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


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


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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Monday Musings: A Blessing in the Pain

IMG-2809Yesterday was Mother’s Day.  I didn’t have any specific plans, but how my day unfolded was not what I expected.

Mother’s Day is the day I reflect upon the gift of both having an awesome mom and the joy of trying to be an awesome mom to my twin boys.  During the second year of my career as a teacher, I was told the chances of me becoming a mother without medical assistance was between 1/2-1% and with intervention about 40%.  After going through several rounds of infertility treatments and a difficult pregnancy which included four months of bedrest, my sons being born ten weeks early, and them staying in the NICU for two months,  I know my sons are miracles and I don’t take the privilege of being a mom lightly.  The other reasons, I believe my boys are miracles is because every infertility treatment before and after their birth failed.  There are days this information weighs heavily on me, but on my 33rd birthday, we decided we were done with infertility treatments.  This was one of the best decisions my husband and I made because now we can focus on the children we are blessed to call sons.

Knowing the road was long and arduous to motherhood, I expect, at the bare minimum, to have a nice Mother’s Day each year.  I thought about walking through the 100 acres at Newfields or walking along the canal with my boys and eating at a restaurant downtown or in Broad Ripple.  I was making these makeshift plans while I was sitting in 8 a.m. Sunday morning service.  Each Sunday, once the pastor is about to preach, I open my purse and distribute gum to my husband and sons.  After the distribution, I pop a piece into my mouth.  This Sunday morning was different.  I chewed one time and felt a crunch.  I first thought there was plastic in my gum.  Recently, I heard there was a beef recall because there was plastic found, so maybe it could have happened with my gum. Once I pulled the gum out of my mouth, I realized it was not plastic, but instead the filling I had in a tooth on the lower left side of my mouth.  IMG-2816After showing my husband the hole in my tooth, I searched for a place to go on my phone.  We couldn’t go right after church because we had a meeting with our pastor about a new class we will be teaching next month.  It is so hard to get on his schedule and my mouth wasn’t hurting…yet. After my husband and I talked to the pastor about the class we were going to teach, we drove to the emergency dentist.

IMG-2817Once we arrived and I had completed all paperwork, my boys and I took a couple of selfies and I had my husband take a photo of me with our boys in the waiting room because I knew I probably wouldn’t be able to smile nicely afterwards.  After the evaluation, I was expecting the dentist to go over the cost for refiling the hole in my tooth.  In addition to this, he pointed out that I had surface cavities on both the left and right side of my mouth.  This made me mad.  I went on to explain how I brush, floss, and use mouthwash and this made no sense, to which he responded, “I had two surface cavities at my last dental appointment; it just happens.”  If you were wondering, his words of comfort brought me no comfort.  Since he already was going to be on the left side, I agreed he could drill off the surface cavities on the left side and fill them.  I plan to get the right side cavities dealt with at some other time.

IMG-2811I estimated that I would be there for an hour tops, but I was wrong.  I was there for three hours because they couldn’t get my mouth numbed up enough for me not to feel what he was doing.  After three rounds of shots, which ended up numbing my left ear, eyelid, left cheek, left side of my nose, and most of my mouth, he was finally able to do this work.  The nice part was I was able to watch several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.  I watched this show while on bedrest during my pregnancy.  There’s something about the simplicity of that small town of Mayberry that I enjoy watching.  The other reason I got hooked to this show is because my parents were pretty strict on us about what we could watch and this show was on the safe list.

Even though my mouth was in pain, I was able to enjoy a show I like with minor interruption from the dental drill.  Then, when I finally got to my parents’ house, I was able to rest for another three hours while curled up in my dad’s leather recliner.  After I left my parent’s house, we had to go back to the dentist.  I could finally feel my mouth 3 1/2 hours later and I realized, there was too much filling on the top.  The dentist fixed this and I went home and watched America’s Funniest Home Videos with my boys in bed.

Although this was painful Mother’s Day, it was still a blessing. This was the most I rested in weeks.  Today was the first day in a long time where I woke up and didn’t immediately say to my husband, “I’m still tired.”

Even though I wanted to do something else yesterday, I’m glad everything still worked out.  Now, I just have to avoid getting more cavities, but that’s another story for another day.

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Tuesday Thoughts – Spare the Rod; Spoil the Child is Not in the Bible so Stop Using it to Justify Your Discipline Practices

As an educator, I am tasked with managing my classroom and getting children to follow directions without putting my hands on them.  Although corporal punishment was once a widely used form of discipline in schools, most schools steer away from the practice even if it is still legal in the state where the school resides.  I am known for having good classroom management and  I rarely write referrals.  This school year the only referrals I have written were for one fight and for students who skipped my class.  All other behaviors are handled within the four walls of room 305.  I have worked in the urban school setting for 11 of the 12 years I have been an educator and if I am able to manage students who other educators find difficult, then surely I can discipline and manage the children I am responsible for as a parent.

As a parent, I incorporate strategies I use in the classroom at my home.  Although my sons are identical twins, they are unique individuals.  I have to use different tactics and strategies for each of my sons.  If I cannot use corporal punishment in the educational setting and I can get children to obey and understand why they need to change their behavior, why should I have to use corporal punishment at home?

Corporal Punishment and the Christian Home

My husband and I attend a Sunday school class for married couples.  On Sunday, May 5, 2018, we were discussing conflict in parenting styles between husbands and wives.  I decided to share my views.  I shared how my husband and I are on the same parenting page, but the conflict we have is external because some of our family members and friends hold up spanking a child as the almighty discipline tool.  I said I’m not against spanking, but it is only one tool in the parenting tool kit.  I’m not going to lie; I popped my sons on the legs when they were toddlers; they had the habit of partaking in dangerous activities such as trying to pull down heavy objects on themselves, but these occurrences of physical discipline were rare.  My husband and I believe corporal punishment should be a last resort because other forms of discipline are effective.  In the black community, we spank children too much.  We beat children instead of having conversations with them to help them understand what they did wrong and how to make a different choice in the future.  I closed with saying it can be difficult dealing with family members and friends who have different views.  Why spank when we can get the same results without it?

I didn’t have to wait long for someone to prove my point about external conflict.  First, I was told the bible says, “Spare the rod; spoil the child.”  Before, I share more on how my views were countered, I want my readers to know these words, “Spare the rod; spoil the child” are NOT in the bible along with other phrases Christians like to quote.  I always laugh when devout Christians use this statement because if they were so knowledgeable of the word they would know it isn’t in there.  They would know this phrase came from the poemHudibras” by Samuel Butler.  Butler was a poet and satirist who made fun of religious people.  Isn’t it ironic how some devout Christians religiously quote someone who made fun of religious people?

After our Sunday school classmate finished offering up a false verse, our classmate then quoted words that were actually in the bible:

“He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” Proverbs 13:24 NKJV

“Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  Proverbs 22: 15 NKJV

Of course, these scriptures were supposed to convince me my viewpoint was wrong and that spanking should be the number one tool in my parenting tool kit.  My husband, who agreed with my comments was visibly shaking his head in disagreement while our classmate was countering my previous statements.

Another person chimed in to express how timeout and giving choices is something typically found in the white community…even though I didn’t mention either of these practices.  Unfortunately, some black people love to use this tactic.  When they don’t have real evidence to counter your actions or views, they attempt to cut you down and accuse you of being white.  I have been accused of being white and had my black card taken so many times because I don’t fit into this fictional black box. All I can do is shake my head and pity the person because the person’s judgement about me says more about that person than it would ever say about who I really am and why I boldly live the way I live.

Then another classmate shared that many times parents, especially black parents, bring out the wrath in their children by using corporal punishment.  I did not have the opportunity to further explain my views because time was short and our Sunday school teacher was trying to wrap up class in a neat bow.

After class, my husband and I further discussed this issue, the bible verses used to put us in our places, and bible verses that weren’t mentioned that needed to be part of the discussion.

Where is Critical Thinking in the Church?

I am an English teacher and one job I am tasked with is helping students analyze and critically discuss a text.  I have found that inside the church walls is where the least amount of critical thinking happens and the worse analysis of text takes place.  Before I can dive deeper, I need you to understand what a proverb is.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary a proverb is, “a popular epigram or maxim.”  Don’t you hate it when a definition forces you to look up more words? The M-W dictionary defines an epigram as, “a concise poem dealing pointedly and often satirically with a single thought or event and often ending with an ingenious turn of thought” and a maxim as, “a general truth, fundamental principle, or rule of conduct.”  In short, a proverb is a guide and it does not have to be taken literally.
Now, that you understand what a proverb is, let’s look at Proverbs 13:24  NKJV, “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly.”  If you take this literally, it means you have hatred in your heart for your child because you did not physically discipline him.  The idea this scripture is trying to get across is being a good parent means you will address misbehavior immediately; loving parents would want their children to understand right from wrong.
Let’s also look at the Proverbs 22:15, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  This scripture did not say, “ONLY the rod of correction will drive it far from him.”  I believe many Christians add to the text of the bible for their own purposes.  They don’t even understand what a proverb is and why it doesn’t make sense to take it literally, as the site Grace thru Faith points out when addressing corporal punishment.
My husband said to me after church, “The bible, as a whole, is a tool and you can’t just only use one piece as guidance.”  We then discussed the following scriptures:

“And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6: 4 NKJV

“Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”  Colossians 3: 21 NKJV


Spanking, hitting, and verbally abusing children to discipline them is seen as justifiable by some in the Christian community even though it provokes children to anger, discourages them, and makes them believe they can’t do anything right.  A lot of black Christians I know from my parents’ generation are quick to justify spanking children and are adamant it worked.  If it worked so well, then why are there so many people in my generation with fractured relationships with their parents and why are so many of my peers struggling today?  The book of Proverbs also says, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Where is the training?  Beating a child is not training the child; it’s not teaching the child how to act appropriately.  Yelling and beating is a fear tactic to gain obedience and submission.  The behavior may stop because they fear the belt, but it might cause the child to rebel.  The child doesn’t learn why it is important to avoid the action or behavior.  Many times when children need to come to their parents, they won’t because their parents are seen as a figure of fear because they overuse corporal punishment.

You Can Enforce without being Physically Forceful

My husband and I have made it clear to our children that they own nothing and everything they possess is due to our hard work.  If they don’t want to follow our rules, they don’t need any extra outside of the bare necessities.  People wrongly believe that without spanking a parent is willy nilly and has a hippy parenting style.  We set forth rules and we enforce them.  For example, if you don’t like what we served for dinner, then you don’t eat.  I’m not going to drop a belt on the table or smack you across your face to get your obedience.  Missing one meal will not leave my child malnourished, but the hunger pains in his stomach will convince him to eat whatever I serve tomorrow…which will be the plate of food I saved that he refused to eat.  At the end of the day, I enforced my expectations without using physical force.

Corporal punishment is easy and that’s why so many Christians hide behind the practice. Using other strategies is hard work and requires more from you as a parent than lashings from a belt requires.

Parenting is Hard

Children do not come with a parenting handbooks to tell you how to best parent them.  It is trial and error.  Children change as they grow, so you may have to switch up your strategies.  Just because you use corporal punishment doesn’t mean you are a stronger parent than parents who don’t spank. It takes more strength and endurance to get to know your children on a personal level, to teach them and help them become morally upright adults than it does to hit and yell.  Unless, you have put in the work to try other strategies like teachers have to do every day, then don’t use real or fake scripture to smite down other people and their parenting practices.

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Monday Musings: My April 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


Your Spiritual Leader Does Not Need to be Your Educational Leader 4/8/2018

As much as I see the value of the black church, I also see the detriment the black church currently plays in our society.  Too many black Christians confuse blindly following Christ with blindly following pastors and preachers in our community.  My great uncle Walter Jimison was the Pastor of First Trinity Missionary Baptist Church in Jeffersonville, Indiana until he became too ill.  He was known for saying, “Some preachers were called and some just went.”  As it is frequently said in the black church, “Some of you will get that on the way home.”

Just in case you can’t figure this out, let me continue.  He took ministry seriously and believed it was his calling and as an educator, I believe teaching is my calling and my gift.  Everyone is not made for this work of educating our children and this includes some pastors and preachers.  Secular education is not the same as spiritual education.  If you are a black parishioner, at some point in time, your pastor has probably quoted 2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  Typically this scripture is shared to emphasize the importance of being knowledgeable about the word of God whether you are in the pulpit or sitting in the pews.  Your pastor might have great knowledge of the bible and provides you great spiritual counseling, but this does not mean your pastor has the knowledge or skill to influence your education decisions nor be responsible for a school.

Unfortunately, for our children, a lot of people are stepping into the school arena who do not need to be there including some pastors.  Some spiritual leaders do not understand what is best for students’ education nor do they understand how a school should operate.  Attending school is not a good enough credential to think you can lead a school or tell your parishioners which schools their children should attend.  My advice:  Don’t stop with one source; speak to multiple sources when it comes to your children’s education and make sure some of those sources are educators.


Indy/Ed April blog posts 

4/2/2018 Dr. King’s Assassination 50 Years Later:  Looking Back and Moving Forward
4/3/2018 Dr. King’s Assassination 50 Years Later:  Looking Back and Moving Forward, James Stockton’s Perspective
4/3/2018 Dr. King’s Assassination 50 Years Later:  Looking Back and Moving Forward, Mildred Guyse’s Perspective
4/4/2018 Dr. King’s Assassination 50 Years Later:  Looking Back and Moving Forward, Sue Wright’s Perspective
4/4/2018 Dr. King’s Assassination 50 Years Later:  Looking Back and Moving Forward, George Geder’s Perspective
4/8/2018 Your Spiritual Leader Does Not Need to Be Your Educational Leader
4/11/2018 National Library Week
4/19/2018 Why I Write: Shawnta S. Barnes
4/26/2018 New Law Kicks Some Indiana Kindergartners to the Curb
4/30/2018 El día de los niños/El día de los libros

Featured article from The Educator’s Room and my reflection

Are Elementary Teachers Jacks of All Trades or Masters of None?  4/19/2018

But if you want to know what is happening in elementary school, you have to work in one. I spent the three years in between being a middle school English teacher and my current role working in two different elementary schools.  In one school, I was a K-5 English language learner teacher and in the other school, I was a K-6 literacy coach. One school was rated an A and the other was rated an F. In my role as both an English language learner teacher and as a literacy coach, I spent time in almost every classroom in each building. That’s when it became clear to me what was really going on in elementary schools – too many elementary teachers were jacks of all trades and masters of none.  Regardless of the rating of the school, some elementary teachers did not know the content for all subjects at a high level. This was the reason students showed up to middle school unprepared because their teachers lacked the depth of knowledge in all of the subject areas. 

I have been sitting on this article for months.  I rewrote it numerous times and finally, I said, “I’m putting it out into the world.”  Some people in the world were pissed off about what I said…maybe the truth stung too much.  I’m not trying to create enemies online, but I am also not here for fluffy articles all the time when serious issues need to be addressed such as, “What is happening in elementary schools?”  Elementary schools are the foundation for our schooling system and if those educators don’t know the content well in all subject areas, then we are setting students up for failure.

The Educator’s Room April Article

4/19/2018 Are Elementary Teachers Jacks of All Trades or Masters of None?

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

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Monday Musings: National Poetry Month

p graphic.PNGToday is the last day of National Poetry Month.  Three to four times a week during National Poetry Month, I shared poetry that spoke to me.  Each Tuesday, the poem I read was a poem I wrote and had published.  Below, I have included the links to all the poems I shared just in case you missed any.

In case you were curious, the most viewed/read poem across various platforms was “Life at My Failing School.”

Enjoy and happy poetry reading!

March 30, 2018 National Reading Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Harlem
April 3, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Not Because We are Black
April 4, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Where the Sidewalk Ends
April 5, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Annabel Lee
April 6, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – The Desert is My Mother
April 10, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Life at My Failing School
April 11, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – The Boy Died in My Alley
April 12, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Snowflakes
April 17, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Progress
April 18, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – How Do I Love Thee
April 19, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – I May, I Might, I Must
April 20, 2018 National Poetry Month:  JJ Reads – Mommies
April 24, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Busy Busy Bee
April 25, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Okay, Brown Girl, Okay
April 26, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – The Firefly
April 27, 2018 National Poetry Month:  Educator Barnes Reads – Bronx Masquerade
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National Poetry Month: Educator Barnes Reads – Bronx Masquerade

Early in my teaching career, I came across Nikki Grimes’ novel Bronx Masquerade.  This novel is a combination of poetry and prose.  Not only did my students love this novel, but it gave me an opportunity to help them critically analyze various characters and look at various elements poets can use in their poems.

Check out the video to learn more about the novel and to hear an excerpt.




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National Poetry Month: Educator Barnes Reads – The Firefly

Earlier this week, I shared a poem I had published in a children’s poetry book Words & Other Wild Things.  Today, I’m sharing another poem from this book, “The Firefly” by Stacy Savage.  I picked this poem because Indiana finally has a state insect and it’s the Say’s Firefly thanks to some persistent students from West Lafayette, Indiana.

Check out the video to hear the poem.




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National Poetry Month: Educator Barnes Reads – Okay, Brown Girl, Okay

Poet James Berry wrote the poem, “Okay, Brown Girl, Okay” in response to a letter he received from a little girl who asked him, “How do you like being brown?” She asked him this question after describing how she was picked on because of her skin color.   Unfortunately, this is a rite of passage for many people of color.  I don’t know a person of color who hasn’t had an experience where they were judged and attacked verbally and/or physically because of their skin color.

Check out the video to hear how Berry responded via poem.




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