• Michelle Fleming

End of 2019-2020 school year reflection

Updated: May 25, 2020

My experience this year student-teaching and taking classes through the Teacher Apprenticeship Program has been an incredible opportunity for growth and challenge. I am proud of the hard work I have put in to becoming a culturally responsive, antiracist, supportive educator. I have learned many tools to provide access, challenge, and choice to all students through Universal Design for Learning and English Language Development strategies. I have come a long way and am excited to continue this journey of self-discovery and supporting students for many years to come.

One teaching superpower I definitely have is patience. Through years of teaching art and yoga to young people and from being a mother, I have developed an ability to breathe deeply and react with firm kindness in any situation. Students and fellow educators are constantly commenting on how patient I am in even the most stressful of times. My patience comes from my deep love of teaching and my firm belief that all humans deserve respect, kindness, and opportunities to succeed.

An area for growth that I am actively working on is improving my ability to communicate in Spanish. I live in an area in which much of the population speaks Spanish. I want to be able to communicate with my students and their parents or guardians in a way that is comfortable for them. It is important to me to have better Spanish speaking and listening skills so that I can communicate with more members of our community. Every day I spend at least 30 minutes practicing my Spanish language skills and I hope to be able to take more intensive Spanish language courses over the summer.

Another area for growth in my role as an educator is to find a variety of ways to be more of a part of the students' communities. This year I attended a couple of the sporting events my students were involved in. It brought me great joy to be able to cheer them on and it brought them great joy to see me supporting them outside of class. By being more active in their community outside of school I hope to develop deeper bonds with them and show them I truly care about who they are and where they come from.

At every step of my education this year, I have been engaging with the question "what does it mean to me to be an antiracist educator." Through many courses, readings, and discussions I have developed the opinion that being an antiracist educator means working to disrupt patterns of oppression and racism by using culturally responsive teaching strategies. These strategies include getting rid of Euro-centric curriculum, exploring the history and contemporary information about our students' cultures, incorporating first-hand accounts of people of color whenever possible, and researching ways in which racism has pervaded mainstream society for centuries and what power we have to disrupt that pattern.

An essential question I have about my role as an educator next year is how might I engage students in learning about the history of their and other communities in order to encourage them to actively contribute to their community in positive ways? I hope to do this through lessons that are inclusive, collaborative, culturally-responsive, and create authentic work. I know that whatever the next year holds for me, I will be able to approach it with enthusiasm, hope, joy, and a sense of humor.

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