Having your name pronounced correctly is a big deal. But, as I wrote a post over at the website for my outreach organization, ISAASE, it can be an overwhelming task for a teacher to be expected to perfectly pronounce an entire (or multiple) rosters of complicated, foreign names. If you’re interested, here’s an excerpt from the ISAASE Name Pronunciation Guide, (for context):
“Pronouncing names correctly is a big deal… So what’s a teacher to do during pre-service week, when she or he is handed a roster of difficult-to-pronounce names? And for the secondary education set — who are often responsible for over a hundred students — multiple rosters of difficult-to-pronounce names?”
The rest of the post is the actual guide to pronouncing names correctly, with practical strategies for getting names right the first time (and as time goes on), without having to memorize all the possible phonetic combinations in naming patterns of every culture you interact with. You can read the rest of the reasoning for why it’s important, plus the actual guide to pronouncing names correctly, here, or download a PDF of the file directly by clicking here.
My outreach & advocacy organization ISAASE (here’s the post about the organization) just released a one-sheet with quick tips for how teachers can support South Asian American students. Teaching South Asian students isn’t fundamentally different from teaching any other students — but like teaching any or all other students, teachers have to be mindful about recognizing diversity of students. This tends not to happen as much with South Asian American students. (Here’s some data on that.)
This document focuses on the importance of recognizing diversity, developing cultural competence, supporting all students, pronouncing names correctly, acknowledging students’ differences by celebrating those differences, and establishing an appropriate classroom climate.
P.S. – Here’s a post about the “Fast Facts” sheet, here’s a link to a post about the ISAASE “Name Pronunciation Guide,” and here’s one about our “Be Inspired” project. Also, if you’re interested in getting involved with the work of ISAASE, you can contact me directly, or contact ISAASE (here’s the ISAASE contact link). (Same thing for if you know someone else who might be interested in getting involved with ISAASE.)
My outreach organization ISAASE (here’s a post about what we do) just put out a simple, one-sheet document that contains “fast facts” on South Asian American students. This South Asian students fact sheet provides a simple overview of (the diverse) South Asian American student backgrounds, the key issues related to South Asian American students’ experiences and selected data points, and a simple call-to-action to become more culturally competent.
When preparing this South Asian students fact sheet, a concern was that having a document like this would lead people to read it, and then decide they were experts on South Asian American kids, and/or that their cultural proficiency journey – at least related to these kids – was somehow complete. Obviously, we know that’s now how cultural proficiency works. There’s never going to be this perfect resource that would enable all educators to achieve perfect cultural competence (since that’s now how that works). But in the meantime, this is a tool that can help improve cultural literacy and competence. So it’s a step, I hope, in the right direction. (The phrase that comes to mind is: Let’s not let the perfect be the enemy of the good).
You can click here to download a PDF of the document, or click here to see all the resources for teachers that are available from the ISAASE website. And if you are a teacher, please consider sharing this with other educators you know.
P.S. – If you’re interested in getting involved with the work of ISAASE, you can contact me directly, or contact ISAASE (here’s the ISAASE contact link). (Same thing for if you know someone else who might be interested in getting involved with ISAASE.) Also, here’s a link to a post about the ISAASE “Name Pronunciation Guide,” and here’s one about our “Be Inspired” project.
Many moons ago, I shared a post about surviving and succeeding in an online doctorate program, featuring advice from other graduates from my own doctoral program. Here, I’m sharing a consolidated list of the best tips I can think of for surviving your Doctor of Education (EdD) degree program, as well as a YouTube video for the more visual among us. Read on for the best tips for surviving your Doctorate in Education.
Sharing some exciting news. For the past three years, I’ve been working on getting ISAASE, an outreach organization dedicated to improving South Asian American students’ experiences, off the ground. This past month, we finally launched.
ISAASE is an outreach organization I started in order to address some of the issues uncovered through my research. The official aim of ISAASE is…
To improve South Asian American students’ experiences, in K-12 and beyond, through research into students’ experiences, outreach efforts to spread awareness and build buy-in, and promoting teacher cultural proficiency by sharing information with teachers, and working with school districts to offer professional development.
My doctoral research at Johns Hopkins University focused around the perceptions South Asian Americans have about their K-12 experiences in school. Some of the key research findings suggest that South Asian Americans’ experiences in schools could have been better, they didn’t always get the support they needed, and that teachers tended to believe the “model minority stereotype” (which isn’t good).
Ultimately, the goal is to improve students’ overall experiences, through advocacy, support, outreach, and by offering resources to teachers to improve cultural proficiency, and offering sources of support and comfort to students (including our upcoming “Be Inspired” project).
P.S. – Why research on South Asian American students matters, or read the full story of how/why ISAASE started here.
Here, I’m sharing links to posts for anyone pursuing their Doctorate in Education, and/or an online doctorate in education. If you’re contemplating an EdD, hopefully this post will be helpful to you. You can also search or explore this blog and find posts related to working on a Doctorate in Education. I’ll share a similar post in the future as I add more content related to life after the doctorate in education…
Teachers, how do you tackle teaching students about the actual legacy of Christopher Columbus and the Columbian Exchange? We know Columbus was not a good guy, and that it makes little to no sense that there’s such a thing as Columbus Day — but it does make for a good teaching opportunity about the role of perspective in history.
When I taught Social Studies, I usually taught students about the Columbian Exchange — the exchange of goods between the “Old World” (Europe and Africa) and the “New World” (North and South America). (If you have BrainPop, here’s a video on The Columbian Exchange.)
During the Columbian Exchange, both Goods and Diseases were exchanged. Mentioning that something bad (diseases) were also exchanged usually opens the door to discussing unintended (or intended, and/or downright evil) consequences of historical events, which leads us into discussing the dark legacy of Columbus, and how/why he might be considered the grandfather of the slave trade. This opens the door to a lot of high level discussions.
I wrote a brief rant/essay over at medium in which I ask: is education policy broken? Here’s an excerpt from the post:
…We implement new concepts [in school systems] without even waiting to see the results of the initial intervention of the first one[s]. We ignore what the research tells us and continue doing more of the same. The trend is that of policy not supporting interventions, no matter how effective, so naturally, when I look at policy, I feel frustrated. My desire to stay optimistic demands that I look for examples of exception in our country…
If you’re interested, you can read the rest of my post here.
P.S. – A lesson plan for teaching about Nelson Mandela, and the movie Invictus
A few years ago, thanks to grant funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, I got to spend a summer at the University of Virginia, for a summer institute for educators to study philosophy. We got to take a deep dive into philosophical readings and concepts around philosophical thinking skills, and work together to develop resources and lessons built around the things we were studying. As a social studies teacher, I thought of a lot of practical ways I could build philosophical thinking skills into my lesson planning, but I also found myself thinking a lot about the holistic ways in which concepts of philosophy could inform my teaching.
Because I’m really interested in the way technology is evolving and is likely to change our world in the coming years, I started thinking about philosophy in the classroom of the future. (I’ve written a little bit about teaching philosophical thinking skills previously here.)
But in this post, I’m exploring how education will change in the face of technological advances, and how the role of teaching may change as well — and in my mind, emphasizing philosophy and philosophical thinking skills will play a big role. Read on for my musings on how the technological singularity might impact teaching, and how philosophy will be central to the classroom of the future.
Until recently, I taught seventh graders about the World. Early in the school year, my students would usually ask the standard when are we ever going to use this? in class. I don’t hate the question; I didn’t really get history growing up either. The history teachers I had growing up didn’t really teach history in a way that brought it alive for me. I remember spending a lot of time aimlessly reading a textbook, memorizing names of states, and drawing in class while the teacher wrote names of dead presidents on the board.
So, yeah, not going to use most of that. Facts, names, and figures are dry.
But the stories from history aren’t dry. They’re the thing that makes history exciting. History came alive for me when my dad told me bedtime stories about the Sikhs that fought against Aurangzeb’s bloody crusade in India, or later, how Hari Singh Nalwa and the Sikh empire expanded and eventually fought the East India Trading Company. It was the stories that hooked me. To me, this stuff was not “history.” This was the stuff of action movies and war games. These were the stories that made me love the Shadow series, and action hero movies, and World of Warcraft. It wasn’t until college that I finally made the connection (while reading Shadow of the Hegemon) that these stories were history.
So when I decided to become a teacher, I decided I was going to teach with a focus on the stories, the themes, and the feelings — because that’s what sticks. Not dates, not names of regions, and not just lists with the names of dead guys. Adventures and concepts. When history emphasizes these, suddenly, it becomes very exciting.
More than any other reason, I teach history because I love stories. The entire Social Studies umbrella, history classes included, are essentially about the interwoven mess of human experiences: the stories of our people. I may be a somewhat nontraditional history teacher in that I don’t self-identify as a history buff, and didn’t grow up with an noteworthy penchant for trivia from any particular era in history. I grew up with the standard Maryland Social Studies curriculum (tossed with a little bit of Indian and Sikh history outside of school). In truth, what brought history alive for me was reading Orson Scott Card’s military strategy fiction: reading and imagining stories (albeit fictional ones) of political and military strategy in a romanticized way served as a catalyst for my realizing that the real-life version of history could be just as intriguing and dramatic. After reading Card’s books I started to kind of see the IRL individual stories of people rising and falling (and with them, their nations) as interconnected (large-scale stories/histories about the political impact of decisions feel relatable when thought about as the experiences of actual people).
It may also be because I was born on the opposite side of the world from where I live and teach now, and so I’ve heard two totally different histories. At home, I heard the stories and histories of my own people. Then, I moved to America, and in school, I learned an entirely new history, with its own stories and perspectives. And after becoming immersed and soaked in it, I realized there are an infinite number of stories about an infinite number of peoples and their experiences (and even an infinite number of versions of those stories to be told and heard). I love hearing these stories, and telling them. They inspired me, and they inspire other students too.
Many of the same reasons I teach history relate to why students need to learn about history and social studies: to make sense of the world around them. History is taught in almost the same way that Philosophy is taught: with a focus on questioning and on developing skills.
Specifically, they need to develop Historical Thinking Skills to develop a framework for thinking, which means students need to be able to:
Know the Importance of History: It isn’t enough to just know facts or about events; students need to understand the relevance, importance, and relationships between the stories of the past.
Develop Historical Thinking Skills: Knowing the content only goes so far; the real value of history coursework is to teach students historical thinking skills, so they understand how to analyze and think about history and its lessons, and how to apply those same thinking skills universally.
Practice Skepticism: Students must know how to appropriately question claims and even validity of sources, and to understand the importance of source (assess value).
In many ways, the study of history teaches students to become independent thinkers. And so, it’s important that we do it well.