EDU 6986- Professional Issues

A Reflection on Classroom Conversations about Curriculum Development and Moral Education

I was struck by the statement Dr. Schuereman offered at the start of class, “[B]udgets are moral documents”, and how this statement wove itself throughout the fabric of our discussions of curriculum development and moral education.  I am not sure that I would have understood what was meant by this statement if we didn’t take some time to discuss it, but the powerful nature of its simplicity has been lingering in my thoughts daily since.  If you look at how a government, state, district, community, even a household budgets it’s monies, you are looking at a document that essentially rates what people believe in.  These budgets are a list of priorities, a hierarchy of personal items of value.  Budgets give a “sneak peek” into what people stand for.  Having said that, I have to question why is it that education does not rank as the number one supported item on any budget.

With this thought I feel ashamed and worried about the future of our nation’s schools and the education of children.  However, I do take comfort in difference that can be made by one individual and the many opportunities that are available for change.  As a teacher (in the near future) shouldn’t my presence in the classroom be considered a moral statement?  I believe that this choice to be a teacher is a powerful statement supporting what I value and what I feel is my moral responsibility.  I hope to further support this statement by becoming involved in not only the classroom but the greater school and community at large.

One way this could be achieved is through the dynamic and ever evolving process of curriculum adoption.  In the very clearly articulated six year sequence of finding new curriculum, a teacher’s statement of responsibility to students, faculty, administration, board members and the community would be fundamentally made.  As we examined in class, curriculum development is no easy process.  It takes time, energy, and considerable effort to even come to an agreement about what should be taught for each unique subject.  As we explored through our readings and discussions, this is further complicated by the controversy surrounding religious related activities, controversial issues and whether or not moral education should be a part of the school curriculum.  This topic, no matter where you discuss it, usually brings with it a heated debate.  After examining the codes and by-laws I understand a bit more what is allowed or disallowed with regard to faith based curriculum.  However, one question that still looms large over me is where does moral curriculum fit it?

If we eliminate the religious side of this issue and just look at what it takes to teach a person what is moral and good, is it the job of the teacher to have educational material that supports this moral education?  Should teachers offer critical thinking/questioning of behavior or do we simply dictate rules and regulations?  Do we allow students to stumble morally in order to learn from their own mistakes or must we only tell them what is right or wrong according to the school?

I feel obligated to teach and have students learn.  An extremely valuable tool in learning is discovery, whether this is in relation to mathematics, reading, or morality and ethical behavior.  How do we expect students to grow up and be good citizens if they don’t first learn how to be good and caring people? I hope that in my future classroom I am allowed and encouraged to let students make mistakes, to fall and get up, and to learn from each experiences that every situation has the potential to teach a lesson.  Offering moral education seems to be a very important thread in the fabric of the classroom.  It is within these educational dichotomies that we as teachers offer our presence as an example of our continuous moral statement.

EDU 6989- Professional Issues

A Reflection of Classroom Conversations and Discussions- Special Education and Exceptionalities

I feel that as educators we have a responsibility to every student that walks through our classroom door regardless of his or her special needs or exceptionalities.  If we are able to see challenges as opportunities and set out to look at difficulties as goals, we can change the way “special” education is viewed and attained.

I hope to create a classroom, each year, of students that not only respect one another and are responsible for their individual actions but whom also feel a responsibility to the class as a sort of “family”.  It is important to start each year strong by setting up guidelines and protocols that must be maintained in area of classroom etiquette.  By introducing team building activities, early and often, and allowing the students to participate in creating the “rules” to adhere to in the classroom, the students will be more likely “buy into” the idea of respect and responsibility toward each other.

While discussing this issue in class I felt the overwhelming sense that mainstreaming students with special needs and exceptionalities is fundamentally a moral issue.  Shouldn’t the idea of respecting all student individualities be a goal to set in every classroom?  Don’t we have a moral responsibility to teach all children regardless of individual skill set or educational level?  When Dr. Scheuerman stated, “[E]very child is a special education child”, I felt sense of power behind the words that moved me as a future educator.  This awesome responsibility to all children echoed in my mind.  No content or method is more important than teaching a child that he or she is worthy.  Isn’t it necessary for us to celebrate the uniqueness and uphold the dignity of each and every student?

I wondered then, just as we say the pledge of allegiance to the flag every day shouldn’t we as teachers hold ourselves to a standard of pledging allegiance to our students?  If doctors take a physician’s oath when entering into the profession of medicine, why is it that there is no sort of oath for teachers? Could an oath be a way of reminding educators of their privileges, responsibilities and duty to uphold the dignity of every student?  What would this oath look like? It should be taken at the time of being admitted as a member of the teaching profession and repeated each year as a reminder.  Maybe it would look something like this:

  • I solemnly pledge myself to dedicate my life to the service of human dignity
  • I will give to my fellow teachers, colleagues and those who come before me the respect and gratitude which is their due
  • I will practice my profession with conscience and responsibility; the respect and individual education of my students will be my first consideration
  • I will maintain by all the means in my power, the honor and the noble traditions of the teaching profession; my colleagues will be my brothers and sisters
  • I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics, social standing, special needs or exceptionalities to intervene between my duty and my student
  • I will maintain the utmost respect for educational well-being, individual talents, personal challenges, and responsible actions of each and every student
  • I will hold myself and each student in my classroom to a high standard of respect and responsibility to personal actions and behaviors;
  • I make these promises solemnly, freely and upon my honor.

I also think that this job does not fall solely on the shoulders of classroom teachers.  Schools, districts, families, communities, states, and the nation should be held to a high standard when developing and implementing curriculum and funding for special needs and exception education.  It is the whole that needs to be supportive of the individual just as it is the individual that needs to be responsible to the whole.  As the legislation states there should be “No child Left Behind” and this encompasses all children no matter the ability.

EDU 6989 Signature Artifact

The following is reflection of professional responsibilities and practices as observed in the daily workings of a fourth grade public school classroom.  There is evidence specific to curriculum development and direct correlation of student achievement to the improvement of teacher instruction. The presented evidence is based on my personal interactions and experiences with the environment of the school, policy reporting, and the culture specific to the observed school.  For proposes of anonymity pseudonyms may have been used.

s.taylor.profile