Monday Musings: Take a Break or Push Through?

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…so I’m sick right now.  I might have a fever, but I don’t know.  Of course, the thermometer stops working when mom needs to use it.

Saturday

I started going downhill when the weekend began, but I already had put on my calendar that I was going to go to work.  I’m a pretty scheduled person because of various commitments and I knew it might be a few weeks before I could go in again on a Saturday.  I like my new job, but there are all these random loose ends that need to be taken care of that are driving me crazy.

This is how my conversation about working on Saturday went with my hubby

Me: Do you mind coming to work with me to help me get some stuff done?

Hubby: Yes.

Me:  Did you mean yes, you mind?

Hubby: Yep.

Me:  Are you serious right now.

Hubby: Yep.

Me: Is that all you have to say?

Hubby: Nope.

Me: Well!

Hubby: It’s the weekend and I don’t want to go to your job; I want to chill and you need to rest.

Me: So, you are not coming?

Hubby: Was free labor part of the contract of marrying a teacher?

I won’t bore you with the rest of the conversation, but he and my boys came to my school on Saturday.  My boys helped and hubby mostly relaxed in a chair, texted his friends in a group chat and watched videos on his phone.  He did help right before we left so I could hurry up and get finished.

Sunday

I was up at 3 a.m. and was miserable.  By 6:30 a.m., I was dressed and driving to the store to buy various medicines and wondering if I should have stayed home on Saturday.

I did go to church but don’t ask me to summarize the sermon…

Today

It was a looooooooooooong day.  Part of me wanted to stay home, but I hate taking off work on a Monday or a Friday.  I never want to seem like one of those people who like to make the weekend longer.

The technology was acting up in the media center so my lessons were not going as planned.  By the time I got to the second half of the day, I was on back up plan D.  That’s a life of a teacher, right?

Right now…

Before I sat down to write, my hubby had poured out some medicine for me to take.  I did not want to take it.  Dude, had it all measured out in a cup like I was some kid….rambling on about, “You didn’t take all the medicine you were supposed to yesterday.”  Deep down, I knew it would be petty not to take it just because he poured it into a cup when I really needed it.

After feeling crappy all day, I realize that my hubby was right and that I should have stayed home this weekend.  It is not always worth pushing through.  Take care of yourselves!

P.S. If there are errors in this piece, I blame it on the medicine.  Good night!

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Monday Musings: My July Writing Review

writing badges indy ed and ter

My first Monday Musings of each month will include links to all the pieces I wrote during the previous month and my reflections about a few of those pieces.

Currently, I am a writer for two publications, Indy/Ed and The Educator’s Room.

Indy/Ed is an education blog that is part of the Citizen Education network. This network includes blogs in L.A.D.C.NOLA and Memphis.

The Educator’s Room is a publication where teachers are empowered as the experts in education.

I am humbled to be part of two great education publications.

Featured Indy/Ed blog post and my reflection

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It Isn’t In My Blood to Walk Away from Education 7/17/2018

The last five years of my middle school English career, I taught in the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township on Indy’s west side and next school year, I am returning to Wayne Township in a role I have not done yet.  I possess five licenses: English/language arts 5-12, Reading P-12, English as a New Language P-12, Library/Media P-12 and Building Level Administrator P-12, so I have options in different areas as well as different levels.  Although I know many people were expecting me to state I am going to be an assistant principal, I have decided to accept an elementary library/media specialist position. I decided to obtain my library/media license while I was in Wayne Township so returning to the district in this role seems fitting.

I just finished my eighth day with students today.  Yes, students returned on Thursday, July 26 and no, I’m not going to dive into the conversation about school start time…maybe I will another day.  I love my new job.  It was the change I needed.  I love reading and talking about books.  There is more to my job than that, but that is my favorite part.  I get paid for getting students pumped up to read.  How awesome is that?

I have peace about my decision although some people do not support my choice.  I’m not going to lie.  It’s tough to accept when other people, especially people you thought were in your corner, tell you they don’t support your new job and think it is a bad career move.  I’m glad I only worry about what is best for my family and my well-being and not the opinions of others.

Indy/Ed July blog posts 

7/4/2018 What, to People of Color & Immigrants, is your 4th of July?
7/6/2018 Address Old Issues before Implementing New School Models
7/8/2018 How Parents Can Partner with Their Child’s Teacher
7/13/2018 Smiling Faces are Sometimes White Allies Who Don’t Tell the Truth
7/17/2018 It Isn’t in My Blood to Walk Away from Education
7/24/2018 Parents, Have You Prepared Your Child for Next School Year?
7/27/2018 Teachers Need to Dress Professionally
7/28/2018 Dear Elementary Teachers, Stop Taking Away Recess
7/31/2018 Black With Kids:  We Have to Build Up Our Black Children Because the World Won’t
7/31/2018 ISBA Provides Guidance to Support Indiana Metal Detector Program

Featured article for The Educator’s Room and my reflection 

 This teacher says, “Your momma needs to talk to me not through you.” 7/16/2018

Believe it or not, students don’t always tell their parents the entire story.  Parents jump to conclusions without all of the information and make statements based on half the story that signifies to the child it is okay to return to school and be disrespectful, out of line, and out of order. Maybe it is important for you to know that every time we are about to write as a class your child has to magically go to the restroom.  Maybe it is important for you to also know that your child forgot to mention we were having a safety drill and no one could go anywhere at the time. In addition to helping children grow academically, teachers have to maintain an orderly atmosphere for all students and keep them safe.  This means a student may not get his or her way, but the teacher has to do what is best to maintain an optimal learning environment.

Building strong relationships with parents is key.  This relationship becomes difficult if the parent and teacher cannot get on the same page because the child is delivering messages from his/her parents to the teacher. Direct communication between the parent and teacher is the best way to foster a productive relationship.

The Educator’s Room July Article

7/16/2018 This teacher says, “Your momma needs to talk to me not through you.”
7/17/2018 If You Want to Survive, Find Your Teacher Tribe
7/21/2018 Why I Took My Work Email App Off of My Cell Phone

I appreciate your readership.  If there is something you would like me to write about, let me know.

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We Need to Bring Enthusiasm & Positivity Back to Education

One week ago, the Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township held its opening day for staff.  Any person who worked in the school district was in attendance at Ben Davis High School to get pumped up for the school year.

I worked for Wayne Township for five years as a 7th and 8th grade English teacher. Then, I left to try two different roles in education, English as a New Language teacher and elementary & secondary Literacy Coach. This year, four years after I left, I returned as an elementary Library/Media Specialist.

Since I was a former Wayne employee, I knew opening day was going to be exciting and I knew the unexpected could happen.  I remember the year when Wayne Township Superintendent Dr. Butts sang, “Feeling Good.” I didn’t even know he could carry a tune.  Typically, staff members sit with their school, although this is not a requirement.  When I was a middle school English teacher, I never sat with my school during opening day.  I don’t like huge crowds.  I would always sit on the bleachers close to the floor and close to the exit.  When I returned this school year, I decided I would actually sit with my school and my school decided to sit close to the front.  I sat next to the aisle because I really don’t like to be packed in close to people and I like feeling some open space around me.

Halfway through opening day, that’s when this wonderful moment happened. Dr. Butts had two new administrators come to the stage.  He shared they wanted to introduce themselves to the district through dance.  When the music started playing all of the administrators in the district came out of the bleachers and started dancing and I started recording.  Later, I tweeted the video and posted it on LinkedIn; I didn’t think much about it.  The next morning WTHR contacted me and asked if they could use my video.  I agreed and then a few hours later, two national news outlets contacted me and asked for permission.  Since I posted the video, the comments have not stopped.

I’m an education writer and I missed the significance of my video.  I missed the importance of the moment I captured.  There is a fierce education battle happening and the narrative is constantly negative.  Every time you turn on the news, there is another terrible education story.  This video allowed people to get excited about school and get excited about students learning.  We need more of this.

I’ll leave you with this: How are you helping improve the education narrative?

Also, check out some of the comments posted in response to my video.

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Monday Musings: Don’t Forget to Say Thank You

44Choose kind. Those are the two words that resonate with me from Wonder, a book I read with my boys over winter break last school year.  I’m so glad that during my first year in the classroom, a colleague chose to be kind to me because it made a difference.

My first year in the classroom, I worked in a suburban school district outside of Indianapolis.  I was the only black teacher in the school.  My first year was rough.  I was originally hired to work in one middle school in the school district and then right before school began, I was moved to the other middle school.  I wonder if my experience would have been different if I worked in the other middle school, but I’ll never know.

Some colleagues made it clear they didn’t think I had what it took to be a teacher.  A few thought my skin color was the only reason I was hired. They would not help me and some of them would not even speak to me.  Administration was not helpful either.  Even I started to question myself.  I began dreading going to work, dreading walking past people who would not say hi even if I said it first and dreading asking people for help only to be told they didn’t have time.  There was one silver lining.  Two people had my back.  The school union rep would always give me an encouraging word, but a teacher in my hallway made the most impact.  Today, I thanked him.

If you read what I write for Indy/Ed, you know I worked in Wayne Township for five years and left for four years. Next school year (which is days away), I will be back as an elementary library/media specialist.  In Wayne Township, they have new hires attend a breakfast before opening day when all staff return.  Since I was a rehire, I didn’t have to attend the breakfast.  I don’t like big social gatherings, but I decided to attend so I could meet other teachers that would be new to my school.  At the breakfast, I saw the teacher (who is now an administrator) that was kind to me during my first year.  I did something I normally don’t do at social gatherings. I walked across the room, introduced myself and told him this, “I want you to know that my first year of teaching was hard.  I thought about quitting the profession, but you being nice to me made a difference.”

My grandmother told me about a year before she died, “Child, don’t cry at my funeral; give me my flowers now.  I can’t smell them when I am dead.”  When I first saw him, I wasn’t going to say anything, but then I thought of my grandmother’s words. I also thought about all those times he smiled, was nice, and struck up a conversation with me when many people were rude, mean and dismissive.

If someone has done anything to make your life just a little easier or make your day a little brighter, take a moment and let this person know.

 

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Monday Musings: My Higher Ed Journey

1For those of you that read everything I write whether it is about gardening, blog posts here on my personal education blog, or my articles for Indy/Ed and The Educator’s Room, I appreciate you.  I have a special bonus for you today.

I know a lot of people are waiting for the Indy/Ed article to drop that will reveal what I’m doing next in the K-12 world.  That article will go live on Tuesday, July 17, 2018 at 7 a.m. on Indy/Ed, but that article will not address my higher education journey.  I will address that now.

…so I didn’t really say goodbye to IUPUI completely

In one of my April Monday Musings, I shared that I had decided to no longer teach at Indianapolis University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).  I obtained my master’s in Language Education August 2012 from IUPUI and January 2013, I began teaching X470 Psycholinguistics for Teachers of Reading K-12/L502 Socio-Psycholingusistic Applications for Reading Instruction at IUPUI.  Spring 2018 was my fifth year teaching the course.  I decided it was time for a break because I didn’t want to be an IUPUI student and instructor at the same time.

During the 2016-17 school year, I was taking graduate courses at Marian University and teaching at IUPUI and working in IPS. It was a bit too much.  Back in September, IPS high school employees found out that everyone would have to reapply for their jobs.  After I found out, I went home and checked my IUPUI email and found a recommendation letter.  The email stated I had been, “recommended as someone who may be interested in and be a strong fit for the Urban Education Studies PhD program.”  I have previously looked into PhD programs and I was interested in the Urban Ed program at IUPUI, but the timing never seemed right.

I decided to apply to the program.  I felt I had a good application.  I wanted to score better on the GRE, but I wasn’t too worried about my scores.  Then, I had to interview.  I did not think my interview went well.  I called one of my IUPUI mentors and told her I wasn’t sure I was going to get into the program, but then I got accepted.

Even though I got accepted, I did not know if I was going to enroll.  I have no college debt.  I’m proud to say that as of today my husband doesn’t either.  IPS offered a $5,000 retention bonus to motivate high school employees to not quit mid-year.  We were paid that bonus last Friday and I used the majority of the bonus to pay off the rest of his student loans.

After determining that I could pay off his loans and afford to pay for the PhD courses out of pocket, on July 12, 2018, I finally enrolled in my first two courses for the PhD program.

Best of Both Worlds

That isn’t the entire story.  My higher ed teaching break lasted for about a month.  I decided to teach a six-week online course, Second Language Learning, at Marian University this summer.  Even if I wasn’t pursuing my PhD this fall, I still would not have taught Psycholinguistics at IUPUI because I wanted to teach a different course.  This opportunity is allowing me to teach teachers how to work with English language learners.  This course gave me the opportunity to completely build a college course on my own.  Yes, I taught at IUPUI for five years but the course was a true collaboration and was built off of the work of another instructor, who is also one of my mentors.  She has great ideas and she had no problem with me incorporating what she used when I taught the course.  Yes, I added a lot of my stuff over the years, but this was the first time that I built a college course from scratch and I’m proud of that.  My Marian students are now halfway through the course and I am enjoying being their instructor.

I had been asked to teach the course I was teaching at IUPUI in the summer but the course was only partially online so I would have to go on campus.  I like spending my short summers with my boys.  Teaching 100% online does not impose on my time with my boys and I’m teaching during a time when I’m not working in a school or taking graduate classes.

It is hard to say when I will finish this PhD because doctorate degrees are hard to obtain, research takes lots of time, and then there is the dissertation. I don’t want to think about all of that now. I’ve decided to start and I’m not in a hurry.  If I begin a task, I know I am going to complete it.

There you have it folks.  That’s the scoop for now.  Check out Indy/Ed in the morning to see what I am doing in the K-12 world tomorrow at 7 a.m.

 

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Monday Musings: My June Writing Review

writing badges indy ed and ter

My first Monday Musings of each month will include links to all the pieces I wrote during the previous month and my reflections about a few of those pieces.

Currently, I am a writer for two publications, Indy/Ed and The Educator’s Room.

Indy/Ed is an education blog that is part of the Citizen Education network. This network includes blogs in L.A.D.C.NOLA and Memphis.

The Educator’s Room is a publication where teachers are empowered as the experts in education.

I am humbled to be part of a two great education publications.

Featured Indy/Ed blog post and my reflection

Shawnta S Barnes Headshot

Why This Teacher Leader is Leaving IPS 6/23/2018 & Departing Teacher Leader Answers Your Question 6/27/2018

On Saturday, June 23, 2018, my Indy/Ed piece “Why This IPS Teacher Leader is Leaving IPS” was published.  In less than 48 hours, it had 6,500 views and I was flooded with messages.  As of last evening, it had almost 9,000.  I love responding to reader comments and private messages.  Reader comments help me consider different perspectives or another angle to cover and feedback also lets me know when I need to continue a story.  The next piece I had planned to write about my professional journey was about what I was doing next.  That will come later.  After spending hours responding to concerns and questions, I felt it was best to write a follow-up piece.

If you follow me on social media, you are well aware that my sons and I have been spending time watching one of my favorite shows from my childhood, Are You Afraid of the Dark?  We finished season two right after I wrote these two articles about why I decided to resign from Indianapolis Public Schools.  When the words, I quoted below were spoken on the season two episode “The Tale of the Dream Machine,” I thought about the aftermath of the pieces I wrote.

Writing a story down on paper is very different than telling it out loud.  When a story is on paper, you can feel it, you can see it, and others can read it as well. But beware, for once a story is written, it no longer belongs to the author, but has a life of its own and for some stories, that can be a very dangerous life indeed.

Every day, including today, since my articles were published, I have seen them appear on social media.  I assert that some people are being dangerous online by taking excerpts out of context to promote their own agenda.  I’m not interested in any of that.  I deliberately made sure my first article was published during a non peak Indy/Ed time because the shares and the views on social media weren’t important to me for this piece. What was important is that I needed to tell my story for me. If others were helped or if I  made other people feel less alone in their educational journey, I am glad.

A free tip from this English educator: please read articles in their entirety before you hop on the bandwagon or someone else’s agenda without knowing the whole story or all of the facts.

Indy/Ed June blog posts 

6/3/2018 Ethnic Studies Course Feedback is Needed
6/7/2018 What’s in a Name? Identity!
6/11/2018 Mental Health Remains Stigmatized in the Black Community While Black Youth Continue to Die from Suicide
6/16/2018 Black with Kids: Representation Matters so be Intentional about It
6/17/2018 “At Least You Are in the Picture” – A Father’s Day Reflection
6/19/2018 Juneteenth:  Children Should Learn about this Day in School
6/23/2018 Why This Teacher Leader is Leaving IPS
6/27/2018 Departing IPS Teacher Leader Answers Your Questions
6/28/2018 Want to Find a Good School? Pay Attention to Where Teachers Send Their Kids.
6/29/2018 Four Reasons Teacher Harriet from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is Awesome.

Featured article for The Educator’s Room and my reflection 

Teachers, Don’t Spend All Summer in PD; Practice Some Self Care 6/30/2018

Summer is a perfect opportunity to take care of yourself, but many educators use most of the summer as a time to do more work.  Yes, I understand at some point you will need to get those lesson plans together for next school year, but do you really need to start working on them right after the school year ends? 

Self care is hard for me.  I know other parents can relate.  I feel like I am always on the run for my sons.  If I run myself into the ground, then I won’t be able to take care of them nor will I be ready for the next school year.  Please take care of yourself and relax a little.

The Educator’s Room June Article

6/30/2018 Teachers, Don’t Spend All Summer in PD; Practice Some Self-Care

I appreciate your readership.  If there is something you would like me to write about, let me know.

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Monday Musings: Close the Chapter & Turn the Page

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JB & JJ carrying a mattress to one of their baby cribs to the donation pile.

Many times, in life, we have come to the end of the chapter, but we keep staring at the last page.  That’s where I have been.  If you think this post is a continuation of my what is going on with me professionally; it’s not.  I plan to write two follow-up pieces to my Indy/Ed piece “Why this Teacher Leader is Leaving IPS” soon.  This piece has been viewed over 6,400 times in less than 48 hours and I plan to write one piece addressing questions I have been asked and another addressing what is next for me professionally.

 

The chapter I need to close is the chapter on infertility.  If you have been reading what I write or have heard me speak in church, you know I have been pretty open and honest about my infertility journey.  To sum it up quickly.  I went through infertility treatments for almost five years before giving birth to my identical twin boys and then I went through more infertility treatments afterwards in hopes of becoming pregnant again.  All of the infertility treatments failed except the one that brought me my wonderful sons.

What people forget is the conditions that cause infertility also can cause other problems.  One of my conditions has caused me recurring chronic pain since I was 13.  After I was called on my 33rd birthday and told yet another infertility treatment failed, my husband and I said no more.  We decided it was best to take care of my health and find a way to alleviate my recurring chronic pain, but the only way to do this was to have a procedure that would prevent me from having any more children.  That’s a tough decision to make in your early thirties especially when you want more children.  I had to think about the two children I currently had and how my pain was interfering with me being the best parent I could be for them.  Seven months later, I had a procedure and a couple months after that, my pain stopped and I haven’t had any chronic pain since.  I had been dealing with this pain on and off from age 13-33; that’s 20 years, two decades; I can’t describe how great I have felt.  I know I made the right choice and I have no regrets.

Next, I rid my house of all the stuff that comes along with infertility treatments: the drug directions, the boxes the drugs come in, the unused drugs, the needles, the boxes to disposes the needles in, etc.  You would think that would close the chapter.  What I haven’t done, even though it has been pointed out to me by several people who had the privilege of entering my home, is that I haven’t gotten rid of my sons’ stuff from infant until now.  We still have the bassinets, the cribs, the cloth diapers, the baby car seats, the changing table, and much more.  If you know me, I’m a neat freak so this stuff isn’t out in the open.  It’s all put away in nice little labeled boxes, but these boxes are taking up space.  In another attempt to avoid dealing with this stuff, I attempted to go into my future place of employment to do some work, but was unable to do so.

We kept everything for when I would get pregnant again.  I know this is not happening, so there is no logical reason to have all of this stuff.  I also previously wrote about my husband and I being approved by the Department of Children Services as potential adoptive parents and we aren’t looking for a baby.  Still, I wasn’t ready to turn the page.  I know I can’t fully live in the next chapter of my life without closing the old chapter.

What is holding you back?  What do you need to let go? I have to let go of these boxes.  Of course, I will keep a few keepsakes to pass down or keep for myself, but the majority of this stuff is leaving my house.  I don’t need these reminders of what I can’t have in my house anymore; it isn’t good for my mental health.  It isn’t fair to my boys to have half of their closets filled with items they can’t use.

If you are holding on to something physically or mentally that is preventing you from moving forward, I encourage you to take the necessary steps to close that chapter, turn the page, and move on to the next one.

 

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Monday Musings: Uncertainty During Summer Break

IMG-9312I had one goal for myself this summer and that was to know what I would be doing for the 2018-19 school year before summer break began.  Right now, I really don’t know what I will be doing.  I had an opportunity lined up, but due to some unexpected changes at this school, I’m not sure what is happening and the school has not provided me with any updates and it’s not because I haven’t asked.  I’m a planner and I like to know what I’m doing and when.  This uncertainty is nerve wracking and is preventing me from fully enjoying my break.  With summer break getting shorter each year, I don’t have much time to waste.

I have options…and options are great until you have to make a decision.  Although I believe every job I have had during my 12 year career in education has shaped me as a person, I’m starting to wonder if I am capable of choosing the right job for myself.  During the last two school year in IPS, I have had positions that have been eliminated.  Both positions were eliminated for two reasons, money and restructuring.  I understand the need to be responsible with finances and to restructure to make outcomes better for students, but it sucks if you are caught in the cross hairs, not once but twice.

I need and want stability.  The majority of interviews I had have thus far are because people reached out to me, not because I actually applied for the position.  Some people that reached out were more concerned about filling a position than actually convincing me that their school would be the best fit for me.  Newsflash principals: Interviews are two way conversations.  If you can’t even articulate the role or what your school is all about or why I should come and work for you, then people like me who have options will say no.  One administrator said, “I can’t believe you are turning the position down.”  I’m not interested in being anyone’s token black hire so your can check the diversity box off on your checklist.

My inner circle is divided on what I should do next.  Here is what has been suggested:

  • Quit K-12 and focus on writing.
  • Quit K-12 and work on your PhD.
  • Become an administrator.
  • Go back to working with English language learners.
  • Try being a media specialist/librarian.
  • Find another instructional coach job.
  • Teach English again.
  • Write and work at the university.
  • Work on your PhD and work at the university.
  • Quit IPS and go back to one of your previous districts.
  • Find a part-time K-12 job.

What I Don’t Want to Do

Although, I can’t tell you exactly what I want to do, I can tell you want I don’t want to do.  I don’t want to teach English full time anymore.  I loved being and instructional coach and only teaching English part-time this year and it was great.  What I enjoyed teaching most was the two sections of English/language arts lab for students trying to pass the I-STEP.  I love doing intervention.  What I did not like was teaching English 10 especially when I was told I wasn’t going to teach it at all.  I didn’t find out I was actually teaching it until the first day of school.

I also don’t want to be a high school assistant principal unless it is a tiny high school which is unlikely in Indy.  I was going to be recommended for a high school AP position for the 2017-18 school year, but I withdrew my name before the recommendation happened.  Another high school contacted me for an interview a month ago (and I did not apply to this position), but I declined the interview. If I pursue administration, I want it to be elementary.  I had the opportunity to do some administration work when I was an instructional coach at an elementary school that didn’t have an assistant principal.  That led me to obtain my admin license.  I enjoyed the work (well except the master schedule and reviewing a staff handbook) and I believe I would be a good elementary assistant principal.

What I am Definitely Going to Do

I will keep writing.  I love writing and I am now finally willing to admit I am good at it.  I wasn’t comfortable acknowledging that, but I am now.  I have reached so many people through my writing and it has open up many opportunities.  I always wrote as a way to express myself.  I never thought someone would compensate me for it.  Since people are willing to compensate me, it must mean I’m sort of good at it.  It is a skill I am continuing to develop.

What’s Not off the Table

My husband has reminded me since we paid off the hospital debt from my two month stay in the hospital during my twin pregnancy and my boys’ two month stay in the NICU four year ago, that I don’t have to work if I don’t want to work.  This school year is the first school year, I have heard him.  Typically he would start in about it and I would say, “Thanks for sharing” and go about my business. This year, we pulled out the budget to look at how it could work AND it could work.  Penny pincer me and my doom and gloom brain always thinks about what if.  If I get my ‘what if this happens under control,’ it might be an option.

Writing and being an adjunct at a university is also a viable option.  I have been an adjunct at IUPUI for five years and later this month I will begin as an adjunct at Marian University.  My least stressful teaching job has been at the university level.  They really just let you teach.  There aren’t pacing guides and mandates.  The university of course has rules, but you have so much flexibility and freedom and I love it.

Too Many Options

People close to me know, I have five licenses: English/Language Arts 5-12, Reading P-12, English as a New Language P-12, Library/Media P-12, and School Administration P-12.  I did get accepted into a PhD program, but I haven’t decided if I am starting this fall.  I could work at the elementary, middle, or high school level or leave K-12.  I could return to a previous district or go to a new school, but then I have to consider my salary.  If I am going to put in the work, then I want to be appropriately compensated. I could work on my PhD and teach at the university or just write.  I really just don’t know right now.

The number one question I was asked on my last day at Crispus Attucks High School was, “So what’s next for you?” I responded, “That’s a good question.”  Right now, that’s is still my response.  If this piece seems chaotic or all over the place, well that’s my brain at the moment and hopefully the chaos will settle and answers will reveal themselves soon.

 

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Monday Musings: My May Writing Review

writing badges indy ed and ter

My first Monday Musings of each month will include links to all the pieces I wrote during the previous month and my reflections about a few of those pieces.

Currently, I am a writer for two publications, Indy/Ed and The Educator’s Room.

Indy/Ed is an education blog that is part of the Citizen Education network. This network includes blogs in L.A.D.C.NOLA and Memphis.

The Educator’s Room is a publication where teachers are empowered as the experts in education.

I am humbled to be part of a two great education publications.

Featured Indy/Ed blog post and my reflection

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Don’t Forgot How Important Mothers are in Education 5/13/2018

Mothers play a critical role in a child’s education.  This is not to discount the role of fathers, but many households are led by a single parent who is female and if it is a two-parent home, when it comes to school, the mother many times does the heavy lifting.  

I was super excited to write about my mom last month.  I have interviewed my dad twice for Indy/Ed and I really wanted to either interview my mom this year or write about her.  Mother’s Day seemed like the perfect occasion.  My parents worked well together as a parental unit.  As an adult, I can look back at my childhood and reflect about how they both contributed to who I am today.  I appreciate the day to day grind my mom had to manage to keep us all in line and moving in the right direction.

Indy/Ed May blog posts 

5/5/2018 If Your Child Doesn’t Like to Read, Try Comic Books
5/8/2018 Mrs. Dingman, Thank You for Helping Me Find My Confidence
5/11/2018 National Charter School Week:  IMSA
5/11/2018 Broad Ripple Rockets Forever
5/13/2018 Don’t Forget How Important Mothers are in Education
5/17/2018 Lynhurst Center International Festival
5/20/2018 IPS/IEA 32nd Annual Multicultural Festival
5/21/2018 So, You Graduated. Now What?
5/26/2018 Is a School Boycott a Realistic Way to Change Gun Laws?
5/28/2018 Noblesville School Shooting:  Too Close to Home

Featured article for The Educator’s Room and my reflection

The Hidden Struggles of being a Teacher of Color 5/27/2018

White teachers whose knee-jerk reaction is to run to the principal to report teachers of color about situations that don’t need the involvement of administration are a contributing factor to the difficulty of retaining teachers of color.  If you are a white teacher who has a concern about what your colleague is doing and your colleague is not breaking the law or putting students in danger, your first course of action should be to have a conversation with your colleague to gain a better understanding of the situation.  If that colleague happens to be of color and you are afraid to have a conversation with him or her, then the “problem” you are concerned about is not the problem you need to address.

What I didn’t expect after writing this article was white teachers reaching out to me and thanking me for my transparency.  One white teacher told me my article made her reflect on a situation and what she should have done differently.  These issues can be tough to talk about or read about, but it is worth it even if one person is reached and changed.

The Educator’s Room May Article

5/5/2018 Your Gradebook Should Not be a Punishment Tool
5/27/2018 The Hidden Struggles of being a Teacher of Color

I appreciate your readership.  If there is something you would like me to write about, let me know.

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A Lesson from the Royal Wedding

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Jermaine & Shawnta Barnes dancing at their wedding on August 5, 2006.

I, like many people around the world, tuned in to watch the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.  I know many people would be surprised to learn I watched this wedding especially knowing that I didn’t make much effort to plan my wedding and I delegated most of the responsibilities to other people because I was never that girl that dreamed of a fancy wedding. I didn’t even think marriage was in the cards for me.  I mainly watched this wedding for comparison purposes.  April 29, 2011 was when Prince William married Kate.  The only reason I know this date without consulting Google is because this was my due date for my twin sons.  Instead of being born in spring near their due date, my sons were born during winter in February.  They came home from an eight week stay in the NICU during the beginning of April.  On the day of Prince William and Kate’s wedding, I propped my fussy boys on my bed and watched the wedding.

Unlike some people who were caught up in the fact the Duchess is biracial and an American, I most noticed her family dynamic and discussions people were having about it.  She only had one family member in attendance at her wedding, her black mother.  Her white father was scheduled to walk her down the aisle, but backed out due to health issues.  Being a blood relative does mean you get automatic entry into someone’s life, even during big occasions and I can relate; I did not invite all of my family members to my wedding.  My husband and I have been married for eleven years and some people still bring up the fact that they weren’t invited to our wedding.

As I think about May being National Mental Health Month, I think about the importance of self care.  Self care includes not surrounding yourself with people who bring you stress and negativity even if they are your relatives.  It might be tough to distance yourself from relatives or even former friends, but maintaining a relationship with someone when it is full of drama, causes stress, and interferes with your mental health is much worse.

I think we should all take a page out of the Duchess’ book and take care of ourselves and enjoy our big and little moments in life free from people who aren’t good for our well-being.

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