DEEP CULTURE EXPLORATION By Kyle Chamberland

Hello there! My name is Kyle Chamberland. I am currently a student at Kansas State University in the College of Education. I am interested in teaching Elementary grade levels with a main focus in English/Literature. But you have come here to learn about me. Who I am...what I have done....and what I am doing? These can be easy surface questions. I can say that I am a 31 year old non traditional student currently engaged and who is originally from Sedan, KS, but that isn't who I am. Those are just some facts about me. There is so much more to me and to others than just our facts. But for the sake of trying to put into words who I am... I am an open minded, kind-hearted person who loves to laugh and make others laugh. I am an ever changing being that is full of endless wonder for what was, what is, what might be, and for what is yet to come.

This is me of course!

My biggest strengths in teaching are my organization and preparation abilities. My area of concentration is in English, and thus it is the subject I feel the most comfortable with in a classroom. Because both my mother and father were teachers, English and Social Sciences teachers respectively, I have some insight into the everyday life of a teacher. Additionally, I have had some experience as a paraeducator for Wilbur Middle School in Wichita for a year.

Surface Culture

I grew up in a small rural town with a population of a little more than 1,000 people. This was both a blessing and a curse because everyone helped in raising you it seemed, but they also knew everything about you. Especially when you are a teacher's kid. Sedan was most definitely not a very diverse town, being predominately Caucasian. So needless to say I never learned much about others cultures.

With both my parents being teachers, I would say that I grew up in a middle class home. This made life for my family fairly comfortable for us. I mean, we could always afford the best and newest of everything, but we were happy and well off. Also education a strong staple within our home. Even while my parents worked they continued with their own education, gaining further degrees throughout their careers. My two older siblings did go to college, but chose starting families over finishing their degrees. That means that within a years time I will be the first of my parents children to completely earn their degree in their desired field.

My parents, Mike and Kathy Chamberland. Oh and that "handsome young" guy on the right is me.

My father's side of the family has roots going back to Germany, Hungary, and France. My mother's side comes from Ireland, Scotland, and England. My grandfather, on my dad's side, grew up in a French orphanage and when he was old enough he was drafted into the Navy, where he was a ships medic in WWII. He met my grandmother and settled in Winfield, Kansas. I would say that my family and I get a lot of influences, especially food, from that side. My grandmother was a professional cook for many years. She used to hand make and sell frozen pizzas before that was a thing. But a lot of her other recipes she took and adapted from old family recipes that had been passed down. Some of my favorites are Hungarian pot roast and nukilies as well as Hungarian apple cake.

My wonderful (and hilarious) grandmother.

In our household we would celebrate people who were innovators, advocators, imaginative, creative, and who (at their core) cared for their fellow human. Now for the other side of that coin, we hated intolerance, despised purposeful rudeness, and were weary of those that did not look forward to progress. This was enforced by the morality tales that my mother would read to me as a child. I guess this led to my interest in comic books because of their strong portrayal of right and wrong. These stories helped to help build the foundation that my own personal moral code is built on.

Shallow Culture

So let's begin this with my own personal statement about life and the people who come into your life.

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose, teach you a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be (possibly your roommate, neighbor, co-worker, longest friend, lover, or even a complete stranger) but when you lock eyes with them, you know at that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some people move our souls to dance. They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon. They stay in our lives for awhile, leave footprints in our hearts, and we are never, ever the same. And sometimes things happen to you that may seem horrible, painful, and unfair at first, but in reflection you find that without overcoming those obstacles you would have never realized your potential, strength, willpower, or heart.

Everything happens for a reason, nothing happens by chance or by means of luck. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness, and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of your soul. Without these small tests, whatever they may be, life would be like a smoothly paved, straight flat road to nowhere. It would be safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless. The people you meet who affect your life, and the success and downfalls you experience help to create who you become. Even the bad experiences can be learned from. In fact, they are probably the most poignant and important ones.

If someone hurts you, betrays you, or breaks your heart, forgive them, for they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious when you open your heart. If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because in a way, they are teaching you to love and how to open your heart and eyes to things.

Make every day count!! Appreciate every moment and take from those moments everything that you possibly can for you may never be able to experience it again. Talk to people that you have never talked to before, and actually listen. Let yourself fall in love, break free, and set your sights high. Hold your head up because you have every right to. Tell yourself you are a great individual and believe in yourself, for if you don't believe in yourself; it will be hard for others to believe in you.

You can make of your life anything you wish. Create your own life then go out and live it with absolutely no regrets

The above message is something that I have sculpted from the experiences and beliefs that I have. My father jokingly has the sayings "Cheat early and cheat often" and "Don't get even, get so far ahead that the other person just gives up". These of course are just contradictions to what are true belief systems are in our family.

Respect was a huge factor in my upbringing. I was always told to respect my elders and that you should respect their authority. Unless that respect was lost for some reason, then they would have to earn it back. This went right along with the idea of trust. Along with this idea of respect, I was expected to address adults by either Mr., Mrs., or Ms. (Their Last Name) unless they directed me otherwise. I was allowed to question adults as long as it was done respectfully and with purpose.

Deep Culture

One of my greatest strengths is my knowledge of movies and comic books. While I understand that there are not courses on these topics in elementary school, I have taken several courses in college that have taught me how to implement knowledge of these subjects in the classroom. I look forward to coming up with examples from comics and movies in several different subjects (e.g., science, history) to help students make connections and to show students that learning is and can be fun.

Let's get BACK TO THE FUTURE of education.

The expectations I have for every student are quite simple. I expect students to be held to a high standard of doing their best work in and out of class. I will also be holding myself up to this same standard as well, as I hope my students' will be expecting from me. I really don’t believe that this will be a difficult feat for either of us though. Holding one’s self up to this standard is something I feel should be held up by all teachers and students from all cultural frames of reference. This should correlate with putting one’s best attitude towards our activities in and out of class as well.

I believe that just because a student is taking a while to respond to a question, doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention or is being a smart alack. It is more likely that the student is translating what the teacher has asked into their own language to better understand before answering. They are processing the aspects of their question or they could still be stuck on a previous question that was asked. The student is just working at a different pace than others and is not trying to be difficult or rude. This is usually the root to many miscommunications and problems with discourse.

My Philosophy of Teaching

As I embody both the role of teacher and lifelong student, it is my utmost belief that my job is to develop a classroom environment in which my students and I can become co-learners. Therefore, to become co-learners, I strive to create an environment in which students feel safe to question, think critically, and gain skills in applying material from the subjects I teach. To accomplish these goals, I quickly develop a strong rapport with my students, allow and encourage spontaneous questions and discussion, and create assignments and tests that require application of the material instead of simple rote memorization.

My first step in creating this environment is to build a rapport with my students while simultaneously getting them interested in the material. In my experience, the key to this first step is having an unwavering enthusiasm for both the material and the students learning combined with a healthy dose of humor. This enthusiasm and humor will help most students overcome their initial lack of interest in school and the school environment. Furthermore, from the first day of class, I make sure to build this rapport by encouraging students to tell me about themselves and their experiences; especially, those they have had with the subjects I will teach. On the first day, not only do they introduce themselves, but share with the class two truths and a lie as an icebreaker. Additionally, before class each day, I converse informally with students and at the end of each class, they fill out a notecard with something about themselves (e.g., their favorite new term or concept they learned that day and why.

Once the students discover that the material is applicable to their own lives and the world in which they live in, it is much easier to engage them in reflection, discussion, and critical thinking exercises. Moreover, as students have informally “practiced” sharing their personal experiences and applying the material while building rapport with me, reflections of the material lead to more formal classroom discussion and critical thinking becomes fluid and natural as the semester progresses. Often, by the end of the semester, I do not need to bring up class discussion as students have questions about the material that they will bring to class. When this happens, I will stop the lecture, encourage classroom discussion, and sometimes act as “devil’s advocate” to encourage students to view concepts from multiple perspectives. Additionally, I do not have answers to every question they ask and will stop class to either discuss students’ perspectives or look up the answer. This spontaneity not only keeps students interested, but also allows me to clear up any misconceptions or preconceived notions that the students have about the lesson(s) that I might not have realized without it. Other ways in which I keep my students interested – as I believe a classroom is pointless without it – is bringing activities and demonstrations in which students can actively participate to class. This also serves the purpose of providing greater understanding to difficult concepts or terms.

As an educator, it is both my goal to have a lively and active classroom and create a developmental environment in which students can acquire skills needed for the rest of their school career. To accomplish this goal, students are required to give presentations, participate in group-work and in debates, react and reflect upon material presented with informal and formal writing, and class projects. To help develop and polish these skills, I provide feedback and constructive criticism for each of these as the semester progresses. For my students, I will stress the importance of developing basic skills in education, as they will become crucial to their success later. I will purposely add examples of how subjects are applicable to other subjects based on the information I know about the students. After providing them with my examples, I will then ask students to share how they think these subjects apply to their interests and planned professions.

The spontaneity in the classroom, be it questions or discussions, teaches me what the students are interested in and how to best shape and present the material in terms of examples and activities. My students teach me a great deal and the overall experience I share with them in the classroom is tremendously rewarding. I get to be a part of students gaining interest in the subjects that captured my academic interests and gave me a life-long passion. Additionally, it is an opportunity and honor for me to pass on my love and knowledge of these subjects to others as well as the contributions a number of educators have made, and continue to make, in my life. Finally, my sincerest hope is that I pass on the inspiration, encouragement, and support in my academic pursuits to my students that my teachers passed on to me.

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