Saturday, April 30, 2011

#WINNING


This week I had a success. As an educator.

There weren't any roses on Monday & Tuesday... but by Wednesday my writing student won.
Which means I won. You see, this guy is rather funny/difficult/independent/lacking.

He has a clever sense of humor but is dramatically behind his peers in every social, emotional,  and academic cohort.

We write together three times a week. But it was always more like he scribbled and I interpreted. In fact, my preschool son was a bit more legible than he.

I had been pondering his predicament and brain-stormed with staff.  It wasn't enough for me; to be the only person who knew what he had written.

One idea was to start re-introducing and practicing individual letters with him. As well as giving him an opportunity to write on grammar paper, to help with structure.

First came the letters' re-intro, which went pretty well and allowed me to focus on his penmanship. Next came the grammar sheets and GOSH (!), the difference was night and day.

For the first time,  my peers could actually read what he had written, without my interpretation!

As an parent I constantly evaluate whether I would want ME as my childrens' teacher. Am I an effective educator? Do I respect my students needs and abilities?

Sometimes I feel liking I'm just not cutting the mustard. But this week folks, I had #tigerblood :o)

And it feels good. Kinda like I'd hire myself. Experiences like this are why I teach. And why I must master my profession, one day at a time.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Meta Me


Does the old me get shed
in attempts to birth a stronger
woman, the girl who was trusting
optimistic naïve. Long gone vanished?
What gets lost in the metamorphosis?
Which parts endure? Hope, love, faith?
Those parts of me must last.

~Happy Six Words Friday! Join in the fun here :o)

Friday, April 22, 2011

"The Help" on the big screen

The Help (movie) is coming out in August! The book by Kathryn Stockett, was written from a young white woman's perspective in Mississippi.

Distressed by the status quo, the protagonist enlists the help of African American maids and nannies to tell the stories of their lives; of their service to white families. Once their stories go into print the world around them irrevocably begins to change.

I read this book en route to Germany last November and could not put it down. This is wonderful novel! I sincerely cannot wait to see the film.

Illegal education


Another mom, Tanya McDowell (Connecticut), was arrested for sending her child to an out of district school. (Read about Ohio mom, Kelley Bolar here)

The twist in this case was that the mother and child were homeless, meaning they had no place of residence. Similar to Bolar, McDowell was arrested. ARRESTED. For sending her child to a school he didn't belong in.

I saw "Waiting for Superman", the educational documentary, about a week ago. It didn't tell me anything I don't already know.  I know my school district is failing. I know a bad teacher can get tenure and clog up the classroom for up to 35 years. I know thousands of parents like me want a change, but may not be able to pay private school fees for multiple children.

Stories like this are so frustrating because, for many, there is no alternative. If we can not cross district lines, if our advocating still does not ensure an Art teacher for our children, if finding/printing/giving supplemental worksheets to our children doesn't increase their national averages, then what?

I wonder, do the administrators/principals,/teachers/board members, who run failing districts send their child to failing schools? Or do they live across district lines? Are their children in private schools?
Is jail the risk of incarceration a fair alternative for a desperate parent?
Some may think public schools can't be that bad. And all of them aren't. But working in schools has allowed me to see the "amazing instructor" next door to the "screaming teacher". The "innovator" down the hall from the "demean-er".

Teachers aren't the enemy by a long-shot. However, accountability for instructors and the administrators who employ them, could go a long way in turning around failing schools/districts. CEO have to account for their businesses thriving or failing, so should school officials.

If things go my way I'll be certified within 20 months, have my own classroom in 24, post-grad in 36, etc, etc. Throughout my career, will I find a mentor help me excel as a teacher? Will my district encourage teachers to take professional development? Will there be ways to track my effectiveness? Will I be compensated for being effective?

And in the meantime...for the kids down the hall...

What's the alternative? The answer eludes me, and I'm sick of waiting for Superman.

My Diva Granny


This is for Diva Granny now;
who through 2 marriages, 5 strokes,
3 or 4 seizures, several jheri curls,
red hair dye, alcoholism, chitterlings, pigfeet,
and circus peanuts is still here.
In her nursing home, painting her
nails red. That's her signature color.
At peace. Getting weekly salon visits,
and eating food without enough salt.
Exercising 60 minutes a day. Receiving
Harry & David fruit in the mail.
I'm grateful she's here to ask
about our children, jobs, sexual health,
my school work, and her exes.
Too many blessings to ever count.

~The is my Six Word Fridays post. Wanna join in the fun? Visit Melissa here to learn how!~

Just live your life


Just got back from a weekend in Indiana with my family. After traveling for almost ten years it was so good to see the people I grew up with and learned from.

This year my Uncle Lee presented a beautiful and moving tribute to my Grandfather. I was able to help put it together. Sure didn't plan on crying, but after thinking of all the things Pa-Pa has seen and done; I got a little choked up.

This is the SeaBee who had gone to war while serving in the Navy. The Navy that had been integrated just a few years after his birth. This is the first African American Master Chief in his classification. As a side note, when I learned of this honor, I was amazed. But, Papa was quick to point out,  he was not the first to earn this station, just the first black man to receive it. And while this take is true....
He is still The FIRST in my eyes.
My grandfather built things, bought property, traveled the world, and most importantly lead his family as the oldest son.

Going through hundreds of family photos in sepia and gray, gave me occasion to once again ponder the stories of my elders.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Can a feminist support the Islamic Burqa?


I believe a woman has the right to endeavor any task her heart sets her toward. And I also believe that ALL major religions have a vein of misogyny, whether it be in their sacred texts or in a practiced tradition. But it is most certainly a woman's right to submit to them. Or not.

So when France tells a Muslim woman it is illegal to cover her face in public, they are violating her religious/civil rights. 

I can understand the need for public safety rules. Such as, "All citizens must present identification upon request". However, that is already the law. This new rule against burqa's and veils is wrong-headed, discriminatory, and anti-women's rights.

A traditional Muslim woman may wear a veil for any number of reasons. One being her husband's preference. This degree of submission not MY preference, however it is her right to submit.

The government of France, by trying to de-veil her, may in essence be taking away her freedom to leave the house and enter the public square.

And suppose the burqa is her personal preference. Should the State substitute it's conscious for her own? Does this a FREE woman make?

Before we burn burqa's to "liberate" Muslim women, let us first re-examine the ethics/soundness of a State interfering in a woman's religious preferences/practices.

stuck in replay

This is my 2nd week doing Six Word Fridays, but technically this will be my 3rd entry ;o)

you listened but couldn't find music
the first track was already scratched
teflon lining won't let it play
can you make a new song
 six word fridays

Letter to my sons

After learning of the mother who drove her van off the road, taking her babies with her, my heart ached. And I began to think of the anguish and madness a woman must be feeling in order to kill her own children.
I can not understand it.

There have been times when I've wanted to run away for sure. Run away to find some peace and quiet. A chance to be alone and breath and think. But I can't imagine my life without them, my boys. And I can not bear the thought of their precious brown lives being cut short.
God forbid.

There is so much I want them to see and know. And now, in New York, there is a 10 year old, brown boy that will see and know life without his mother's love and protection. So for him, and for my sons, and for little brown boys that happen to be alone; here is my letter:


Dear Sons,

You are so special. Your life will change so many things in this world. One day your ideas will change people's minds. And your love will guide children toward truth and love.

I expect a lot from you. So I want you to be strong even when its hard. And people will need you to work even when you are tired. Be sure to work very hard, boys.

One day your strength and your endeavors will pay off. In time you will reap the rewards of your efforts.

Boys, some people will expect you to dress/think/talk/play a certain way because of how you look, or where you've come from. But we know, you and I, that you can dress/think/talk/play in any way that suits you. You are not a group, you are my beautiful son.

There is a voice in your heart, that is the voice that must guide you. Not the bullies. Ignore the bullies for they will always be hanging around wanting to mind your business. Do not let them. Your business/life/choices are your own to make.

And some days you will WIN, boys. Rejoice and give thanks. Because on other days you will cry. Cry, sons. Then wipe your tears away. And other days you will fall. Fall, sons. Then get back up, we don't stay down. Some days you will fail. Fail, sons. Then try again and again and again.

Win, cry, fall, fail, try; because this is how you will know that you are living well.

I love you, you can do this.

Mom

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This right here


One of my new twitter/blog/interWebs friends, Molly, posted such a great Six Word Fridays blog, that I've been thinking of another take on "Right" ever since. You wanna hear it, well here it go:

She has been right most of
the TIME, and is quite sure
she could continue to be so

But Sista doesn't need RIGHT anymore
she feens heart adulation lust
trust support and ride or die

Evolution she knows, isn't the enemy
familiarity instead, is death to her
and Sista needs breathe life passion

That's her right now wish fullness

Cosby on Trump

Ya know, this Trump this is bothering me more than he's worth. The fact that "The Donald" is now supporting conspiracy theories is so beyond the realm of reason and sensibility.

And to top it all off, I now must boycott his shows! And I really liked the "Apprentice" franchise...smh

Cosby said it well so I'll just post the video below:
"You Run or Shut up!"

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Friday, April 8, 2011

Book Review: There is a flower at the tip of my nose smelling me

"There is a road at the bottom of my foot walking me"

I stumbled upon Alice Walkers' book of prose at my school's library. Immediately the lovely brown child and enchanting words drew me in.

I checked the book out, hurried back to my classroom and became enmeshed in Alice Walker's world.

"There is a sunrise at the edge of my skin praising me"

The lyricism was so electrying, yet gentle. I loved it.

Walker was inspired to write this book during a walk in nature, with her beloved dog.
I can only hope to one day posses the ability to harness the earth into my pencil, and create a work like this.

Published in 2006 by HarperCollins, your local library may have this treat as well.

But, I think I'm going to purchase "There is a flower..." Because gems like this need a special place on my book shelf.

Right

Why can't I get this right?
What am I missing right now?
Perhaps I'm just a little off.
I just need some more clarity.
Has wisdom hid herself from me?
Please tell her I'm right here!

~This is my first Six Word Friday! What do you think? The subject was "Right", leave your six words in the comment section~

Saturday, April 2, 2011

2 things I'm thinking about

1. The moment Margaret, in All Different Kinds of Free, knew the Master would never let her leave his plantation "honorably", that she'd have to get the hell outta there herself.

I have frequently pondered why a slave would stay in bondage? Why wouldn't they revolt? Run away? Or even commit suicide in protest? What I've come to realize is that people largely want peace and order life. No, enslaved African-Americans did not enjoy bondage.
But how reluctant would I be to slit the Master's throat? To run, not knowing the outcome?

Fantasy can be much sweeter than reality. And it is easy as a reader of history, to call those who stayed passive, when I have yet to attend a public rally/protest against Wars/AIDS/Education inequality.

I salute those who attempted to run to freedom and  I empathize with those who stayed.

2. There are currently more African American men incarcerated in the United States of America (846,000 or 40.2% of inmates), then were male slaves prior to the Civil War (1830). (The Root) (Wikipedia)

And to think, as these men return to their communities, they will lack education, voting rights, and marketable jobs skills. And those who were imprisoned for drug use/possession will leave jail still battling with the same issues that landed them in prison originally.

And so the cycle goes. Lock em' up and throw away the key, how's that working for us?