My Personal Learning Network



My personal learning network is not a new concept to me. Throughout the course of this class, I found myself communicating with more people, and discussing more critically the subject of social justice. It is amazing how many teaching resources are out in the world. Resources such as blogging, the CBC digital archives for teachers, Facebook, YouTube for teachers; the list goes on and on. I think one of my favorite sites to visit is Pinterest. Of all my Pinterest boards, the board with the most pins is a toss up between my recipes page, and my classroom page. In fact, I was looking at my Pinterest the other day and thought I should really take time to organize all of the teaching tools and educational ideas I have collected, and separate them into a less confusing filing system.

Talking, I would say, is the learning style of which I benefit the most. I find I learn more efficiently when I am given the opportunity to engage in discussion or give comments. While I am the type of person who has many of her own thoughts, opinions, and ideas; and is very grounded in how I think, I still enjoy hearing the perspectives of other people, whether they agree with me or not. To me talking with someone face to face has a lot more meaning behind it. I love bouncing ideas off of others, and getting their feedback. I am intrigued when certain social justice topics are mentioned because they bring up different points of view and allow me to see a plethora of possibilities for, and approaches to social justice. The discussions and even debates help me to better absorb and reflect on the material of the class.

Oh, Twitter. While Twitter was supposed to be a useful social media tool for class participation, as was blogging, I found myself not that in to it. I don’t think I will ever be a Twitter user, but never say never. I do not despise the use of Twitter, I just feel that for my own personal growth and development, it is a waste of time and an ineffective method to learning, therefore I doubt I will ever find myself keen on the hash tag system. I think when people use it properly it can be a great tool, but I also personally feel that it is just another way for people to complain about something or compliment other people, rather than tastefully address ongoing issues. In a world of technology, Twitter is a popular social media, and that is great if people find it a good communication tool, but I personally do not have an interest in reading forty tweets that all say the same thing, nor do I care to occupy my time with tweets that do no serve a productive purpose. I barely have time to critically think about my own thoughts verses reading about everyone else’s opinions on how well someone did at something. Say something critical, helpful or thought provoking. I am not saying that complaining and complimenting is the sole use of Twitter, but I am saying, the way in which it was used for the course was not helpful for me and so when I feel that I actually need to be apart of this social media, that it can and does serve a constructive academic purpose, I will be a part of it.

Hmm, blog posts. Well, I definitely think I could have participated more in blogging then I did. I am still proud of myself for being as engaged as I was. When I consider what a blog is suppose to be about, I think of it as a way to express how a person feels, or things they want to talk about. Blog posts can be on matters of personal reflection, or educational topics like a teachers blog. But when someone tells me that I must write about one particular thing and only that thing, to me it takes the meaning out of blogging. From an educator’s perspective, I understand and appreciate that there are questions of the week to prompt students to engage in their studies, and to ensure they demonstrate that they are thinking about the topics of the course. Blogging is good medium for provoking participation but I thought the questions were overly specific. I might have enjoyed the blogging experience better if the questions were more free and left more open ended. Perhaps there would have been the potential for more interesting conversations as well. When it came to responding to another person’s blog I found that difficult. I can post comments on other people’s blogs but if it is not being reciprocated then I find it hard to continue being motivated with my own commenting. I took time to read other people’s thoughts, and if a question would spark then I would ask it but on my own blog, I only received four comments; one from a classmate, one from my seminar leader, and two from an unknown person.

I have learned that my personal learning network will always grow and change. I have learned to embrace new technological ideas, however, only at my own discretion. Learning can evolve and take place through many different outlets. I would not be realistic if I said that technology could not be in the classroom, however, I do think that when it is being incorporated into the classroom we need to watch how we use it. If I think about my classroom, I do see technology being used to a certain degree, however, I also strongly believe that we can learn without always incorporating technology. More than ever I have come to value how I feel as an individual. My way of thinking is not appreciated by everyone but it does not have to be. I have developed my own personal learning network that fits me, so I can change it, modify it, or keep it the same. That is what is so great about it being my own.


A Closer Look At My Autobiography

Hmm, where to start. As I flip through my assignment I realize I still have some unresolved feelings about questions and comments made on my paper. As I sit and think about the questions that were asked page after page I am still left with confusion. My confusion is based on the fact that I took this assignment to be one in which I could express freely who I am, my life experiences, and the things I feel make me who I am. After writing my autobiography I felt pretty good about the content I had written. As a whole, I thought I summed up just enough of what I wanted to say about my self. So when I received my autobiography back I felt as though my ideas and my thoughts where not good enough based on one person’s remarks. I understand that maybe I should have written or expanded things in a more critical manner, however I feel it is called my autobiography for a reason. The feedback I received questioned why I chose to leave out topics of race, gender, people and sexuality to which I identify my self. Did I purposefully leaves these out? No, I do no believe I did. If certain social justice topics had made a significant impact on me growing up then maybe I would have written different experiences then I did.

How Stories Shape Our Lives: Part 1

1) Teaching in the Undertow: To have beliefs and principles is one thing, but putting them into practice is another. Look at the different perspectives of the situation and evaluate what realities are present in the situation. What do I know and/or what can I do? Remember, you can always do something. I need to keep in mind that my students need to always benefit from my teaching. The knowledge and the experiences I am creating need to be worthwhile for my students. When in amongst the current (the collective norm), never lose sight of your spot on the shore for it will always lead you back to a grounded place.

2) The Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club: Learn to accept who you are, and who other people are. Have an open discussion in the classroom about differences: skin color, culture, and beliefs. Recreate the “Me Pockets” to help expand the idea of similarities and differences between classmates, make this topic a positive experience and not a negative one.

3) Sexist Remarks: In any inappropriate situation the key is to not brush it off. Not addressing the problem doesn’t make it go away. When challenged with a student who comments inappropriately, show the student that it is not ok to speak in a manner that is offensive to others or puts them down as people. It is even more important for them to know that the stereotypical or racial views associated to their remarks are not always acceptable assumptions to make about other people. Stay calm and find common ground when discussing the situation.  Allow the student to fully express their position teaching them to utilize positive and constructive language. You may not completely resolve the issues but the more it gets discussed the more knowledge and awareness the students gain.

4) Framing the Family Tree: When asking students to work on school projects do not make them go into extreme personal detail. This may cause the student to create alienation and feelings of discomfort. Not every student falls into the same category of family; not everyone is a part of a typical family dynamic (mom, dad, brothers, sisters, ect.). Some students come from a blended family, a house of separation, a single parent home, we must make conscious efforts to create activities/projects that allow students from all types of families to be actively involved in the classroom. The best thing to do in a situation where you (the teacher) have made a mistake by assuming normative family constructions for a student is to admit your fault. The students will respect you more for owning up to your mistake.

5) Heather’s Moms got Married: The meaning of family has many definitions and many characteristics. We need to keep the classroom a place of safety, so that we can encourage discussing topics such as having two moms or two dads and address questions regarding family situations that are different from what may be familiar to us.

6) Out Front: Teachers should be encouraged to be open about their sexuality, because it allows students who are struggling with this matter to feel strengthened and have a sense of support. In the school there should be a community set in place to help those students who are struggling with sexuality. This type of alliance would allow students to address topics, issues, ideas, or concerns about sexuality, and help students to know that they are not alone in their search for identity or in how they identify themselves to others.

7) Curriculum is Everything that Happens: The best thing that I can do is be open with students when I do not know the right answer. Teachers are always learning and growing as individuals and it is ok to not always have the answer to any given question. It is how you address the question, or go about finding the answer that shows the student you can always find the answer if you re willing to look for it. Anything and everything that goes on in your classroom is curriculum.

8) Working Effectively with English Language Learners: Students who are not fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English are becoming more and more common in classrooms. Since many school districts do not have the available staff to accommodate each and every student struggling with the English language it is hard to assist them with all of their academic needs. Do your best to include visual aids, games, songs, and oral speaking between classmates. Use as many resources as available to you to help assist the students with their needs.

9) Teaching Controversial Content:  The person in charge of the content presented in the classroom is you. When teaching topics that come with a certain degree of uncertainty (social justice, homosexuality, racism), it can hard to be confident as an educator about how people perceive various social issues. Be confident in your decision to teach a controversial topic. Create a lesson plan and present it to your principle. This allows you to explain and represent the topic and ideas at hand.

10) Unwrapping the Holidays: Each and every individual has their own perspective and idea of what they feel is right. I believe that you can only be a respectful teacher if you can listen and appreciate the thoughts of someone else and at least try to understand where they come from with their opinions. You may or may not believe in what they are saying but if you can be respectful and agree to disagree on common ground, only then have you fully succeeded in showing professionalism. People disagree about all sorts of things, but stepping back from the situation and trying to achieve a compromise is a great start to learning and growing in education. Sometimes people do not always support what you stand up for but make it a slow process, change does not occur overnight.




How Stories Shape Our Lives: Part 2


I decided to present a visual aspect as a way of tying my learning experience within the chapters we read. One of the most important stories that I connected with was the story Teaching in the Undertow. It put into perspective how important it is as an educator to not get pulled away from the foundation that represents you, and if you always have that one stationary point you can always get back to that place. I can see that in the future I will encounter many challenging situations regarding family dynamics, student concerns, classroom projects, and making a stand for the matters I believe in. I hope that in the future I will be able to make my students feel comfortable in their environment, and that as a group we are free to openly talk about issues or topics that concern or interest them. It is my goal to actively support and challenge their views, thoughts, and ways of thinking but also my own. The colored dots on my visual representation  symbolizes the uniqueness of every individual. We are not all the same, we can be similar yet different, we are not perfectly round, and we all have our own story to tell.

A History of Education

Through the educational views and values presented in, A History of Education by F.V.N. Painter, I was shifted in my outlook on the diversity in international education principles. The book was written in 1886 which made it very interesting to read, yet also a bit of a shock to see what other cultures of people held as academically important. For example, in China, the attitude was that, “those in pursuit of a higher education place themselves under the care of a competent teacher”(Pg.13). Hmm… Now, I have to remember that this was written a long time ago but shouldn’t all teachers be able to help you strive for success? Going forward in my educational journey it is my duty and obligation to treat my students with the utmost respect (no matter what background from which they come), and to allow them ample opportunities to both strive for success and be successful.

Kumashiro: Common Sense

In Against Common Sense, Kumashiro explains common sense as “what everyone should know” (xxix). Common sense allows an individual to “help make sense of, and feel at ease with the things that get repeated in our everyday lives” (xxxv). Everyone goes through life being exposed to different experiences. It is through these life experiences that shape and form who we are, creating our own perceptions of what common sense is. It is important to pay attention to common sense because typically it acts as part of your intuition, that little voice inside you that allows you to make quick and decisive decisions. Common sense is knowledge embedded in your brain, things that you no longer need to question.


Teaching to Make a Difference

Welcome to Teaching to Make a Difference! My name is Courtney Horsman and I am currently working towards my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. Teaching has always been something that I have been passionate about. From the time I was a little girl, teaching has been my life’s goal and the focus of my ambitions. It has been my experience that a good teacher needs to be organized, patient, an attentive listener, a problem solver, and most of all creative. The elementary years are a time to keep things fun and exciting, teaching through strategies like singing, puppet shows, and story telling. Each child learns in a different way, that is why it is important to try new things. A good teacher is one that listens and considers what a student has to say and what they have to offer. A good teacher is involved and motivates students to learn, help students overcome obstacles, and challenges them to achieve their full potential. It is important to find different ways to keep students interested in learning, to identify the learning styles of students, creating a positive learning environment, and making the classroom a fun place to be. It is a teacher’s responsibility to create a safe, fun, and exciting environment for the young minds of the future. A teacher is a role model and plays a key role in the development of children. I think that it takes a special type of person to become a teacher. I feel that I am one of these people. Teaching is something that I have wanted to do. I feel in my heart there is a place for me in this occupation and continue to be pulled in this direction, witch is how I know I will be a good teacher. I know that at times I will face challenges; I believe this is essential in growth within the profession. I do not look at this as a job; I look at this as my place to be. Teaching is full of rewards and is an occupation that makes a person grow and learn as an individual. Teaching is a passion; it is a part of who you are. To be a great teacher means being you. It means responding to children we teach with a natural and honest approach, keeping in mind that each individual understands things differently and they all have their own unique skills and qualities.



My Educational Journey


“Those who know, do. Those that understand, teach.” ― Aristotle. I will be a teacher, not just for knowledge but for wisdom. Education is not only about the knowledge children learn in the classroom, it is also about the ways they learn to use that knowledge. I believe teaching is an investment in the lives of children. These are my contributions to education. May you find inspiration, innovation and creativity in my thoughts, my ideas, my reflections and my experiences. Smiles, sunshine and the joys of learning from me to you.

Teachers Changing The World

Making a Difference in Children's Lives