Forum 1.2

This forum is a place for you to share your takeaways and learnings from week 1 – Building a Peaceable Learning Community.

In the comment section of this page, please respond to following four questions:

  1. What is one thing that your partner shared with you about the week’s materials and exercises that you found to be particularly interesting, relevant, or challenging?
  2. Through conversing with your partner, what is one thing that was revealed or crystallized in your own thoughts and reactions to the week’s materials (readings and videos) and/or exercises (intro forum, daily peace action, this phone call, conference call)?
  3. What was your experience like with this week’s daily peace action? Is this is action that you could see incorporating into your personal life, your teaching, or with your students? If so, how?
  4. What is one quote from any of the readings or videos that you find particularly relevant or motivational for your teaching and education work?
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19 thoughts on “Forum 1.2

  1. 1&2. I didn’t do a learning partner call this week, but I look forward to learning from you my classmates soon and through out this class! I have already enjoyed reading folks’ reflection posts.

    3. The daily peace action has been somewhat hard, but I’ve enjoyed the challenge. I’ve dabbled in meditation a little bit in the past and I do appreciate the practice and the idea of living in the present. I, like many modern humans I think, am constantly thinking about what I have to do later or what I should have done already and on and on. So I think it’s especially important for me to do this quiet time exercise more often. I was actually speaking with another trainer recently who told me he and his colleagues at his organization incorporate a lot of silence into their meetings and programming. They start meetings with a few minutes of quiet time and do this at some training sessions as well. I thought it was a really interesting idea that I would definitely like to try.

    4. I really appreciated learning about social interconnected theory from Dr. Johnson. Here is the quote:
    “A good definition of cooperation maybe is… you’re in a cooperative relationship when you’re linked together with other people in a way that you can’t be successful unless they are. And they can’t be successful without you.”
    This is very related to my work as a global education educator/program manager. A huge part of our theory of change concept is about the importance of teaching the next generation how interconnected everyone on the planet is. We want them to learn the importance of skills like empathy and cross cultural communication because they will be essential skills for peace keeping in our world’s future, but also about the very practical and important reality that we all share oceans and land and one earth and we are already incredibly interconnected. This is important not only for peace building but also for things such as healthy economies, environments, survival in general. I think “positive interdependence” is a beautiful framework by which to approach education.

    I also really appreciated hearing Barbara Wien quote the famous aboriginal woman activist(s)’ quote: “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” I didn’t really realize how related this quote is to social interdependence until I wrote it out here, which is funny and I suppose that makes sense. I have loved this quote for so long and have had it under my signature in my email for many years now. I really value this sentiment when I work with young people as well as when I work with new (or different from my own) communities/cultures/peoples, which describes most of my job. All peoples and communities have value and skills and resources and knowledge to offer to their own community and to the world, and that is how I approach my work and how I write curriculum.

  2. 1.What is one thing that your partner shared with you about the week’s materials and exercises that you found to be particularly interesting, relevant, or challenging?
    Pam and I found the reading on Learning Spaces to be the most thought provoking of the week’s reading materials. Pam made a strong connection when the reading discussed the importance of multiple intelligences and the idea that form must follow function, which she has preached to her peers as long as she can remember. She also talked about the TED video by Sir Ken Robinson, where he discusses his belief that our educational system is killing the creativity of our students and calls for actions to be taken. I had not seen the link to the video and did not know about TED. Pam described the website and suggested some additional videos to watch. I am very excited about this new resource.

    2.Through conversing with your partner, what is one thing that was revealed or crystallized in your own thoughts and reactions to the week’s materials (readings and videos) and/or exercises (intro forum, daily peace action, this phone call, conference call)?
    While watching Dr. Johnson’s video on cooperative learning, Pam had an epiphany. When asked about cooperative learning versus competition, Dr. Johnson describes how 90% of what we do each day is cooperative learning and how these cooperative divisions of labor are what support our communities. He gives the example of food/farming and policing to make his point. Pam realized that this large-scale idea of cooperative learning can be applied to the classroom, such as an all-class research project, and that cooperative learning does not have to be limited to small-group activities. I realized how essential cooperative learning is to the development of a community of learners, where each person is individually valued and the success of the community requires each individual to do their part.

    3.What was your experience like with this week’s daily peace action? Is this is action that you could see incorporating into your personal life, your teaching, or with your students? If so, how?
    I had a positive experience with this week’s daily peace action. After the 5 minutes of focusing on the breath coming in and out of my body, I felt more relaxed, calm, and peaceful. The attention to breathing and being present, helped me to forget about non-essential worries and thoughts. I would like to incorporate this into my personal life, especially right before going to sleep and during times of stress. Before bed, my mind usually races with the days events and things I need to do the next day, which makes it difficult to fall asleep sometimes. During stressful times my head becomes so full of things that need to be done and things I am worried about, that it is impossible to focus and I usually fall more behind in my work. I think that 5 minutes of focused breathing would help me in both of these situations. It would be a good technique to teach students to use when they are having trouble focusing or are upset by something. The 5 minutes of focused breathing could help them focus better on the material and release the stresses and frustrations they are experiencing.

    4.What is one quote from any of the readings or videos that you find particularly relevant or motivational for your teaching and education work?
    It is difficult to pick just one quote from the readings/videos because there were so many that I found relevant and motivational; however, I was particularly inspired by Piaget’s quote in the Learning Space Design reading- “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not just repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers.”

  3. I was really excited when Jerron called so we could have our discussion; I no longer felt like I was on a lonely island instead of actively engaging with my colleagues on this peace journey.
    One thing that resonates with Jerron from this week’s reading is the idea of allowing the students to participate in the development of the rules and expectations in the classroom. We agreed that this would foster a more community oriented environment that embraces positive initiative and productive accomplishments. He also liked the idea of the buddy system but believes that it has its drawbacks especially with students who would prefer to work independently.
    I was really impressed with Jerron’s decision to return to his alma-mater to mold young men to become effective communicators and independent adults in the future. He must be applauded since the education system is lacking male teachers that our young men can really emulate. Kudos to you Jerron!
    The Peace Time activity was fantastic and it gave me some meditation moment that helps me to appreciate the things around me; birds chirping, horns tooting. I will use it personally but have reservations about incorporating it in my classroom due to the “impact” it may have on the DCPS Impact Evaluation. If I am observed with students using minutes of silence, it will be considered as an ineffective use of learning time.
    One of the quotes that I would incorporate in my classroom comes from the theory that buddy system promotes effective learning. It states, “People learn faster when they have support… that is a buddy – than without.” The buddy system works for me as a learner and I believe it will work for my students. I have adopted it in my classroom and will continue to use it and study its pro and cons for the academic success of my students.

  4. 1. Miao and I both felt that the conference call was actually a challenge! We weren’t always sure if we were being heard, and for me, even besides being in a moving car while speaking to everyone, I don’t feel I do my best thinking and speaking in that type of a scenario. It’s harder for me to process auditory information, and also speaking for myself — it certainly would have helped to be in each others’ presence for the type of discussion we were having. I wonder if a chatroom type scenario where I could read people’s contributions might have been more effective for me.

    2. Through conversing with your partner, what is one thing that was revealed or crystallized in your own thoughts and reactions to the week’s materials (readings and videos) and/or exercises (intro forum, daily peace action, this phone call, conference call)?
    Miao and I reflected a little bit on the resource we were provided of the photo gallery of different classrooms throughout the world, and what we learned about the collaborative learning that occurred inside America’s early one room school houses. I’m curious if anyone here knows about to what extent collaborative learning happens in Montessori school models, where I understand there are multiple grade levels all in the same classroom.

    3. This week’s peace action is definitely something I have tried before, and something that has value, especially when its my opportunity to find time for myself during a particularly hectic day. I like to find a window and look at the sky rather than close my eyes.

    4. Biggest takeaway : cooperative learning is something I want to facilitate in my classroom. The concept that one students success is linked to the success of others. I want to see this kind of positive interdependence playing out in my digital media classroom.

    • Hello Alexandra. I am glad that the concept of positive interdependence resonated with you and that you plan on integrating it into your digital media classroom. My hope is that throughout the rest of this course you keep thinking about what that might look like and how assignments and projects might be structured in order to create the cooperative learning dynamic.

  5. 1.My partner for this week was Nona Grant. It was a pleasure speaking with her, we both agreed on the various topics. One thing that I found interesting is how she loves the buddy system. That is a practice that she does often uses at Wilson SHS. We both agreed that its challenging sometimes. That’s a practice that I find difficult at times because students wants to be individuals. Every environment, class, and student is different.

    2.The peace actions was one of the things that we both really enjoyed. Its served as mental therapy. We both think that it should be incorporated into the classroom. The introduction was also a good thing. We had the opportunity to get to know a little about who we are working with. It served as and Icebreaker for me.

    3. Nona really enjoyed sitting quietly with her eyes close. She did that actual exercise two to three times. She feels that she could continue to do it in her everyday life. She would also like to one day do it in her classroom. Hopefully the MASTER EDUCATOR doesn’t show up on that day, she quoted.

    4. My partner and I agreed that classroom agreements are very relevant. It is the backbone to your success as a teacher. You allow the students to make there own agreements and let them live by them or break them. Hopefully they never break them, but if they do, that is when we as educators enforce the non-negotiable agreements. With order in the classroom comes high learner and no unnecessary distractions.

    • Hello Jerron. I am glad that both you and Nona enjoyed this week’s daily peace action. I wonder though, why a master educator would frown on such a practice being integrated into the classroom. What do you think they would say to you or write up if they saw your students observing quiet time.

      Lastly, one thing I would like you to keep in mind as we continue in the class is how to use buddy system while at the same time ensuring students maintain their individuality. These two are not mutually exclusive.

  6. 1. My partner this this is Alexandra. The question I asked her was which grade will you choose to re-do your schooling. She said it would be her first year in college. She always wanted to study abroad, so that she will learn the diverse cultures and it would help her major-journalism.
    2. Me and my partner talked about how to design our classrooms. Alexandra said she would create a bigger space in the middle for her students next year. The classroom had so many furniture which blocked the views or made the classroom not as convenient as it was supposed to be.
    3. The daily peace action makes me calm and I felt I have a clearer ideas of what I need to do in my life. I certainly use the same idea in my class to calm students. Since my students are Pre-Kers, they don’t have much patience. I had to frequently give them “meditation” time. I usually did it before transitions, since not only it gives them time to calm, but also give them time to be aware of what the next activity will be.
    4. The quote from Jean Piaget, “The principle goal of education is to create men who are capable of doing new things, not just repeating what other generations have done – men who are creative, inventive, and discoverers.” is motivating to me. It is so interesting to see the classroom set up borrowed the same ideas–students sit in rows, desk in front chairs. We assumed that is what a classroom is supposed to be look like. However, we don’t have copy the same format in order to have students learn. We can design it the way which can serve for both teachers and students the best.

    • Hello Miao. You have made a great connection between Piaget’s quote and the replication of how classrooms have traditionally been set up. You are absolutely right that we do not have copy the same format in order for students to learn. I would add that students are going to learn no matter what. Students are learning even if we are not teaching. Everything sends a message and creates some thought process or spurs some action, be it conscious of unconscious. The physical setup of the learning space is a constant message to which students are reacting.

      I am also interested to hear how you use quiet time with your Pre-Kers. I think you will find the week on yoga and mindfulness particularly interesting given you use of such methods already. It would be great to hear more about how you do practice quiet time with your students.

  7. 1) My partner this week was Tina. Tina and I first started talking about the idea of re-doing a year of school, and what we would do differently. Tina, a 13-year teaching veteran, said she would redo her first year of teaching. She described her first year as a huge learning curve. Coming from West Virginia to the DC metro area was a culture shock. One of the reasons why that first year of teaching was so difficult for Tina was because she didn’t get paid for 6 full months. She said, “Thank goodness for veteran teachers,” as those teachers wrote letters on her behalf and advocated for her. Tina’s PE class had 50 or so students that first year. Though that first year was difficult, Tina has been teaching for 13 years now and loves the “lightbulb moment” as she calls it, “It’s that moment when a students finally gets it.”

    Listening to her experience was interesting to me because it makes me think of potential issues and problems that could come up in my first year of teaching. I got a really great nugget from Tina, when she talked about a “Wusaw moment.” She describes this as a time when you as a teacher step back, breathe, re-gather your thoughts and then continue. I look at this technique like hitting the reset button.

    2) This week’s phone call and conference made me realize the power that working in small groups can have. Since I’m not a current teacher and it has been a number of years since I last attended a class, I forgot what it is like to work and learn in a group setting. The classmate phone call was extremely beneficial to me because it allowed me to pick up a tool/trick that I can use in my classroom, that might help me keep control of the class when things might get out of hand.

    3) This week’s daily peace action made me calmer. It was almost like I could feel my blood pressure dropping. I felt like I had clearer thoughts. This is definitely something that I would like to incorporate in my future classroom. For example, if I am teaching during the first period after lunch or an exciting activity, maybe turning the lights off and having the kids not say anything and just be quiet might help calm them down. Actually, now that I think about this, I had a high school health teacher do this! Mr. Rapp. Now I see why he had us do that.

    4)During my conversation with Tina, she told me about this PBS video that she found on the class website. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/interrupters/. One quote that Tina thought was spoke to her was, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you, words will get you killed.” During our conversation, she expressed how as educators it is all about putting the children first. We talked about how as teachers, is it our job to try to help our young students strive for the best at whatever they choose to do. She expressed that once they leave us to go home, it is a totally different ballgame. How can we win against the outside contributors?

    As for myself I thought this quote really spoke to me… “Transport the community, the landscape, and faraway places into classroom with visuals and objects that call them to mind.

    When I thought using 21st century technology in my future history classes, I couldn’t help think of incorporating many forms of multimedia, which can all play an important role in the classroom. Doing this can only help my future students, because it makes the material more real and concrete. For example, if I’m talking about the Colosseum in Rome or the pyramids in Egypt, by using modern technology, I can take students there without ever having to leave the classroom. I can find ways to bring that time period alive.

    • Hello Alex. I am really glad that you and Tina happened to be paired up this week. The two of you being able to chat is perfect example of why we have learning partners each week. It is also a good example of the knowledge and experience that each on of you is bringing to this learning community. Most of the learning you all experience throughout this course will not necessarily be a function of anything I say or do, but rather what you all pick up from one another. I am really excited for you to start you teaching career.

      I also love how you remembered your teacher Mr. Rapp and how he practiced quiet time in his classroom. Keep thinking about other teachers you have had in your life and whether or not they have incorporated some of the peace education methods that are introduced in this class. I think that will really help you in this learning process.

  8. Checking in with Cassandra was great. She is doing such incredible things with her 1st grade class. (When you talk with her, ask how she uses poetry to build her community, literacy and the students’ self-esteem.)

    It was interesting that Cassandra and I both found the lesson on learning spaces telling. Through this lesson she connected with the many ways she has and can, in the future, organize her classroom. She particularly liked the quotes by Piaget on the role of school in creating creative and inventive discoverers and that of Einstein on the difference between logic and imagination. (I was an absolute fan of the TED video, Ken Robinson Says Schools Kill Creativity. )

    We, also, agreed that this week’s peace action was familiar and calming. Cassandra’s familiarity is based on her yoga experience; mine on spiritual training. Truth be told, I find it takes more time to center and quiet myself. It has been suggested that my extensive use of computers could be the cause (but that’s another story). So I started with 10 to 15 minutes.

    Through our check in, I realized that the lessons and exercises of this week’s program have caused me to reflect upon my pedagogical practices as a teacher-librarian and library program administrator. To consider how next year and, into the future, I can better support, both, the students and their teachers…better nurture their individual and collective creative spark. It also reconfirmed that though many educators around me resist (be it out of fear or their perceived need to get from point a to point z in their curriculum, with or without the students), I must continue to encourage and feed our inner “guides on the side”.

    • Hello Pamela. I really love the concepts and phrasing you introduced me to in this post – “inner guides on the side” and “individual and collective creative spark.” Beautiful use of words to explain a dynamic in learning.

      Re: quieting and centering can be a challenge for me as well. I think the increasingly pervasive role of computers and other infotainment technology makes it harder. I always feel like I am always “missing something” if I do feed my habit of checking news, twitter feeds, email, etc. I also find myself getting easily side tracked if, for a second, I hit a writer’s block or mental block. Instead of just sitting and thinking and staying on task, I instead go to another website or video or article, and assume I can multi-task.

      My partner, Alyson is a yoga instructor and has really helped me be more centered. It has most certainly helped me personally and I have seen it work really well in the classroom.

  9. Hello All, so my partner for this week was Alex C. We had great conversation over the phone and it was very enlightening. GO ALEX!!! But to get to our assignment:
    1. This weeks exercises were ok, it was a little hard to find things on the website, but once you Daryn elaborated some in our conference call, it became a little clearer.
    2. For Alex, he expressed the interaction we had on the conference call. That is a wonderful thing and wish we could do it more. He stated their is strength in numbers, with that their is knowledge also. We all possess some skill, exercise, and or talent that others may be able to use and with an online class and not speaking to all, conference calling is a great idea. And I totally agree!
    3. Alex really loved the quiet time to ourselves. This is were your brain can actually rest of all outside interruptions and you are just surrounding yourself with serenity. I call it my “Wooosaw” moment. This is a great way to focus on you, breathing and relieving stress.
    4. “Look at your learning space with 21st-century eyes: Does it work for what we know about learning today, or just for what we knew about learning in the past?”

    This quote made me think of the many benefits to using 21st century technology in my future history classes. Video, photos, webpages, google maps and other forms of multi-media in the classroom. Doing this can only help my future students because it makes the material more real and concrete. For example if I’m talking about the coliseum in Rome, or the pyramids in Egypt, by using modern technology I can take them there without ever having to leave the classroom. I can find ways to bring that time period alive.

    • Hello Tina. I love the “Wooosaw” moment. And I love that Alex brought it up in his comment, as well. What I really value is that you are acknowledging the importance of teacher self-care in order for the students to be cared for. I am a firm believer that we have to take care of ourselves in order to best care for others, particularly as a teacher.

      I hope that in future weeks I am more clear in the weekly assignments and discussion questions 🙂

  10. 1) My partner mentioned that when she first started teaching, she was inclined to do things the way her teachers had but she soon moved away from that and became more creative with her students and supported them to open up. It was an intense time of learning for her. I could identify with that. I’m a history teacher now but I didn’t like history in high school. It was taught in a really boring way (open the chapter and answer questions). My classes are much more dynamic (with kids making comic strips about history, collaborating on murals, doing Webquests) than my high school history classes were, and I want to make them better. Some of the information on cooperative learning from this week’s module gives me some ideas.
    2) Alfie Kohn said that when one observes a classroom, good things are going on when talk about learning is traveling between students not just from the teacher to students and back. It’s also a good sign when the observer can’t find the teacher for a moment because she’s out mixing with the students. All of this got me thinking about what an observer sees when he or she comes to my class. Some feedback I’ve gotten in the past is that I’m doing too much of the talking.
    3) The peace action was fine. I prefer, though, to take a long walk every day. In the summer I walk for at least an hour every day. But during the school year, I go for a walk perhaps once or twice a week. I really want to find a way to get more exercise and reflect during the school year. I’m thinking about walking during prep time. I know it would be good for my mental and physical health and help make this job more sustainable.
    4) Alfie Kohn wrote that when kids are unhappy in schools, educators tend to blame the kids when really everyone should be looking more at what’s wrong with how schools operate. I’ve heard this kind of sentiment many times and it challenges me to try to find out what each students is interested in to engage them in class. But at the same time, I feel at a loss with children who don’t like to read and write because high school is about reading and writing. I can show short history videos and have kids do art and skits, but when it comes down to it, it’s my primary job to help them improve in reading and writing.

    • Hi Mary. Great thoughts and reactions for our communal forum. Your comments on what you took away from Alfie Kohn reminded me of a recent article I read on Edutopia.org.

      http://www.edutopia.org/blog/great-teachers-do-not-teach-ben-johnson

      Here is an excerpt:

      “All of this is good but great teachers engineer learning experiences that maneuver the students into the driver’s seat and then the teachers get out of the way. Students learn best by personally experiencing learning that is physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. John Dewey had it right in 1935 when he espoused his theories on experiential learning. Today we call this constructivism.

      “Long past are the times when we teach content just in case a student might need it. A great teacher will devise a way to give the students an urgent reason to learn skills or knowledge and then let them show they have learned it by what they can do. This is called project-based learning.

      “A great teacher will keep the students wanting to come to school just to see what interesting things they will explore and discover each day. We call this inquiry.”

      Does this resonate with you?

      Lastly, given your love of walks, I think you are really going to dig the reading and the daily peace action during the yoga & mindfulness week.

      • I do connect with the excerpt that you’ve quoted. I take it as a compliment if a student says in an expectant tone of voice, “What are we going to do today?”

        A few of my most successful lessons have been using learning centers, where I have students move to different stations and learn in different ways. It’s great for teaching the Harlem Renaissance. Those lessons take a lot of planning the first time, but once I’ve done it once, it’s not hard to do it again.

        Time can be a hindrance to having a nontraditional classroom because many nontraditional lessons take extra planning and organization. But that’s not always the case and I hope I’ll build a repertoire of creative lessons as time goes on.

  11. Pingback: Week 1 – Building Peaceable Learning Communities (Summer 2013) | Peace Learner

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