How Stories Shape Our Lives


“Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of Schooling-as-Usual”

This story uses the metaphor of an undertow to describe the potential negativity of newer teachers.  The story goes through many struggles that new teachers have and encourages people to keep both feet on the ground.  As well, it discusses being overambitious and how it can disappoint people.  I think the author is trying to help new teacher’s find support systems and reassure them that they are doing what they should be and when things get rough, stick with it.

“The Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club”

A 1st grade teacher from Milwaukee discusses the issues within race and ‘skin colour’ in her classroom.  She goes through an extensive list of activities that she uses in her classroom to address and challenge these issues in her classroom.  She is a teacher who is working to combat racism and social injustices.  The school in general uses many of these activities and students have been able to come a long way in the way they see themselves and think about race.

“What Can I do when a Student Makes a Racist or Sexist Remark?”

This short article is about how to deal with racist comments in the classroom.  It explains that a teacher’s reactions to these remarks are as much a part of the curriculum as anything else we teach in the classroom.  Rita Tenorio gives us a step-by-step process of how to deal with these remarks.  This includes considering who made the comment and whom it was directed at.  It also goes into detail explaining how we can turn these comments into meaningful classroom discussion.

“Framing the Family Tree: How Teachers can be Sensitive to Students’ Family Situations”

Dealing with family issues at school can be a difficult and unnerving situation.  “Framing the Family Tree,” discusses a little girl who made a tie for her late father for father’s day.  The article examines how we as teachers need to be sensitive to any assignments that require students to examine their families or personal lives.  We should also be sensitive to all students’ issues and in this, discussing things with the parents before they happen in your classroom.

“Heather’s Moms Got Married”

A Massachusetts teacher talks about how many of the children in her class have two moms.  The teacher goes on to talk about how it is an open topic in their classroom and they discuss this issue lots.  At the end of the story, there are some tips on how to deal with this in your own classroom: do not presume everyone has heterosexual parents, do not make reference to moms and dads, instead parents or guardians, get students in your classroom comfortable with the idea that not all families are the same as theirs.

“Our Front”

“Our Front” is a story about a high school, which promotes people to be open and honest about their sexuality.  There have supports groups within the school that they can meet at.  They also have an anti-slur policy in place that works to reduce the amount of negative vibes.  The school also has role positive role models for all students.  This is to help students to feel comfortable with who they are and feeling comfortable enough in the school environment to learn and have fun.

“Curriculum is Everything that Happens”

This interview is an experienced teacher sharing her thoughts about the readiness and important things that new teachers need to learn.  She says that politics is a big part of schools and there are a lot of outside forces guiding them.  She also says that you need to work very hard at getting to your students on a deep level.  As a new teacher, you need to make students feel comfortable with sharing their stories with you.  Lastly, she states that curriculum is everything that happens, not just a document and lesson plans, it goes deeper to feelings, and attitudes.

“Working Effectively with English Language Learners”

This article discusses how to effectively teach English to non-English speaking students.  It outlines the types of bilingual programs and what each of them means.  The article then goes on to highlight some strategies such as: speaking slowly, avoid asking students in front of the whole class, asking students to volunteer, etc.  Finally, the article discusses that it is important to learn about the cultures of the children in your classroom.  It is also important to find ways to communicate with parents in their first language.

“Teaching Controversial Content”

Many teachers’ struggle with teaching controversial content in schools at the beginning of their careers.  This article begins by discussing the fears new teachers have about teaching their personally created unit plans.  It is important to discuss controversial lessons with your principal and quite possibly the parents of your students ahead of time.  It is important to tackle these issues with your students, whether you teach an entire unit on it, or just throw in the occasional lessons here and there.

“Unwrapping the Holidays: Reflections on a Difficult First Year”

A first year teacher brings up that she thinks they should see more diversity in school common areas around Christmas time to reflect the student’s backgrounds.  Many teachers who have been teaching for many many years are offended by this and overreact to the situation.  This story is teaching us that it is important to not make big changes in our first year before we have gotten to really know our colleagues.  It is also sending the message to preservice teachers to not assume things about people who you in fact do not know much about at all.  While it is important to express your opinions, do not do it without thinking about the consequences before you do so.


Due to personal opinions and reasons, Part 2 of this assignment will be handed in directly to my seminar leader.


About herback

I am a fourth year education student, studying at the University of Regina. I have a major in English and a minor in Inclusive Education. following the completion of my BEd, I will be staying at the University to complete my Inclusive Education certificate. I have hopes in the future to work as an SST to support students with varying abilities.

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