Monday Musings: October Reflections – My Month in Review at Indy/Ed

blog-contributorI have decided that my first Monday Musings of each month will include links and my reflections about all of my Indy/Ed posts from the previous month.

I began writing for Indy/Ed, an education blog that is part of the Citizen Education network, January 2017.  This network includes blogs in L.A., D.C., NOLA and Memphis.  I am humbled to be part of a network of educators and/or parents who are advocates for the least of these in the world of education.

Kimbal Musk Speaks at TURN Festival 10/2/2017

 “I am a proud urban educator, but I am also a proud urban gardener.  This school, which has an urban farm, was a culmination of my two loves.  During the tour, we learned about the TURN (Transforming URban Neighborhoods) Festival and I knew one day I would return to attend.”

I’m glad I had the opportunity to return to my childhood neighborhood and attend TURN Festival.  Of course, the highlight was hearing Kimbal Musk speak (yes Elon Musk’s brother), but my hope is to see more minorities involved in growing their own food and advocating for this work.

World Teachers’ Day 2017 10/5/2017

We cannot focus on recruiting more teachers if we don’t address why current teachers are fleeing the profession.  Yes, money matters and teachers need a livable wage, but money is not the only reason teachers are leaving, lack of freedom and lack of empowerment are.”

The lack of freedom in the teaching profession handicaps teachers.  I was elated when I read “Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” was the theme for World Teachers’ Day 2017.  We have much work to do to make educators in all schools feel empowered.

Mental Health Matters Not Just for Students, but for Their Teachers Too 10/10/2017

The one comment I heard the most that drove me crazy was, “The Lord never gives you more than you can bear.”  I thought, “But why does it feel unbearable?” It was the type of unbearable where I had to negotiate with myself to go to school each day.”

Initially when people meet me, they assume I’m shy.  I’m not and I’m transparent about my life when the opportunity presents itself.  The one place where many people didn’t know about my struggle with infertility was within my educator circle.  World Mental Health day was a perfect opportunity to share my story.  Many people, especially teachers, reached out to me after reading this post and shared how they have struggled with balancing mental wellness and the stress that comes with teaching.  Another publication plans to republish this piece later this year.  I hope school districts not only take the mental health of students more seriously, but also the mental health of the adults teaching those students.

It Will Take More Than Money to Diversify the Teaching Profession  10/15/2017

“You have to do more than throw money at minority high school students to get them to choose teaching as a career.  The reality is many professions are trying increase the number of minority employees and many of those professions do a better job of convincing high school students to go into their field instead of teaching.”

I received some push back on this piece.  The push back was all these recruitment strategies are pointless because schools cannot retain teachers.  What’s the point of recruiting if they are going to leave?  I agree the teacher shortage is multifaceted and we have to work on multiple issues simultaneously.

Will Craig Middle School Reopen in 2019?  10/18/2017

“We also have to be realistic about what’s going on in IPS – closing down John Marshall…Will the families want to come here?  There’s lots of movement.  We know we’ve got to do something; doing nothing is not an option.” 

I’m a proud Cougar and I attended Craig Middle School back in the 90s.  I was excited to learn my former middle school would possibly reopen.  The meeting about the possibility of reopening Craig Middle School was held in the former middle school which now houses the district’s administration and alternative high school.  I hadn’t been inside Craig in decades.  I had my boys with me and I told them, “Mommy and Daddy went to this school” and they just laughed.  I’m not sure why that was funny.  I hope Craig will be able to welcome more Cougars in the future.

Mississippi:  A Book Makes People ‘Uncomfortable’ But What About Your Flag?  10/19/2017

I find it interesting in a state where the Confederate emblem is part of its state flag that being ‘uncomfortable’ was the reason this novel was banned.  How many Mississippi citizens are uncomfortable when they see the state’s flag flying in the air?”

I’m glad to write an update about this story.  The school district reversed its decision, (probably due to backlash) and will allow students to read To Kill a Mockingbird as long as they have a signed permission slip.

A Principal’s Words Has Power  10/21/2017

“The worse part of attending a different school each year was losing friends. My best friend in kindergarten was a red-head girl and in first grade, it was a boy named John.  When I entered second grade, I decided I would not make any more friends because I didn’t see the point.  What if we moved again?  It would be another friendship lost.  By end of second grade, I’d succeeded. I ended the school year without friends.”

In October, I had the opportunity to write two blog posts about Lawrence Township, the district where I attended school from 2nd-12th grade.  This one was my favorite.  Mrs. Dyer, my elementary principal, helped changed my perspective and for that, I will be forever grateful.

When Teachers Fear Parents the Child Loses  10/24/2017

“I’m a parent and I get it.  You feel the teacher has wronged your child and you are angry.  I’ve been there, but I also know I have to think about how my actions will affect my relationship with my child’s teacher and how my actions might change the relationship between the teacher and my child.”

No one pursues education with the hope of getting into a physical altercation with parents.  Unfortunately, there has been an increase in violence against teachers reported on the news and numerous stories of educators not feeling safe.  Children are considered the most important part of a parent’s life and this makes emotions run high, but violence should never be the answer.

Washington Township Parents, School Hours & Boundaries Input Needed 10/28/2017

MSDWT parents, take the survey to have your voice heard.  School boundaries will change when the 2019-20 school year begins and the start and end times could also be adjusted.”

As a MSDWT resident and parent, I’m indifferent about what time school starts.  I just don’t want to have this conversation every couple of years.

Should Schools Celebrate Halloween? 10/30/2017

Halloween is one of the biggest commercial holidays which means inevitability schools will have to decide how to address it.  Should students be allowed to dress up at school or should Halloween be banned?”

My sons’ school allowed students to dress up as a character from a book if they paid a $1.00 (it went to a charitable cause that I can’t recall at the moment).  One of my sons didn’t care that I sent him to school without a costume, my other son was devastated.  We didn’t go to the YMCA this year or to the catholic church near our home for trunk or treat.  I told my boys we would go to my mom’s church.  Later, I learned that my son, who had a complete meltdown about not dressing up, was sad because as he later shared, “I thought we were just going to hear that man talk for a long time.”  I failed to explain that my mom’s church was having a trunk and treat and other activities on Halloween.  I think the most frustrating part was being told by numerous school employees, “I heard you guys don’t celebrate Halloween.”  I would have preferred the school to carry on with business as usual especially since a book character dress up day can take place any time of the year.

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