New country, new language I crossed in the border into the Autonomous Province of Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan with curiosity. How much would my intermediate level of Turkish help me to read, understand, and communicate? Azerbaijani, also known as Azeri, and Turkish are from the same family. Wikipedia says there is a fair amount of mutual intelligibility. But what would my actual experience be like? Yaxşı? On that first day, my Couchsurfing host taught me some basic Azerbaijani. You can see the difference from Turkish. Azerbaijani – Turkish – English Neçəsən? = Nasılsın? = How are you? Yaxşıyam = Iyiyim = I’m good Mən gədirem = Ben gidiyroum = I’m going This new word – yaxşı – proved surprisingly hard to remember. It reminded me of the long road of learning a new language. Every word is a hard won step forward. I have begun to get used to new letters and their accompanying sounds: x = to me, an Arabic-sounding “kh” with air q = to me, an Arabic-sounding “k” from the back of the throat ə = somewhere between the “e” in “met” and “mat” – I still haven’t pinned it down I have also begun to notice that familiar letters receive different pronunciation: g = “dj” k = “ch” Almost, but not quite The most interesting thing has been words with slightly different meanings between the two languages. I heard my hosts talking about me with the word qonaq. Hmm. In Turkish, I know that a konak or konakevi can be a guest house. In this way I figured out that in Azerbaijani, a guest is a qonaq (versus Turkish misafir). Similarly, I have been talking about my ancestors with the words atalar (people here always ask me about my nationality after I say I am from Canada; they are looking for something beyond citizenship). Turns out that this is correct in Azerbaijani, but ata is also used for “dad” (versus Turkish baba). Finally, I have been using the word yaz (summer) quite liberally, to answer questions. “Yes, we also barbecue in Canada, but in the summer.” “Yes, we also have tomatoes in Canada, in the summer.” Turns out that in Azerbaijani, yaz is “spring” and yay is “summer”. Oh well. At least now the beautiful term yayla (summer pasture in the mountains) makes more sense. Russian interference Many people here actually try to speak to me in Russian. Azerbaijan was part of the USSR until 1991, so lots of Azerbaijanis, particularly older people, have some knowledge. They seem disappointed when I cannot give them the chance to use their skills. As for Turkish, knowledge definitely varies, and seems to skew toward younger and more urban people. One university student said he learned because he likes watching soccer, which is televised in Turkish. A mother told me she learned from watching Turkish television shows. Last night I asked for directions from three strangers, just in Turkish, and they all responded easily in the language. The call of the familiar I have really enjoyed using Turkish as a common language with other non-native speakers. It reminds me of speaking French or Spanish in Morocco. I find that non-native speakers are often more adaptive and helpful in a language – maybe they don’t have the same blind spots to things that can be confusing. This experience has also made Turkish seem more familiar and welcoming. Even though Azerbaijani is similar, it is different enough to make me feel alienated. I am confused by writing; I space out when I hear the more singsongy, up-down stressed cadence of Azerbaijani. A funny tip, then: To make a second language seem easier, spend time in a new one.
The Linguistic Quirks of a Spanish-Speaking Toddler The last time I wrote about raising my baby in my second language, Spanish, she was only 2 months old. I can’t believe that in just a few weeks she will be 2 YEARS old!! By age 1 she had many one-syllable words, and by 15 months she had an extensive but primitive bilingual vocabulary. I was not prepared for how her language would take off after that! By 18 months, she had so many words I couldn’t keep track anymore (I had previously been writing them down), and she was starting to put two and three words together. Most impressive was when one day around 18 months I flippantly asked in Spanish “do you even know the word for that in English?” and she answered! I then started testing, “how do you say cat in Spanish?” “gato!”, “cómo se dice pelota en inglés?” “ball!”. It was so cool that she could answer that question! She already understood that there are (at least) two languages, and (at least) two ways to say each thing! Two-year-old Spanish Even though I have spoken to her almost exclusively in Spanish since birth, I am still surprised by how much my daughter can understand and speak. And I am fascinated by the idiosyncrasies of her language development. Here are some of her most common “errors” in pronunciation and grammar so far. I’ve done some research online, but have not been able to determine which of these are common for Spanish-speaking toddlers, and which are unique to mine. I welcome any resources for learning more about Spanish language development in toddlers that detail more than just the common developmental milestones! L for R What she says Spanish English Lana Rana Frog Pelo Perro Dog Pala Para For L for Y and W sounds What she says Spanish English Lelo Hielo (“ye-low”) Ice Blen Bien (“bee-yen”) Good Agla Agua (“agwa”) Water T for R and L at the end of words What she says Spanish English Comet Comer Eat Llevat Llevar Bring/ carry Azut Azul Blue C for J What she says Spanish English Pácalo Pájaro Bird Nalanca Naranja Orange Abeca Abeja Bee Flipping consonants What she says Spanish English Palan Pañal Diaper Macadilla Mantequilla Butter Tulen Túnel Tunnel My favourite combos of the above rules What she says Spanish English Calo loco Carro rojo Red car Makinat Imaginar Imagine Cacalot Caracol Snail Using second person for herself What she says Spanish English What she means Quieles pan Quieres pan You want bread I want bread Para ti Para ti For you For me Dame plato Te doy el plato Give me plate I give you the plate English constructions What she says Spanish English Roco camión Camión rojo Red truck Esto one Esto This one Grande one El grande The big one And other Spanglish What she says Spanish English Gleen pácalo Pájaro verde Green bird You want fluta Quiero fruta I want fruit No like eso No me gusta eso I don’t like that I’m not worried about her Spanglish – I’m confident that if I keep talking to her in Spanish and others keep talking to her in English, she will speak both languages accurately eventually. However, I worry sometimes about my ability to keep up with Spanish if she speaks more and more English to me. Some (but not all) days she uses more English than Spanish, and I sometimes find myself responding in English too. It will take discipline not to fall into English patterns, but I know that right now I have a bilingual child and it’s up to me to help her become a bilingual adult!
Historical Thinking: Last month I attended the Historical Thinking Winter Institute at the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. The institute was designed for history / social studies educators and museum curators to look at historical thinking and how we teach about the past. The Royal BC Museum, like many museums around the world, contains materials that were taken from people and places without what we would now consider permission. The Royal BC Museum has responded to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action in regards to its materials and artifacts: …The Royal BC Museum recognizes the time is appropriate for a broad ranging assessment of its fundamental role as a public institution of memory and dialogue. The Royal BC Museum should question its dogmas, interrogate our languages of reflection, and reassess our relationship with communities. The museum aspires to provide a common space of encounter and negotiation, where our cultural practices overlap, interact and accommodate. This cultural space should be located in local values and traditions…. Haida House Poles – t’annu ‘Illnagaay For one of our sessions, groups were invited to look into different areas of the museum that have become problematic. Either the representation of the past has become outdated, or more context needed to be given about the artifact itself. We were invited to look at the Haida house poles in the First Peoples gallery. We learned that the totem poles were taken from Haida Gwaii in about 1953. They were chainsawed into 3 pieces and shipped to the museum in Victoria. The “permission” granted is hazy at best. In 1953, this was acceptable for people attempting to “preserve” history by removing totem poles and shipping them to museums and universities. We were then tasked with deciding what to do with the poles today. Historical Thinking is a process that can be used to work with questions like this. The 6 “pieces” of historical thinking are: Establish historical significance Use primary source evidence Identify continuity and change Analyze cause and consequence Take historical perspectives, and Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations. The Ethical Dimension: How Can History Help Us Live in the Present? When the totem poles were taken, the cultural significance was not clear to the team of anthropologists, academics and museum staff. While today we were shocked that the poles were chain sawed into 3 pieces, at the time this was accepted practice. While the practice of preservation continues, it has changed. A house pole would not be removed from a Haida community and shipped to a museum. We discussed what strategies could be used to “right the wrong”. With assistance from museum staff, they let us in on their current practices. For older pieces such as these, they ask communities about their preferences. The Royal BC museum had a relationship with carvers that were able to replace older carvings with new pieces. This relationship facilitated the transfer of skills to new carvers and also employed artists. Totem poles such as these could be returned to their original communities, or left as is. It would be the decision of the communities that they had come from. Cause and Consequence: Why do Events Happen and What Are Their Consequences? We asked “What would have happened if the house poles were left in Haida Gwaii?” I encountered my own biases. In settler culture there is a drive to preserve things, keep things and save things. I recounted my family’s trip to Bella Coola and the petroglyphs that exist outside of town. We asked our Nuxalk guide in Bella Coola if anything was being done to preserve the petroglyphs. He explained that they would be left exposed to the elements – they would be around for as long as they were around for and would eventually dissolve back into the river bed. “How can we learn if we don’t have these poles?” came up in our discussion at the museum. Is it necessary to preserve everything? Why do we collect and save objects? Could a “new” totem pole have the same significance? As someone who teaches history and loves using primary sources in teaching I had to ask myself about the consequences of focusing on preservation. What values are focused on ? Even, is it a healthy practice? I left the institute with more questions about how I perceive history, and what I value as education, as well as insight into new ways of teaching the past. There will be a Summer Historical Thinking Institute this July in Vancouver, at the Museum of Vancouver.
A life-changing experience Learning a new language changes you. Your brain shifts as you begin to think and perceive in a new way. Research shows that people even express personality differently. With this in mind, I wonder why language memoirs are not more popular. After all, many people have written successful books about travel, another life-changing experience. People have written memoirs about work, parenting, feminism, race, and politics. Where are the books that go beyond “How to learn language X”? Where are the books that describe the first person experience? Examples of language memoirs Whenever I do stumble upon a language memoir, I dig in. Dreaming in Hindi chronicles Katherine Russell Rich’s experience of living in India for a year and learning Hindi. I remember appreciating the vivid descriptions of emotional ups and downs. Some days her brain is foggy and uncooperative, and other days she is astounded by long stretches of conversation flowing from her own mouth. These ups and downs feel very true to my experience of language learning. In All Strangers Are Kin: Adventures in Arabic and the Arab World, Zora O’Neill travels to different countries of the Middle East to explore the relationships between different Arabic languages. She ranges between linguistics, cultural perspectives, daily experiences, and reflections. Both of these examples, I note, come from white, English-speaking women who are learning language out of interest – as are the majority of authors listed on Goodreads under “language memoir”. Alternative perspectives on language learning Of course, many multilingual people do not learn languages for pleasure. They learn because they need to find work, flee a home country, seek better opportunities, or revitalize a threatened Indigenous language. I would be very interested to read narratives about language learning from people with these lived experiences. One starting place might be The Multilingual Self: An Inquiry Into Language Learning. The author is Natasha Lvovich, a Russian immigrant to the United States. In the book, she describes “at what price successful language acquisition and acculturation is realistic” (Goodreads). This seems like a different perspective. I haven’t read this book yet, but it is on my list. Send your book recommendations I would love more recommendations of language memoirs. Please post suggestions as comments below.
The only thing you really need to learn a language Happy 2019! It’s a new year, and if your goal is to learn a language or improve your language skills, I’ve got just the trick for you. All you have to do is…. make it a priority! Easier said than done, I know, but over the last year I’ve learned from both research and experience, that things get done when we choose to prioritize them. Many of us feel motivated to achieve certain things, but also feel like we don’t have the time or resources to make them happen. But if we take a step back and look at things objectively, we may find that there really is time and resources, we just have to choose to use (or create) them! You could even get started right now with this list of tips to keep up language learning motivation! Being honest about priorities We don’t always have complete freedom in decision-making; most people have to work, feed their children, etc. But almost everyone has some “free” time that they can choose how to use. There are things that I have let fall by the wayside because I haven’t chosen to use my time for them. A great example is this website! In my first post of 2018, I said I was going to update the site to better reflect the services we currently offer, and “update Esperanza website” has been on my to-do list since long before that. Yet, it’s still not up-to-date. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important, it’s that I’ve continuously prioritized other tasks. We need to be honest about our priorities. When I look at what I haven’t achieved off my to-do list, instead of feeling frustrated at external barriers to getting them done, I can take responsibility for how I’ve chosen to prioritize my time. One thing I recognize about myself is that I often go for low-hanging fruit (tasks that are easy to quickly check off the list), and procrastinate on bigger, more important, tasks. I need to get better at prioritizing based on importance regardless of task size. I also think it’s important to be clear with others about how we are choosing to use our time. Rather than saying “I don’t have time”, I’m working on getting into the habit of saying “I’m not prioritizing this right now”. It’s hard to be that blunt sometimes, but it’s more honest. Actually (to be completely honest!), I usually say “I can’t prioritize this right now” which isn’t as honest as it could be! One thing at a time We all have many competing priorities, and sometimes our free time is very limited so we really can’t do everything at once. But a good friend often reminds me that you can do everything you want to do eventually – you just have to do one thing at a time! So if language is your goal this year, make it a priority! Bring it higher up on the to-do list and choose to use your time for it. If the resources you need to learn the language don’t seem to exist, maybe you can create them! At the very least, reach out for help. Reach out to me! If I don’t have the answers you need, I’ll be very happy to help point you in the right direction. From all of us at Esperanza Education, wishing you a happy, healthy, and language-filled 2019!
During the municipal elections, many first heard about the SOGI 123 implementation as a topic for school board trustee candidates. Did they support SOGI? Were they against it? Those outside of the K-12 education system may not know what SOGI means, and its importance to kids and our community. What is SOGI? SOGI stands for Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. It is a resource for schools and school districts to acknowledge and support the diversity of students, and create more inclusive environments. Public schools in BC are in year 2 of SOGI 123 implementation. 55/60 school districts in British Columbia are participating. SOGI uses an inclusive framework to make sure that all children feel safe in their schools and classrooms. SOGI is implemented in 3 steps: Policies and Procedures, Inclusive Environments, and Inclusive Curriculum. SOGI – Inclusive Environments: This step of SOGI is one that any educator can use in their school, regardless of whether or not their district or school is using the SOGI curriculum. To create a more inclusive environment, there are three foundational steps. 1. Use inclusive language: Use gender free phrasing They, everyone, students vs. he/she, the boys, the girls Use language for all families Use parents or guardian vs. mother / father Expand your vocabulary – ask questions and get clarity about respectful language (for a glossary click here) 2. Change School Environments: Respond to “That’s So Gay!” Draw a parallel to other forms of discrimination – “How would people react if you said, “That’s so Asian!” or “That’s so Jewish!” every time you thought something was awful? Advise students to say what they mean without trashing other people, for example, saying “That’s so stupid, That’s so weird, That’s so boring! State – “We don’t use that language here because it is hurtful/discriminating/mean” Be visually welcoming and inclusive: Display a rainbow sticker / safe space sticker in a visible place (in my experience this can be a conversation starter, which easily identifies an ally and person who is “safe”.) Display SOGI supportive materials, posters or quotes from famous LGBTQ+ icons and community members. Increase Awareness and Access Include SOGI themed books in a classroom library Commemorate LGBTQ+ related awareness days 3. Say NO to Exclusion Be open Let students know that your classroom is a place that they can be themselves and ask questions. Speak Up Address comments that are gender identity biased, and educate others about how they can use more inclusive language. Why is SOGI 123 important? This program discourages discrimination and teaches values of respect and appreciation. It creates a safer environment for students that may have been marginalized in the past. It tells students that they are valued, important, and included regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. For more information and resources, please check out SOGI 123
Four rich years in organizing I came back to British Columbia in 2014 after living abroad, and jumped into political organizing. Now I feel myself being drawn back towards teaching. Books I have read lately – and one in particular – affirm this old/new direction. In these last four years, I’ve had the privilege of working for Dogwood, Organize BC, the BC NDP, Salmon Beyond Borders, and the municipal party OneCity. Volunteering and getting to know people has introduced me to other institutions. Through these roles and networks I have learned about social structures, motivation, tactics, databases, and more. Along the way I have naturally been drawn to books related to organizing. I recently read Jonathan Smucker’s Hegemony How To: A Roadmap for Radicals (a reference to Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals). “A Roadmap for Radicals” I read Smucker’s book at a time when I was feeling unsatisfied as an organizer. Perhaps that is why I found myself nodding so much with his thesis: to have an impact in the world, we need to invite lots of people into action, and to do that, we need to live in contact with lots of people. Smucker observes that, “a lot of people may hold beliefs compatible with an organization’s or movement’s goals, but only a small percentage are likely to act on those beliefs. And a primary factor for why some people do take action is simply that they encounter opportunities provided by people close to them who are already active.” To drive it home, he quotes social movements scholars Debra Friedman and Doug McAdam, who write that “Structural proximity to a movement, rather than any individual disposition, produces activism.” In other words, to produce activism, political people need to be close to all the people who are not yet. The irony of organizing work, then – in my experience – is that it means working all day with other politically active people, and leaves little time and inclination to be deeply involved in other circles – artistic, cultural, social, etc. Political work can actually isolate a person from social fabric. Teaching as a way of being in the social fabric I compare the recent years to times when I was teaching English to adults and young adults. In those times, I was in relation to at least one classroom of students and often their families, plus other teachers and administrators. I was also more connected to my own friends, family, and “activity acquaintances” for lack of a better term – people I knew through an evening class or rock climbing or going to the same café. Some people surely do a great job of maintaining those kinds of connections while doing political organizing. I don’t think I have. I feel a craving to show up every day to the same group of people, and to talk about a range of topics. Discussions will naturally be political, because life is political, but I won’t have to carry a particular agenda into the conversation with me. There are many other reasons I feel pulled back to teaching – including the fact that I love it – but this reason has a certain gravity: I want to be more part of different social fabrics.
Defining Words and Worlds We’ve written quite a bit about Indigenous language revitalization on this blog, but I don’t think we’ve ever taken the time to thoroughly explain what it is. Here’s an attempt to do that. It’s long, I know, but there’s actually a lot packed into those three words! I welcome your feedback, questions, and critiques as thinking through this concept is part of my new journey as a settler scholar in this field. First things first: Defining Indigenous Indigenous Language Revitalization (ILR) refers to efforts to reverse the declining use of Indigenous languages around the world. Indigenous languages are the original languages spoken by Indigenous peoples. While the term indigenous can simply mean “originating or occurring naturally in a particular place”, Indigenous peoples refers more specifically to the descendants of the original inhabitants of regions that have been colonized, settled, or otherwise occupied.* Indigenous peoples often have a strong connection to particular lands, as well as distinct cultural, social, economic, and political traditions that have been adversely affected by settlement on their traditional territories and subordination by settler groups. I capitalize this use of the term Indigenous as a proper noun, just as terms like Spaniard and Russian are capitalized in English. Why focus on Indigenous languages? Language revitalization, also called language revival, language reclamation**, and reversing language shift, among other terms, is a concern for many speech communities. Today there are approximately 7000 languages spoken in the world, but it is estimated that half of these languages will disappear in the next 100 years. While there are efforts to increase the use of some strong languages in areas where they are not the main language (for example increasing the use of French, Japanese, or Urdu in Canada), this is not the same as language revitalization since the language as a whole is not under threat of losing all its speakers. The majority of the languages that are threatened in this way are Indigenous languages. For example, there were an estimated 450 Indigenous languages spoken in what is now Canada at the time of European contact, but today only 60 of these remain, and the majority are severely endangered. An endangered language is one that is likely to lose all of its speakers in the near future. How can languages be revitalized? Language revitalization essentially refers to efforts to strengthen the use (and/or number of speakers) of a language. This can involve many different strategies and approaches such as language documentation, including transcribing old texts or creating print and multimedia recordings of language from current speakers; curriculum development; language classes in schools; community language classes; bilingual or immersion programs; master-apprentice programs where a learner is paired with a fluent speaker for one-on-one learning; technology development, including online language programs, web content, and media of all forms; language policy development; and political advocacy. These strategies can be implemented on a very small scale, such as one individual learning through a mentor-apprentice program, to very large scale, such as national policy development. What makes ILR unique? While ILR can involve the above strategies, it is distinct from general language revitalization in at least three ways. First, the reasons for Indigenous language decline are different from those of other endangered languages. While languages all over the world increase and decrease in use for various reasons such as immigration, urbanization, and globalization, Indigenous language loss can be largely attributed to the domination of colonial powers on Indigenous territories. Colonial governments have deliberately eradicated Indigenous cultures and languages through violent assimilatory policies and practices. In Canada, the United States, Australia, and elsewhere, Indigenous children were removed from their homes and forced to study at distant residential schools where they were punished for speaking their language or practicing elements of their culture. Even if they retained knowledge of their Indigenous language as adults, they were unlikely to pass it on to their children for fear of ridicule and persecution. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas refers to this deliberate eradication of Indigenous languages as linguistic genocide. ILR is also different from other language revitalization efforts because of the kinds of resources available for Indigenous languages. Many Indigenous languages are oral languages that did not have writing systems before colonization. There are often no old texts that can be studied for ILR. In many cases, knowledge of the language is held by only a few elderly speakers who cannot individually recount all words or phrases. Yet, ILR is not just about documenting or preserving languages of the past (in the way that Latin, for example, has been preserved but is not actually used outside of certain restricted religious settings). Rather, it is about bringing language to a place of strength so that it can easily meet modern communication needs and adapt to new needs as they arise. ILR efforts have the dual task of recounting ancient vocabulary and creating new words to meet the needs of current daily life. The latter can be a contentious task as questions around authority arise between and within communities. Even if a complete record of the language exists, huge investments are required for program development, resource creation, teacher training, or other aspects of a given ILR effort, which is often one of many competing priorities for the community. The third way in which ILR differs from other language revitalization scenarios is the political context in which Indigenous communities find themselves today. Although many colonial governments have begun to recognize the importance of reconciliation for past wrongs, Indigenous communities continue to suffer from discrimination, marginalization, and lack of power as a result of past and current colonial treatment. Most do not have full political control of their lands, legal systems, education systems, or other institutions, and their languages do not have official status. Therefore, the will of the people may not be enough to get the required support for successful ILR. Specific political action must be taken by Indigenous peoples to raise the issue as part of a wider struggle for their collective […]
La burbuja del bienestar En los últimos meses he tenido la suerte de trabajar en temas de gestión del bienestar educativo, tanto para estudiantes como para personal de escuelas. Digo suerte porque es fascinante lo mucho que sabemos y lo poco que hacemos sobre este tema. Como si fuera una burbuja dentro del mundo de la educación: todos sabemos que es importante y todos lo buscamos, pero lo mantenemos separado, encapsulado. Normalmente, lo que nos recuerda que es importante es conocer casos donde la burbuja se rompe por algún acto de violencia. El sufrimiento de las niñas, niños y adolescentes es siempre movilizador de empatía. Normalmente, cuando llegamos a esos extremos, la violencia desata desconcierto y cacerías de brujas. Los diferentes actores de las escuelas afectadas por la violencia buscan identificar límites de responsabilidad. Docentes, directores, personal administrativo, padres de familia, juntas directivas y un largo etc. buscan decir quién debió hacer qué. Sabemos también que lo importante es atender a la víctima, al agresor (sí, también los agresores suelen ser víctimas de otras clases de violencia) y buscar restablecer las relaciones rotas por los actos de violencia. Como una membrana delicada, el bienestar se rompe con facilidad y se mantiene con esfuerzo y cuidado. Y está en esto último el espacio e importancia de la gestión del bienestar. El ecosistema del bienestar: clima escolar Una manera de entender cómo funciona el bienestar de la escuela es pensarlo como un ecosistema, donde cada elemento que compone “la escuela” (entendiéndola de la forma más abstracta posible), tiene influencia sobre el funcionamiento del sistema. Así, las paredes, las relaciones entre los profesores, los uniformes, las palabras usadas para dirigirse unos a otros, los materiales, todo tiene un rol en la construcción del clima escolar. De hecho, el clima escolar es un concepto tan complejo que no hay muchos acuerdos sobre sus definiciones. Lo que podemos afirmar es que el clima escolar es lo siguiente: 1) un fenómeno de individuos y grupos “está compuesto de las normas, metas, valores, reglas de comportamiento, relaciones interpersonales, entornos de aprendizaje y estructuras organizacionales dentro de la escuela (Anderson, 1982; Cohen, McCabe, Michelli, & Pickerall, 2009)” (La Salle et al, 2015) 2) un constructo multidimensional “está conformado por una compleja variedad de elementos, que se componen de (a) la calidad de interacciones formales e informales, (b) la estructura física de la edificación escolar, (c) los niveles de confort físico de los individuos y (d) el nivel de seguridad (Freiberg, 1998).” (Thompson, 2016). Por lo tanto, la construcción y mantenimiento de un buen clima escolar depende de la acción de todos los que componen las comunidades que llamamos escuelas. ¿Por qué es tan importante para el bienestar? “La investigación ha mostrado que un clima escolar positivo ha sido asociado con menos problemas conductuales y emocionales en estudiantes (Kuperminc, Leadbeater, & Blatt, 2001), menos delincuencia y victimización de estudiantes (Gottfredson, Gottfredson, Payne, & Gottfredson, 2005), transiciones más suaves y fáciles a nuevas escuelas (Freiberg, 1998), un alto nivel de éxito académico experimentado por los estudiantes (Goddard, Sweetland, & Hoy, 2000; Haynes & Comer, 1993; Haynes, Emmons, & Ben-Avie, 1997; Hoy, Hannum, & Tschannen-Moran, 1998; Hoy & Sabo, 1998; Johnson & Stevens, 2006) y mayor satisfacción laboral de parte del personal (Taylor & Tashakkori, 1995)”. (Miura, 2010). En ese sentido, un buen clima escolar está asociado a un ambiente libre de violencia y en donde, de aparecer la violencia, es posible manejarla de forma positiva: “El modelo bioecológico (Bronfenbrenner, 2005) provee una estructura para comprender cómo la conducta de los individuos es influenciada por el ambiente y, al mismo tiempo, el ambiente por la conducta (Bronfenbrenner, 1979), lo cual es esencial al momento en que las escuelas consideran programas de prevención e intervención (especialmente cuando están ligados a violencia escolar).” (Booren et al, 2011). Liderazgo y bienestar ¿Cómo entonces influir en una realidad tan compleja como el clima escolar? Pues son los directores y líderes escolares los que pueden tener mayor impacto en la mayor cantidad de variables. En ese sentido, es importante considerar que a nivel organizacional, las instituciones educativas carecen de personal especializado para lidiar con los recursos humanos y otras variables del clima. Sin embargo, en la práctica, son los directivos y líderes quienes, queriendo o no, cumplen este rol: “La conducta de un director de escuela tiene un efecto directo en el clima escolar y en la eficacia de la escuela (Marzano, Waters, & McNulty, 2005); por ello, la manera en la que los directores interactúan con el personal y se comportan en relación al clima escolar es muy significativa” (Thompson, 2016). Si se quiere generar impacto positivo en el clima escolar, es la gestión de la escuela la que tiene un rol central. Cuando hablamos de entornos seguros y libres de violencia, hablamos de una gestión del bienestar orientada a influir en todas las variables que pueden causar una disrupción de la convivencia. Fuentes revisadas: Booren, L., et al. (2011). Examining Perceptions of School Safety Strategies, School Climate, and Violence. Youth Violence and Juvenile Justice 9(2) 171-187. La Salle, T. P., et al. (2015). A Cultural-Ecological Model of School Climate. International Journal of School & Educational Psychology, 3(3), 157-166, DOI: 10.1080/21683603.2015.1047550 Miura, T. C. (2010). School climate: Development of a comprehensive definition. Thesis submitted as a partial fulfilment of the M.A. program in Educational Counselling. University of Ottawa. Thompson, T. (2016). Principal behavior and teacher perceptions: Cultivating a positive school climate. Dissertation In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Doctor of Education, Widener University. (Todas las citas utilizadas fueron traducidas por mí del idioma original de la fuente.)
Teaching Geography 12 A new school year has started! This year I have moved out of English Language teaching to focus on English and Social Studies subjects. This has also put me in the position of teaching Geography for the first time. Geography can be a dry subject. It also involves skills that I would not consider myself strong in: reading a map, graphing, calculations… However, by using guided inquiry to look at Geography through real world case studies, we can make the subject relevant and more interesting for our students (and ourselves). Historical Thinking and Inquiry In Social Studies and History classes, we can use the historical thinking process to evaluate and engage with sources: Establish historical significance Use primary source evidence Identify continuity and change Analyze cause and consequence Take historical perspectives, and Understand the ethical dimension of historical interpretations. Geographic Thinking and Inquiry This is a process I am familiar with. In a Geography classroom, we can adapt this process for analyzing case studies related to human geography (this list is adapted from Thielmann’s Web River a great web resource for Humanities teachers). Establish geographic significance Use a variety of data including primary source evidence Identify patterns, continuity and change Analyze cause and consequence Understand interactions and associations Take geographic perspectives Consider the ethical dimensions of geographic problems (or historical interpretations) and resulting value judgements Revisiting the Trans Mountain Expansion Project The lesson I taught this last week involved studying the Trans-Mountain pipeline project. This allowed students to engage with a real world, current issue in human geography. The questions we came up with using this framework included: What is the importance of the area where the construction is taking place? For Indigenous groups? For resource development? For people that live on this land? For people that live near the water? For the ecosystem? What data is useful to decide the merits/drawbacks of the pipeline? Who could you interview? What kind of information do you need? Has this happened before? What were concerns about this type of project in the past? Has anything changed in perceptions of resource development projects in Canada? What caused the conflict over construction? What are the potential consequences of not building the pipeline? What are the potential consequences of building the pipeline? What are the human-environment interactions ? What is the human connection to physical problems? What are the physical connections to human problems? What are the different perspectives towards this issues? How does the significance of this issue shift when seen through the eyes of others? What are the value judgments made about this problem? Is there anything that should be done about it differently ? What are the options moving forward? I wrote a post months ago about facilitating a debate about the pipeline expansion project. If I were to try that lesson again, this guided inquiry process would be useful. Why Teach Inquiry? Several months after conducting a class debate about the expansion project, the federal government has purchased the pipeline, the courts have ordered further consultations, another orca has died in the Salish Sea, protests and arrests continue at the Burnaby site, as well as animosity between provincial governments. By teaching inquiry teachers can give students the tools to figure out where they fit into the world and how they want to respond, which these days seems like the most important skill we can teach.