To be a teacher at LREI is to be a designer of learning experiences

Faculty at LREI are learners too

Reflection is an integral part of the LREI teacher DNA. In addiiton to ongoing professional deveopment work that may take a variety of forms, every five years teachers at LREI are asked to engage in a formal self-study in which they examine their goals, strengths, and needs as a teacher. This year “in reflection” balances individual work with the support of a cohort of colleagues who are also engaged in the self-study process. The self-study process seeks to develop, expand and sustain each participant's commitment to progressive pedagogy and reflective practice. It also provides an opportunity for faculty members to focus on a “gnawing question” about their practice and growth as a teacher, person and member of the LREI community.

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  • Natasha Hernandez: Social Emotional Learning in the Classroom

    Natasha Hernandez (Second Grade Teacher): For her self-study, Tasha looked at her own structures for social-emotional care and how this relates to social emotional learning in her classroom. This led to an examination of the structures that learners need to feel safe, to feel empowered to make good choices, and to respect others within their classroom community. As part of this study, she examined what she was already doing in the classroom and then investigated additional practices and activities she could incorporate as well. Parallel to this investigation was her reflection on how these classroom structures can also support the social emotional well-being of the teacher. As Tasha noted:

    One activity that stood out to me as very powerful was one that also helped me to keep things in perspective in my own life as well. We asked the children to draw balloons and then reflect on the things that made them frustrated that can be hard to let go of. They visualized these frustrations as balloons and placed their frustrations inside their balloon. During the activity, we also discussed ways to express and manage these feelings of disappointment, anger, fear, etc.. As a child or adult, thoughts may race through our mind on a daily basis. To see these thoughts on paper can be very powerful and insightful for all. We then shared strategies we could use to help us in to working through our frustrations. For example, we can’t control the things other people say, but we can control what we say to others and how we say it to them. We then wrote these things down on paper in two separate circles to bring awareness to what we could manage on their own, or with support, and what we needed to let go.
  • Dan Raphael: Portfolios and Student Self-Reflection

    I went into the self study excited, but a bit nervous to see if I could successfully have my students create a portfolio of their work over the course of the year. I was hopeful that I could figure out a way to manage the time successfully to have them create both a hard copy of their portfolio as well as a digital version. Through March 2020, I was pleased with the hard copies of the portfolios, but still hadn’t made much headway in having the students also create one online. And then Covid hit. All of a sudden, everything became part of a digital portfolio. I began to see that once we get back to regular life sometime in the future, I can better envision how to make student reflection become a true centerpiece of my curriculum. 
  • Jeremiah Demster: A Winding Path Towards Consequence

    My objective in this project from the outset was to expand my own base knowledge of artists, art movements and the sources I draw my own personal inspiration from. The ultimate goal was to reconsider my curriculum and the ways that students see themselves and their identities represented, the ways they are given windows into identities other than their own, and how art allows them to explore both of those contexts. Along the way I hoped to create some original work of my own in order to translate some of the learning into something tangible. In addition to reading, researching, viewing work and making work I also leaned into the connections that social media can create and the resource that it can be for connections in the art world.
  • Sara-Momii Roberts: “How to participate in the transformation of the world”

    Sara-Momii Roberts (Eighth Grade Humanities Teacher) used the work of Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire as a lens to explore what civic action skills and enduring understandings are eighth graders learning as a result of their practicing activism as part of the Social Justice Project. She then turned this lens on herself to ask: "What am I learning about my role as an educator having engaged in this type of work for so many years? Am I participating in my own positive (and empowering) growth? Where do both this project, and my own teaching, go from here?" As Momii notes:

    Turning the lens on myself has been the most slow going process of this self study. While it is important to identify what students have learned, where I connect to the work, personally, is critical to consider. So, what in my teaching might benefit from “changing outdated and oppressive language?” Where might “empathy” find stronger soil to take root? Where is the work with students “unjust?” And where are the places that “even a little bit” would make a big difference?
  • Jane Belton: Allow for the Transformation

    When I went into this self study, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do: I would carve out time for myself to write more during the year, attend to and nurture the writer in me that seemed on a distant but parallel path to my teacher-self.  Running on what seemed like two parallel lines, these two selves rarely seemed to touch. In the end, while I didn’t actually end up writing, I discovered more points of convergence between teacher Jane and writer Jane than I had thought possible.

    I wrote about my self study through the metaphor of “driving at night with headlights,” a mantra that my teacher E. L. Doctorow used to use, and one that I had always found particularly centering.  These words capture most of my process as a writer. Now, after my work this year, I also know that they inform my teaching practice more than ever.
  • Ileana Jiménez: Writing #HSfeminism as moment, as movement, as memoir

    Ileana Jimenez (High School English Teacher): Ileana used the self-study as a lens to reflect on her work over the past 13 years at LREI as a designer of feminist pedagogy and practice and on her work connected to a variety of school-based social justice and activist initiatives. She also examined the arc of her blogging on her site, Feminist Teacher, and other published writing in both academic journals and book collections as well as her regular speaking at conferences, schools, and universities. Ileana reflected that:
    The LREI tenured faculty self-study gave me the opportunity to ask the following questions: what do I need to write next? What seems most pressing? I want to see how my #HSfeminism work is part of the larger narrative of how LREI has shaped the lives of students and their activism both within and outside of the school. Throughout the self-study year, I wrote a piece for another collection on youth sexualities and continued journaling about how I can engage in a separate stand-alone project that will likely be a memoir about feminist teaching. For this reason, I have continued the work of the self-study into the summer, and have been writing and journaling and reading various texts, including feminist memoirs and theory, to inform this larger long-term project.


Little Red School House
and Elisabeth Irwin High School

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