Diversity
This year, one of the classes I am taking is EDC 250. For this class, I go to Providence once a week and shadow a teacher in an eighth grade ESL class. All of these students have been in the country for under a year. I am from a very affluent community in upstate New York. Being in a classroom, where the teacher and I are the only white people is very different to me. It is a huge culture shock for me to go to a middle school in Providence that is not predominantly white. I was especially surprised last week when the students had to listen to a guest speaker talk to them about applying to high schools. I was shocked to hear that they have to apply to high school. Being brand new to this country must be terrifying enough, but to have to apply to high schools must be so overwhelming. I feel so lucky when I go to this school because I had so many privileges when I was their age that they do not have. It was also interesting to see their attitudes towards school in general. Many of them never hand in their homework and do not do the assignments their teacher assigns to them. However, when it came to the subject of applying to high schools, the students were much more engaged. Even though they do not seem to care too much about their homework, they do care about their futures. It worries the students because they have to apply for specific programs and know what they want to do with their lives when they are only in eighth grade. I had no idea what I wanted to do at that age and the amount of pressure being put on these students is astounding.


Sarah Nolan



EDC 102



10/19/15



Foundations of American Education Chapter 5




B. F. Skinner is the recognized leader of the behaviorism movement (106). “Behaviorism is a psychological theory and educational philosophy that asserts that behaviors represent the essence of a person and that all behaviors can be explained as responses to stimuli” (106). Behaviorism suggests that the school environment and teachers have a larger influence on their students than heredity. I believe that this is often proved to be true. Environment has a huge impact on peoples’ behavior. I think that in schools, the way the school is run really affects how the students behave. I think that when teachers encourage and reward good behavior, the students will recognize this and behave accordingly. I think that no matter what background a student comes from, they can still be affected by their school environment. I think that because of this, a teacher has a tremendous amount of power. Teachers have the power to change students’ lives through the environment that they create in their classroom. By positively reinforcing behavior, teachers create an environment that their students feel safe in. I think that is the most important aspect of a classroom environment. Students must feel safe and comfortable in their classroom and around their teacher. If a teacher succeeds in creating a comfortable classroom atmosphere, their class will run much more smoothly. Another philosophical school of thought that I agree with is progressivism. “Progressivism is an educational philosophy that emphasizes that ideas should be tested by experimentation and that learning is rooted in questions developed by the learner” (111). Progressive schools focus on how to think rather than what to think. Progressive teaching emphasizes the importance of change and teaches students to be prepared for change. I like this school of thought because it focuses on how important it is to get students involved in their learning. In progressive teaching, it is less important to learn how to memorize and more important to develop a variety of skills. Progressivism is something I am interested in incorporating in my classroom should I get a job as a teacher someday. I would want my classroom to be a place where students’ ideas are valued more than the skill to memorize a certain idea or set of vocabulary. I think that it is more important to understand a concept permanently rather than memorize something for a short period of time to do well on a test. Lesson plans and rules are developed by both students and teachers. I like the concept of progressivism because it encourages student involvement. I think that students should have a say in their education and if they do they will be more motivated and interested in what they are learning. I am also a very open-minded person and would like to incorporate that into my teaching. I would want to be open to change and new ideas in the classroom. Education is a constantly changing field and I believe that to be a good teacher, one must be open to change. It is important for a teacher to be accepting and flexible. Flexibility is one of the most valued aspects of the progressive school of thought. Mutual respect is also important. I think that for students to respect their teacher, their teacher must respect them. Students are much more willing to listen to someone that they know respects them. If there is mutual respect, compromise is a possibility and is a good tool to utilize in the classroom. By letting students have a say in what they learn and do in school, they will enjoy school and learning much more.


Sarah Nolan

10/11/15

Edc 102


Chapter 4 Foundations of American Education


Something that I find interesting in this chapter are the branches of philosophy. Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that is concerned with questions about the nature of ultimate reality. The questions about humanity and the universe are important to teachers and students of education according to the textbook. The style of teaching that a teacher develops is based on the teacher’s metaphysical beliefs. I found this to be relevant because I want to be a teacher and this subject caused me to think about what I believe in and how that would reflect in my classroom and teaching style. I also found axiology to be an interesting topic. Axiology deals with the nature of values. I found this interesting because I think that ethics and aesthetics are important to education. Teachers must question what system of ethics they will teach to their students and even if ethics should be taught in public schools. This is important because every teacher has their own belief system and they have to be careful when teaching that they do not force their beliefs upon their students; however, they also must contemplate what they should teach their students regarding ethical issues. Questions regarding aesthetics also interested me. Teachers have to think about what type of artistic works they should include in their curriculum and what type of subject matter they should encourage in class. This is relevant because it is not an easy decision to decide whether or not something is school appropriate and sometimes teachers have to compromise their own beliefs toward something a student has done.

Sarah Nolan



Edc 102



10/5/15



Reflection on Chapters 2 and 3 of FAE




While reading the assigned chapters, many points made were intriguing. I found it interesting that private schools can share public funds. I was not aware that private schools were allowed to use state funds to purchase secular textbooks and to provide transportation for students to and from private schools. I don’t know if I like the fact that private schools have access to state funds. Something else that interested me, was the fact that early elementary schools were typically staffed by inadequately trained teachers. I think elementary school teachers need to be the best of the best because they have so much influence over students and their attitudes toward school. If students do not enjoy school from a young age, it is unlikely that their feelings toward education will change as they age. I also think it is relevant to know that elementary education used to be very formal and impersonal. Elementary school today is the most personal of all schooling, in my opinion, and it is interesting to see how much has changed over time. In chapter three, it is revealed that during the past half century enrollment in public schools in the United States has doubled. It is interesting to see how much more important we as a society consider education now. It is more common now for someone to get a high school degree than it is for someone to receive no education. Part of this is due to things like the No Child Left Behind program, which was also interesting to read. Overall, taking note of how much has changed in education is very intriguing.




Sarah Nolan

Edc 102

09/28/15

Reflecting Upon Middle School and Comparing

For my context statement, I chose to research Alan Shawn Feinstein Middle School of Coventry. While reading Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozal, I found myself comparing my school experiences to those of the children in the schools Kozal writes about. My middle school experience was extremely privileged and reading about Savage Inequalities showed me how truly lucky I am to have had such a good school experience.
The middle school I attended was very modern. Almost every classroom had smart-boards and state of the art technology. The students in Savage Inequalities were not that fortunate. Obviously the technology at the time would have been different, but what the students did have was not up to date. My middle school also offered advanced classes. I took classes like honors English or Social Studies. Those types of classes were not available to the students Kozal writes about. Many times, the classes they were in would be at a lower level of learning than the students were supposed to be at. My school also offered relatively frequent educational field trips. This was not an option for the students of St. Louis. The schools Kozal visited never would have had the funds to take their students on a field trip. In addition to educational field trips, we also had field trips that were solely for enjoyment. I remember at the end of eighth grade, we took a field trip on a small cruise ship on Lake George, simply for making it through middle school. That is something that the children in Savage Inequalities would never even dream of.
I consider myself extremely blessed after reading more of Savage Inequalities and realizing that those students would give anything to have been as fortunate growing up as I was. I attended a safe school where I knew that almost everyone in my classes would be walking the stage with me at my high school graduation. It was a rarity to have a pregnant girl in class. When comparing my experiences in middle school, I felt a bit of a culture shock.


Sarah Nolan



Edc 102



Expertise Statement





Something I am good at is something many people consider to be simple: listening. I do not mean just paying attention in class; I mean genuinely listening to someone when they have a problem and then either advising them or just being there for them. I consider myself to be a good friend because of this strength of mine. I always put my friends first and try to help them as much as I can through their problems.

I discovered that I was a good listener when my best friend began to have family problems and I was the one she always came to when she needed to talk. I try my best to hear someone out and withhold any judgments when they come to confide in me. I take pride in the fact that my friends and family consider me to be a good person to vent to. I know that the people close to me consider me to be someone they trust. Last year I made a new friend who does not have an easy life and has a lot of bad things happen to her. She quickly found me to be someone she could talk to and get advice from. It is not always easy being the person that everyone goes to when they have a problem. It can be draining and sometimes overwhelming, especially when I am going through my own problems. However, I am glad I am someone that people trust and know they can confide in. I enjoy being able to help people sort out their problems and it makes me happy when someone can tell me that talking to me made them feel better. I have two younger sisters and it is not always easy for them to be away from me while I am at college. But, they know that whenever they are having a problem they can call me and I will listen to them. My parents greatly appreciate that I am always there for my sisters when they don’t want to talk to my parents about something. Not everyone has the patience to listen to people when they are upset, so I consider this to be a talent of mine. Because of this patience, I know that I will be a good teacher. I hope to be the kind of teacher that students feel comfortable talking to whether they are having trouble in school or something is going on at home. I also believe that this skill of listening will only improve with age. As I grow and experience more I will be able to better advise those who ask for it and will be able to relate to more things if that is what they are looking for. I hope to have children one day and when I do I hope that my children will never feel the need to hide anything from me. I want them to know that I will always be there to listen to them and I will never judge them. Life is not easy and people will always have problems. That is why I consider the ability to earnestly listen to someone to be such a valuable trait. It is a skill that will never be less important and one that I will not lose when I am old and physically weaker. Listening to someone when they are down is the simplest way to show someone you care about them and people will always appreciate you for taking the time out of your day to pay attention to them.