Cean Richard Colcord is a doctoral student pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Special Education. He is also a university teaching and research assistant and a current special education teacher in the Isaac school district. He received concurrent Bachelor’s degrees in special education and human communication and a Master’s degree in educational technology from Arizona State University. His research examines the use of educational technology in special education and the ways in which it can be used to improve access, adequacy, and equity in special education. He is also interested in the stories and voices of children with disabilities, the shielded identities of children with disabilities in online classrooms, school-wide positive behavior supports, and pre-service special education teacher preparation. Mr. Colcord was selected as the 2011-2012 Robert Rutherford Fellow in Special Education and is a member of the American Educational Research Association, Council for Exceptional Children, and the Arizona Technology in Education Alliance. In 2011, Mr. Colcord was selected as a Rodel Exemplary Teacher for his record of extraordinary student achievement in high-poverty schools.
One night around 3:00 am, I woke up to what appeared to be a flashlight beaming in through my bedroom window. I laid silently as thoughts began floating to consciousness trying to make sense of the light, when I heard our backdoor creaking under the force of something prying at it. As a twelve year old boy living with my mother, stepfather, and my brother in a under resourced neighborhood in downtown Phoenix I suddenly understood someone was trying to break into our apartment.
I ran quietly into the living room where my parents were sleeping. I placed my mouth close to my stepfather’s ear and in a rush whispered, “Someone’s trying to break in.” He jumped up and went toward the back door, and I trailed behind him. Together we chased the burglar away. A dark shadow disappeared into the night.
I returned to bed and laid there with my heart beating quickly as my thoughts worked through what had just happened. My thoughts and my heart beat eventually slowed down as sleep began creeping back over my body, when I suddenly heard a loud POP.
I sat up, looked at my brother, and I fell off the bed onto the floor. Through a fog I recall my stepfather running into my room and him and my brother repeatedly trying to pick me back up. Read more
Helen Anderson is the Manager of Curriculum and Research at Harmony Movement, a not-for-profit organization that delivers educational programming on equity and inclusion to youth, educators, and social service providers, empowering them to become leaders of social change. Helen completed her Ph.D. in Theory and Policy Studies in Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education/University of Toronto, focusing in her research on social justice and anti-racism education. She has taught at Sir Wilfrid Laurier University and has worked with numerous community service organizations to address issues such as racism, food security, gender-based violence, youth violence, and homophobia.
What is it that stands in the way of truly empowering educational experiences? Fear. Fear of who we could be and fear of who we are. Fear that others will misjudge us. Fear that their judgments will be correct. Fear of losing power. Although fear may make school equity movements feel slow and fruitless, hope can remind us of the powerful tools we have at our disposal that make a difference in youths’ lives.
At a time when educational equity is clouded with fear, I look for hope. I found that hope recently at a conference on education that transformed the way I think about teaching and learning. The Lost Lyrics Symposium, was a conference focused on creating an education system from the ground up, guided by the needs and input of young people, parents/guardians, and community members. It highlighted the need to address the disconnect between the lived realities of many students and their experiences of school. Read more
Clare Okyere is currently the Teacher on Assignment at Herrera School for the Fine Arts and Dual Language, prior to which she served as a fifth grade teacher in the same school for five years. During the past few years Clare oversaw the Teacher Assistance Team at her school to ensure teachers were supported and well informed in implementing the Response to Intervention framework to better meet the needs of all students. Clare was recently selected as a grant recipient for a fully funded Master’s program based on her leadership skills in her school district. She began her coursework this summer in Educational Administration & Supervision in ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. In addition to her work and studies Clare is also a co-founder of Twenty-Nine Eleven Productions, a publishing company through which Clare has served as a book editor and more recently published her first children’s book Bluebird, Bluebird. While Clare’s roles have shifted over the past few years, her commitment to serving all students with high standards remains constant.
I was recently asked a simple enough question, What is the role of the teacher? Initially, I thought, That’s easy enough. That’s who I am. It’s at my core. Of course I can answer that question.
But then, I started reflecting, like teachers are prone to do, and that seemingly simple question became much more complex. My role was constantly changing through my experiences as a teacher. For instance, when I was still in college the role of the teacher meant we focused on pedagogy—how to teach the children. I was prepared to go into my first job and rise to the challenge of teaching students to use inquiry to learn the secrets of simple machines, to use questioning to create mathematical conjectures, and to facilitate literature studies that would allow children to “read the world.” When I became a full time teacher the reality of a classroom context dramatically stretched my understanding of my role. My focus on pedagogy was not enough to meet the demands of teaching. Thirty students with different life histories, cultures, languages, educational strengths and struggles, family dynamics, reading levels, attendance patterns, socioeconomics, and more entered the classroom. In order to meet their needs I had to reconsider my role.
In fact, give me a multiple choice question, and I’d probably think my way into getting it wrong.
Question: What is the role of the teacher?
David Gibson is creator of simSchool (http://www.simschool.org), a classroom flight simulator for training teachers, currently funded by the US Department of Education FIPSE program and eFolio, an online performance assessment system. His research and publications include work on complex systems analysis and modeling of education, Web applications and the future of learning, the use of technology to personalize education, and the potential for games and simulation-based learning. He founded The Global Challenge Award, a team and project-based learning and scholarship program for high school students that engages small teams in studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics in order to solve global problems.
“What is going on with Cathy and Javier today? I thought they would LIKE working together.” “Bill’s head has been down for most of the second half of the class, but I know he loves this class.”
Good teachers constantly negotiate a balance between the tools at their disposal, their pedagogy, and their knowledge of content in ever-changing contexts – the intersecting systems of their classrooms, their school, and the family and community lives of their increasingly culturally and linguistically diverse students.