Wednesday, May 1, 2013


After reading Kliewer, I took a few minutes to reflect on it. It occured to me that I had never been in a classroom as a student with other students who had special needs. But then it also occured to me that this was probably the case because I have attended private schools all my life, where students with special needs were a rare occurance. I guess that's why I never really thought much about this matter before. Even now, thinking about it is kind of difficult for me because I have never had any experience with it before.

I think that students with special needs have the right to be integrated in a regular classroom throughout the day. Just because they have special needs, it does not make them any less human or any less of a child. They deserve to be with children their own age. At the same time though, I also think that children with special needs definitely need time out of their days to address their special needs in private, if they wish. I think that if the care of a special needs student becomes too secretive or private, it could jepordize that student's realtionship with his peers.


Social Justice Event

For my Social Justice Event, I decided to take part in the food drive that my church's Social Justice Committee holds every year for Easter. The first thing we had to do was get the word out about the food drive. We did this by making posters and hanging them near all the doors of the church, and we also put weekly announcments in the church bulletin about the food drive starting about a month before Easter. We have baskets near the doors to the church that the people can drop their donations in. When we got enough to donate to the food bank, we packaged all the food in boxes and took the boxes to the food bank. The best part to me is that the food bank is literally right up the road from my church, so our efforts stay local, which is cool because you can sort of see how those efforts impact the community.

I thought that I could relate this experience to Kahne and Westheimer on the topic of charity vs. change. Kahne and Westheimer mostly write about charity. According to the authors, charity is work that you can do to help others and at the same time, you get to experience the joy of helping others. Change is defined as identifying the problem and trying to solve it. The article by Kahne and Westheimer broke the differences between charity and change down:

Charity: Charity is giving due to a sense of civic duty, which results in an additive experience.
Change: Change is social reconstruction due to a sense of caring for others, which results in a transformative experience.
I would have to say that the experience I had with the food drive was a charity experience. We were giving to the people because we cared for them, and it also was because we had a sense of this "brotherly duty" to help others. I wouldn't say our work was change because although we helped others for a short period of time, we didn't actually indentify the cause of their problems. Most of the people who will receive our donations will still more than likely be poor, so there was really no social reconstruction taking place here. The end result of the food drive wasn't transformative; everything is still pretty much status- quo. But because of our efforts, many people got to have an Easter dinner they would not have had otherwise. So for a short period of time, the poor people in the community were helped, and my church's community had the joy of helping others, as Kahne and Westheimer put it. But, all in all, this food drive is something that I will continue to do because it was a good experience for me.

Misc post: a sort-of Delpit moment?

Ok so this didn't actually happen in a classroom, but it was interesting to see how things that we learn about to help us as teachers in the classroom can apply to other areas of life as well. This past Sunday at church I kind of had a Delpit moment. I was at my church getting ready to MC our second Mass, and when I was getting the altar servers ready, they were all talking really loud. So, I, in a failed attempt to stop them from talking said "guys, do we really need to be doing this right now?" As soon as I said that, I stop and realized that the kids were still talking, and my comment had gone in one ear and right out the other. I realized there were two things wrong with my question to them. The first was that it was a question and not a "command". The second was that I asked them if they need to "be doing this", and they probably didn't understand exactly what "this" was. So I tried again, but this time I said: "guys, we're done talking right now. It's time to line up to start Mass." The kids stopped takling and got in their places to start Mass. The funny thing about all this was that 3 of the kids I was addressing were my siblings. So after my minor failure, I had a minor success. I guess I'll have to watch my language whenever I'm working with kids, even if it's not in the classroom.


My siblings and me after serving Mass.
From left to right: Maria, Nate, me, Nikki.

Safe Spaces

One of the most important things that can be taught in a classroom is understanding and compassion. Understanding and compassion are the only ways that safe spaces can be achieved in the classroom, as well as anywhere else. If we constantly judge others, and teach our kids to do that as well, there's no chance for safe spaces at all. We have to teach our kids that everyone is different, and they have to be understanding and tolerant of those differences.

Not only do we have to teach about differences and creating safe spaces, but teachers have to make their classrooms that reality. A classroom should be one of the safe spaces that a child can go. Children need to see school not only as a place they go to learn, but also as a place that they can go to for help and love. If we do not show our children love, compassion, and understanding, we cannot expect our children to show those qualities to others. Children learn by example. That is why teaching these things to children is so important to a child's education.

All teachers need to make their classroom into this.