To print your own 'how to make a zine' zine, download the PDF document below and follow the instructions. Or if watching a how-to video is more your thing, here is a
link to a very rudimentary video I made.
I'd love to know if these instructions are helpful or if you have suggestions for making them more user-friendly. One of the great things about zines is that their easy to edit!
I'd also love to see your zine once it's complete! If you want to share you zine online, upload a picture of it to this Yogile Album www.yogile.com/bicxouqz7kj#21m where you'll also be able to download other people's zines to photocopy and share in print.
Ever since I decided that I wanted to write a few posts on ‘teacher’s who write’ I have been thinking about Vivian Gussin Paley. Since the 1970s she’s written numerous books reflecting on her kindergarten teaching experience and her views on learning. Written in a story-telling style, her books don’t read like an advice or strategy book, like so many teaching books do. They are personal meditations, making no assumptions as to how her experience might compare – or be superior – to others. She says, ‘I saw this, I noticed this’ And maybe next time you observe your own class, you’ll see it too and find that she was right. Her reflections and discoveries have informed important mindset shifts and even policy considerations in the US, around how to view early childhood learning.
Particularly poignant, to me, is her firm reliance and dedication to story-telling in her own writing, which reflects her belief in the central role of story-telling in children’s learning. At the time she started to share this belief in the US, rote-learning and memorization were institutionalised in school curricula. As a result of her work (and that of many others) play-based, child-led and story-centred approaches to education have all gained traction in recent years.
In our African/ South African context, the role of story-telling in education is caught between our colonial educational heritage (which ultimately looks like the same perfunctory, drill-based, production-line education that Vivian saw in US schools in the 1970s) and indigenous, traditional educational heritage, in which oral story-telling has always been central and indispensable. Literacy projects in South Africa, such as Nali-Bali and Book Dash, are well-aware of this and their literacy promotion campaigns in South Africa place story-telling at the heart of their message. Children learn through stories; what Vivian realised was that adults do too.
I love the echo created between her world and her work, the idea that she spent so much time listening to her student’s stories, and then used her own story-telling voice to encapsulate that classroom experience. I don’t doubt that her approach echoed with me when I decided to start writing ‘snapshots’ of my experiences at school, in something of a story-telling style.
I also wonder whether Vivian ever felt like I do, that since I can’t speak for other teacher’s (or student’s) experiences, I can’t in good conscience write from any other teacher’s perspective, which makes it very difficult to make claims, to insist on truth or any dogma. Story-telling is like holding film up to the light to see an image. It’s in negative, you can get an idea of the reality it has captured, but you also know that it is not the reality, it is an encapsulation, and the next story-teller might see the same scene very differently.
Read more Author Snapshots, in which I review other authors who write or blog about education. Or head to my main Snapshots page, where I tell stories from my own classroom.
I am starting this little foray into ‘teacher writers’ with a teaching blog called ‘Cult of Pedagogy’. Although by now the blog has many contributors it was started by a teacher and teacher trainer called Jennifer Gonzalez. She wanted to ‘talk inspired teaching’ with an engaged community – something that had been lacking in her school staffroom – and blogging became her vehicle and platform to do this.
I stumbled upon Cult of Pedagogy a few years ago, when I was researching ways to improve my classroom management (i.e. stop yelling at my students). Not only did Cult of Pedagogy have an article about exactly this topic it immediately struck me as a different kind of teacher blog – a thinking space, rather than just an instructive space. The formula for most teaching blogs seems to be ‘Hey I did this thing so well! Here’s what I did and here’s a small freebie to get you started or you can buy my bumper pack for $5.’ And while I don’t begrudge the existence of these kinds of teacher blogs (there are many truly glorious ones) I think Cult of Pedagogy's approach is refreshing – and important!
Cult of pedagogy is divided into three parts. There is ‘The Craft’, which looks into teaching methods and classroom management and raises pointed issues such as Are we Meeting the Needs of Black Girls? and about Making Schools a Safe Place for LGBTQ students. ‘Go Deep’ looks at education theory, professional development and also includes great book reviews. And then ‘Teacher Soul’ which talks about attitude adjustment, collaboration and staying inspired. ‘Teacher soul’ also includes stories, of individual teacher’s journeys like this ‘diary of a first-year teacher’ as well as inventive initiatives like ‘How one teacher started an urban gardening revolution’.
Although the whole site is US-centric, which is a somewhat tiresome characteristic of most teaching blogs online, it touches on topics that are relevant to many schooling contexts – particularly around issues of reform, justice and equity. If you are a teacher, or even if you aren’t, I recommend taking a turn around this site. Enjoy!
One of my aims for this website is to reflect on my teaching practice in relation to ideas and approaches I read about. Through this reflection I am hoping to discover insights about my own practice, and how to adapt and improve it. You can read some of my recent reflections on my Snapshots blog.
What excites me is that since I have been writing on Encounteract, I can already feel a difference in how I approach my everyday teaching. Ideas can be infectious and writing provides both a breeding ground and a catalyst for new forms and energies to be put into action.
At the same time one of the challenges I have faced, with regards to writing about the inspirational teaching practices I read about, is that I only know about these approaches anecdotally, and not experientially. And while I can google these ideas (and I do!) and watch videos about them and read stories, I can’t help but feel like I should first personally observe and experience these approaches before writing about them. I just do not know enough, yet, about many progressive educational approaches, apart from their basic introduction.
With this in mind, I consider that a couple of weeks ago I promised to write a post about progressive and radical ways to increase Student Talk Time in learning spaces. I googled and thought, and scribbled and planned and in the end I have come up with the somewhat disheartening conclusion that I simply do not have good access, right now, to the resources I would need to write this piece in the way that I’d like. So I am partly here to announce that I am putting this particular article in the back burner. But hopefully not for long!
In the meantime I am going to shift focus for the next little while to follow up on another earlier post in which I wrote about the internal dialogue that runs through my head and influences my state of mind, my actions and my teaching practice every day. To me, grappling with internal dialogue falls into the realm of mental health and self-esteem, which for teachers is incredibly important and I think often overlooked. I am particularly interested in the experience of new teachers and how they themselves learn in the classroom - how to adapt, how to cope, how to be.
To help me along, I have uncovered and discovered some truly wonderful and inspiring teacher thinkers and writers who offer wisdom in the art of reflecting and growing as a tool for teacher (and classroom) health. In the next week, I will aim to write short reviews or ‘snapshots’ about some of these various writers and thinkers to contribute to the broader discussion on teacher’s mental health and resilience. Enjoy!
A daunted but determined teacher irons out the fabric of her brain.