Posted in Being a better teacher, Best Practices, Big Questions, Critical Thinking, Culturally Relevant Teaching, Uncategorized

Fresh Start 101

Do students come to your classroom year with reputations? 

Well.

Yes.

And–I’m struggling with the past clinging to some students.

That’s about as diplomatic as I’m can muster right now.

How Black Girls Aren’t Presumed to Be Innocent

A growing body of evidence has shown that the American education and criminal-justice systems dole out harsher and more frequent discipline to black youth compared with their non-black peers. But while most of that research has focused on black boys, a new study from the Georgetown Law Center on Poverty and Inequality specifically turned its attention to society’s perception of black girls.

 

Further in the article:

Black girls describe being labeled and suspended for being “disruptive” or “defiant” if they ask questions or otherwise engage in activities that adults consider affronts to their authority. Across the country, we see black girls being placed in handcuffs for having tantrums in kindergarten classrooms, thrown out of class for asking questions, sent home from school for arriving in shorts on a hot day. … We also see black girls criminalized—arrested on campus or referred to law enforcement—instead of engaged as children and teens whose mistakes could be addressed through non-punitive, restorative approaches.

 

Black Boys Viewed as Older, Less Innocent Than Whites, Research Finds

“The evidence shows that perceptions of the essential nature of children can be affected by race, and for black children, this can mean they lose the protection afforded by assumed childhood innocence well before they become adults,” said co-author Matthew Jackson, PhD, also of UCLA. “With the average age overestimation for black boys exceeding four-and-a-half years, in some cases, black children may be viewed as adults when they are just 13 years old.”

I’m sharing these articles in the hope that we all are a bit more cognizant of our implicit biases and perceptions about children, especially children of color. There are more than a few behavior issues in my afternoon classes, and I’ve been doing a mountain of reflection. I can feel my brain buzzing in the early morning from the currents of thought and concern. Juggling new, top-heavy curriculum, leveled, a prescripted reading program that flies in the face of everything I’ve researched, and thirty-minute schedules to teach U.S.History (yes, thirty minutes) along with the new committees, expectations, navigating the new culture of my new workplace and district–it’s a lot. As I remind myself I am the adult here– and if my situation is challenging I must keep in mind how difficult it must be for students. Listening and reading a book you don’t like or can’t connect with? Silent reading for thirty minutes? And then pivoting to other ideas that seem random, as instructed from the same teacher, same space? I’m going to have to do better: it’s going to take both tricks and treats to move learning along.

In the meantime, thanks to many generous donors, and getting a decent payday myself, my DonorsChoose was fully funded. I am hoping that the #projectLIT books help my scholars see themselves in narratives.

Amazon Business
Ordered on 9/28/2018
Item # Qty Status Updates from Vendor
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter 1524700487 3 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
The Parker Inheritance 0545946174 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
The Stars Beneath Our Feet 1524701246 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Rebound (The Crossover Series) 0544868137 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Sunny (Track) 1481450212 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story 0547577311 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
The Stars Beneath Our Feet 1524701246 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Amina’s Voice 1481492071 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood 1473635306 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Sunny (Track) 1481450212 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Amina’s Voice 1481492071 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story 0547577311 4 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood 1473635306 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Tradition 1481480340 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha) 1250170974 10 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Ghost Boys 0316262285 5 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives 0374303231 5 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
All American Boys 1481463349 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Rebound (The Crossover Series) 0544868137 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Sunday September 30, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA302580213000
Time Bomb 0544416708 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  FedEx
Tracking number:  614151435414
Amal Unbound 0399544682 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  FedEx
Tracking number:  614151435414
Amal Unbound 0399544682 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  FedEx
Tracking number:  614151435414
Pride 0062564048 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  FedEx
Tracking number:  614151435414
Like Vanessa 1580897770 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
Speak: The Graphic Novel 0374300283 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
Like Vanessa 1580897770 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
Long Way Down 1481438255 10 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
Dread Nation 0062570609 10 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
When I Was the Greatest 1442459484 3 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
Speak: The Graphic Novel 0374300283 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  Amazon Logistics
Tracking number:  TBA301005751000
I Am Alfonso Jones 1620142635 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Wednesday October 3, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZA7815W0387652176
I Am Alfonso Jones 1620142635 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Saturday September 29, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Wednesday October 3, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZA7815W0387652176
Allegedly 0062422650 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Friday September 28, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZE801R81305695121
The Poet X 0062662805 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Friday September 28, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZE801R81305695121
Allegedly 0062422650 1 Shipped
Ship date:  Friday September 28, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZE801R81305695121
The Hate U Give 0062498533 10 Shipped
Ship date:  Friday September 28, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZE801R81305695121
The Poet X 0062662805 5 Shipped
Ship date:  Friday September 28, 2018
Delivery estimate:  Tuesday October 2, 2018
Carrier:  UPS
Tracking number:  1ZE801R81305695121
Odd One Out 1101939532 1 Available and being processed by Amazon Business
Odd One Out 1101939532 1 Available and being processed by Amazon Business
On The Come Up 0062498568 1 Not available
We’re reviewing your replacement order
Posted in burning questions

Stop and eat a Pop-tart. (revised)

My brother-in-law said it best this morning on Facebook: “Sometimes I hate us. This is one of those times.” The ‘us’ he referred to is us humans. I get you, bro, I really do. Yesterday I had a belly-full of contentious social media postings: the general screaming from my conservative friends and National Enquirer-esque mode of salacious, taunting headlines such as  “THINGS DEMOCRATS DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW” just became so tired and trite. Were these otherwise kind, intelligent people seriously believing the garbage? And this is not a one-sided observation: any comments about how politicians on both sides play the cards they are dealt when they get a winning hand became lost in the din. Rationality drowned out by roars. My personal fatigue with trying to have an interesting conversation about things political felt combative and harassing. Folks were getting a little too aggro, if you know what I mean.

My burning question is–what role do,  or should teachers and educators play in terms of debate and opinion? How much value do our personal biases possess in a classroom or meeting? In my utopia, not much, but admittedly, I am flawed. There are some beliefs I cannot reconcile: teaching creationism as science, not as a religious belief, teaching the 6,000-year-old earth idea, flat earth, or discussing religious or political views with students.

This morning was chatting with a friend who lives on the east coast and heard some worrisome tales. Her granddaughter came home with quotes from the teacher saying she was going to vote for Trump because he ‘cares about jobs.’ Also, this teacher asked the kids who had been spanked, and ‘she could tell because those were the good ones.’ Now let me flip this: the teacher said Obama cares about jobs, and kids should never be spanked. (It wasn’t Obama, but I’ve heard some kids speak their parents’ political views about him, too.) In a country as polarized as ours, the students are now divided. And those that fall away from the teacher’s point of view now feel this unease, this sense of ‘the teacher doesn’t like me.’ And they’re right. Often if we don’t feel liked or respected, we go into a defensive stance, and if our family’s values don’t align with the teachers, we end up not liking that person who made us feel bad. And as Rita Pierson says so wisely, “Kids don’t learn from teachers they don’t like.”

This fourth-grade granddaughter also gets 3.5 hours of homework a night, too. I see the love of learning going straight down the tubes.

Now, what should parents do when their child is told something that doesn’t align with their values? There is nothing wrong with seeking to understand from the teacher, and the principal, with the mindset that this is information gathering and clarification, not a witch-hunt. All of us have said something that out of context can be taken the wrong way in our classrooms. That’s the human piece, and where we truly put our critical thinking skills to the test. Instead of assumptions, seeking context and clarity helps us all. Questioning. Seeking. If we don’t know that we offended someone, we never get the opportunity to mend the rift.

The takeaway is to keep religious and political views out of the classroom. Wait–that’s not quite right. How about make sure the conversation is always three-sided. Use the critical questions skills to challenge ideas, defend ideas, and construct new ones, teachers and students alike. But –with caution –be clear of intent. We are not trying to make students feel that we don’t like them if their views and conclusions are not ours. That’s when we need to check our biases and privilege. (The privilege comes from years of life experience, education, and safe places to come to our own points of view. Students haven’t had this luxury yet.)  Consider age-appropriate discussions. Teach facts, opinions, and truth. Encourage creative, critical thinking with questioning skills and reflection

Caveat: once all modes of diplomacy and peace offerings have been…err..offered, and there still exists tension, I’m not sure what to do with that. Go all “Taylor Swift At The Grammys” speech I suppose.