Standard #2: Student as Learner
The student teacher demonstrates an awareness of, and concern for, the people in his/her
Focusing on learners as full human beings with a rich history, unique characteristics,
substantive achievements, talents, skills
and interests, the student teacher does his/her
best to observe, document and learn
about those students. S/he works hard to
“understand their understanding.”
Standard #2: Reflection
Learning from my students is something that I relish and having their contributions and insight guide the class proved extremely valuable and made my role as the teacher more exciting and engaging. I believe that this is the standard which I had the least clear interpretation of from the start, as it seemed that with the many requirements of surveying and gathering data on our students for our other classes, that all of the learning we would be doing would be anonymous pen to paper. Fortunately, I was immediately proved incorrect by my students and their incredible knowledge base and opinions. I quickly came to view the classroom not as just 30 high school students, but as 30 human beings who together would join me in answering the impossible question of “What is the American Dream?”
As the summer continued, my team teachers and I sought to relate our class more to our students and their interests. Two lessons in particular stand out; that of the Gilded Age and that of the Zoot Suit Riots. For the Gilded Age, we posed the question “Are We Living in a Modern-Day Gilded Age?” as our entrance ticket and then opened it up for discussion. To aid with this discussion, I created a presentation of Gilded Age images compared with images from today, with a touch of humor and pop culture. From Kim Kardashian’s home contrasted to the Breakers in Newport, RI, which many of our students had toured, to the strict individualism of the Gilded Age years compared to Facebook and social media, we were able to engage our students from the start and to help them see that history is not just studying the past, it is seeing ourselves in the past and learning from those before us. For the Zoot Suit Riots, we discussed popular trends and fads which our students had lived through, such as Silly Bands, to introduce the idea of the Zoot Suits. We then discussed the radicalization of those suits, and asked them how they would feel if Silly Bands became politicized. Many of the connections we made were lighthearted and silly, but they were fun for our students and helped us as teachers incorporate our students into the history we were studying.
A last reflection on this standard is actually learning information from my students which I did not know before. It is impossible to know everything in history and all of us as learners have studied different topics and insights. To be honest with myself, I originally struggled with the idea of being corrected by a student, and it scared me to have a question posed that I did not have the answer to, but by the end of the summer, it became a way to engage with our students. If a student asked a question to which I did not know the answer, I would admit that I was unsure but that I would look it up. A goal is to challenge my students to do the research on some topics if it is to their interest so that I am not solely responsible for researching each specific question. Additionally, having our classroom as a safe space where all knowledge can be shared is extremely important to me, and I learned throughout this summer that the wide wealth of knowledge that each of us has individually is even more powerful and engaging when everyone has the chance to share it, not just the teacher. A goal of mine is to make sure that all of my students are comfortable doing this, whether it be through spoken or written communication, and that I am always learning new material and honest with my students of that holistic growth.