As a teacher with almost 30 years on the job, I worry that I will “fall behind”. I am concerned that my habits, practices, and perspectives are no longer relevant/effective. Students are now swimming in a different sea. Understandings of race, gender and privilege have all evolved and in some way been transformed. Social media has changed not only how students communicate, but also how they interact with the world. Since I’m not retiring soon, I have to find ways to avoid becoming the faculty dinosaur while at the same time preserving some of the reasons why I chose to become a teacher.
In this tension, are a number of key questions:
- How do I stay a life long learner not just of content, but of pedagogy?
- How do I become more aware of my biases and privilege?
- How do I translate my (hopefully) greater awareness into a creating a more inclusive curriculum/ classroom?
- How do I take what I know and make it accessible/relevant to a new generation of students raised on social media?
- How do I make sure that I have the energy to teach effectively?
- How do I do all of the above and still get up in the morning looking forward to going to work?
I hope to build on the work I did at the anti-bias workshop in June. That week touched on many of the issues that I hope to explore in my self-study. In our activities and discussions, I looked at topics I thought I knew through different lenses. I was pushed to become aware of the assumptions and privileges that have shaped my understanding of history and my students. The workshop was also engaging and left me excited about teaching. Although the focus of the workshop was ultimately on developing curriculum, I’m hoping that elements of the process can serve as models as I work through this self-study.
How to actually proceed is still not fully developed. I started by choosing some history that I would have said was interesting, but then not read or watched. I also want to engage with history in different ways. Instead of just reading I hope to explore art, theater, and physical spaces to try on new lenses and to listen to new voices. Finally, I’m hoping to commit to a more consistent program of exercise.
Some of the things I have done already:
- The Warmth of Other Suns
- Frederich Douglas Prophet of Freedom
- Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past Present and Future of American Labor
- 1619 Project