When first walking into the dining center to attend the Promising Practices conference, I did not know what to expect and was glad to see the familiar faces of everyone in our FNED 346 class. After everyone got situated and found their seats, the panel members took the stage. While listening to the different panel members respond to questions that they were asked, I couldn’t help but think of the SCWAAMP activity that we did and learned about in class. I immediately thought of the “W” in SCWAAMP. Out of the seven members of the panel, all of them were white except for the mayor of Providence. All of these people were of high status and were considered to have power. I found it very interesting that mostly all of the people on stage were white and that every single one of the members was “able-bodied.”
The first session that I attended was about Summer Learning. This session related to our FNED class in the most obvious way; the session was all about service learning. Learning about the how and why of service learning was interesting. During this session, we came up with definitions of service learning with those sitting around us and then brought our ideas to the whole group. I was sitting next to Dorothy and Chelsea and we immediately started talking about our experiences that we have had at our placement schools. I thought that this session was interesting because I was able to relate it with being in FNED 346 this semester. Our experiences in the schools allowed us to easily relate to this session and what was being said by the speakers.
The second session that I attended was about Anti-bullying. While this session was interesting, I couldn’t help but wish that the teachers had given more general information about creating “safe spaces” for students. A lot of the information that was given was very specific for how the teachers from Barrington were able to engage their students. They often referenced activities that they did with their classes, which was interesting, but (to me) was not as useful as giving general information about anti-bullying. It was a little hard to understand the systems that they had in place in their school without seeing it firsthand. However, I thought that this session, in a way, related to Gerri August’s article Safe Spaces. Even though August’s article was about creating safe spaces for the LGBT community, I thought that the general theme of creating safe spaces for students was obvious throughout this session. Creating environments that students feel comfortable in is crucial for their success. If a student does not feel safe, then he or she will not be able to work to the best of their abilities. In order to promote learning, we need to create an atmosphere in which everyone feels comfortable and welcome.
The third session that I attended was about Nutrition and how it can be incorporated with other subjects in school. I was not really sure what this session was going to be about at first, but was pleasantly surprised with what the speakers had to say. Two of the speakers in this session were fifth grade teachers from the Henry Barnard School and the other speaker was a teacher of a nutrition class here at RIC. The fifth grade students created a food log of what they ate and blogged about nutrition with a college student. The college student analyzed the younger child’s food log and tried to educate them on the importance of healthy eating. The teachers felt that they needed to incorporate health and nutrition into their fifth grade classrooms and were able to do so by adding in the writing component of a blog. I thought that this session was interesting because I too think that it is important for kids to understand the importance of healthy eating habits. In our society, there is so much pressure to look a certain way and act like what we see in the media. As teachers, we need to teach our students healthy habits so that they do not develop harmful habits that may damage their lives.
Overall, I felt that the sessions I attended were very informative and taught me different teaching styles for when I have my own classroom one day. Even if some aspects of the conference were not what I was expecting or lost my attention, I feel that attending an event like this expands my knowledge and will be beneficial for me in the future.