The official blog of the Ole Miss School of Education
More than 300 people gathered for an evening of food and fun at the SOE on Friday, Oct. 21 for the first-ever Guyton Fall Festival. The event—which was sponsored by the SOE, UM’s Teachers of Tomorrow, the Student Activities Association and the UM Museum—was free and open to the public and attendees were asked to bring school supplies to be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Oxford.
Event organizers were thrilled with the turnout and even more thrilled with the donations. More than 100 books and hundreds of various school supplies will go directly to Oxford’s Boys & Girls Club.
Many of the activities offered were not only fun, but educational (like chess and a mystery box game which focused on children’s sensory skills). In addition to games and food, the festival also offered arts and crafts activities led by the UM Museum.
According to Taylor Nash, vice president of UM’s Teachers of Tomorrow, the festival surpassed their expectations and is capable of becoming an even bigger event next year.
“There was a lot more promoting on campus for the festival than there has been for events in the past,” Nash said. “Teachers of Tomorrow did all the planning and organizing for the event and it turned out to be a huge success—it blew my mind, but we couldn’t have done it without the help of the sponsoring organizations.”
By Liz McCormick
Benjamin Reese, Jr., chief diversity officer and vice president of the Office for Institutional Equity at Duke University, will speak to University of Mississippi faculty, staff and students during a special event to discuss the role of implicit bias in people’s everyday lives on Thursday, Oct. 6.
The event is free and open to the public and will take place at the UM Student Union ballroom from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Reese will also do a special session with students within the UM School of Education on Friday, Oct. 7 at 9 a.m. at the Jackson Avenue Center.
“I think everyone is familiar with explicit biases—the conscious behaviors that are discriminatory,” explained Reese, a clinical psychologist with more than four decades of experience. “However, implicit biases refer to the ways in which we behave, or make decisions, that we are not aware of. We may think our decisions are fair and equitable, but there is still a subconscious bias.”
Implicit bias is a judgment and/or behavior that is rooted deep in subconscious attitudes and/or beliefs. Implicit biases can be either positive or negative toward a specific group with certain characteristics such as age, appearance, race, sexuality or weight.
“We want people to be aware that we all have biases,” said Nichelle Robinson, UM School of Education diversity officer, who coordinated the event. “It’s once we are aware of these that we can begin to work to change these behaviors.”
During the event, Reese will define implicit bias and share steps that individuals can use to identify and decrease these subconscious judgments.
He will also discuss free implicit association tests that can help individuals identify their own implicit biases. One example is Project Implicit hosted by Harvard University.
“I think it’s important to walk away (from this discussion) with an understanding of how bias develops within us,” Reese said. “There is some compelling research that suggests all of the ways that implicit biases operate and I will give some examples.”
For close to 40 years, Reese has consulted both public and private institutions on organizational change, conflict resolution, race relations, diversity and more.
The event is sponsored by UM’s: School of Education, Center for Inclusion and Cross-Cultural Engagement, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning and Office of Multicultural Affairs.
By A. Abernathy
Ron Clark, a celebrated educator, author and founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, met with SOE seniors and education mentors from UM’s World Class Teaching Program (WCTP) on Monday, Sept. 19 at a special event at the Oxford Conference Center.
During the event, Clark, who has worked in critical-needs schools in North Carolina and New York City and is a former Disney Teacher of the Year, shared a series of anecdotes from his career which included the educator’s “55 Rules” for being successful as a teacher.
“Children need to see that you will go above and beyond for them,” he told the group. “If they see that you care, they will let you teach them and let you discipline them.” [Read More…]
From 911 dispatcher to Oxford school teacher
By Liz McCormick
By 6:45 each morning, SOE alumna Danielle Little arrives at the Oxford Learning Center to prepare for morning lessons. The Horn Lake native is in her second year of teaching at the center and received the honor of being the Oxford School District’s 2016 First Year Teacher of the Year last spring—she was chosen out of eight first-year teachers across the district.
These days, Little’s daily schedule is jam-packed with a combination of teaching, grading and studying for graduate courses as she works toward a master’s degree. But three years ago, Little’s life looked very different. The Oxford teacher worked her way through college while also holding down a job as a 911 dispatcher. At the time, Little regularly worked through the night and then commuted more than an hour to Oxford for weekday classes.
“It sounds crazy, but I worked from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.,” Little explained. “I had class in Oxford at 8 a.m., so I would get off work, drive straight here and take a 45-minute nap in my car to get me through the morning. I had a 4.0 (my first) semester.”
Little set high expectations for herself as a student, and now she sets high expectations for her students in the classroom. Her caring and energetic demeanor motivates her students, who in turn motivate each other to do better—and so far, they have risen to the occasion.
“I go to bed thinking about the week ahead of me,” she said. “While I’m asleep, I think of lesson plans. I wake up thinking of things I can do for my kids to learn.”
At the Oxford Learning Center, Little teaches an accelerated program for students who have failed sixth-grade math. The Step Up Program hired Little immediately after she graduated in 2015 with her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. Little works with these students to get them ready to proceed to the eighth-grade by combining a version of sixth and seventh-grade math in one year.
“When I interviewed Danielle for this job, I was very impressed by her ability to motivate others and I knew that would be a crucial piece in leading this program,” said Oxford Learning Center principal Kathy Howington. “The students take Ms. Little very seriously because they know that she cares for them and wants them to do their best. They’re a community and they’re closely bonded.”
Little’s motivation to help students succeed stems from her own negative experience with math in middle school. After partaking in her high school’s childcare program, Little knew she wanted to change lives as an educator.
“I decided I wanted to get my degree in education so that I could go back to middle schools and help kids with math who just absolutely hate it,” said Little. “Once you’re in 6th or 7th grade, if you don’t have the basics then you’ve lost all interest—you don’t want to do math, everybody hates math, no one likes math class.”
For her students, Little is a calm, steady voice during difficult times in an accelerated math class, but she is no stranger to that role.
“I ended up landing the job as a 911 dispatcher because of my calm voice,” Little said. “When you answer 911, you have to have a calm voice and demeanor that people are going to listen to and respect during an emergency.”
While working as a full-time teacher, Little is also pursuing a master’s degree in special education at the SOE.
“I’m getting my master’s in special education because it’s going to help me with this program even more,” she said. “I have special education children in my classroom and this degree will give me a better understanding of what these kids need.”
The successful teacher and avid Pokémon Go player plans to stay with the Step Up Program for several years. Little hopes to eventually move into an administrative role with the program.
“I would love to be the program coordinator in the future,” she said. “That way I can work more on curriculum development, continuing the success of this program.”
It’s almost syllabus week and we want to celebrate with our first-ever Instagram contest! The School of Education is giving away Amazon gift cards to three lucky winners with the best “back to school” photos. Take a selfie or gather with your best friends during the first week of class (Aug. 22-26).
Here’s how to enter:
- Take a photo: Capture your back to school picture at the SOE
- Upload it: Share the photo to your Instagram
- Follow and Tag: Follow and tag @OleMissEdSchool
- Vote: Comment to vote for your favorite finalist on the SOE Instagram
The contest will begin Monday, August 22, and end on Friday. The next week, four finalists will be chosen by faculty and staff and featured on the SOE Instagram for voting starting on Monday, August 29. The top three photos with the most votes win Amazon gift cards.
- 1st place = $100 Amazon gift card
- 2nd place = $50 Amazon gift card
- 3rd place = $25 Amazon gift card