This week we will be reading Chapter 2. Respond as you did last week and reply to a participant’s reflection directly on their blog. Leave your link above so that I can join in your discussions as well! Remember you can answer one or all the questions. The format is not important, but our interactions with each other make it more meaningful. Happy Learning!

  1. The authors suggest that few teachers enter the profession with fully developed philosophies of teaching. How have you seen your philosophy of teaching change over time? If you are an experienced teacher, what is a central belief about your work that was less clear to you when you began to teach? If you are a new teacher, what is a central belief about teaching that guides your work now?
  2. I have definitely seen my teaching philosophy evolve in the past 5 years, but not too far from my early days at as a teacher. In fact, I have deepened by Constructivist beliefs and recognize that my students need me to bring the knowledge to them but it is up to them to explore and make it theirs. I believe that learning is a social activity and growth over time helps us all achieve. I liked how the authors categorized two principals regarding the educational mind set that we develop when we are young. Fortunately, I developed a growth-minded (Fig. 2.1, pg. 34) attitude and never believed that my struggles in my schooling would prevent me from being a successful individual. Furthermore, I never doubted that I would get a college degree and excel in my career.

  3. This chapter proposes six key beliefs that are core to the philosophy of differentiation. Ask six individuals or small groups to present one of the beliefs for discussion. Have the whole group consider some of the questions each belief prompts educators to answer.
  4. The 2nd question asks us to delineate individually the beliefs that are at the core of D.I. so I’ll discuss, Belief #5: Each student should have equity of access to excellent learning opportunities.

    The belief assumes two points, first, that every student must focus on what is essential and second, the curriculum offered must be relevant so that the students can experience both learning and transferring of that knowledge (Tomlinson & Imbeau, 2012, p. 34) . In an ideal world, learning would be that easily achieved, sadly, many students still don’t see the value of learning algebra when they are not going to be using it later on as adults. So how do we change that mentality? I have found that when I connect what I am teaching to a scenario that may have (or not) happened in my life. For example, if I’m teaching a particular math skill, for instance, area and perimeter, I’ll interject a little story of how I accidentally miscalculated and didn’t buy enough tiles for my bathroom. Although I have to be careful not to go off on a tangent, this usually helps the students connect why it is important to learn the formula: A= l x w.

  5. Consider the list of traits on page 41 that are evident in students who were “wounded by school.” How do they reflect a mismatch between student needs and teacher responses that the authors discuss in this chapter? Then consider the traits of teachers who heal wounds (pages 41–42). How do these traits reflect a match between student needs and teacher responses? What does all of this have to do with a philosophy of differentiation?
  6. Interestingly enough, I was one of those “wounded students” in my schooling years. I remember being in the 4th grade, having a with my math teacher, Mr. Felder (not his real name), about my grades that I’ve never forgotten. I don’t know if his intention was to scare me, or wake me up, or to permanently keep me from trying, but he said, “Cecile, face it! You can’t do math.” What an idiot! To this day it resonates in my mind and I doubt myself when I teach complex math lessons. In spite of graduating with 5 math courses with nothing less than a B, I still think I can’t do math. So what led to this? What were the reasons that I felt this way and kept myself from any God-given potential to excel in mathematics? Certainly a belief that I didn’t have what it took to learn it and shame for this lack of ability that naturally produced anxiety.

    It was nearly 20 years before a teacher came along to heal those wounds and helped me realize that I was intelligent and I was capable to learn math. Her name is Professor Quesada, aka, Didi (her real name!) I met her back in 2000 when I decided to finish my college degree. I was determined to take all the pre-requisite courses first and would begin with my nightmare, MATH. That first day in class was awful! I was early and waited in my car until I saw other students walking around. After locating the room (with help from the young college kids) and sitting in the first row, we waited for the professor to arrive. A few minutes passed and no teacher, a few minutes more and in walks a frazzled, loud and overly enthusiastic teacher apologizing for being late, but she had left her materials in her office and would return in a few minutes. GREAT! I decide to take my first math class and I end up with a nutty professor!!! “Oh! Boy! This will be interesting,” I thought.

    As it turned out Prof. Quesada was the best math teacher I ever had. She had such a simple way of explaining things that I slowly became less fearful and actually enjoyed learning again. Even when she wasn’t teaching the course I was enrolled in, I could always stop by her office and ask a question or two. As part of my final project, for my final math course (I took 5!) I had to write about a famous mathematician and I chose to write about Jaime Escalante (magnificently portrayed by Edward James Olmos in Stand and Deliver in 1988, Warner Bros.) I did this so that I could refer to Didi and how she was my “Jaime Escalante.” Like him, she helped me understand math and even more importantly; she encouraged me to believe in my abilities to learn it well.

    She helped heal my wounds left behind by my failed attempts at mastering math. Jaime Escalante is immortalized by his actions towards his students and he often referred to a word to encourage his students. This word was, “Ganas.” He would say, …that’s all you need. The desire to learn.” Prof. Quesada healed my wounds and helped me believe that I could do math and excel. And I had the GANAS!

Mrs. P

Credits: ASCD