Sunday, January 22, 2017

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y'all Too

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban EducationFor White Folks Who Teach in the Hood... and the Rest of Y'all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education by Christopher Emdin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title pretty much sums this one up: a book about "teaching and learning in urban schools" by a man who was once a student in those schools, and is now an educator.

First thoughts: Emdin has practical advice for teachers, but also writes from a theoretical perspective on the larger picture of white/privileged teachers in urban classrooms. He calls it Reality Pedagogy, or "an approach to teaching and learning with the primary goal of meeting students on their cultural and emotional turf." (p27)

How does it work?: Using this technique, teachers deliver the content, but the students shape how the content is taught. That means no more cookie-cutter lessons delivered in the same style classroom to classroom, from year to year. For example, if I first taught at my alma mater and expected the same lesson plans to fly in my current school, I'd be very disappointed.

The Seven Cs: The strategies Emdin provides for transforming education range from simple things like the way the classroom is arranged and treated by both teacher and students to more complex techniques "Cogenerative Dialogues" where student ambassadors generate plans of action for improving the classroom culture. Each could be used in sequence or in addition to strategies already in place, and could be useful in any classroom, in any zip code.

Favorite quotes:

"Once educators realize that they are biased against forms of brilliance other than their own, they can finally begin to truly teach." -p42 (How true this many teachers forget about all the different types of intelligence our students possess.)

"The kind of teacher you will become is directly related to the kind of teachers you associate with. Teaching is a profession where misery does more than just love company - it recruits, seduces, and romances it. Avoid people who are unhappy and disgruntled about the possibilities for transforming education. They are the enemy of the spirit of the teacher." -p208 (I may have decided traditional classroom teaching isn't my calling, but I've been very lucky to work with some of the best teachers and coaches during my fellowship. If I had decided teaching was for me, I'd be in great company.)

Recommended for: ALL educators - fresh out of school, tenured, suburban, CPS, elementary, middle, secondary...if you work with a group of students, please read this book at least for a better understanding of the variety of students and learning environments that exist.

Final thoughts: I think I could read books on education for a very long time and still have more to learn (and more to want to learn), which is saying something about myself (I should work in education, but not in a classroom) and/or about the state of education in this country (it's got some issues).

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