bell hook's Teaching to Transgress continues to have an emotional and intellectual impact on my thinking and my teaching practice. In 2017, I used my first assignment in Professor Bialystok's Introduction to Philosophy of Education course to confront this new learning in a creative and critical way. I interviewed myself, following a format used by bell hooks in their transformative book. I hope you enjoy reading the interview as much as my two selves, Christina and Ms. Kompson, enjoyed writing it.
Metacognition is a curricular requirement. Asking students to journal or reflect helps build their metacognitive skills in regards to their strengths, needs, and productive learning strategies. Teachers often use the same plan (or, at least, the same structure, or the same resource) for different classes of students. This allows them to efficiently plan or use resources, and also allows them to reflect on the changes needed based on that teacher's self-evaluation.
Even when the lessons are not the same, it is important to continue some form of reflection. The small interactions, the simple questions, and the reflective observations should be covered in a student's journal. We are aware of each and every cell in our physical body when we are mindful, and we learn to understand our energy and emotions through observation. Similarly, when we are practicing a mindful moment in class, we can become aware of the energy of each student, and pinpoint areas of need to address in the moment. We can circulate groups and guide multiple discussions, using simple and scaffolded questions to elicit deeper thinking from our students.
I see the signs of distraction and confusion too often: puzzled faces; quick fingers brushed over a phone screen; poorly-executed whispers. The student indifference can be palpable for me, and I use strategies found throughout this portfolio to get students re-engaged with the curriculum. Critical thinking is not assigning fault to others (Brian Hull, 2012), but it's asking questions about the faults found in our world. All the young people sitting in our classrooms should feel their work matters. They should feel empowered by our lessons, and they should have the knowledge and skills to meaningfully contribute to the positive development of our societies.
For me, sharing knowledge and experiences I have, and bringing open-mindedness into a space, is the fun part of group participation. Members of the group offer stories that are important in their lives, and when we feel those around us understand our values and our histories we are more open to a deeper form of participation. Iterative reflection is a method for shaping the nature of that deeper participation. Woven into a classroom routine, iterative reflection gives students the trust and the tools to ask, answer, and adapt their own unique and creative questions.