Naked Reflections Poetry: Shameless and Unapologetic

Tag Archives: Teaching

Back to School Nightmares (BTSN)

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My friend said he’s still having nightmares

After 23 years teaching

I thought

Every year of my entire teaching career

Before returning to my classroom

BTSNs devour my sleep

I’ve misplaced my classroom

I can’t talk when the students say hello

All the preparation is suddenly gone

My shoes are missing

I wore pajamas instead of my new clothes

A boy hits me and I hit him back

The principal decides to fire me

My lunch is rotten

My car is stolen

My alarm awakens me

I’m thinking I’ve found my car

But all I find is it’s time to wake up

And I haven’t even

Fallen asleep

Persevere and Hustle

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The Urban Dictionary says that hustle is

to have the courage, confidence,

self-belief and self-determination

to go out there and work it out

until you find the opportunities you want in life.

 

My full-time hustle is teaching children

Teaching novice teachers is my part-time hustle

I have to keep going.

Facing my students

praying for my students

preparing my students

to go out there

with courage, confidence,

self belief and self-determination

to find the opportunities

they want in life.

 

I have to hustle for them

not just for me

because by the time they graduate high school

and by the time they get their teaching credentials

someone will have said

they can’t do it, won’t have it, shouldn’t dream it

and someone will try to wash the color from their hearts

and build steel cages around their freedom

and distract their perseverance

until they can’t even utter a syllable of success.

 

But I will push the hustle into them

like it was pushed into me

and I will thank them for sticking with it

like they thanked me for not giving up on them.

 

#keepitreal2018

 

 

 

End of School Year Reflection: Sort of Funny Naked Truths

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This school year went fast

Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun

No

I’m glad I am done

It was hard

Stressful

Demanding

Sometimes downright insane.

I have never looked older or more tired

Than I did this year

My hair is so gray

It looks like spiders have nested across my scalp

And the spider veins in my legs creep like grapevines

My crow’s feet are longer than the side of my face

And I have pains in my stomach from all the chips I ate

And from waistbands on pants rearranging my insides.

I averaged 6 hours of sleep 5 days per week

Woke up at 3:27 a.m. to contemplate choking my cat

And contemplating with sincere intentions on how to tell a child

That cheerleading isn’t shaping her bright future

If she can’t multiply.

I wondered why one boy came to school angry

Another one so dirty he left smudges on his work at the start of the day

And several who cried at the sound of correction

Teaching and learning both require correction

So some days I chose my battles and won

Other days I lost.

In addition to my students, their needs and mine

My commitments to two university apprentices lived between my eyebrows

Watching new teachers teach and guiding their practice

Resemble teaching a baby to walk, throw a fast pitch, and speak 3 languages simultaneously.

Throughout this time, my students took on multiple personalities

I did not always know who was who and what was what

Elements of surprise lingered

Cupcakes showed up without prior approval

Birthday cakes delivered without knives for cutting or plates for plating

Text messages asked what time school dismissed

Daily university emails demanded feedback on positionality and equity

Immediately I wondered if my position was actually an imposition.

Students inquired why I wasn’t doing Middle School Day

Hmm.

Middle School Day required me to

be 3 different teachers

with 3 different accents

for 3 different subjects

I did that

My students just didn’t know it.

I apologized

To myself if I wasn’t spectacular enough

To my students if I hurt anyone’s feelings

Or didn’t make them feel special

To my body and soul for wearing them out.

Every school year is different

Every class has their unique spirit

Every summer

I detox

I rejuvenate

I become an aquaholic

I worship God and my gifts

And ask Him to heal me and renew me

In time for my new class.

If He doesn’t

He will retire me.

 

 

“I Am” 30-Day Challenge #18

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I am committed to making a positive change in my classroom. I refuse to let three students take the fun out of my teaching or out of my other students’ learning. Great teaching and learning will kill the negative energy. Majority rules and so do I!

“I Am” 30-Day Challenge #3

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I am confident that my calling needs protection. I can’t let anyone or anything stop me from teaching my students in the way that best shows my gifts.

#30DaysofIAm

Conclusions

No GravatarThe conclusion of the 2010-2011 school year comes at the end of this week, and I am truly thankful.  I am not sad, I am overjoyed.  I know that it has been one of the toughest years in my 25 year career, but I also know that I have given it all I possibly could give.  I have only done what I have always done, and that is work within my calling.  I am a servant of God.  He chose me to teach, that is one of my gifts, and I teach with 100% determination, perseverance, and purpose.  If my students faltered in any way, there is peace in knowing that I did all that I could do, each and every day.

I had a discussion with my principal recently.  I expressed concern that educators today are not equipped or trained to deal with the changing generations we are teaching.  Somewhere along the way, children became technologically responsive, but personally disconnected.  Somewhere along the way, children were given what they wanted, but never had to work hard to earn anything.  Somewhere along the way, parents allowed their children to disrespect their teachers because these children were imitating their parents.  Somewhere along the way, teachers were expected to continue to reach, teach, love, guide, nurture, plan, facilitate, and educate regardless of the types of children they were given.  This is what I have done, and for that reason, I am overjoyed to see the conclusion of this school year ahead of me.  Although I am not trained to deal with the changing generations, I am highly trained and effective at doing what God gave me to do.

I know that in a matter of weeks, the fire will be reignited.  The fire that calls me to the classroom in the Fall with new ideas, fresh materials, and a rekindling of desire will burn on high to make a changing generation believe the unchanging dedicated teacher!

Digital Divisions and Lack of Provisions

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I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to attend the CUE Conference for educators in Palm Springs.  This conference focuses on technology in education, including all forms of mobile media, devices, computers, Smart Boards, and much more.  I learned many new things from this experience.  I can’t say that I have a plethora of new ideas and strategies to use in my classroom on Monday, but I do have a new perspective on what I DON’T HAVE!  I also have a new respect for myself as an educator because I am insuring that my students are competitive and successful academically, socially, and morally.  Now, I just have to determine how I will insure they can compete in a technologically driven society that is not going to forgive them for not being prepared to master the digital world!
Digital divisions and lack of provisions will keep otherwise brilliant and highly capable children from accessing equal opportunities for success.  In one session I attended, the instructor shared a program with teachers that required daily use of a Smart Board.  We have a Smart Board in our technology lab, but the students attend the lab for 40 minutes per week which is equivalent to 1600 minutes per year, equaling about 27 hours!  In short, my students will have used a Smart Board for one and 1/8 days in the course of a full school year!  Wow!!!  Is that sufficient time in comparison to those who have access to a Smart Board 5 hours per day, 5 days per week?  That equals 25 hours per week; 2 hours short of what my students will get in a school year! Those students will have Smart Board education 1,000 hours per year compared to mine who will have 27 hours in a year!  And that was just my first workshop…proving the digital division is wider than I thought!
Another session I attended opened my eyes to the real lack of provisions for many students.  This session was interesting and useful to me as an educator.  It showed me how my students can use Voice Threading as a means for sharing their work online.  I instantly thought of how my students could read their poetry, show their artwork, and really be proud of their writing if they could use Voice Threading.  Well, here is my next dilemma.  There is a free program to use, but of course it limits the amount of actual voice threading that can be uploaded.  Why would I want to use the free program and not be able to have all my students’ voices heard?  That’s not going to happen.  Will there be money in our school’s budget to purchase the full program?  Of course not! We don’t have the money in next year’s budget to purchase our nurse, psychologist, or counselor for a sufficient block of time.  Oh well, I guess I will utilize the free program for now and possibly the children can work in groups and read group poetry as opposed to individual poems.  The divide is wide!
Later, I attended a highly interactive and exciting workshop on Higher-Order Thinking.  My first thought was that I would get differentiation strategies for my gifted students.  Well, I was way off base!  The presenter used a Smart Board and “clickers,” a device that the audience members use to respond to the presenter’s prompts or questions.  Oh my, isn’t that what Oprah’s audience members used on a show where Dr. Oz asked health questions and the audience responded with these “clickers?”  At that point, I was really angry sitting in this session with a “clicker” that my students and I have never even seen before!  When the presenter asked a geometry question and everyone clicked in their responses, the data was shown on his Smart Board!  How impressive, amazing, and engaging, all the things that make learning exciting and memorable!  Maybe my students can use old-fashioned, hand-held white boards, write their answers, and hold up the boards!  Then, all I have to do is count and record all 25 responses without losing my students’ attention! Right!!
Lastly, the session that I was most anticipating and cost the most to attend, was called iBootcamp.  This three-hour workshop focused on ways to use an iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad in the classroom.  In the beginning I was a little befuddled because who can assume that our students have all these “i’s” to use at school?? I felt a little better after the second hour because I was able to use my iPod Touch (purchased through Donors Choose).  The only problem was that my iPod Touch was not the “newer generation” so the picture-taking capabilities were not there.  My iPod Touch has no camera because they were not made at the time when mine was donated!  Nevertheless, I was engaged because at least I learned some useful applications.  I was told that my students can use the single iPod Touch for Story Robe, an application that gives them the platform for writing a story, adding pictures, and recording it.  Hopefully, somehow I can get a microphone to go with the “old generation” iPod Touch so my students can record their stories.   It was also in this session that the audience was asked, “Who has an iPad; who has a Mac Book Pro; who has an iPod Touch; who has an iPhone?” The presenter needed to determine the needs and the abilities of his audience.  Well, I was not the only one who didn’t have an iPhone or iPad, but I was the only one who had not yet used any “apps” with my students.  I have never been one to act like I know if I don’t or act like I have something that I don’t have so I figured why start now. Go ahead and keep that one and only hand raised so that you can LEARN!!  Aside from being looked at by the lady next to me like I was this poor little under-privileged teacher when I told her that my school did not have the resources to utilize the “apps” the presenter was sharing, I walked away from that session feeling more amazing and awesome than ever!
I am amazing and awesome because just like Mary McLeod Bethune who started a school with $0.25 or Marva Collins who taught the lowest achieving students to master Shakespeare and believe in their God-given gifts, I too am making a lasting impact on my students with or without 21st century technology in my classroom.  The digital divisions and lack of provisions cannot be rectified overnight, but if we all spread the word and demand our voices are heard, maybe we can at least “click” our ways into success, and someday add a few more hours to our Smart Board experiences.

Do You See What I See?

No GravatarThis was our first week back to school.  I was eager and excited, as always, to see and meet my new students.  I sensed the anticipation of a new and rewarding school year in the air as my students walked into their new classroom.  They were smiling, nervous, and showing signs of relief, as they learned that I would add unexpected humor and fun to diminish their stress throughout the day.

As the first and second days of school concluded, I had that conversation in my head that I have every single year:  “Do you see what I see?”  As a parent of a son and a daughter, I have kept my eyes open to signs of struggle, signs of success, and any signs that may have indicated that either of them needed more than just a nudge to get through school.  They have both completed high school and are continuing their educations in college.  Struggling from time to time, but nonetheless, they have pushed through obstacles and asked for support when needed.  As a teacher for 25 years in elementary education, I keep my eyes open the same way for my students, but I have to ask every year, “Do you see what I see?”

Parents are special, as are their children.  Many times, I have had parents who tell me that their child is not the same at school as they are at home, and they are shocked when I tell them their child is wonderful!!!  Then, quite often, I have had the parent who says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, my child doesn’t do anything like this at home.”  This response follows my question, “What can I do to help your child to perform and succeed, because at this point he/she is showing signs of serious struggle and conflict in my classroom?”  “Do you see what I see?”  Of course not!  According to the parent, this child goes home, does chores, does homework and then loses it before returning to school, speaks respectfully to parents, and shows responsibility and love in the household.  They are just not doing as they’re told at school, and they don’t know why or what to do about it.  Thus, they tell the child to stop being lazy and to apologize to me for not doing the right thing!

What am I to do when the parent does not see what I see and does not think there could be anything wrong? What am I to do when a child says he doesn’t care if he never gets any rewards because they don’t matter?  What am I to do when a child says she doesn’t do her work because it’s not fair that she has to do it??
What am I to do when a child has full academic potential and ability, but the rage that distracts him from my positive intentions overpowers him and speaks louder than any of my lessons?

My husband says I will figure it out, I always do.  My sister says that there should be someone at the school who can help kids who struggle like this.  My mother says she feels sorry for me and hopes it gets better.  My coworkers all say to focus on the positive, keep reaching out to the parents, and know that one day that child will remember what I tried to do.

I say, “Do you see what I see?”


I believe that some children have become immune to the realities of our school system because they’re immersed in a virtual world that allows them to change their virtual reality with the simple click of a thumb on a plastic controller.  I believe that if I’m not careful, I might say or do something that triggers the mental device to delete me from their consciousness.  I guess I need to put myself on a video game and teach through technology.  I need to show them how to conjugate verbs, solve for the variable in algebra, identify the causes/effects of war, and value the empowerment that human suffering had on the building of our country!  Should I do this through degrading music, violence, and superhuman powers that defy all mankind? 


DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE?

if u cn rd ths thn u r smrtr thn a frst grdr

No GravatarWhat does it take to be smarter than a first grader?  I have some issues when people who can’t spell publicly display their inadequacies and deficiencies.  Some of you have seen my collection of writings that were taken from the educational realm that I work in.  Some of you have heard about the terrible errors presented to educators, not from their students, but from their leaders.  I would like to include this type of debacle in the teaching section of my blog.  If it’s something I find in public view, I will try to capture photos and share.  If it’s something I hear or read, then trust me when I present it to you in writing.

Finally, I will not share commonly misused/mispronounced words that have their roots in slavery.  We have learned that many of these forms of English were the result of the West African slave trade, and they are really not “mistakes” but they follow a rule-governed system in language.

The following examples have nothing to do with slavery!  I hope you aren’t fans of these errors!!  🙂

  • Is “supposably” a word?
  • How hard is it to know the difference between it’s and its?  Does anyone know the purpose of the apostrophe?  When in doubt choose “C” not “apostrophe!”
  • Cindy Nail  (This is the sign of a nail salon, but I guess you only get one nail polished or possibly you may purchase a nail and hammer)
  • Cigarettes and Tabacco -Sign on Manchester Ave. Do they mean Tobacco or Tabasco? I’m not sure!
  • Saw a truck with a painted panel for his business that said “Hany Man Hauling and Repairing” OMG isn’t it easier to spell “handy” than “hauling and repairing?”  Or was his name Hany?

Hoarder Headquarters

No GravatarI was watching television this evening and saw the preview for the latest reality TV craziness called Animal Hoarders!  I instantly thought, “Well I would rather hoard pets than trash!”  Then I realized how easy it would be to have a show called Teacher Hoarders (teachers who hoard school supplies, not students or animals).  Here’s an example:

Sometimes a teacher is in need of yarn at the spur of the moment.  She (never he) sends a note to alllllllllllll the teachers she thinks may have extra yarn to loan her unexpectedly.  Each teacher she sends the note to, reads it and thinks to herself, “Is the yarn easy to get to or do I have to hunt for it?” (hint: sign of hoarding)  By the time the student monitor goes to each of these teachers for yarn, the lesson has lost its excitement.  Why?  Because when the child comes back WITHOUT yarn, the teacher will tell the class, “We will do this another day because no one in the whole school has any yarn!” (hint: placing blame is a sign of hoarding disorder)  The class grumbles and the teacher says, “Well let me look really fast to see if I have any yarn.” (hint: signs of hoarding coming).

The teacher opens the “supply closet.”  She stands there, with her mouth agape, hands on hips, back to the class and scans the closet without touching anything first.  She knows there is yarn in there somewhere.  She moves a few board games with missing pieces, empty scissor racks, and old jigsaw puzzles out of the way, and there lies 5 packs of colored construction paper!  No yarn.  Does she bother to keep looking for yarn?  No, because she is more excited to have found the pink construction paper that she has been looking for since Valentine’s Day!

Yes, teachers hoard, but it’s only because we are never sure if we will ever get paper again!
And the reason this teacher is a “she” and never a “he” is because if he had been teaching and needed yarn, he would have told the class to be ready for his magic trick and to keep their eyes on the imaginary yarn!