Sunday, October 18, 2015

"Gender Development"

“Gender Development”

I particularly focused on the Jerry Callahan scenario towards the end of chapter 6.  Nakkula and Toshalis tell us he is a straight, white, male student who is involved in many after school activities, but only those after school activities which are geared towards straight, white, and male oriented activities.   I found this to be unsettling because as a culture we do gender activities.  I remember looking at a student-created poster last year for spirit week.  It was recruiting the first ever cheerleading squad.  This poster had only girls represented and was geared towards middle school girls.  As an educator, I try to be as gender neutral as I can, since I am more aware of this being an issue in adolescent development.

After reading Safe Spaces by August, it triggered some thinking.  Why was this poster only recruiting middle school girls? What if a middle school boy was interested?—something as simple as a poster could possibly make a middle school feel alienated if a middle school boy had an interest.  How these feelings could be internalized for the future of students who are not represented.   What if a chess club, auto mechanics, or wood chop class only featured adolescent boys?  Some girls may feel alienated. What if our culture portrayed the images below?  The socially constructed world of gendered and stereotypical activities that Nakkula and Toshalis discuss in chapter 6. 

Since reading Safe Spaces, August quotes “Our classrooms need to be ‘windows and mirrors’ for all students - mirrors in which youth see themselves in the curriculum and recognize their place in the group; windows through which youth see beyond themselves to experiences connected with, but not identical to, their own.” I’ve learned we need to be sensitive to these gendered ideologies and include all students.  Nakkula and Thosalis say “As educators, our job is to promote student learning and creativity through safe and enriching experiences.  Optimal learning requires the presence of intact, full present students” (115).  As educators, it also our job to send gender neutral messages to our students.  

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Encouragement does more...

This first quote stood out to me because I felt there was no other options in terms of assessments.  Yes we primarily “hunt for mistakes” when grading.  “When teachers see an upward of 100 students per day and are expected to assess the progress of each of them and then differentiate instruction… it is no wonder that standardized diagnostics become necessary” (page 67).  Doesn’t that happen with everything?  I felt my hands tied after reading this.  Yes, I do believe there must be an emphasis on “grading” and knowing what students can and can’t do (with the emphasis on can’t) because it helps a student learn from their mistakes and then learn to correct that mistake. 

I feel it is the nature of learning any new skill academic or interest-based.  Also, highlighting the strengths is just as necessary, but also depends on how and what is being measured.  A homework assignment is going to measure what the student knows, so it seems ordinary to know where their thinking needs improvement, just like any sport of student interest.  Sure, academic work looks different from extracurricular activities.  What if academic work was focused on positive outcomes and extracurricular activities would focus on the “needs improvement” skills.  Seems like there is not much a difference on how good measurement is achieved.   I think encouragement can help in any situation and is the key for succeeding in anything.


I think Maggie and Colby Steinburg would agree with the quote above.  They both found Lorena slipping away from academics and tried to find something positive to build skills.  This encourages her to become team player and to focus her energy on something attainable (college).  The connection from extracurricular activities and academics help become a “bridge” to success and skill building.  Their support is necessary for their success.