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final paper

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inquiry project

Teaching in Prison: Challenging Preconceived Notions

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What Delpit described in her readings as the "Warm Demander" is exactly the kind of educator I'd want to be, ideally. It is also my biggest fear, in the sense that I would fall short of it, or not be able to find the balance between the "warm" and the "demanding" and leave students feeling like I only served them halfway. What's hardest about teaching, for me, is learning how to subtly and fully incorporate values and ideals into every part of your lesson plan and curriculum and how you present yourself in class - in other words, showing that you want to validate your students and raise their expectations of themselves without outright saying it.

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praxis snapshots

praxis snapshots:

1. We are sitting in a circle discussing last week's writing assignment. The assignment is to write about what we wished was taught in schools that maybe isn't. People are sharing their thoughts - a lot of them revolve around "surviving" in the world, practical knowledge, a real and comprehensive sex ed (the idea of a "Rape 101" class comes up) - esentially, things that may have prevented them from being in the current position they are in. While a lot of people agree with each other, one person makes a comment that sparks a heated debate, saying that she doesn't necessarily relate to all the stories being shared (stories of leaving behind families and falling into addiction). Someone comes back with a comment along the lines of "well, we're all here for a reason." This is the first time I've heard someone explicity reference the setting we are in. They discuss how learning from each other's experiences is helpful and useful, and how maybe hearing someone's story can prevent another person from going through the same thing.

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inquiry proposal

I've always been really interested in how education can work in "different" environments (and I use different to mean deviating from the norm in some way, or having some special quality that is greatly linked to the way one would perceive/pursue an education there) and spending these last few weeks at my placement has really heightened that interest. There are many factors that need to be considered when working in a place that isn't a "typical" school environment, especially when the students/learners/people receiving the education are also not typical. (Some pop-culture examples I'm thinking of are the movie "Freedom Writers," in which a teacher starts a job at a school that has been recently racially "integrated" and is faced with the challenge of creating a cohesive class made up of students of many different (and often rivalling) backgrounds, and the movie "Precious," in which the main character is sent to an "alternative" school because of the way she struggles in her classes and is met with a tough but clearly social-justice-motivated teacher who supports her.) I'd like to focus specifically on the environment in my placement and how that affects the way one might educate in that space; how does one choose their methods, what does one need to keep in mind about one's own place in the larger structure of society when approaching learners in these "different" environments, what are the goals/aims one might have for these learners, how does one integrate the personal experiences of the learners without having it overshadow one's own educational purposes, etc.

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The high school that I went to fostered a pretty competitive atmosphere that lasted for a majority of the time I spent there, but during senior year, when college acceptances were pouring in (or not), it reached a point of certain unsavoriness. As students of color began receiving seats in prestigious colleges, many comments were being made about the "unfair advantages of affirmative action," and many were scornful of the opportunities these students had been given. After reading Sue, I understand that this was a pretty bad microaggression and that it was undermining the ability of students of color to perform highly in academics, but it went rather unchecked at the time; I've always been interested in the topic of affirmative action, and that experience is something I've always kept in the back of my mind.

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