. Recent studies suggest that 80 percent of brain development occurs between ages 0 and 5, making preschool and preschool programs the best time to take action.

According to the State Education Agency for Adult Education and the Washington Literacy Council, 61% of low-income families do not have books at home for their children, while 80% of daycares serving low-income children do not. of books at all.

Each child who completes the program receives a new backpack full of books – many of them have never owned a book before.

Students don’t just learn to dance, sing and create.

At the start of the three-month program, less than 60 percent of students at St. Timothy’s Child Development Center and Randall Hyland Private School were meeting or exceeding grade-level artistic skills. In the end, all students met or exceeded expectations.

By teaching them visualization – a pre-math skill – their math scores also showed dramatic improvement. Before the program, 30 percent had grades at the standard grade level, by the end, 85 percent.

Community learning centers are essential for quality preschool education, Ms. Zimmer said. They often get to know the children over a long period of time and offer more personalized instruction.

Just as Ms. Zimmer inherited the ICIC from her mother, many daycares in the DC area are family businesses.

But these centers, such as Big Mama’s in Anacostia, a neighborhood feature that has been at the heart of the community for years, have faced new challenges since DC introduced universal preschool into the public school system.

When Bridget Hall’s parents bought the property where Big Mama’s is located, the large brick building was underused. A small liquor store occupied meager real estate on the grounds. It seemed like a natural fit for her mother to divide the building, and although a liquor store and daycare are an unlikely couple, the two businesses continue to coexist.

For Big Mama’s, the rush of children into the public system means the loss of public funds.

For families who want their children to stay in local community centers, where classes are small and the quality of education is high, they should apply for school vouchers, a quick and difficult process.

Rather than navigating the bureaucracy, more and more children are entering the public system where individual attention is scarce and common basic standards require excessive testing.

“Schools test at such a young age that children don’t develop a love of learning because learning is no longer fun for them,” Ms. Zimmer said.

For children who stay in community centers, resources are dwindling. As the program progresses, Zimmer said they will focus on helping the remaining centers, while adapting their program to serve public schools as well.

For the upcoming school year, Ms. Zimmer wants the program to focus on the idea of ​​“trips” and the idea that a book can take you anywhere.

While the road to college is still a long way off, preschoolers are already aiming high.

“Who’s going to college? Asked Mrs. Soumah.

Each hand in the class shot up to the sky.

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