A Bit About Me...

My name is Melonie Adams and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. I am majoring in Elementary Education; I will be starting presequence next semester. I am also a member of the Chi Omega fraternity at the university. Chi Omega is known for their outstanding grades and winners of the Dean's Cup for the past fourteen years. I am also a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success; this society was recently formed on campus about one year ago which make me one of the founding members. I am a very motivated person and it is extremely important for me to succeed in everything I attempt. I chose the teaching profession because I truly have a passion for children and I want my students to achieve everything they could possibly want in life. Children deserve to be treated equally no matter what their ethnic background may be. I am so very excited about my future as a teacher because I feel that I will be able to make a difference in the lives of my students.
My Teaching Philosophy

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Compassion and Kindness

As a prospective teacher I believe that it is very important to be compassionate with my students, as fair as I can be in all aspects of the classroom, and most importantly to make sure that the students are learning the material being presented. Students should know that their teachers want them to succeed in school; I believe I can do this by showing the students compassion and kindness, along with high expectations for them to do well. I will be as fair as possible, remembering that all students do not come from the same background and have not been taught the same rules and responsibilities as others. The most important part of my teaching philosophy is making sure that the students are able to learn the subject matter. Learning should be interesting; if the material is presented to the students in an engaging way then the students will be more likely to remember what they were taught. Teaching is not about getting up in front of the class, teaching a lesson, and going home; a teacher should reflect on what they have done each day, and whether or not they believe the lesson was a success. Committing to this philosophy full-hearted can only make me a better and more effective teacher.

Purpose of Education

“The primary goal of every educator in the state of Alabama must, at all times, be to provide and environment in which all students can learn. In order to accomplish that goal, educators must value the worth and dignity of every person, must have a devotion to excellence in all matters, must actively support the pursuit of knowledge, and must fully participate in the nurturance of democratic citizenry.” The previous statement is the introduction to the Alabama Educator Code of Ethics; this code is to provide teachers with standards they are to follow at all times as a professional educator to protect the health and safety of themselves and their students.
There are nine basic principles/standards the Alabama Code of Ethics is based on. These principles are as follows: 1) professional conduct, 2) trustworthiness, 3) unlawful acts, 4) teacher/student relationships, 5) alcohol, drug, and tobacco use or possession, 6) public funds and property, 7) remunerative conduct, 8) maintenance of confidentiality, and 9) abandonment of contract. The first standard, professional conduct means, “an educator should demonstrate conduct that follows generally recognized professional standards.” The second standard, trustworthiness, says “an educator should exemplify honest and integrity in the course of professional practice.” The third standard, unlawful acts, states “an educator should abide by federal, state, and local laws and statutes.” The fourth standard, teacher/student relationships, says “an educator should always maintain a professional relationship with all students, both in and outside the classroom.” The fifth standard, alcohol, drug, and tobacco use or possession, states an educator should refrain from the use of alcohol and/or tobacco during the course of professional practice and should never use illegal or unauthorized drugs.” The sixth standard, public funds and property, says an educator entrusted with public funds and property should honor that trust with a high level of honesty, accuracy, and responsibility.” The seventh standard, remunerative conduct, states “an educator should maintain integrity with students, colleagues, parents, patrons, or businesses when accepting gifts, gratuities, favors, and additional compensation.” The eighth standard, maintenance of confidentiality, states “an educator should comply with state and federal laws and local school board policies relating to confidentiality of student and personal records, standardized test material, and other information covered by confidentiality agreements.” The ninth standard, abandonment of contract, says “an educator should fulfill all of the terms and obligations detailed in the contract with the local board of education or educational agency for the duration of the contract.” All of these standards are in place to protect teachers and students and to provide basic rules that every teacher should abide by to have a safe environment for their students.
Though the Alabama Code of Ethics has many rules to follow, it allows for a more democratic and fair environment for the students in Alabama. Educators are the people in charge of advocating for their students but too many teachers do not do this now because they get stuck back in the historical context of white racism and they believe they are doing what it best, when in reality they may be hurting the character or their students. Being an advocate does not just mean taking up for your students, it means much more than this. Advocation is not just for white students. Many teachers hid behind the color line in schools or just pretend that it does not exist, but it does exist; too many people act they do not see color when it is right in their face. Teachers must be the ones who push for educational freedom for their students in aspects other than the white dominant cultural teachings; there should be culturally relevant curriculum and practices in order to be fair to all students and to produce an atmosphere where the students feel comfortable and free to think critically.
One problem that has been present in education is that students are just being schooled but not getting an education. Students are being taught to live a normal life based on white standards but are not being taught how to think about ideas outside the box. The children go to school and “go through the motions” everyday but are not receiving the in depth education they deserve. Education is the basis of our futures, if we are not educating children properly based on a fair curriculum then would we not be robbing children of their future?
Students should be able to express themselves through their education; it should be a freeing process. School should not be a place where children dread going everyday, they should be excited about coming to school and expressing who they are through their education. There are many ways students can express themselves, through music, poetry, and art they can truly show what they are feeling and what they want to represent. Dancing is also a great way for children to use education as a practice of freedom, because it allows them to put emotion into their dancing and showcase their abilities. The artistic side is not the only way education can be used as a practice of freedom however; students can use things such as sports, student government programs, and extra curricular activities to express who they are as individuals. Too often, students are taught to act like robots and not show their individual personalities at school, but it is so important for children to not lose who they are in their education because they can be empowered by channeling their own inner strength and could be great leaders for their school and community. Violet Harris states in her article “African American Concepts of Literacy,” parents “want schools than can inoculate specific world views or ideology, often on that promotes patriotism, adherence to family values, and allegiance to industrial capitalism, they want to prepare their children to enter post-secondary education institutions and eventually high status and well paying jobs.” All parents, no matter the color, mostly want the same thing for their child, which is success; they want their children to have an education system that allows them to go to school and train them to be a proper member of society. Bell Hooks discussed, in her article “Teaching to Transgress,” how education began to change with racial integration and children were no longer taught to think critically; she said “it was a struggle to remain the right to be an independent thinker” when she was in college. Hooks viewed education as an enabling process, but too often educators are seen “enacting rituals of control” in their classrooms, which takes away education as being enabling. The problem with training children to be proper members of society is students are expected to conform to the normative white standard where they are expected to act white in order to succeed. I think the Alabama Code of Ethic would be a great thing if all teachers abided to its standards and would quit expecting children to leave who they are as individuals at home and let them show their individualistic ideals at school, making the children conform is only hurting them. When I was observing a middle school teacher this semester I saw the children in her class were allowed to be who they are and they respected their teacher for letting them do so, it was great seeing a teacher who did not force them to conform to societal norms, but let them use education as a passageway to achieve their highest potential. Allowing them the freedom to express themselves through their education can greatly enhance their education and make the children love learning as much as they should.
African Americans, along with other ethnicities, have worked hard to get to where they have come within society; they have always been forced to either adhere to white normative standards or be subject to rejection for being different, but their self-activity has allowed them to over come the countries bias ways. It is still very hard for ethnic groups, other than whites, to be able to rise to their full potential because of the societal views that everyone should act the same and look the same, but I have seen through observation this semester that the problem is starting to get better. Because of the self-activity of each ethnic group, we able to see progress; in an article by Guadalupe San Miguel called “From the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo to Hopwood: The Educational Plight and Struggle of Mexican Americans in the Southwest,” it is shown how Mexican Americans worked against Americanization processes to fight for their own cultural practices. America tried taking away the language of Mexican Americans to make them speak English only, but they resisted this attempt at destroying the rightful language. The Mexican Americans were on a quest for educational equality, the struggle will most likely continue but through their own determination they have come a long way and continue to fight for their educational freedom and equality.
The schooling has to stop so that the education process can begin. As discussed throughout this paper, children are being forced to give up who they are as individuals and conform to societal white norms; in order for education to be a practice of freedom we must allow the children to express their individual qualities through their education. The most important factor in problem with education not being a practice of freedom is the educators. When educators start allowing students to represent their own cultural beliefs instead of the societal norms, we will begin to see great progress. Teachers have to advocate for their students in all aspects of education and push for educational equality for all. The best thing for teachers to do, is to follow all the principles and standards of the Alabama Code of Ethics for all children and treat them all with the same dignity and respect to allow them to prosper from the education process, this is the purpose of education!

My Own Racial Identity

Knowing ones own racial identity is so important in the education field. How can a person work with children of they do not know who they are? A racial identity helps a one better know who they are as a person and as a teacher. Schools are becoming more and more diverse; if a teacher does not understand their own journey through finding their own racial identity then they will most likely not succeed as an effective teacher. It is so important for a teacher to be aware of their own racial identity because it can help them connect with their students on a deeper level. When students feel more connected to their teachers it could help reduce discipline problems because the students would have gained a respect for their teacher a person. Sharing their racial identity with the students could help the students be more open and honest with their teacher because they would feel like they could trust him or her.
One stage I went through was called the status quo stage; the Janet Helms racial identity model explained that the status quo is accepting the way things are, the “norm” of society. When I was in high school I accepted the status quo because I was not exposed to many cultures other than my own. I went to a very small private school where there were only one or two black students in the whole high school, which were not in my grade. Not being around people of color made me completely unaware that racism even existed; white privilege made this possible for me. I lived my life not knowing anything about racism and other cultures up to this point because I am white; being white has given me opportunities that I was completely unaware of at this time in my life. Since I am white, I could not see that I was taking things that were handed to me on a “silver platter” for granted; I was unaware that people of other ethnicities than myself had to work hard to achieve the things I had given to me all because of skin color. When I was about to be a senior the small private school I was attending shut down because they did not have enough students to pay tuition so they ran out of money. My senior year I went to slightly larger private school, where I was exposed to a larger variety of different cultures. In my history class we got into a discussion about slaves, the African Americans in the class were expressing how the things of the past were still affecting them and how they felt that they were treated differently in society. I remained quiet throughout the whole class, thinking to myself “well I didn’t cause them any harm, it’s not my fault, so what does this have to do with me?” The more and more the discussion went on the guiltier I felt about what was happening to them but I still kept the “It’s not my fault” point of view. As my senior year went on and the discussions continued I began to move into the denial stage. I began to get tired of hearing people of color talk about how they felt discriminated against. Instead of stepping back and listening I thought “well why don’t they just try harder, if I can be in advanced classes and succeed then they can too.” I was getting really angry that the students of color in my class were “pulling their race card” all the time, I even thought they were trying to make people feel sorry for them. It was not until I entered college that I began to see whiteness for what it is. I did not know what I could do to help and I felt so ashamed for the way I had acted my entire life toward people of color. As time passed, I learned that I was not in fact a bad person for my past actions, but I was never taught how to adapt to other cultures until I had already formed my point of view about other cultures. I was finally able to accept my self as being white and having all of these unearned privileges that I did not deserve. To be honest, it was not until I came in to Dr. Juarez’s class that I was able to take ownership and decide that I should do what I can to stop racism from evolving more than it already has. I know there are a lot of people out there like me who was never around people of color until they were grown and had already developed their own opinions about minorities.
I have benefited from being white my entire life. Don’t get me wrong, my parents have worked very hard to earn the things they have, but the playing grown was never level to start with. My family is pretty well off and I don’t believe we would be so lucky if it were not for us being white. I see in restaurants how colored people are treated differently and receive different service than white people; things like this anger me because society makes judgments about people before even meeting them. People think they can form opinions about others based on the skin color and appearance but this is simply not true. There are white trash people just like in any other racial group. I believe white privilege has made my life easier than it should have been; I have gotten every job I have ever applied for, received better service because I am white, and have been accepted into society based on the way I look rather than what is on the inside.As a prospective teacher, I will do every thing I can to make sure that my students are culturally aware to their surroundings. I want my students to have a curriculum that is fair and not based on the normative white standard, but that incorporates many other cultures. I believe being aware of my own racial identity and knowing how white people have been set up for success has changed the way I view education. I want all of my students to be treated the same way no matter what their skin color. Also, I think it is important for the students learn about each other’s cultures to help them get to know each other better. Most importantly, I think that teaching children about other cultures at a young age will help them not have to go through the journey I did to realize the unfairness that colored people have to deal with every day, and hopefully it will change the way the students will view people of color in their futures.

The Ron Clark Story: How it Inspired Me

For any of you who have not seen the movie called "The Ron Clark Story," it is absolutely wonderful. This movie is about a teachers struggle with a particularly difficult classroom, who are considered the children who perform under grade level. Ron Clark was determined to get these children's test scores above grade level by the end of the school year, but the children refused to cooperate with him. Mr. Clark never gave up on these students and sacrificed so much in order for them, to succeed. The children began to understand that he was only there because he wanted to see them grow and achieve their dreams so they decided to work hard for him and show that they were capable of doing well. At the end of the movie the principal announced that the class had scored better than any sixth grade class in the state and even better than the honors students at their own school; everyone was so excited and many of them went on to attend very prestigious middle schools.

This movie is such an inspiration to me as a future teacher because it shows me that with high expectations and motivation anything can be achieved. It is so important to me to make sure that my students know to dram big and to realize that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to. I plan to be the motivator my students need to give them that extra push to go out and reach for the stars.

Technological Tools for Teaching

There are many tools available for teachers at their finger tips, the problem is that many teachers are unaware of this. For example, Google is a fantastic tool for teachers to use because not only is it free, but it can be accessed anywhere at any time. Google is great for looking up information about any topic, but it also has a documents work center where papers and spreadsheets can be created. Another great technological tool for teachers is blogging; blogging can be an essential item in the classroom if the teacher is willing to learn new technology. Blogging is an easy way for teachers to post homework assignments for their students, in fact, students are also able to post their homework onto their personal blogs for grading. I believe blogs are a great way to get the students interested because they are able to personalized the blogs and add their own special touch. The last tool I will mention is Twitter. Twitter can be very valuable once you learn the ropes; Twitter is a little difficult to get used to at first. Twitter can be used for students to post questions about assignments they need help with and the student's teacher or fellow classmates, along with anyone else who knows, can reply back with help for the student. There are so many resources available, and they great thing is that all of the tools mentioned above are free!