So then, who am I as a curriclum maker?

12 04 2010

This post will serve as the final reflection for my Reflective Inquiry project for ECE 445, which has prompted me to examine who I am as a curriculum maker alongside children, families and colleagues.

The five artifacts (representing myself, place, a memory of joy, a connection to a living being, and tension) I looked closely at were:

(click on the first, fourth and fifth to learn more)

From my geometric self-portrait, I learned that: Maybe, honouring identity is one way to ensure that all those who have a stake in educational practice (children, families, communities, teachers, etc) are respected as curriculum makers in their own right. Our distinct outlines shape not only who we are, but how we learn, what we learn, and why we learn, based on what we bring to the table as curriculum makers.

From the cottage in the Qu'Appelle Valley, I learned that: Maybe, relationships we have with and within places are as deeply rooted as the relationships we have with people in our lives.

From Froggy, my childhood friend, I learned that: Maybe, children create relationships in places where most adults don't even think to look, and that those relationships should be honoured and respected as they build the capacities of children just as much as most things. Froggy represents so many moments of joy in my childhood. As a curriculum maker, I see that joy experienced in childhood should be celebrated and treasured, because it will be remembered and it will shape a person for a long time.

From The May Tree, I learned that: Maybe, when we think about relationships in teaching, it’s important that we don’t put boundaries on what those relationships mean. Who is to say one can’t have a close relationships with a pet, stuffed animal, rock, river, imaginary friend, or a special tree? To me, the elements of the natural world can be as comforting and valuable as the special people in my life, so long as I’ve developed a relationship there. My love of trees began with my first love of one tree, and it has carried me to new and more critical perspectives about nature, my place within it, and how it changes.

From the School Community BBQ, I learned that: As a curriculum maker I want to focus on a pedagogy of community and relationship-making. As a teacher, I see all members of the learning community as curriculum makers who come with important and valuable, differing capacities. Teachers should be advocates for families. Next time in the staff room, I will stand up for families I believe in and make sure they are getting the respect they deserve. As a curriculum maker, I will respect people for who they are as individuals and not what ‘group’ they belong to, avoiding assumptions and stereotypes to create an environment of respect and listening. Reciprocity is important to me in the relationships I seek with children, families and communities.

It is easy to spot the common thread between the learning that came from honouring these five important artifacts in my life.  From every single artifact, I learned about relationship-making in a different capacity.  I learned about the importance of making relationships with people, places, objects, memories, and other living beings.  I also learned about the contexts in which we build these relationships, be it in school, at home, with family or friends, ‘alone’, inside or outside.

So maybe, as a curriculum maker, I want to honour the relationships that are built at every moment, in every capacity, in every context.  The importance of every moment is determined by the people whom it is important to.  Relationships are relative to those who hold stake in them, and as such, the capacity of people and things to build strong and meaningful relationships should never be stereotyped or assumed.  Evidence of strong relationships within schools and communities are demonstrations that show that each person who has a stake in educational practice (i.e. children, families, community members, teachers…) is respected and valued as a curriculum maker.  Everything and everyone in our environment brings equally valuable and differing capacities to the community.  As one of so many curriculum makers, I want to practice a pedagogy of respect, listening and reciprocity.





Artifact: Mail from the May Tree – How does this affect my practice?

30 03 2010

When I was asked to bring an artifact to class that represented my connection with another living being, without hesitation I knew exactly where to go: to the same place I’ve been going since I was a small child to think, chat with myself, play, and imagine: The May Tree.  This is a living being I have a strong connection with.  The May Tree and I have watched each other grow from babies to adults, and it is the strongest representation of ‘home’ I probably know.

I have been away the past three summers to work as a tree planter in northern BC, and as such I have missed the May Tree bloom three years in a row.  For two weeks in May, there’s no better place to be than under those fragile white blooms, breathing in the sweetest smell in the world.  It’s been a bit of a cause for homesickness over the past years, I’ll admit.  Tree planting can be a very difficult and trying job, and there are those days where you want to just stomp your foot and say “I want to go home!” like a stereotypical bratty child from a TV show.  I can remember one such day in my second year of tree planting.  It had rained and hailed all day, my crew had been carted around to several different and difficult blocks, which means the land was tough going and it was hard to stay motivated.  Unusually, I stopped at my tent before dinner to change because I was soaked through to the bone, and then dragged myself to the mess tent for a warm meal.  Much to my surprise, there was mail waiting for me!  It came from my home address, but the name at the top in the corner of the envelope was “The Tree”.  When I opened it up, with much anticipation, inside was one dried and one pressed but still fresh bloom from the May Tree.  Also inside was a tiny green note reading “Thinking of you, loving you, it sure smelled sweet this year.  Love Mom, Dad and Amanda”.  The smell of the May Tree, which I had missed two years in a row, was delivered right to me in that envelope!  The tears I cried and cried had nothing to do with sadness, but rather were a symbol of overwhelming gratitude that I had been blessed with such strong home relationships, in every sense of the word.

Here is what I think this experience taught me about teaching:

A friend I'll always remember and hold close to me

So maybe, when we think about relationships in teaching, it’s important that we don’t put boundaries on what those relationships mean.  Who is to say one can’t have a close relationships with a pet, stuffed animal, rock, river, imaginary friend, or a special tree?  To me, the elements of the natural world can be as comforting and valuable as the special people in my life, so long as I’ve developed a relationship there.  My love of trees began with my first love of one tree, and it has carried me to new and more critical perspectives about nature, my place within it, and how it changes.  Thanks, May Tree!

My favourite scent inside

Mail from the May Tree





Artifact: Geometric Self Portrait – How has this shaped my practice?

30 03 2010

I used Creately to show some of the ways in which the honouring of identities shapes my educational practice:

Shaping Practice Around Unique Identities

What this tells me…

So maybe, honouring identity is one way to ensure that all those who have a stake in educational practice (children, families, communities, teachers, etc) are respected as curriculum makers in their own right.  Our distinct outlines shape not only who we are, but how we learn, what we learn, and why we learn, based on what we bring to the table as curriculum makers.





Culminating Reflective Inquiry Into My Educational Practice

30 03 2010

For my ECE 445 class, I am engaging in a reflective Inquiry process. Though at the beginning of that process, I vowed to blog about all of the artifacts and stories I was delving into in my Works in Progress Group in class, the vow has been broken! Still, as the project and process draw to a close for now, I’ll share some of what I’ve learned.

Here’s a brief list of the ‘assignments’ or artifacts we were asked to reflect upon and what I chose:

• Week One – Any artifact representing who I am as a Curriculum Maker – My Geometric Self Portrait (post)

• Week Two – An artifact representing place – Photos of my cottage and grandparents there

• Week Three – An artifact representing a connection with some living being – A pressed bloom from the May Tree in the backyard along with a letter

• Week Four – An artifact representing a memory of joy – Froggy the beanbag frog, my childhood friend

• Week Five – An artifact representing tension within my teaching practice – An invitation to a School Community BBQ where I experienced tension between my own practice and the practices of some other staff members regarding the respect and value of parents and families

In the next few posts, I’ll reflect upon what I learned from three of the artifacts I chose to focus on, using a template of four commonplaces: Teacher, Learner, Subject Matter, and Milieu.





Self- and Family Portrait Making

14 02 2010

Reflective Inquiry, Artifact #1: My Self-Portrait

This artifact begins an emerging reflective inquiry into who I am as a curriculum-maker alongside families, children, and colleagues.  I begin with my identity, because it has shaped who I am as an educator and how I interact with students profoundly.  The geometric self-portrait I created shows important parts of my life.  I really enjoyed engaging in the project-based process of creating geometric self- and family- portraits with students and families in my internship as a way of honouring unique identities within our learning community!

Here are some examples of self- and family-portraits made by my grade 2/3 students and their families.  The self-portrait making was a longer, project-based initiative within our classroom, while the family-portraits were created during a single afternoon family workshop, where students taught their families how to make a geometric self-portrait together.