Can bullying simply be a thing from the past?

Bullying is something that takes place all over the world, to all different age groups. It is a problem that had existed from the beginning of time and something we still deal with today. There are different types of bullying (physical, emotional, etc.) and many different platforms in which it takes places (at school, over the internet, etc.). After reading the article Joining Hands Against Bullying as well as Raising the Alert on Cyberbullying, I was pushed further with the importance about knowledge and educating today’s youth about bullying. Because a lot of the bullying situations take place where teachers are not always watching, it is best to set up preventative methods and education seminars regarding bullying and its detrimental consequences. I believe even more that, as a teacher, it is my responsibility to create a safe, respectful environment in my own classroom.

When researching further, and looking off the Government’s ‘Get Cyber Safe‘ website, I was presented with some interesting statistics: 8% of students have reported cyberbullying, and 14% had admitted to sending mean or hurtful messages online. Personally looking at the situation, I can already think of 10 people I know who have been bullied just in my small town school growing up- maybe not in the physical sense, but definitely emotionally and socially. You hear stories in the news about bullying that has gone to far and has caused severe consequences. Suicide is the third leading cause for death in young people. This is startling for me…this is a reason that isn’t like disease that cannot be treated. Suicide can be avoided and more importantly avoided all together with the proper supports and education in place. If you simply google the term “bullying causes” the results that come up are unsettling: school shooting, depression, and self harm/suicide. It is very disheartening to hear that during such a tough time for growing due to growing, puberty, changes emotionally and physiologically that children are unable to help each other through it, but instead put others down to make themselves feel better. Don’t get me wrong… there are many articles and stories about students doing good and creating help groups and being positive role models, but theses are the stories that should be in majority over the negative stories.

Here is a video I loved! It shows how influential bystanders can be in bullying (it is NOT a situation just including the person being bullied and the person who’s the bully) :

SPEAK OUT!  Bullying is not something that should stay in the shadows…

For further reading on Cyberbullying, you can read my other post “Can Cyberbullying be prevented?” or go through these resources (also on that post).

Here is a list of sites that can help you, if you or someone you know, is being cyberbullied:

1. Internet safety

2. Cyberbully help

3. STOP Cyberbullying

4. Ryan’s Story– another victim of Cyberbullying

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Is there a way to be completely unbiased culturally when teaching?

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In response to the reading: Culturally Responsive Classroom Management.

I found this to be a very eye opening article. The reason this is, is because as much as I like to believe I am culturally unbiased, I kind of understand how impossible this is. To be completely abstain from favoritism and have a good understanding of all cultures is near impossible- although learning about the different cultures your students come from is very beneficial. One of the first things I had, not really learnt but reviewed, was about fully understanding “the self, the other, and the context”. What this means is knowing that no matter who you are, you have your own cultural identity that encompasses your “beliefs, biases and assumptions”. Knowing all the things you stand for will help you better understand those of others…such as your students’.

One of my teaching philosophies I have as a pre-service teacher is that I fully believe in the importance and benefits of inclusive classrooms. I find a lot of the times inclusion is centered around physical differences; however, another important thing to account for is the cultural differences. Different cultures have different understandings and norms revolving education. As a future teacher, it will be important to realize any biases in my classroom and make changes accordingly. It is also my job as an educator to gain knowledge about all of my students and their backgrounds. It would also be very beneficial to talk with their parents to understand how they value and interpret educational practices.

The best way to ensure your students learn best, is to have a full understanding of their needs, their beliefs, and their interests.

How fragile is our teacher identity?

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I was reading through some of my news apps and came across the article about the “former teacher [Regina] found not guilty of sex charges”. This article is about former Regina teacher Corey Matthews (36) who had a student make claims of 4 different occasions of sexual assault and sexual exploitation in 2005. After 11 years (11 years!!) with this accusation made, on January 21, 2014 he was found not guilty. Because of the law system today, children claiming any sexual assault charges are believed fully and the claims are believed true until proven further. While I do think this is a good system for this kind of crime, looking at it from Matthews perspective, he was completely innocent and had 11 years of his life being seen as a criminal and sexual predator. Not only is this bad enough, but being that teachers hold such high expectations from the general public, it seemed that much worse- that a trusted teacher, someone close to all youth, would have such accusations made about them.

As a pre-service teacher, this article was a little worrying because it just emphasizes the fragility of my teacher identity. If any accusations are made by my students, they are automatically deemed credible and, although it occurs more often with men,  these cases are becoming more common in the news. In Corey Matthew’s case, his professional career was destroyed. Although the charges were cleared and he was found not guilty, the consequences of such an event had obliterated his teacher identity and his desire to teach in general. Now, he is left trying to find another means of income and a new passion to follow.

Teacher identity is a huge factor in parents’ ease and trust in having their children go to particular schools. Professionalism and integrity are highly valued in a teacher’s identity. After reading this article I am just that much more conscious about my actions as a teacher, and the outcomes that are possible.

Is There an Exact Science to Assessment?

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Assessment is a huge topic for all teachers. Everyone has their own beliefs and experiences that influence how they go about evaluating students. Some are super flexible with the assessment format and time, while others prefer traditional beliefs with assessment. Based on the readings, and my own experience, it becomes to clear the more options you provide, the better. With knowledge about multiple intelligences and learning styles, I know that not every student learns the same. If every student doesn’t learn the same, why would they all be assessed the same way? I believe that students should always be given opportunities to show their learning in different ways: whether it be options of poster, video, essay, etc.; or, different types of formats for an exam such as true/false, multiple choice, short answer, verbal, etc.  Although different subjects make it tough to provide options for assessment, time should always be spent brainstorming methods to allow adaptations. It is also important not to get stuck on just traditional assessment methods: written exams, pop quizzes, etc. My belief is to find everyone’s strengths, and instead of working against them, use their strengths and opinions to design the best suited assessment method/rubric.

My worries about assessment is that I will look at the grade my students get and only focus on that number/letter and not about what got them that grade. My hopes are to look at the grades my students receive and question what got them there. Assessment, even backed by the readings, should be integrated in lessons through the whole unit so the teacher is able to adjust their lesson plan accordingly (with informative assessment). With the results from these assessments, teachers can target troubled areas, as well as spend less time with the information their students already know, to prepare students better for the formal assessment (assessments where the grades are actually used for report cards).

Response to Journal Article (Noddings)

After reading this article I am left feeling both motivated but also a little agitated. I believe the concepts and big picture the article was getting at was the idea of schools focusing and building upon student’s strengths and not on his/her struggles. This is a very unique concept for school and could be extremely beneficial for the majority of students. However, it had bothered me to read “Teachers who work with students in minimal courses should have sympathy for their difficulties and admiration for their well-considered choice”. The article was directed at appreciating the fact every student will have their talents and that this should be the focus of today’s classrooms- a very enriching approach. On the contrary, the statement made by the author confuses me. If we are supposed to acknowledge that every student has a subject or area they will do well in, why would it be a bad thing that they have certain courses they struggle with? I don’t sympathy should be the right approach to handling a student in a minimal course. On the contrary, it should be an area that is dealt with reassuringly as well as constructively. Every person on the planet will have something they can do better in and improve: I don’t believe its the right thing to feel sorry for that individual on having an uncommon or unlikely area of difficulty; more so, it should be important to help that student and ensure they provide the best results they are capable of.
Furthermore, the rest of the article was very interesting and helped provide me with new ideas on teaching. From this article, I more understand the importance of finding every student’s strength and working with it to apply post-secondary options that suit their knowledge and interests. Teaching students gives me the scary, yet rewarding, opportunity to inspire and influence students’ lives. Gaining more knowledge on ways to help my students is imperative in order for me to provide the best instruction. One of my teaching philosophy is that every student can learn, this article further builds upon this belief.