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Becoming Readers of Children: Promoting Powerful Learning Communities for all Students Sonia Nieto Literacies of Teaching American University March 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Becoming Readers of Children: Promoting Powerful Learning Communities for all Students Sonia Nieto Literacies of Teaching American University March 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Becoming Readers of Children: Promoting Powerful Learning Communities for all Students Sonia Nieto Literacies of Teaching American University March 2010

2 Framework for understanding quality education for all students Sociopolitical context of schools and society (ideological/institutional) Comprehensive school reform Personal values and commitments

3 Sociopolitical context Societal level: –Who counts? Who has access to education? health care? employment? housing? Who can speak their native language in the community? at work? –What counts? Whose language is “standard”? Whose lifestyle is “normal”? School level: –How do school policies and practices benefit some students over others? (curriculum, pedagogy, disciplinary policies, hiring practices, parent outreach, etc.) –Ex, Curriculum: Whose knowledge counts? What knowledge does the curriculum reflect? Whose perspective is represented? Who benefits? Who loses?

4 Becoming anti-racist teacher leaders Asking “profoundly multicultural questions” Redefining quality education for all students Becoming anti-racist educators Promoting powerful learning communities –Teaching as solidarity –Teaching as advocacy –Teaching as sociocultural mediation –Teaching as political work Challenging conventions Becoming readers of students

5 Asking “profoundly multicultural questions” Who’s taking calculus? physics? Are there enough labs for all students? Is the bilingual (ESL, ELL, or special education) program in the basement? (hall closet?under the stairway? next to the boiler?) What are our children worth? Who’s teaching the children? Asking “profoundly multicultural questions”:

6 Access Equity Becoming advocates: defining quality education

7 Anti-racist, anti-bias education Inclusive of biases other than racial (gender, language, social class, sexual orientation, etc.) Not simply celebratory Changes the “canon” to be more inclusive, truthful, and representative

8 Anti-racist, anti-bias education Pays attention to how some students benefit over others in school policies and practices Welcomes “dangerous discourse” Teaches young people skills in combating bias Confronts racism and other biases directly through content, approaches, and pedagogy:

9 Anti-racist education is for all students Not just for “urban,” “minority,” “at risk,” “disadvantaged” students All students have been miseducated, although in different ways

10 Pervasive oNot a specific subject matter, unit, class, or teacher oNot just ethnic tidbits, holidays, festivals, or fairs A philosophy; a way of thinking about the world

11 Anti-racist education and critical pedagogy Recognizes that knowledge is neither neutral nor apolitical and that every educational decision is a political decision Teaches students to question, explore, and critique Helps teachers and students understand different perspectives Helps students and teachers move beyond their partial (and therefore) limited experiences Not about “political correctness,” but about affirmation and respect for all students of all backgrounds

12 becoming readers of students Through solidarity Through advocacy Through sociocultural mediation Through political work

13 becoming readers of students through Solidarity Mary Cowhey At my undergraduate college, I was in the majority. That was mostly who was in the program: White women who were native speakers of English. But in the BEM Summer Program, out of 30 students, there were a handful of native English speakers…

14 Coming out of the closet as a Spanish speaker In my work, I often act as a bridge between different cultures. Part of my evolution as a teacher has been in self defense: I have learned to make my life easier by making life easier for my students; but another, greater part of my experience has been a deep curiosity and yearning to understand the lives of my students. In my struggle to understand, I have learned not only a great deal about my students, but also about myself… Becoming readers of students through solidarity: bill dunn

15 becoming readers of students through advocacy Ambrizeth Lima: Teaching is about power. That is why it must also be about social justice. I teach because I believe that young people have rights, including the right to their identities and their languages… This has meant that I’ve had to engage in many struggles to retain bilingual education {a right that was eradicated in 2002 when the voters of Massachusetts supported the elimination of bilingual education through a ballot initiative)…

16 becoming readers of students through sociocultural mediation Mary Ginley I'm a White, middle-class woman who grew up in a White, middle- class neighborhood and went to a White middle-class college. I know if I was really going to teach today’s kids, I had a lot to learn…

17 Defining Sociocultural Mediation Mary Ginley Our responsibility is to meet them where they are and take them someplace else, and have them carry who they are along with them.

18 “When did a certain form of grammar become ‘correct’? Who named the language of the elite as ‘correct’, as the standard? Paulo Freire becoming readers of students by challenging conventions They did, of course. But why not call it ‘Upper-class Dominating English’ instead of ‘Standard English’? That authentic naming would reveal, instead of obscure, the politics of power and language in society.” Shor & Freire, 1987

19 becoming readers by learning from students Only as learners recognize themselves democratically and see that their right to say “I be” is respected, will they become able to learn the dominant grammatical reasons why they should say “I am.” Paulo Freire, Teachers as Cultural Workers: Letters to Those Who Dare Teach, 1998

20 Reading the class “You write about ‘reading the class.’ I guess I jump the gun. Part of how I address my fear about the first day of school is to face it, as you suggest. I spend the week before the first day of school visiting my students’ homes, meeting with the students and their families…” Mary Cowhey

21 be anti-racist teacher leaders and readers of students Ask “profoundly multicultural questions” Redefine quality education for all students Become anti-racist educators Promote powerful learning communities –Through solidarity –Through advocacy –Through sociocultural mediation Recognize that teaching is always political work Become readers of students by recognizing, appreciating, and using their talents and strengths

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