Today I had my first meeting with Denee, the Volunteer Coordinator for the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency. I will be working with this organization at Truman High School in Taylor. Today’s meeting was set up to talk about how I will be utilized, the organization’s mission, go over the Service Learning Agreement, and to plan a schedule.

       The mission of the Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency is “to empower low-income people and strengthen communities through diverse services, leadership and collaboration.” I think that this is a great organization to work with and I think that the diversity it brings will definitely help me to further develop my Personal Education Philosophy.

           I think that the meeting went very well. It doesn’t seem like they have too many volunteers at the moment but Denee said that they have a consistent staff. My job will change each day depending on the activities we have on our agenda. Something that surprised me was Denee saying that she’d like for me to give a presentation to the students at the end of the month on Diversity and I’m very excited about it. Denee seems very passionate about her students and very eager for me to start. She’s also letting me come before the program starts to help plan the agenda, I’m very excited about this part and I think it will help me when coming up with future plans for my classroom. The main thing that I’m worried about is finding the time to stay actively involved with the program. I think that this organization will offer me a lot of opportunities to expand my leadership skills and I don’t want to waste it by only doing the things required of me. This will take up a lot of time but I want to do more than just tutor, I want to help plan their agendas and execute my own ideas and projects. I just hope that I can juggle everything in my weekly schedule, I may have to cut down some hours at one of my jobs but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

    Well, that basically sums up my experience during my first day with the WMCAA today. I’m excited to officially start with them next week. i have added a couple of pictures to the end of this post. One is the logo for the organization and one is of the high school that I will be working with (it is actually the same high school that I graduated from in 2007).

Harry S Truman High School:

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Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency Logo:

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“Constructivism as a paradigm or worldview posits that learning is an active, constructive process. The learner is an information constructor. People actively construct or create their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to to prior knowledge, thus mental representations are subjective” (http://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html).

        Let me be clear– I do not believe that it’s possible successfully educate our students by following only one of the theoretical frameworks that have been presented to us. With that said, I think that the philosophy that will best work for me is Constructivism. WIth constructivism, we use multiple real world contexts, strategies, and coaching. We create countless environments for the learner, so he gets to practice thinking in different ways. Being that I want to be an English teacher, I feel like Constructivism will be the most applicable to my area. It encourages original thought. It encourages our students to use their existing knowledge and branch out from there.

        When it comes to the basics (grammer, key terms, etc) I feel like Behaviorism will be most effective. However, constructivism will come in handy (especially) when reading literature; because literature is all about your interpretation mixed with the intentions of the author. Therefore, the student will need to develop an understanding of how the author operates and what message is being sent. This is where constructivism comes in. It is up to the teacher to set an atmosphere, paint a picture of the life that the author lived, and to know more than what’s on the page. With these things, the teacher can provide the necessary means for the student to be on the right track.

 

The main way I plan to be an effective educator is to stay motivated by my passion for education. It sounds cliche but I truly believe that students learn more when their teacher is enthusiastic about their subject and their students. So how will I become an effective educator that’s committed to diversity? The same exact way–being passionate about my students. That means all of them. This also means taking the time to stay current with social injustices in our society and making sure that my students are in an atmosphere where they can discuss these topics in a safe and respectful way.

 

All quotes in this post come from Place- and Community-Based Education in Schools written by Gregory A. Smith and David Sobel.

“What place- and community-based education seeks to achieve is a greater balance between the human and non human. Ideally providing a new way to foster the sets of understanding and patterns of behavior essential to create a society that is both socially just and ecologically sustainable” (21).

In my opinion, there are many positive attributes to place- and community-based education (PCBE). With that being said, I’d like to take a moment to discuss why I am so excited about the Service Learning aspect of it. Service Learning “…has sought to involve young people in work explicitly aimed at enhancing community and social conditions” (26) and that is definitely something to be celebrated. When I served with NCCC, Service Learning is a very large component of the program. I learned from experience the awe-inspiring impacts you can have on yourself and your community through service. I have never felt so inspired. Working to better our community helped me realize my passion and it affirmed my decision to become an educator. I am excited to help my students to do the same for themselves; because everyone deserves to recognize their dream.

Something that worries me about PCBE, is the idea of being responsible for ensuring that students become a positive asset for society. In a common idea of education, if a student doesn’t do well in a class then that is their responsibility. They are the ones who receive the bad grade and they are the only ones who that effects. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how passionate and/or informed the teacher is; sometimes students can be given all of the things necessary to be successful and choose to not utilize them. With (PCBE), not only will their lack of retention and utilization of the knowledge be a loss for the individual–it will mean that the community itself is impacted in a negative way. While I think that PCBE is a great approach for education, one has to realize the amount of responsibility that is put on the educator. While it is true that the success of the students isn’t always correlated with the educator’s ability to do their job effectively, I think that I would put a lot of pressure on myself knowing that someone in my classroom could impact society in a positive way if I show them how.

Before taking the steps to implement PCBE, I would like to know more about the expectations for the educator throughout the process. What are the standards? It’s true that “some educators will be more adventurous than others and more tolerant of uncertainty and confusion… For others, small steps will be much more appropriate” (72). So what I am curious about, is how do we set standards for something that can’t be the same for every classroom?

I think that PCBE, is how education should be approached. To leave out aspects of the program is to potentially sacrifice the community around us. “… It’s easy to believe that the important work of American culture happens not in the country’s small towns and cities but in the large urban centers of the East and West coasts. When schools reinforce this message by ignoring the communities where students live, it is not surprising that out-migration has become [a] problem” (44). I think we should focus on our surroundings and how to better them. If we focus on the big picture… Development of the individual will follow.

I think that volunteer service is a crucial component in developing students and influential citizens. With that said, I chose two projects that (I believe) have three very important components:

  •  Students responsible for idea composition and project execution.
  • Crucial Reflection process.
  • Community Involvement.

Human Barometer: “The objectives of this project are to have students think critically and independently about contemporary civil rights issues, motivate students to develop high quality service-learning projects that address said issues, and have students understand how their peers and students from other high schools across their city or town feel about  contemporary civil rights issues” (http://www.servicelearning.org/slice/resource/human-barometer). I would really like to see this project turn into something that could serve as a reminder of the progress that our society has made and also an instrument to realize how we can be more aware of the steps that still need to be taken. I like the open-forum approach with this project because I think it’s important for students to have opportunities to voice concerns and promote their ideas in a welcoming setting. I think that the forum provides an excellent space for reflection as well.

Role of Parks and Open Spaces in Society: “Learners will research the history of the National Park Service, the EPA, and the role of local park & recreation departments. After they have gained an understanding of the functions and importance of these departments, as well as the value of preserving open space, they will implement a service project in which they will collaborate with local leaders and organizations in order to clean up a local park. Through research, reflection, and contact with the local government regarding the protection of parkland, they will develop their English and social studies skills and also learn about environmental impacts and protection” (http://www.servicelearning.org/slice/resource/role-parks-and-open-spaces-society). This is a project that I am very passionate about. When I was a Team Leader for AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, my team had the privilege of working with the Hamilton County Parks and Rec department in Indiana. While working with this organization, we learned the importance of green spaces and the different ways a Parks and Rec department can be a positive influence in the community. Unfortunately with the economy, one of the first departments in a city that receives budget cuts are the Parks and Recreation departments so a lot of their revenue and work is done by volunteers. I think that this project would be a great way to unite the students in the community to help preserve their green spaces and utilize their parks to their full potential.