The Man in the Mirror

The Man in the Mirror

“I remember the first time I saw Javier. He had eyes that pierced right through you. Angry eyes, but sad, plaintive eyes too, eyes that asked you for something. He had been thrown out of class for using profanity.” Donn K. Harris

In our discussion about inclusion, one very interesting idea was brought up. It was suggested that if we had a mirror in our class, every time we had a student with an angry outburst, we could send them to the mirror to reflect. This idea took made me remember a class I took, where one of the songs we read and rehearsed many times was The Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson. In this class we discussed art in prisons I left that class with a bitter sweet feeling, and lots of questions. I often thought of where we send people that are classified as trouble and a hazard to society. The image that people acquire of “I am a bad person” can be reinforced in school and follows them into their adult life. As teachers we have the power to guide students towards a self image that they are proud of. We can either show them the great things they can be or the terrible person that they see.


Diane Ravitch and Disciplines

Diane Ravitch and Disciplines

In one of my journals I made reference to the idea that we often study subjects separate from each other. My experience as an undergrad showed me that we do learn about the world making reference to different disciplines. I thought of Immanuel Wallerstein author of World-Systems Analysis. He starts out his book by talking about the different disciplines and how this divide does not allow us to make sense of politics. “Part of the problem is that we have studied these phenomena in separate boxes to which we have given special names- politics, economics, the social structure, culture –without seeing that these boxes are constructs more of our imagination than reality”(Wallerstein pg. x). Diane Ravitch showed us what it was like to deal with politics and education, but how often do elementary teachers think about this as they go on planning an engaging day for their students. Like in any other profession I think about the fact that we are still restricted to all the rules and policies that we need to follow, and we rarely think of why.

Good Teacher/ Bad Teacher

Excerpt from Journal 

Paley talks about rejection and how it is universal and I wonder about my school experiences in Mexico. I was probably in the second grade and there was a girl that was talking loud at me. I turned around and said that she needed to be quiet, but I said it very loudly. The teacher called my name and told me to come to the front of the class. I was so scared I was motionless and just looked as the teacher came closer. The teacher grabbed me by the ear in front of the class and put donkey ears on my head in front of everyone and told me to stay there without recess.  I do not really remember if what I did was extremely terrible to be punished the way I was. I was so embarrassed and scared that I would get scolded at home for it, that I did not mention it at all to my mother until many years later. I am guessing that no matter how terrible a student is, you do not humiliate them or let alone touch them. I think about this and the experiences that other students have in other countries and that come to our classroom with. For example I really learned to fear my teachers and obey what was told. After listening to Godin and the teacher who had children hammering nails, I wondered if that is what he meant. After coming to the United States I also learned that not only were they authority but that they were much better than me and my parents. Well at least that is what I thought. I think that I still feel the need to call people sir and miss and professor out of fear.

Yet I do not think it was that alone, my dad also added to that fear we would get scolded so badly for having bad grades. Parents that do not know the language just go with what the teachers are telling them. After our readings for Middle School class, I also wondered about the involvement of the students in the class. I wondered if more Latino parents knew about the child’s education would they get more involved, but then what is too much involvement. As a parent, when do you learn to trust if what a teacher is doing is right or not? How do you tell the difference from good teaching and bad teaching and what teachers do you listen to? 

Excerpt from Journal: Raywid and Paley

Excerpt from Journal 

Raywid’s argument about the power of a teacher is relevant here as she points out that as teachers we have the power to create a positive or negative environment for the class. She argues, “Teachers power is awesome with regard to establishing and controlling the social environment of the classroom. A teacher who distributes multipaged sets of classroom rules on the first day of school makes quite different demands on students than the teacher who spends the first week having students become acquainted and helping them develop class rules. But both of these teachers are dictating classroom personae for the students” (Raywid p.79). The power that we have can be used for good or bad either way it influences children. I think that if we also learn from each other as teachers on how to do model this it would be a great start.

I find you can’t say you can’t play a very interesting matter because we do grow up and most of us remember our childhood. We build on that and after our discussions in the Middle Level Class I think that we do not change much unless we are given the tools to handle how to interact with others. As we discuss bullying in class we also discuss adults doing it to and I remembered a Special Education teacher teaching about the subject of bulling among educators. She argued that, teachers are the cruelest people to deal with because they also exclude and they treat each other the way children do. I could not help but wonder how this is so similar to what Paley is addressing in her classroom. Letting children have a say and to figure out how to handle emotions and to coach through it seemed so important. Even though she got her idea out of the bible and I cringe every time I think of the bible but the idea behind what she is doing is fundamentally good and I agree on her in that we need to allow kids to be critical thinkers at a younger age. We often as adults are told that we stay children for way to long and it may be part of the problem.

I think that now that I am not going to be at the receiving end of teaching I empathies with how hard a teacher job really is. I think back to the Understanding Emotions list: Teaching is an emotional practice. Teaching and learning involve emotional understanding. Teaching is a form of emotional labor. Teachers’ emotions are inseparable from their moral purposes and their ability to achieve those purposes (Hargreaves).

This week I was listening to the news about the hurricane and how teachers were first responders and how impossible it must have been for teachers to leave children. Teaching is an emotional career. On my drive to school I tend to listen to the radio and I always listen to Sand in the Gears a retired teacher and he always talks about education as an emotional career. My guess would be that he continues to write with so much compassion and tell stories for his love of teaching. I think that Hargreaves has a great point when she says that, “teaching cannot be reduced to technical competence or clinical standards” (p850). How to teach students about their own emotions seems very fundamental and Paley demonstrates this in her book.