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INSPIRING EDUCATION | oise.utoronto.ca
Act I Scene I

Teacher Classroom Experience: Naomi Savage

 

KG= Kathleen Gallagher

NS = Naomi Savage

 

KG: You take on board personal and cultural narratives that are, that are unique to the people in front of you, that are pressing to them and you make them a part of the fabric of what everyone is caring about in your class and I guess I want to ask you all kind of questions about that. What compels you to do it? What benefits do you think it brings? What limitations does it necessary create? All those questions to do with a strong teacher choice that you have to make all the time, which is to foreground their lives, not in pedantic and predictable ways. You manage to have a dialogue with them that makes them see their lives as rich fodder for experimentation.

NS: For me it’s partially a personal need that I have for connection and community and for something to happen and for it to feel like a moment and for it not to just feel like part of the daily grind and slog that life can feel like- that we can create these moments that can feel compelling and exciting. To do that you have to build ways that you can do that in your classroom, and it takes a certain amount of nudging and vulnerability on the tea- on your part to be in that position. If you’re asking them to constantly show their work and constantly share their work, then you have to do that, too. That and there are classes that- in the class that you saw it did happen but it also didn’t happen, too in lots of ways. And that’s fine- the work is flawed. It’s never perfect. And that’s what makes it dynamic. That’s what makes it interesting you know. And so, but to create that, to make that happen you need to have certain things in place, like physically coming together in a circle is important and that happens in drama. And even that act in itself gets us back to that idea of storytelling and sort of an earlier time where people met in circles around the fire, let’s say, or some mythical idea that we have about that. You know, you have to create an environment of sharing and not judging each other’s work. I think that students are so used to having their writing judged and evaluated that that become- that they become inhibited, you know, that they freeze up when they have to write. There’s not a free flow of you know what’s in the head and the power that a student has- feels when they write something- and it can be so-  andI think some of the most simple pieces of are the most beautiful that students have written, right? That makes everyone go “ah!” you know and they feel that in--

KG: --they feel the reaction

NS: --they feel the reaction not just of the teacher but of- and it’s that immediate, it’s the immediacy and they think, “oh, I want to write more, because I want more of that. I want that reaction. “And the reaction is genuine.

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