Author Archives: Marissa Bellino

Microaggressions and Emotions

I read the Turner paper that Ferzileta posted and then I read Racial Microaggressions and the Difficult Dialogues on Race in the Classroom from Bisola and I appreciated the opportunity to think about the two together.  While I found the Turner piece a helpful introduction to how emotions have been theorized, I was excited to see emotions come up in the Sue et al. paper. With only a brief explanation of the emotions generated during experiences of microaggressions, I think a deeper analysis of participant emotions could have been connected to power and race using a stratified theory of emotions. As part of this theory, “those who have had power, material resources, and prestige will experience positive emotions toward self and exhibit confidence” (Turner p.350), while those who lack power will experience more negative emotions towards self. It seems like the experiences of the participants in this study on microaggressions all seemed to experience a power imbalance especially in relation to the professor where there is expressed concern about grades. The work on microaggressions interests me, as I believe we are all mutually implicated in the cause and the effect of these experiences on one another, especially as educators. I find myself wondering about my own students, where they may have had these experiences, in my classroom and how these experiences must contribute to their relationship to school, learning, teachers, classrooms and their own identity and self-efficacy???

I see that a lot of my work has an emotional component and I continue to think about how emotions, my students and my own, play a part in the classroom and how I might theorize the expression of these emotions, what triggers them and how we (myself and my students) make meaning from them. I am also interested in reading more about theories related to difficult dialogues. I would most definitely categorize many of the discussions that occur in my class as difficult ones related to race, class, gender, stereotypes, oppression, and I believe a lot of my own guilt and emotions comes from not feeling like I have the knowledge or skills to address my student’s concerns (I know that it is not realistic to expect that I can address all of my student’s concerns but it is part of my innate feelings about myself as the/their teacher to want to fulfill that for them = a tension I often wrestle with). I appreciated in the reading the guidance for teachers to be honest and allow themselves the opportunity to say they do not know how to respond as well as acknowledging that I come with my own experiences that have created biases and stereotypes about others. In my class we often explore these life experiences and I share my own along with my students. There has been a lot of feedback from my class that it is exciting and liberating for them to be able to share stories about themselves, their cultures, and their experiences that have led them to see the world as they do.

Bisola, I have heard you speak about your research a few times now and correct me if I am wrong but I believe you are planning to do individual interviews with your participants, yes? I am wondering if you have thought about the focus group similar to the one used in this paper? I appreciated how the nature of focus groups in general allows for crosspollination of ideas and an added layer of group behaviors that can be analyzed. I am sure you have thought about this but just thought I would throw it out there.

Teacher Stress – R. Sergio Guglielmi and Kristin Tatrow

I think this a particularly important article for David (and others interested in teacher stress) to reflect on where this research was in 1998 when this was published and has moved since then. I also find this article interesting on a more personal level, thinking about my own experiences with teacher stress and my coping mechanisms and health. For my own research I am still thinking about ways to document my stress and emotional experiences after teaching my Global Environment course as a way to reflect and learn to manage my emotions.

Obviously this article raised many of the limitations of the existing teacher stress/health relationship research and I had many questions for you David about how you see your work addressing some of these limitations. How are you thinking about using this paper? Are you thinking about one particular model for teaching or another variation of one of the models that incorporates some of the variables that were discussed that are often limited in these models (individual personality, gender, type of teacher)? Do you plan to strictly do a quantitative analysis or will you include some of your qualitative findings? How are you defining stress, burnout, and how will you be “measuring” stress?  Do you believe that teacher stress can be measured? How do you hope your research will address some of these limitations into this kind of research on teacher stress that are raised in the paper?

I am curious since this article has been published has more work come out on some of the health patterns associated with teacher stress? Has research built more theory around some of the teacher stress and health factors? Not knowing much about how this field of research has progressed since 1998, it seems like there is a lot of work that can be done and exciting that a few members of our class are tackling this issue from multiple perspectives. I think the issue of gender that David has mentioned before would also be interesting and I was wondering if there are other ways that women physiologically express their stress and if anyone has looked into this more?

In thinking about prescriptions for teacher stress, where do the types of prescriptions you have been talking about, mindfulness, social supports, etc…come from? Are they supported by the research or is that what Ken’s group is really thinking about and working on? I can see how your idea of the creation of a space for teachers to share their thoughts would be beneficial as it seems like social supports can alleviate some teacher stress according to this paper.

One thought I had was about the distinction between public and private workers? As public employees there are situations that teachers must deal with, a level of disinvestment and strain that is being placed on the profession by larger federal and state policies…as well as the range of unequal environments that are experienced, some raised in the discussion of lack of support, lack of decision making power, lack of resources, and high demands.

One of the most interesting parts of this paper to me was how in the United States we tend to value the person-environment fit model, which emphasizes the individual ability to withstand stress. This speaks to the U.S. ethic of worker productivity and individual competition…whoever can withstand the most stress gets the job, a value that we pass along to our students in our classrooms. Whereas in Europe, the demand-control model has been more utilized to address work stress, a model which places the intervention and responsibility for stress on the organization as opposed to the individual.

Furman and Gruenewald Reading

I chose this article because for me it introduces a socioecological justice framework that speaks to me and my research, it introduces the concepts of a critical pedagogy of place which speaks to my curriculum implementation, and it highlights many of the challenges and tensions that I have experienced working within the current education system. Below are my thoughts and some of the questions this article generated for me. I would love to hear from others about ways they see this article being relevant to their own work and how I might utilize it in mine.

Socioecological Justice Framework: Furman and Gruenewald identify the links between social justice and environmental justice and how modern developed economies have created environmental problems that impact both humans and nonhumans, these are inseparable. Environmental problems are experienced as social injustices and are disproportionately felt depending on race, class, and other social groups. How are the issues that my student experience felt differently by differing social groups-what social groups do they identify as? Youth, gender, urban, minority, class???

Critical Pedagogy of Place:I have been thinking a lot about how to develop my own critical pedagogy of place and about how I can infuse the values of critical pedagogy and the environmental situation that we find ourselves in today into a curriculum that speaks to young people in the city. As I shared with you all at the USER-S, the research that my students and I have been conducting tries to address and “problematize the taken-for-granted assumptions, and unjust outcomes of conventional educational and cultural practices” (p.58) as well as incorporate a local experience that is present in the lives of my students.

Through implementation of my own critical pedagogy of place I have seen in my students how their ways of viewing the world are so strongly influenced by the capitalist, globalized city/country/world that we live in. A larger question I have for myself is how do we help people/my students realize that they are interconnected and mutually implicated in one another’s lives…I find this very difficult – that it matters to care about all kinds of people. A question my students have raised and struggle with is whether people are inherently good or bad??

Current Education System: Much of this article really spoke to my own critiques/limitations/assumptions of the current education system and continue to challenge me on how I view the the purposes of education. I feel this is the larger picture and implications of my own work, especially thinking about how might we reform education to embrace a socioecological ethic, why this is not part of the larger discussion on education and if it is even possible to imagine an alternative educational system? Where do we fit the economic, social, and moral purposes of schooling into our current system and how do we prioritize (or not prioritize) these?

I mentioned at the USER-S some of the tensions that I have experienced working within the traditional education paradigm with an emphasis on western values of progress and achievement for economic advancement. I have the privilege of not having to teach my course with any high stakes tests and have the luxury of developing more alternative assessments however, this has created confusion for students who have one experience in my class where they are receiving a message from me about schooling and then their other classes that value competition, individualism, and achievement. This has also raised questions for me about what are my own assumptions in my classroom? What are the implicit messages I am sending to my students and what are the ideology and values that I am conveying? Are these better? If so Why?

I have some larger questions that this article helped me to frame for myself and my course…What are the cultural and ecological conflicts that come from a preparation of young people to participate in the global economy? How does the dominant culture impact/affect people and places, humans and habitat? What are the purposes of education/schooling in the larger arena of cultural and ecological conflict? How do we prepare our students within our modern capitalist world to engage politically and ecologically with a knowledge and understanding of how social, economic, political, environmental systems are interrelated and value outcomes of care for humans and the earth?

Human and Critical Geography and NYC City High School Student Mobility

I am most drawn to third section in The Changing Social Spaces of Learning by Leander, Phillips, and Taylor. The connection between human and critical geography in better understanding how young people experience and move between space has been of interest to me. I am in the process of conducting some critical participatory action research with my students (see my stakeholders forum) with a focus on how my students experience their communities, specifically how they see the strengths and areas for improvement in their communities. This work started off asking students to describe outdoor spaces that they spend time in and how they see that environment and the behaviors that people engage in. While reading this piece, many ideas and questions resonated for me so I will include some here to help me document my thinking:

  • As adults, we/I make a lot of assumptions about what my students will find interesting and connect with…as much as I try to make the research participatory, I find that my own motives and ways of thinking gently nudge the direction of research…can we ever be truly open to all voices? 
  • What are my students understanding of community, neighborhood, identity, and social life? How do they define/identify  their community and how do they experience community in the neighborhoods where they live and the spaces they move between? How is their identity tied/not tied to their neighborhoods?
  • How do young people feel they are perceived in the different spaces they move from, through, to? How are these spaces gendered, classed, raced and do they experience that and in what ways? On what level are they aware of this?
  • How much autonomy do young people experience and what influences this? I wonder a lot about my students who travel to my school in Manhattan from all 5 boroughs…do they have different levels of autonomy and how do they leverage this? How does autonomy and mobility compare to young people that attend more neighborhood high schools?
  • How much agency do young people have in urban environments to make decisions about how they use spaces?
  • How can I use more mapping/memory maps to better learn about the places my students value and why these places have value?
  • How are students living in different parts of the city experiencing different levels of opportunity/privilege and a sense of value?…I love this Breitbart (1998) point…                  “Young people who live in declining parts of the city are profoundly aware of the influence that their local environments exert. They can literally see and feel the contraints that dangerous and/or inadequately provisioned neighborhoods place upon them, and they can appreciate the opportunities that safe places, with ample resource provide…These spaces send messages to young people about how an external world values or fails to value the quality of their lives (p. 308)

All of these ideas and questions are significant to me as a lot of my work attempts to connect students to their local environments and engage them in some sort of action research around a topic that is important to them. We obviously talk a lot in education about connecting students to the local and meaningful and it is through this connection that we build more critical and engaged learners and citizens. 



Teacher-Researcher-Student: A USER-S Reflection

I know it has been some time since the USER-S meeting and my thoughts are not as clear as they were three weeks ago, but the big take away for me was this idea of Teacher-Researcher-Student identity that I feel I am always moving between. I love the fluidity that these three identities imply, in some cases it is hard to even say when you are one or another or most often, all three at once. And I guess I was thinking about how these three roles/identities that I take on in my professional (and personal in many ways) life seem to me to be identities I would want my students to take on as well. I find that many students only see themselves as students and why wouldn’t they? Schools rarely provide opportunities for students to be teachers and even less researchers. I have had some experiences with my students as both teacher and researcher and these have in some cases been transformative. But while some students embrace these additional identities, others resist. I myself struggle with navigating these three in my own life, so I imagine for a young person, it can be difficult. I guess this would be an interesting study into trying to unravel what kinds of students are more open to these kinds of critical and student directed learning opportunities, and those that are more resistant. In reading The Changing Social Space of Learning article for the class I appreciated the challenges around identity studies and imagine that the “answer” to the above question would involve a very deep investigation into the historical, social, and cultural experiences of students.