Capstone: Knowledge 2 – Demonstrating the capacity to improve urban communities
Program Outcome: Students use knowledge of self, theory, practice, and/or child development within sociocultural/linguistic contexts to create appropriate learning environments and to teach in urban settings.
Translation – My practice demonstrates a combination of my personal values, educational theory, and child development practices infusing African, African American, and Spanish American scholarly contributions for the development of urban communities.
Part of me feels the purpose of the claims is to give the students’ power to create their own strand of knowledge development, in addendum to the broad foundation provided by the university approved curriculum. On its surface, I feel the LIU program immersed me in a training program tasked with teaching me culturally dominant basics of education history, practice and development. This track of coursework was successful in teaching me the official language solidifying its institutionhood. Through my interpretation of the claim, I believe that I’ve been able to extend the depths of my training to include a palette of information contributed by people that I felt more closely represented my student body, and my own personal interests. As I journeyed through the program, I wanted to make sure that I developed a toolkit, and a reflective center that leaned toward the inclusion and exploration of more scholars of color.
“In like manner, the teaching of history in Negro area has had its political significance. Starting out after the Civil War, the opponents of freedom and social justice decided to work out a program which would enslave the Negroes’ mind inasmuch as the freedom of body had to be conceded. It was well understood that if by the teaching history the white man could be further assured of his superiority and the Negro could be made to feel that he had always been a failure and that the subjection of his will to some other race is necessary the freedman, then, would still be a slave. If you can control man’s thinking you do not have to worry about his action. When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do. If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself. If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door. He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one.” (Woodson, 2012, pp. 84-85)
As Elder Woodson points out, its difficult if not impossible to build a strong person if he has no history of himself and his people to root himself in. I’ve been very fortunate to understand this and use it as a call of action to seek out the information myself. I’ve been on my own journey in search of knowledge for approximately four years now. Finding pieces that speak to my point of view and those of my target audiences has been difficult. Unfortunately history that presents African Americans, their educational attainment, and the issues that prevent them from doing so are usually never written from a positive uphill stance. It would have been very difficult to find solutions in the negation and labelization so often coded throughout popular marginalized studies curriculum. Thankfully, I feel the coursework gave me the opportunity to go out and seek resources that did closely represent the thoughts and ideas of the marginalized scholars themselves.
It was really powerful realizing that I was looking up scholarly journal articles, dissecting those, and using their contents to help inform my own thoughts and practice. That’s something I’ve heard about off in the ether, but never thought I myself would have the opportunity to do it. Part of me is the most sad that now I wont be able to use my library code to have access to the Journal of Negro Education – a scholarly journal disseminated by Howard University. I feel this was a great direction to anchor my learning and reflections. It allows me to take full ownership of remediating my strengths and weaknesses through resources that I can find myself. I now know solid routes to locate resources to help develop and refine my own brand of theory and classroom practice.
This was a last minute substitution into my portfolio. Part of my mission was to show a range in my practice as an education professional. I’m over that now, LoL. I’m just being honest, I have 3 more claims left then I’m done. So… bare with me the end is near. This portfolio has been the unexpected realization that I represent a body of work. One that I am proud of. One that shows a solidity of ideas and practices meant to build communities of able-bodied citizens. Now, hours away from its completion – I can look back from the angry and disappointed person that began this process. There is a battle of confidence that comes with being a young Black man in this country that knows his work. We saw it when Richard Sherman blew up the internet and our TV screens before winning the 2014 Super Bowl with the Seattle Seahawks.
Sometimes people can perceive your confidence in yourself as a threat or unbecoming in the moment. I’m always one to argue that there is ample space for all opinions. So, let’s set that on the table. However, this program has shown me that you withdraw exponentially more than you contribute in these type of investments. If you put in the time to find the answers, knowledge, and perspective, they will come to you. There IS a power in that. In knowing that you can reap what you sew, in a good way. I think what made me me this summer was realizing what I do now that I see power in. So many other people focus on where they don’t have power, influence, control. Its an inefficient focus of energy in my opinion.
I’ve worked immensely to make the most of this opportunity! To experiment, to ponder, to reach, and to learn. My works cited is the culmination of what that can look like on the ground. I do have a bachelors degree, but I’ve never had to do a focused research project before. Now I can say, I’ve done many. I have created an automatic filter, sensor even, that directs me in the position of knowledge I need to consume as opposed to other less advantageous avenues.
The diversity represented in my Works Cited includes books that I’ve read in the past 3 years and articles provided in class. The remaining mediums: youtube videos, panel discussions, commencement speeches, etc… are elements that i found in my more personal/private browsing and research sessions.
My point is that knowledge is observable everywhere in every medium, and in every situation. By working to open up and be receptive of that concept I do believe my practice has demonstratively grown and blossomed to encompass a variety of competencies. The information I’m exposed to allows me to ask more thorough questions of society and most importantly myself in reaction to it. I absolutely recommend reviewing my works cited page to see if there are any authors or mediums of interest.
“Maybe I have a leg up. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I didn’t grow very different than most of my students. Maybe it has everything to do with the fact that I was once labeled special ed, and I know the horrors and pains as well as what worked for me as a special ed student. Maybe it is the fact that I don’t look much different than most of my students. Maybe it’s because I’ve seen and been at the bottom of the barrel, and I teach not because I want to, but because I have to. I’m here because a community- my community is dying and suffering, left behind and lost. I teach because so many young people, especially young African American boys do not have any positive male role models. And I’m teaching because I know that until we all make it, none of us have. All but one of our guests were women, and mostly Caucasian. I have no doubt that anybody can make a difference while teaching students who come from mainly African American and Latino communities. However, I do believe that being an African American and a male will help to reduce some of the cultural friction, as well as increase some of the trust that my students will have of me. I am in this for the long haul- student by student, community by community.” (“I’m a Cohort 14 NYC Teaching Fellow”, 2014)
I agree with Cohort 14 Teaching Fellow, the palette of sources we use to inform our practice make and break our experiences in the classroom. Being purposeful in consuming sources the reflect the vision I want to create for the world has been pivotal in creating a pedagogy that I feel proud and supported by.
Evidence – Intellectual Context TAL880 File (Not linked)
Again, another piece that I’m really proud of. This intellectual context allowed me to play around and stretch my skillsets as a researcher, a scholar, a critic, and as a creator of curriculum. This project gave me the opportunity to find four research articles all culturally relevant to my student population. Three of the sources were based on students home culture, and the last was based on my student’s generational/technological culture. Its important to note that research foci automatically frame/bias your practice and its implementation. For instance, I explicitly wanted to find research that I felt directly represented my student’s in constructive ways. There are certain types of research that I think can constrict of view of the possibility of being a magician in the classroom. I’m a firm believer that we can use the knowledge(s) we have about our students to help create new worlds for them in the classroom. Paladin, DOE Illusionist is my new title. Oddly enough, one of the through lines I’ve strung through this portfolio is the importance of having texts that represent me, and people that represent the fullness of my culture. Part of my research for the Intellectual Context, a small part of the larger Teacher Inquiry project, argues just how important it is for marginalized citizens to see visions of themselves represented in their curriculum.
For African American students, the presence of African American literature by women and men is a special necessity. African American [AA] students will benefit from exploring the way AA writers wrestled with the problem of authentication, struggled toward freedom through writing, overcame or were overcome by economic demands, and worked toward writing themselves into the center of American culture. For many AA students writing themselves into the history of AA literature is no easy task, for that history has been kept from them… (Thomas Fox Repositioning Writing to African American Students 298) (Fox, 1992)
I also recognize that my students aren’t just Black and Brown kids trying to make it in the work. They need skills too. Writing seems to have been the easiest focus to create more challenging learning opportunities around. I’ve worked to try to allow my students to express themselves in a variety of ways. I want them to get used to the repetition and consciousness it requires. I also want them to be able to define a space for their own voice as they begin to mature into adults.
More than ever, writing teachers need to abandon a simplistic skills approach to writing, which for African American students has meant an unnecessary concentration on the verb forms of standard English. Instead, we need to elaborate a model of classroom behavior informed by the central questions of race and gender relations suggested in this essay. The purpose of this classroom is to build articulate and powerful writers in the university, writers who can participate in and shape an academic culture that desperately needs their presence. The ongoing annoying questions of whether or not to teach “standard English” withers in its significance. (300 – 301) (Fox, 1992)
Overall, I’m happy, again, to see another skillset be etched into my armament. I can’t quite conceive what scholarly research will look like outside of this program. But I’m eager to see how I can continue to actively implement new and additional teaching strategies and theory into my practice.
Fox, T. (1992). Repositioning the profession: Teaching writing to african american students . Journal of Advanced Composition, 12(2), 291-303. Retrieved from http://www.jaconlinejournal.com/archives/vol12.2/fox-repositioning.pdf
I’m a Cohort 14 NYC Teaching Fellow. (2007, August 11). : On meeting Fellows who just finished their first year. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from http://imacohort14nycteachingfellow.blogspot.com/2007/08/on-meeting-fellows-who-just-finished.html
Woodson, C. (2012). The Failure to Learn to Make a Living. The Mis-Education of the Negro (47-48, ). Buffalo: EWorld Inc.. (Original work published 1933)