Language Arts

TEACH YOUR STUDENTS TO FIND THEMSELVES AMID UNSETTLING TIMES

Course No. ED471w, ED571w

The pandemic and racial injustice are amazing opportunities for teachers. If we are all to rise together to navigate our global crises, the new generation needs us to provide a new kind of learning. Young people need to understand how their behavior affects the behavior of viruses, influences the climate, and how their lives affect others whose life experience is different from their own. They need to know what they stand for and be ready to act for a greater good. These are challenging new capacities. To develop them, our students need a kind of learning that begins with understanding themselves more fully than has been common in school. 

This course prepares intermediate and secondary language arts teachers to guide students to reflect comprehensively on their lives to date, discover what they value, and decide how they wish to make a difference in the world. Building on research into the developmental needs of young people, and my own classroom research on deepening the experience of learning, you'll learn ways to integrate student self-discovery into the reading, writing and conversation strands of your course.

Working with the Personal Creed Project, you’ll help your students develop the habit of reflection. The project enables them to understand who and what have shaped them, begin discovering and committing to their values, and learn to stand for something in the world. Adapted in schools and colleges around the country, the Personal Creed experience generates enthusiasm, self-knowledge, and the desire to contribute, while deepening academic committment and skills. This makes for unusually rewarding teaching.

In my classroom alone, over three thousand students have presented their personal creeds to their class communities. One wrote:

The creed reflections helped me organize all of the parts of my identity that were already there. It helped me both recall and truly recognize my influences and values and think about how I want to manifest those values in my life.          ~ Florence Zhao, class of 2022

Text, used on Amazon, $20-30.

We advise you to review and download the course syllabus before registering. Syllabus
  1. Understood the developmental needs of your students, and how to nourish those needs;
  2. Engaged your students with activities and projects to facilitate their developmental-stage need to build healthy senses of identity;
  3. Become familiar with research on how to cultivate an engaged mindset in learning;
  4. Used teaching and design strategies to help students gain the self-knowledge they need to navigate a healthy transition into adulthood;
  5. Learned to facilitate a community rite of passage in the classroom or online in which students reveal the influences that have shaped them, the values they have discovered, and the difference they wish to make as individuals and citizens in the world;
  6. Considered adapting the Personal Creed Project to fit your own teaching situation;
  7. Discovered that teaching students to reflect on their lives is a powerful way to catalyze their engagement in writing;
  8. Begun designing a developmental arc of curriculum to balance your students’ academic progress with self-discovery.

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