My friend Catherine Wachter is involved in this important project. Warrior Within (Twitter @warriorwithinpr) is a creative endeavour spearheaded by Catherine Wachter and Nicola Doyle.
The project centres around the creation of a student-driven fictional short film (shot in July, 2016) that uses metaphor and imagery to help engage students in their understanding of stress, anxiety and how to individually develop their own resilience.
This creative project also involved the student exploration of the film’s themes -stress, personal resilience and the power of social capital – through artwork, music composition, documentary film, creative writing, dance, blog writing and photography created alongside the shoot and under the guidance of mentors in the field.
This short film, and all its creative facets, will go on to inspire a student-driven curriculum (in the new year, a student group will be creating the lesson plans, student exercises, discussion points, etc.) aimed at filling the dearth of creative pedagogy regarding positive mental health for youth.
In May of 2017, Warrior Within will be celebrated at a gala to raise money for Jack.org, an important youth mental health initiative in Toronto. We will premiere the short film, the behind the scenes documentary and exhibit all other forms of artwork produced during the initiative. Our students will be there to share their work (process and completion) in person!
…and if you can helps us spread the word @warriorwithinpr, on Facebook, etc.,) that would be amazing!
If you are in the Toronto area this talk might be of interest to you. You can RSVP using this URL: RSVP (acceptances only): http://www.tinyurl.com/mccarthylecture
Clare and I (Clive) and our wonderful research team are now in year 13 of our longitudinal study of 40 teachers, 20 of whom began teaching in 2004 and 20 in 2007. Every year we interview them and, wherever possible, observe them in their classrooms. The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) continues to provide funding for the project and will do so for at least another 2 years. We are now gearing up for the 2017 interviews beginning in late April.
Of the original 45 teachers, 3 have left the study and 2 have dropped out of teaching, a remarkable retention rate. As the years mount, interest in the study grows. Four of five proposals based on the study for the 2017 AERA Conference in San Antonio were accepted for presentation. We were also asked to write a chapter on Longitudinal Study of Teachers for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education, to appear this year. For their part, the teachers continue to show resilience despite the increasing challenges of teaching (which they tell us about), including: larger class sizes, reduced special education support, increased standardized testing of students, and top-down control of teachers’ practices.
Based on the study, perhaps the biggest problem we see in education today is this ill-conceived, top-down monitoring of students and teachers, which does very little good and a great deal of harm, and ignores the steadily developing expertise of teachers – which again our study reveals. We can only hope that governments and school systems soon begin to realize the harm they are doing. Meanwhile, we work to encourage teachers to look for the many opportunities for decision-making and professionalism that still remain in school classrooms.
Hi Literacy Teaching and Teacher Education Blog Followers
We had a little hiatus from blogging. Clare was super busy with construction at the Dr. Eric Jackman Institute of Child Study; Pooja and Lydia both started new tenure-stream positions at Simon Fraser University and University of Alberta respectively; Cathy has been working on her thesis and teaching new courses; and Clive and Yiola have been super busy. Lots has happened in our work and we will be updating you on our work ….
Said (pictured to the right) will be joining our blogging team.
To those in Canada — Happy Family Day.
To those in the US – Happy President’s Day
To our friends around the world — looking forward to continuing our conversations.
Most recently we are reviewing the data from a study that explores graduates’ impressions of their teacher preparation from one teacher education program. The participants are graduates from 1999-2014 and we have well over 200 respondents. A survey was conducted that included qualitative responses. So far, the responses have been incredibly interesting. As we work through the data I gain more and more excitement for the possibilities of understanding teaching education and improving not only my personal practice as a teacher educator but also the potential for improving the structure and programming of teacher education.
As we review the current data I keep in mind the many findings and recommendations of past research. For example, in 2009 Clive Beck and Clare Kosnik along with a strong team of graduate researchers published their findings from a qualitative study on classroom teachers’ understandings, perceptions, and explanations of their practice and teacher education experience. Their book, Priorities in Teacher Education: The 7 Key Elements of Pre-Service Preparation, is the first of several from what has become longitudinal study (13 years and counting) of teachers work and development. In Priorities of Teacher Education Beck and Kosnik identify seven priority areas for teacher areas:
- program planning
- pupil assessment
- classroom organization and community
- inclusive education
- subject content and pedagogy
- professional identity
- a vision for teaching
These priorities are coming up in several interesting ways in our current research and I look forward to analyzing and writing up the findings in the months ahead. More so, I am excited to be thinking about research-based considerations for improving our teacher education program and my personal practice.
I (Clare) saw this fascinating video on BBC regarding plagiarism – Donald Trump’s wife using Michelle Obama’s words. Here is the link to the video: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-36836599
Teachers and academics in the UK and the US have taken to Twitter to thank Donald Trump’s wife for providing the perfect material to teach their students what plagiarism is and why it is wrong.
Melania Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention has notable similarities with a speech given by current first lady Michelle Obama in 2008.
Allegory as a literary device is a powerful tool in literacy development. Beginning in the early years teachers use allegory to explore moral lessons and critical issues. How often do we read books with animal characters who experience significant challenges and how well do children respond to the texts?… very well!
Last week I (yiola) took my children to a birthday party at the movie theatre where they watched The Angry Birds.
I had no idea what the movie was about although my 4 year son mentioned it had to do with birds protecting their eggs from pigs. Hmmmm, sounds… interesting. As I sat in the movie theatre I watched and chuckled at the community of birds and enjoyed the simple characters of each bird… and then I watched as ships sailed onto “Bird Island” and a King Pig with a small entourage befriended the birds, showering them with gifts and new ‘treasures’ that were unfamiliar to the birds. Slowly the pigs began to take over the island and they stole all the birds’ eggs. The birds then tried to rescue their eggs. Lines such as: “They stole our kids… who DOES that?” and later when the birds invaded “Piggie Island” to rescue the eggs the “King Pig” exclaimed, “what are you doing here? This is a civilized brunch” left me sinking in my seat and feeling uncomfortable. Without doubt The Angry Birds, to me, is an allegory of colonialism. After viewing the movie I began researching articles and critiques and while I found several interpretations very few note colonialism.
To my surprise, many an in-depth discussions have occurred over The Angry Birds. From story line to historical facts to critical literacy to media literacy, I am pleased to see how an animated film could spark such interesting discussion. Now, imagine how using popular culture like the popular video game The Angry Birds and combining it with popular media like a Hollywood movie and applying analysis and interpretation of the use of allegory in a middle school or high school setting to discuss critical social issues like Aboriginal history or immigration. Narratives are such powerful tools for thinking about life. Allegory as a literary device has the potential to raise significant awareness and heighten a love for literacy.
During the school year my night table fills with novels; one beautiful literary piece after the other, the books pile up. The vision is to retreat to my room early enough to read these marvellous texts at an enjoyable pace in order to get to the next… yet my time during the academic term does not allow me the pleasure. With the coming of summer and the end of an academic term I find some space where I can begin to read the books I attempted to read throughout the year. This year, I begin with Lawrence Hill. Most are familiar with Lawrence Hill, a Canadian writer whose most popular texts include: Blood: The Stuff of Life and The Book of Negroes.
Blood: The stuff of life was turned into a lecture series. You can listen to excerpts of the Massey Lecture series here:
Two incredible literary works that move me to think about humanity… and inhumanity. The Book of Negroes was turned into a television mini series. Based on historical fiction The Book of Negroes is the story of young African girl, her voice, her journey in the 1700s from Mali, Africa to South Carolina, New York, Cape Breton, and London. How impactful a process to explore the novel — to try to make sense of history and our present — to think about narratives and then consider the media and digital implications for developing such an intense story into a visual series. I think of how high school teachers could use this novel to explore so many issues and then to look at the decisions one makes when transforming such a sensitive story into film.
As I read Hill’s novels I cannot help but consider how the narratives in these literary texts can be used to improve my own practice in teacher education. I ask myself: Can they inspire the reader to more deeply understand the intensity of the relational acts involved in teaching in classrooms? Why do certain groups of children have a greater likelihood of failing at school? How do our systems shut people out without some of us ever realizing it? What kinds (if any) of understandings should teachers have about the histories of our communities before ever stepping into classrooms? How in teacher education can we support a deep understanding of children’s learning?
There is just so much to know while in pre-service and so much to teach in teacher education. What is most important? Why? When I think about the construction of teacher education programs I am now thinking less in terms of required courses and more in terms of broad understandings and the connections across disciplines and understandings. For example, as we teach about child and adolescent development (psychology) we must thing about language and literacy development (content) inclusive of social context (equity and foundations). After all, when we enter classrooms we know that our work as teachers is dynamic, complex, forever evolving and completely relational.