Deleting the “Dis” in Disabled

I will be the first to admit, at the beginning of this class I was the first person to question why we had to talk about Aboriginal people. I always thought they were just choosing to be the way they are and if they only worked harder, they could get to wherever they want to be in life. Although my views of minorities have absolutely changed, exceptionalities (or disabilities) were always different for me. My grandma had struggled with dementia, my grandpa has no leg and no ability to move his arm, and my sister has a brain injury. I guess because disabilities were present in my family, I always advocated for them no matter what others thought.

I think troubling the norms of disability means giving people with disabilities a voice. People with disabilities don’t want to be treated as babies, they want to be treated as humans and given the ability to live as humans. Disabilities should not be a binary, a wheel chair or personal aid does not mean you are incapable. It simply means you need more help to live your life and you can be totally capable. However, as Eli Clare states in “Stolen Bodies, Reclaimed Bodies: Disability and Queerness”, people with disabilities are automatically looked down upon and are often not given the chance to get a real career or a “normal” life. They often encounter “high unemployment rates, lack of access, gawking, substandard education, being forced to live in nursing homes and back rooms, being seen as childlike and asexual- that needs changing”.

I do not think the term “disability” properly suits these people with exceptionalities. I have thought about exceptionalities in this way for a while and I think the idea in “Becoming dishuman: thinking about the human through sis/ability”, emphasizes the fact that we need to think of disabilities differently. Like I said previously, it should not be a binary. They are totally capable just not in every aspect. I think Clare’s article emphasizes the importance that we need to embrace people with exceptionalities as “irrevocable different” instead of “wrong, broken, in need of repair, unacceptably queer”. My sister was constantly told to be like the other kids; hand things in on time, sit in class for an hour, be socially acceptable. This was never within arms reach for her as she had no ability to make it happen with her brain injury. I think what Clair is really saying is we need to embrace difference.

Fall 2016 Placement

img_1091

This fall I had the opportunity of observing the Grade 1/2 and Grade 5/6  classes at Sedley Community School. The following is one of my class blog posts I wrote following a morning working with these great kids and teachers.

Week three was a little bit of a different outlook for me. Today I worked with a Grade 1/2 class instead of my regular Grade 5/6 class. It was intriguing to see the similarities and differences between my personal Pre-School classroom, the Grade 1/2 class and the Grade 5/6 class. All the learners have their own unique differences but they also have multiple similarities in behaviour and learning strategies.

I will use a combination of both teachers to guide my blog response this week as I feel they both offer very valuable yet very different teaching techniques. Both teachers offer a variety of learning forums. At some points throughout the morning they both use traditional teaching techniques where the students sit at their desks with a piece of paper and a pencil taking notes. However, they both have integrated technology throughout their lessons, they use visual aids, they do many hands-on activities, and they encourage self-led learning. I believe they integrate as many learning styles as possible so that they kids get the best out of their time at school. The grade 5/6 classroom has a high number of students with exceptionalities so it is super important to do so especially in this class.

The teachers promote knowledge in the classroom by asking the kids to teach each other in the classroom. Today the Grade 2’s had to read to the Grade 1’s which I think helps the little ones become more attentive listeners and the bigger kids to become stronger readers. The teachers also acknowledge kids who are listening and being respectful so the other kids follow suit.

The Grade 1/2 teacher has been in her field for over 30 years so she has tons of knowledge on what works and what doesn’t but she has veered away from using much technology in her classroom because I think it’s something she’s not completely comfortable with. Her supports would really just be having the preparation done so that she has enough work for the kids to do throughout the day. There are no kids with exceptionalities in her classroom so she does not have an educational assistant.

The Grade 5/6 teacher has only been teaching for a few years so she uses a ton of technology in her classroom. This can almost be a hinderance at times when it doesn’t work the way she wants it to. She records a lesson for one of her grades so that she can teach two math topics at once. Last week her video did not work so the kids had barely any time to work on their assignments when she was finally finished teaching both lessons after trying to get the video to work for so long. This classroom does have a high number of kids with exceptionalities but this teacher is awesome at integrating the kids into every class activity so whether or not the educational assistant is there it does’t really matter.

The Grade 5/6 teacher is excellent at enhancing her professional knowledge specifically for the technology sections. She is not afraid to fully integrate technology in her classroom and she has spent a tremendous amount of time creating these activities. Both of the teachers also attend professional development days whenever they can, and continue to read and assert themselves into any learning opportunity that comes about.

Becoming a Teacher

I always knew my dream of becoming a teacher would one day become a reality. When I was a little kid, I would sit my sister at the small wooden desk we owned and teach her “lessons” about the school subjects, boys and the real world (I was three)! That passion continued through my childhood as I would ask my teachers if I could teach lessons on a regular basis and I joined any extra-curricular leadership group I could. When I graduated high school six years ago, I had an opportunity to become a Finance Manager. I loved the money, but that was it. I attempted to go to college while pursuing that career full time right out of high school but evidently made the decision to drop out of school as I knew I would never make as much money as a Teacher as I would as a Finance Manager. The dream of becoming a teacher was on my mind nearly every day ever since I dropped out of school. Life led us down a different path instead, however, as my husband (fiancé at the time) and I bought our first home shortly after and we both had to work full time to maintain our bills and our lifestyle.

Finally, in September of last year, I decided that no matter how many hours I had worked to try and enjoy my occupation I was still missing something. I had the drive to become a teacher, and that was still at the forefront of every decision I made. My husband (still fiancé at the time) and I had many late night conversations about how to make it work. We still had the same bills, we were planning our wedding, and the economy was in the toilet (he worked in the Oil Field). We finally made the decision that we would make it work, and I started the journey of pursuing my teacher career while still working as a Finance Manager. This time was different though. I knew this was my dream and no matter how many late nights and early mornings I had, I was going to make it work, and I had the support of my husband to help me through.

I remember having a few teachers throughout my High School years that I admired. They were funny but yet completely respected in and out of the classroom. They cared about their students and went above and beyond to make sure everyone succeeded. They created an environment where students could talk to them about anything and felt safe doing so. This is the kind of teacher I want to be. I want students to think about me long after they have graduated and thank me for teaching them life lessons that they will always remember. I want students to know that I will be there for them no matter what they need. I want students to respect me in and out of the classroom.

I believe I am a teacher 24/7. I think you have to be if you want students to respect you in and out of the classroom. You have to respect your fellow teachers and their ways of teaching. You have to build trust within your education community and also your local community. In my opinion, you should present yourself as a reliable and dependable individual in the community by helping where needed in community events. I think you should still have a life, but there is no need to be wasted on Saturday nights. If you decide to have a night out have a few drinks, but maintain a professional demeanour while out in public. I think being a teacher 24/7 simply means you need to maintain a lifestyle in every public forum that is professional, and you also need to be respectful of others opinions and beliefs in and out of the classroom.

The Implications of Bullying

Abstract
In this paper, I have summarized three peer-reviews articles. Each article emphasizes the short term and long term implications of bullying. The first article “Risk Factors for Involvement in Cyber Bullying: Victims, Bullies, Bully Victims” discusses the overwhelming introduction of cyber-bullying in today’s society. The second article, “Approach to Bullying and Victimization” reveals the importance of medical professionals in preventing and managing the well being of victims and bullies. The last article, “Tackle Bullying- Canadian Bullying Statistics” addresses the statistics regarding kids being bullied in today’s school system and how it can progress into adulthood and the work place if not addressed properly. My experiences and opinions follow each summary and my essay is concluded with an overview of how each article coincides with one another.

In this essay, I will discuss the prevalence of bullying in our schools and the many consequences that surface as a result of the bullying. Although there are many other critical issues in our school system today, this is one that I was involved in both as a victim, and as a bully throughout my middle school and high school careers specifically. Bullying is happening today through online forums more than ever before, and I believe the physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms can change your life indefinitely.

The article “Risk Factors for Involvement in Cyber Bullying: Victims, Bullies, Bully Victims” by Faye Mishna (2012) talks about the prevalence of cyber-bullying today. Cyber bullying is defined as “the use of cell phones, instant messaging, email, chat rooms, or social networking site to harass threaten or intimidate someone” (Mishna. 2012). In the past, at least victims could purely avoid school or public places where they might be bullied. Although this would be more socially damaging to them than facing the bully in many cases, the victim still had a chance to get away. With the overwhelming presence of technology in our society today, most victims simply cannot get away from being attacked. It happens at school, at the mall, at their supper table, in their bedroom, in the bathroom; wherever they have their phone or iPad, there is a possibility of them being attacked.

This article was created after an initial study utilized a self-report survey in a diverse group of 2186 middle and high school students in Toronto to examine the relationship between cyber-bullying and independent variables such as gender, age, parental involvement, and technology use. It was reported that “over 30% of students identified as involved in cyber bullying, as victims, or perpetrators” (Mishna.2012). An analysis of the data concluded that the amount of hours per day students use the computer and the willingness to share passwords were both risk factors in the likelihood of being bullied. It was also reported that more females than males self-reported as being bully-victims. This group of bully-victims emerged as the most common group compared to previous studies where this group was the smallest and most vulnerable.

It frightens me to think that bully-victims were the largest group in this survey. The victims know exactly what it feels like to be bullied, so the fact that they are taking it out on other students and becoming the bully is a vicious circle that is going to be nearly impossible to escape. In my personal experience though I do remember the kids that would bully the most aggressive were usually the ones that were also picked on in the first place. I cannot fathom how these victims function on a day-to-day basis when they simply cannot escape this type of bullying. When I was a kid, we were always told to walk away from the situation if you do not want to be in it. These victims cannot walk away from school and Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram and their text-messages. Even if they try, with social media being so public, a victim would always be unsettled waiting for a public attack on any of these forums.

The article “Approach to Bullying and Victimization” by Jennifer Lamb (2009) emphasizes the fact that “involvement in bullying is a destructive relationship problem, with important health implications” (Lamb, 2009). Medical professionals play a large part in the intervention and management of both victim and bully roles. The article outlines two medical cases where clients presented their physicians with medical or psychological problems, and as more information was divulged, both were sought to be victims of bullying.

The article presents a set of steps to manage bullying scenarios in our schools. In order for this to be successful, this must be a multi-disciplinary approach that involves parents, teachers, school officials, physicians, and mental health professionals. The first step is to look for symptoms. There are physical symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches, psychosomatic problems such as difficulty sleeping, and psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and poor school functioning. The affects of bullying can also have prolonged health problems such as behavioral problems and drug and alcohol abuse. The second step is to know when kids are being bullied. Authorities need to ask questions regarding where bullying is taking place, how often, what period of time it has been happening for, and where it happens. Finally, after bullying has been recognized, all authorities figures need to work together to manage the scenario. Immediate intervention is needed to stop the bullying, and long term strategies need to be asserted. These long-term goals might consist of counseling both the victim and the bully about developing a sense of empathy, assertiveness, stopping the aggressive behavior, and exploring relationship solutions.

I believe overall, physicians play a large role in prevention and management of bullying in our school system today. In my experience, most kids will not say they are being bullied, as they fear it will only get worse. For instance, I made excuses for the bruises that appeared on my body and my unusual sleeping and eating patterns. This is where I needed a medical professional to intervene and enlighten my parents to the fact that there was more going on at school than I was willing to share. I believe this is a prevalent matter in our society that happens more often than we want to believe.

The third piece of literature I chose to examine was “Tackle Bullying- Canadian Bullying Statistics” by M.Molcho (2009). This outlined statistics based on a number of different categories. Over one-third of adolescent students in Canada reported being bullied and over 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis. This is an alarming fact that bullying not only continues, but increases as these adolescents move into adulthood and real-life work places. It also stated that 73% of cyber-bullying victims had reported that the most common form of attack involved receiving threatening or aggressive email or instant messages.
As previously stated, cyber-bullying is an evolving problem in our society and I believe it is simply going to get worse. Although I did not have access to many social media forums when I was in school, I did have a cell phone, and at some points throughout my middle and high school career, I was bullied through text-messages. These were hard to acknowledge because I had my phone with me no matter where I was, as I am sure most kids do, so they could get to me at any point. I would try and just ignore what they were saying, but either way, I had read the text so it resonated with me no matter what I was doing.
In all three texts, the prevalence of bullying is evident in today’s society through many different forums. Cyber-bullying is becoming more common than it has at any other point in time. This can affect all aspects of life, as the victims simply cannot get away from their attackers. As previously stated, in my personal experience I am glad that this was not as prevalent as it is in today’s society. Kids have some piece of technology near them at almost every point of the day so this is a type of bullying they simply cannot escape from.
Bullying, especially cyber-bullying can affect kids in a multitude of ways that can carry on with them through adulthood. Although these are serious, if caught early enough they can be prevented. It is important for this to be a multi-disciplinary approach when intervening in a bully-victim scenario, as there may be more than one reason this is happening. Teachers, parents, and medical professionals can help to prevent and manage these scenarios by watching for symptoms such as withdrawal from activities, bruises, a sad or angry demeanor, and any unusual characteristics of the child. Bullying can have life-long consequences if it is prolonged for any period of time.

References
Lamb, J. (2009). Approach to Bullying and Victimization. Official Publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada 55(4):356-360. Retrieved October 15, 2016, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2669002/

Mishna, F. (2012). Risk Factors for Involvement in Cyber Bullying: Victims, Bullies, and Bully-Victims. Children and Youth Services Volume 34, Issue 1. Retrieved October 15,2016 from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740911003343

Molcho, M. (2009). Tackle Bullying. Canadian Bullying Statistic. Retrieved October 16,2016 from http://www.cihr-irsc.gc.ca/e/45838.html

Self In Relation: Are We Still Gendered?

Gender binaries have been engrained in us from a very young age. At birth we are given pink or blue toques and blankets, which immediately suggests that we must choose one or the other. As stated in “Girls Are Pink, Boys are Blue: On Toddlers and Gender Roles”, our parents influence us as toddlers to act either masculine of feminine. Sometimes without even realizing it, they are giving us the idea that boys must be strong and aggressive and girls must be dainty and caring. The article suggests “it’s the social conditioning they receive that makes them pick up and internalize gender roles”, otherwise known as a gender schema. In my opinion, the common normative is that women still belong in the kitchen as well-kept, innocent beings, and men should be the breadwinners. Although this normative is slightly adjusting to a more gender-neutral society where women have an option to work or stay at home with the children, we are still a very gender-biased society.

I think my parents were pretty neutral in raising me as I had two older brothers and they constantly made me believe that I could do just as much as they could. Even though my parents were pretty neutral, other aspects of my childhood such as teachers, coaches, peers and media altered my views on gender. In my blog post, I talk about my life now and how I have a very traditional view of gender. I am a woman, a teacher, and a farmer but I am also a wife, a cook, and a cleaner. In my blog post, trying on my wedding dress made me realize that I love being a woman, and the appearance of a woman is what partially defines that. Along the same lines of my blog post, Jennfer’s blog suggests that in order to be seen as a girl, she was always seen wearing a skirt or a dress, wearing pink, with hair done, and showing the attitudes such as a fake cry, puppy eyes, or a innocent smile. In my opinion, this mimics gender stereotypes exactly as it suggests girls must always look perfect and be innocent. She expresses that she still has these characteristics by exclaiming “I still get excited when I get new dresses. I’m like a little kid in a candy shop! Or am just the stereotypical girl”. I think this is an idea that is presented to us again and again when society in general emphasizes the idea by their comments, views, and actions of how a girl should look.

Another post by Brie suggests women must dress in a certain way to be seen as powerful. We must wear the proper clothing, do our hair and makeup, and spend way to much time getting ready in the morning in order to be taken seriously in the workplace. Brie even questions why she has to spend two extra hours getting ready in the morning and states “I understand we want our teachers to look professional, what does them being all dolled up have to do with how well they can teach?” Which is totally true, how does that have anything to do with how we can teach?

Although the above blogs denote gender as having distinct binaries, this post portrays an opposite opinion in that men and women should have equal rights and responsibilities in the house and that by helping your other half in the home with “their” jobs, you are not defining you gender by doing a sink of dishes. It is important for both members of the household to contribute in order to have a healthy relationship and show respect to one another.

As you can see, these blogs show completely different ideas. In my personal blog as well as the first two blogs mentioned, we see girls and woman being identified with how they look and the innocence that they should possess. In my blog I personally talk about how even though my husband and I are equals in our relationship, him and I have very different roles within out household. However in the last blog, this student think that men should never be degraded to less than men, and men should help with the “woman’s jobs” of the household.

I think it is interesting that lots of people from rural areas, myself included, say they are from traditional, old-fashioned communities so therefore have to maintain the gender binary. In this reading by Laura Budd, although talking about inclusion of transgenders in small communities, I think the same idea applies to gender roles in the home. She states that although some people had negative opinions and were not afraid to voice them, most were accepting. I think if people reevaluated how they actually think about gender roles and the impacts their community and society has on their ideas, people might be more open to varying gender roles.

Blog Response 4: The Moment I’ve Always Dreamed Of.

It’s a moment I’ve dreamed about since I was a little girl. The sales associate walks into my dressing room with a handful of beautiful, glistening, white dresses.  Emotions are consuming me as I step into the first dress. Tears are starting to roll down my cheeks as I think about what this means. I will soon be a wife. A farm wife who will drive the combine until wee hours of the morning and check on the cows in the middle of the night. A wife who will make suppers for the men in the field and tidy the house when it’s dirty.

These are happy tears. I can’t help but stare at myself in awe of the dress. It’s beautiful. It’s everything I could have possibly asked for and more. I can hear my mom and soon to be mother-in-law laughing in the waiting area as they wait for me to come out. I open the dressing room door and silence falls as I take my first step towards the seating area. They both start to cry as I step up on the pedestal. The lace is so delicate and every single sparkle on the belt glistens in the light.

The sales associate looks at me, searching for approval, and as I give her the nod as if to say this is the one, she heads over with the bell. “Make a wish” she says. As I start to shake the bell I become the happiest I’ve ever been. My life is about to change but in the best way possible. My new role as a wife is one I’ve been waiting for since I met this man and it will soon be here. wedding2