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 The Events That I Attended of the Semester 
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Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2009 12:10 pm
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I chose three different seminars to go to, with the intention of writing about each of them together. The first seminar that I went to was given by Diana Beasley, and on classroom management. She was a very clear and concise speaker that did well in getting her points across. She identified our main job as educators as being that of creating a classroom environment where learning can flourish and children can feel safe. This involves, she says, being proactive, knowing the strengths and weaknesses of your different learners. Clear and consistent policies were two things I could tell she definitely advocated, not just for the teacher, but as a way of establishing a routine that helps your children to know what to expect. Reinforcing and rewarding these clear and consistent policies was also key. Keeping students engaged is very helpful, and this happens she tells us, through varying instruction throughout the class period. She identified much of the misbehavior that is happening as being rooted in a lack of self-confidence, basic foundational skills, and attendance issues. Kicking out and suspensions only help to aggravate the problems. She believes whole-heartedly, and I agree, that many attendance issues can be fixed with making students feel as if they are an integral part of the whole. Make them feel as if they are missing something when they are not there, and they will want to be there more often. James Bell, the teacher of the year, was a second individual whom I saw speak, and he claimed the same thing. But finally, for Ms. Beasley, something I remember her emphasizing was the fact that it is not about us as teachers, but about our students.

James Bell, the teacher of the year in 2007, was just ebullient from the beginning. I was automatically drawn into what he was saying to his audience, and then it hit me that this is how he his in the classroom. Before even hearing all that he had to say I was able to believe that he was a good teacher. He told us that he had originally never wanted to be in the classroom teaching, but that those things happened anyway. Of course when he started out he was scared and had no clue what he was doing, but he was good to say that everything does revolve around the well being and learning of the students. It isn't about you. He was the second person to say this. I think it would be easy, as coming into the world of education and scared, to be worrying about how you are doing as a new teacher and how people are perceiving you, but if you take a step back, as these speakers indicated, you see that what matters is being there for your kids. You have a responsibility to impart what you can to them, and make them feel as if they are all equally important and have potential. He stressed also, introducing relevance to your students about what they're completing in their assignments. Speaking as a student, no one likes work when they feel as if there is no purpose to it. I feel that students will be much more productive if they are doing something with a cause, and know that they are genuinely having their knowledge increased. James Bell also stresses having belief for the both of you. I know that it will be a challenge having students in the future that really have no hope for progress or don't want to be there, and I do know that realistically, you cannot change people that don't want to change, but I do like his attitude about believing in the equal and great potential of every child that walks through your door! The final thing that I really remember from James' seminar was a comment he made about knowing and evaluating yourself as a teacher. We read an article in our text book earlier on in the semester about this exact same thing. If you can understand better what those things are the you stand for, you will probably holistically be a better educator. How this happens is not always easy to explain, but I am certain that if you know what is important to you, and who you are, you can help to impart better tolerating values.

The final seminar that I attended was on apartheid in South Africa. Both Dee Worthy and Malanka Motlhoioa spoke. Dee grew up in South Africa, met her husband in England, and studied middle grades education. She came to Appalachian in August. She spoke of how South Africa is a culturally diverse country, one nation with eleven official languages. They have many traditions and have been described as a "rainbow nation." From 1948 to 1990 was the apartheid there, and she went to an all white school where she had just white teachers. Her first black educator that she ever encountered was a professor at App. When she was younger she came to have very different beliefs from her racist parents. In her home, she grew up hearing that black people had taken over white country, but it was really the opposite. She said to us that she wanted people to see others with their hearts and not their eyes. This ties into education and life overall, but in the classroom if this is how we're all treating each other, and if students are told that this is what is important, and see that it is, there will be a hope for our future generations. So much begins in our schools and it is the birthplace of the minds of our people. If toleration and accepting and loving are emphasized in schools over the world, these values will carry into the larger spectrum of life. Malanka was a teacher during apartheid, and talks about how he experienced different schooling for whites and blacks, and how everything was subject to segregation. I think these speakers were just helping us, like the woman who did an experiment with her children in the 70s on discrimination, to see that we are all equal, and all able to learn. When we as educators keep this in mind there is so much room for growth.

I found out that we don't have to lose hope in reaching people on being accepting and loving, and that if we do this, we can affect the way that life is in our future generations. We have so much influence as teachers, and what we need to do is unite behind the common goal of imparting love and knowledge.

Erin Camden Basham

Tue Dec 01, 2009 1:21 pm
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