This is the latest in a series of blogs by a partnering cohort teacher.
By MaryLu Hutchins
My first Data and Technology Fluency Project (not a project) blog was written centering on the musical work of Eugene Grove (AKA Euge Groove), jazz artist. The piece I focused on was a melody named “Just Feels Right” and in that thinking I discussed the multiple facets encompassed in this collaboration of a highly diverse group of thinkers from the CREATE Lab, Carnegie Mellon University, and West Liberty University’s Center for Arts and Education. Being a part of an action oriented think tank continues to offer the opportunity to experience amazing moments as we continually question where we are as a society and how schools might best serve our communities, country, and our world. At this moment, I am listening to “The Healing” also by Eugene Grove on saxophone. It is truly poignant. There is certainly an element of full circle thinking based on our current fully uncertain moment in time in the world, in our country, and for each individual. We all need healing on so many levels.
In 2008, I was asked to complete work for the West Virginia Department of Education. “The best teachers teach from the heart” emerged as the theme that connected this 12-page document. It emerged in our co-powered work of the Fluency project as well, though this time the “heart” of our shared work was not limited to teachers. The collaboration was inclusive of K-21+ students, teachers, administrators, outreach team, programmers, and community -wide partners as thought leaders. Our partners influenced cohort thinking in immeasurable depth and breadth therefore their influence as co-thought leaders is a constant.
So now I turn to Zaretta Hammond’s inclusive framework above wherein affective and cognitive learning are designed by drawing on cutting edge neuroscience research. I adopted an open lens (please see attached document, excerpts from eight critical lenses through which readers and view text), and started with hope as a subset of the spiritual lens. According to Hammond, “First we must acknowledge the realities of inequity that impact students in and out of school… second, it’s a chance to validate the personhood of the student…because it helps restore students’ sense of hope. Restoring hope is one of the main jobs for a teacher…” In concurring with Hammond, I have ‘Maslow before Bloom’ inked on the first page of my thought notebook. Know where you are and build forward. In educational institutions at all levels, relationships precede transformational learning, otherwise learning can be reduced to a transaction between the learner and the system. In fact, systems are actually designed to be transactional because that mode of interaction preserves the system itself.
I close with these questions, in the opening months of the most rapid change education has ever experienced, how are you choosing healing today?
Do your values drive your interactions with others in this time of overwhelming stress?
What is your positioning on Equity?
Are you being self-compassionate? Extending a high level of Compassion to your students?
Is the instruction you design Authentic?
(This may be the most compelling opportunity to build authentic real world experiences for your students because technically, they are actually learning outside of our four walled structures.)
Does thinking about how student Agency might evolve under these circumstances offer you hope for the future?
With intention, shall we rise to critical consciousness (cited above by Hammond)?
Through collaboration of a highly diverse group of thinkers we can heal and make it just feel right, potentially for the first time.
MaryLu Hutchins, Ed. D., NBCT, served most of her career as a public school teacher and is a graduate of West Liberty University and West Virginia University. Hutchins is lead member of the Data and Technology Project (not a project) Team and collaborates with Cohorts 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Thank you to Michele King for the title, A Kinder, Gentler World, and to Crystal of Central High, Louisville, KY, for the insights offered via Eight Critical Lenses.
“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done.” -W.E.B. Du Bois
Excerpts from Eight Critical Lenses through Which Readers Can View Texts
Consider shifting your perspective or viewpoint. What lenses might offer you more insight into the text?
Reader Response Lens
Definition: Reading a text for personal meaning
In what ways is the text different than your life? How has the text changed your worldview?
Definition: Reading a text for its socio-economic issues
What world view does the text represent?
Definition: Reading a text for its contextual significance. This would include information about the author, his or her historical moment, or the systems of meaning available at the time of writing.
Upon reading the text, how has your view on the given historical event changed?
Definition: Reading a text for its gender related issues or attitudes towards gender. The assumption here is that men and women are different: they write differently, read differently, and write about their reading differently. These differences should be valued.
Observe how gender stereotypes might be reinforced or undermined. Try to see how the text reflects or distorts the place men or women have in society.
Definition: Reading a text for it issues of race, heritage, and ethnicity.
Analyze the text for how it deals with cultural conflicts, particularly between majority and minority groups.
Definition: Reading a text for patterns in human behavior. While everyone’s formative history is different in particulars, there are basic recurrent patterns of development for most people.
Think about the broader social issues the text attempts to address.
New Criticism Lens
Definition: Reading a text for the unity and complexity of its form. The focus should be on the text itself.
What is the great strength -- or most noticeable weakness – of the text?
Definition: Reading a text for its spiritual issues
What does the text say about Grace? Love? Forgiveness? Hope?