DB 631 Replies James Peer 1 Teacher

DB 631 Replies



James Peer 1

Teacher credentials and beliefs, classroom environment and curriculum, general school policies and culture, and district policies and characteristics can all be areas of school context that interfere or enhance the student experience. Eccles and Roeser (2011) identify three levels of contexts similar to the ones above but within each one, there are a multitude of factors that can impact an individual’s enjoyment of school. For example, they group teacher attitudes, types of assignments, and classroom environment all at one level even though district policies can often interfere with more localized practices. One such district-controlled policy that has been publicized over the last few years is related to how history and controversial issues can be discussed in the classroom. This is not the first time local authorities have tried to control content and curriculum in the classroom. I recall experiencing similar conflict in my own schooling experience when a push to label evolution as a theory and recognize Creationism led to much debate in my school district. Even as a high schooler, I did not understand what all the fuss was about because I was raised to question things and be a wise consumer of information. I had particular points of view back then that I do not hold now, but even then, I believed that  learning about multiple perspectives was important in order to sharpen your own beliefs. 

Now as a teacher, I am faced with similar controversy related to what can and cannot be said. My experience in high school directly relates to my own teaching style today. I had teachers that expressed very slanted views politically and I remember being turned off by their certainty. I am careful now to not reveal personal perspectives on a variety of political and religious topics, however, I also am able to look back and appreciate that I was able to hear some of those different perspectives from my teachers. Ideally, they would have presented them in a less biased manner and presented both sides at the same time. In the current political climate, it almost seems as if we can’t say anything because it will be taken out of context and turned against you. Current students of mine have begun to notice the climate that exists for teachers and have commented on how they feel like they’re being sold short because authority figures and vocal parents are threatening to whitewash other points of view. Hornbeck and Malin (2023) conducted a deep dive into the different policies and laws that have been passed in the past few years that target the silencing of critical perspectives. They argued that one of the negative impacts includes the further marginalization of minority groups and the loss of key perspectives that further students’ development of critical thinking skills. It is sad to think that the politicization of knowledge that occurred in my time as a high schooler continues into my time as a teacher.

Another aspect of my high school experience that had a positive impact on me was working a part-time job. At first I was only allowed to have a job during the summer so that I could focus on my school work and after school activities. During my senior year, I was able to work close to 30 hours a week at a retail store. This work experience was an excellent way to get real world experience working with people of all ages and having set duties and expectations of me. Though some are forced to take on a job in high school out of necessity, mine was completely optional and allowed me some extra income to enjoy various hobbies, but also helped me step out of my bubble of school and see how the real world operates. I was fortunate enough to have a couple of free periods in my last semester of high school which allowed me to get more hours at work. In some schools, this is not an option and district policies force them to take electives to fill their schedule despite having enough credits for graduation. I wish there were more work-study options in all districts so that local businesses and student workers could benefit from a reciprocal relationship. 

From a Biblical perspective, working a job during high school allowed me to be tested in other populations in both my personal faith but also in how I viewed going to work. Multiple passages in the Bible speak to the importance of finding contentment or joy in the toil of our daily work (
English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Philippians 2:14-16; Colossians 3:23-24). Being disciplined in keeping a work schedule led to plenty of days where I had to challenge myself to find joy and continue to be a light to others. This challenge has continued into my teaching experience. I continue to remind myself on those days that I am extremely blessed to be doing what I’m doing and that the smallest kind act toward a student can lead to a changed life. 

 

Discussion Question: Evaluate your high school experience in terms of teachers. Do you remember more about the class and the content they taught or about how they made an impact on you through social interaction?

 

References 

Eccles, J. S., & Roeser, R. W. (2011). Schools as developmental contexts during adolescence. 
Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21(1), 225-241. 

to an external site.
 

Hornbeck, D., & Malin, J. R. (2023). Demobilizing knowledge in American schools: Censoring critical perspectives. 
Humanities & Social Sciences Communications, 10(1), 642-13. 

to an external site.
 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. (2001). Crossway Bibles.



Kammi Peer 2

One level Eccles and Rover (2011) discussed that relates to my personal experience in school is level one which is teachers tasks and classroom environments. I think that teachers can have a huge influence on students academically and personally. I can remember when I was in the 6th grade, I had a literature teacher that was very difficult. Her classroom environment, the way she talked to her students, and the course work that she chose for us was significantly hard. In class, I can remember that she was constantly yelling at us for not understanding the hard coursework she would teach. In addition to this, she would constantly tell us that we would not make it in life because we were not motivated and dumb. This made her classroom environment very hostile and our relationship with her very strained. Eccles and Rover (2009) demonstrated that classrooms that have a more positive and motivational environment, have students that are motivated, have better classroom engagement, and well-being. Which means that we had a hard time staying engaged while she taught and lost motivation because her classroom environment and teaching methods were not motivational and positive. Furthermore, Rusticus et al. (2023) discusses that a positive learning environment can motivate students in the classroom as well as having a positive relationship with the teacher.  

After finishing with the class, I constantly doubted myself academically. I always had this feeling that I was always doing my work incorrectly. I never felt confident in any of my academics after this class. I can remember being in the 8th grade I had severe anxiety about my work. I would constantly study for hours and burn myself out to ensure that I was making the best grades that I could. I had this fear that if I did not do good academically, I would not have a successful and bright future.

While being an adolescent, I worked at a local library where I worked 20 hours a week. Some of the job duties that I had was to make copies, participate in children’s programs, scan documents and so much more. The job was not demanding at all, while at work I was able to do a lot of my homework and get a significant amount of studying done. This job helped me stay engaged in my academic journey because I was able to use many of the library resources to help with my academic work. This job helped me do really well with my academics which motivated me to want to continuously do my homework and stay engaged with my academics. 

A bible verse that can apply to my school environment is Joshua 1:9 which states “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (New International Version, n.d.). This verse applies to my school environment because though I struggled with my academics after my 6th grade literature teacher, I was still motivated and courageous to still continue with my studies to ensure that I was going to do better.

How did your experience as an adolescent worker affect your adulthood? 

Reference

Eccles, J.S. and Roeser, R.W. (2011), Schools as Developmental Contexts During Adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 21: 225-241. 

to an external site.

 

Rusticus, S. A., Pashootan, T., & Mah, A. (2023). What are the key elements of a positive learning environment? Perspectives from students and faculty. Learning environments research, 26(1), 161–175.

 

The New International Version (NIV) Bible – read online. biblestudytools.com. (n.d.).

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