I was just one of the crowd of people on the trip—old and young, fat and thin, First Nations and white people, male and female. We were off by bus and ferry to Saltspring Island for the day. My job was to blend in, to let myself be represented by students. They were in charge, and I was along for the ride. I didn’t know it would be so hard. Continue reading
I had a taste, once, of someone using grammar to do a hatchet job on something that was full of meaning for me. Continue reading
The assignment was to make a graphic representation of the plot development in a novel we were reading together in class. To this end, I had assembled some supplies on a table in front of the room: various kinds of large sheets of paper, felt pens, pencil crayons, glue sticks, stickers and labels of the kind scrapbookers use, some collage materials, etc.
We talked about various possibilities, such as diagrams, time lines, and flow charts, Continue reading
I have roots in New Zealand. Not physical roots—none of my ancestors came from New Zealand, or, as far as I know, ever visited there. But the roots of my ideas about teaching came from Sylvia Ashton-Warner, whose book Teacher I read in the mid ’60’s. She has been the single most important influence on my teaching practice.
She wrote about teaching pre-school and primary school children, and as far as I know never taught adult literacy or wrote about helping adults improve their literacy skills. But her ideas about creativity, what she called “organic teaching,” her respect for and celebration of the ideas that came from her students, not from curriculum and received texts, all of which went along with solid practical advice about classroom management, schedules, and “discipline,” spoke to me when I was in training to become an elementary school teacher, and came back to me when, much later, I started in adult literacy. Continue reading
You are always wondering what my job is and what I do for work. A while back I worked with a group of adults in a research project who listed all their needs before they could return to regular school. It was a huge list. What I do is try to support the programs that offer learning to these adults.
Today I am in a swank hotel in Vancouver, surrounded by glitz, food and chocolate, talking about Literacy.
What Is wrong with this picture?
Dee Continue reading
Pete was in my class that term, a student who described himself with pride as a “recovering asshole.” Most days it seemed to me that he was enjoying being stuck in the recovering stage, and wasn’t doing very much to move towards finally being “recovered.”
Still, we jostled along. He participated in class activities, and I held him accountable for treating others with respect.
One day in class he made a remark about women that seemed particularly aimed at me, and I lost it. I dressed him up one side and down the other. I can’t remember what he said, or what I said, but I remember that he shut up really quickly, and the other students tried to look like they were somewhere else.
I went home feeling ashamed of myself. Continue reading
Some moments just stick with you–the flash of insight that marks a big change. A pivotal moment.
I am teaching Level 2 reading, and have passed out an interesting article from the West Coast Reader. Like many mornings, like many teachers, I start by introducing some words from the story that I think people may have trouble with. I write one of the words on the board, and as a group we read it, talk about its meaning, its pronunciation, its relationship to other words we know–you know the drill.