I’m from sunshine fairies…

One of the biggest mistakes that new teachers make is thinking that the students they will teach will be like them. That mindset can cause pain in the first years of teaching. I experienced that pain in my first year. As a teacher educator, I want to broaden perspectives, to prepare teacher candidates to teach everyone.

Thanks to my colleague, Dr. Gwen Jones, students in our EDUC 140: Introduction to Teaching class spend two weeks in self-analysis, in learning how to make a meaningful multi-modal product, in sharing with their peers, and in learning how to avoid “The Danger of a Single Story.” Most, but not all, students in this class are in their first year of college. Beginning with George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From,” we write our own poem using a template (as little or as much as we like for support). In tandem with our writing, we gather video, music, and photographs to support the poem. Our campus “Digital Gurus” show the basics of Adobe Spark, and we craft a digital photo story using text from our poem. On the day the project is due, we watch Chimamanda Adiche’s TedTalk, “The Danger of a Single Story” and then move to share digital photo stories in small groups. Following the sharing, students answer these reflection questions:

Digital Photostory Project Reflection:

  1. The introduction to the TED talk video you viewed states, “Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories.”  Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.”  From “The Danger of a Single Story” TED talk, identify two or three “critical misunderstandings”  the  author Chimamanda Adichie uses as examples in this presentation.  
  2.  Identify two specific new understandings you now have about a classmate or two that you did not have prior to sharing your “stories.”
  3. What part of the Digital Photo Story project was most meaningful  to you and why?

I share my digital photo story on the first day of class, to show the importance of teachers modeling expectations for students and that when teachers ask students to write and create, the classroom is a more dynamic learning environment if the teacher is also writing and crafting pieces.

I look forward to assessing the students’ poems, digital photo stories, and reflections. Each semester as I sit down to enjoy this grading, they unanimously write that they appreciate the unique things they learn about the people sitting in the room with them, and they appreciate the final product they have to share with their friends and family. Coupling “The Danger of a Single Story” with the sharing of their peers’ digital photo stories and followed by reflection helps to form our learning community.