Monday Musings: Two Days – Two Features

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Feature One

I’m newbie when it comes to listening to podcasts.  The first podcast I ever listened to was Dead Oaks which was created by a cool guy, Christopher Waltz, who I taught across the hall from in a former school.  (Now, he has a new podcast called All My Ghosts, so check it out). Last year, when I started writing for The Educator’s Room (TER), was the first time I listened to an education podcast which was the one produced by TER.  I never imagined I would actually be on one.  Over the last months, I have been asked to be a guest on four different podcasts and my third guest podcast spot aired yesterday.  I was on Truth for Teachers hosted by Angela Watson.  On her website she shares:

Truth for Teachers is consistently ranked in the top ten K-12 podcasts on iTunes. Each Sunday, a new short episode is released to speak life, encouragement, and truth into the minds and hearts of educators. Subscribe below to get a fresh dose of inspiration for the week ahead!

My episode is called, “Why great teachers get saddled with the biggest workload (and how to advocate for yourself).”

Here’s an excerpt:

But the problem occurs when you’re doing your job well and then there are other people in your building who aren’t doing so well. And instead of helping that person get better, it’s like, “Oh, Shawnta can handle those kids, just transfer that person to Shawnta’s class.” That’s where I started to notice and would say, “You know what, no big deal. If the kid was struggling in that class, they can come to my class.” I didn’t even make a big deal of it, but then it got to the point where on one hand as an educator, they make you feel guilty. When you don’t want to work with those kids anymore, you don’t want to do your fair share, and it’s like, “Well that’s not what I’m saying. This is not fair. Your solution to the problem is just to remove them, not deal with the problem of someone else not owning their weight, and just let me take it on.” That’s when I really started to feel burnt out.

I was at the point that if I didn’t do something differently, I was going to walk away from education, and I did not want to do that. So I said, “What can I do to stay in education, refocus, get myself together, and not walk out on the profession?” Because I did what I tell teachers to do, such as to advocate for yourself. And it didn’t really get me anywhere, so the one lever I had was to leave.

Click here to read the transcript and/or listen to the podcast.

Feature Two

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Today, I was featured in the September issue of One Voice Blog Magazine.  I was honored to be included in this issue.  The women who are part of this publication are women I admire and they fight for children that look like my sons.  I wrote a piece for the September issue called, “Was School Integration a Blessing or a Curse?”

Check out this excerpt:

Today, we are in a struggle for education equity within integrated schools.  Is this the case in all integrated schools? No. But for inequity to exist in even one school, it is one school too many.  As black parents, all we ever hear about is the achievement gap and about how numerous methods implemented to ensure our black children are achieving at the same rates as their white counterparts are not working.  Then, these so-called education reformers get mad when we move our children to a different school. They even try to tell us that our children will suffer if we pull them out of an integrated school and put them into a school that happens to be predominately black.  You don’t see black parents going up to the suburbs and telling white parents their white kids are going to suffer from being around too many white people, so don’t question black parents when you are comfortable with your children being in a mostly homogenous school.

Click here to read the entire piece.

Moving Forward

I am appreciative of all of these opportunities, but sometimes it is overwhelming for an introvert like me.  I push forward because I know we need more transparency because it helps others.  As of today, I have two more upcoming features that I’m excited about and possibly a third, so stay tuned!

One more thing…I love this comment!

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Educator Barnes Speaks: Policies and Procedures in Schools

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Monday Musings: Educator Barnes’ August Review

POPIf you read my blog “Beginning 35” posted on my birthday, you know I outlined four goals for my 35th year of life.  Goal three is to work on my platform.  For the last several months, my first Monday Musings of each month included links to all the pieces I wrote during the previous month and my reflections about a few of those pieces.  Starting today, I am changing the format to include links to all my work: written pieces, videos, guest spots on podcasts, and links to any work that will be housed under my platform Educator Barnes which includes my garden education work under my Gardener Shicole platform (Shicole is my middle name if you were wondering).

Before we get to the new format, I must address an important issue…

As many of you know, one of the publications I write for is Indy/Ed, an education blog that is part of the Citizen Education network. This network includes blogs in L.A.D.C.NOLA and Memphis.  Citizen Education decided to move our platform from Squarespace to WordPress, which means all of our articles have new URLs.

This is the second time I have written for a publication where my links have disappeared AND I was not informed before it happened.  I should have learned my lesson the first time, but there will not be a third time.  As my work expands, many times people request copies of previous work and this is why there is a publication tab on my website Educator Barnes (EB).  Typically, I just send over the link to my publication page on EB and that is sufficient.  That doesn’t work if all the URLs no longer work.  Moving forward, I will be posting a PDF of any pieces I write.  I’m thinking about not even using the URLs anymore and just the PDFs, but I’m still working that out in my mind.  For now, I will provide both.  I have only updated some of the URLs and added PDFs besides them.  Any Indy/Ed pieces that were written before June 23, 2018, I haven’t fixed yet but I will have all links updated soon.

Here’s my work from August.

Education in Our Schools Articles

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8/19/2018 If Schools Don’t Like Black Hair, We Shouldn’t Give Them Our Black Children PDF
8/18/2018 Arsenal Tech High School Fight – The Community was Right PDF
8/16/2018 Compensation is the Reason Teachers Hop from District to District in Indy PDF
8/13/2018 To Improve Education, We Need the Entire Story PDF
8/12/2018 If You’re a Struggling Educator, It is Okay to Admit You Need to Find Another Profession PDF
8/5/2018 Teachers, Male or Female, Who Engage in Sex Acts with Children Have No Place in the Classroom PDF

TER Writer

8/10/2018 What Teachers Get Versus What They Need

Education in Our Schools Videos

Click here to subscribe to my education YouTube channel to get notified when new videos are uploaded.

8/30/2018 Black with Kids: Teachers, If You Value Us, We Will Support You
8/20/2018 Life as a Black Educator:  When You are Asked to Answer for the Black Race
8/14/2018 Black with Kids:  When Your Child’s Teacher is Afraid of You
8/9/2018 Being Culturally Responsive Starts with Pronouncing Names Correctly

Urban Gardening Educational Articles

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8/23/2018 Who’s in Your Garden Network?
8/19/2018 Zucchini & an Apple Slicer?
8/18/2018 Caprese Zucchini Boat
8/16/2018 Pest Problems
8/15/2018 Yummy Carrots Quick

 

I appreciate your readership.  If there is something you would like me to write or talk on video about, please let me know.  Thanks!

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Beginning 35

My first day of year 35

I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions.  I set goals in August when my birthday is.  These are my goals for year 35 of life.

Goal 1 – Determine if the Ph.D. program is for me.

Last week, I was crazy enough to begin a Ph.D. program.  This was not a goal I ever had for myself.  I have a few mentors that have pushed me in many other areas including encouraging me to apply to the IUPUI Urban Education Ph.D. program.  After about four years of encouragement, I finally applied during the last school year.  My thought was I won’t get accepted and because I felt like I bombed the interview portion of the application, I was certain I wasn’t going to make the cut.  Fortunately or unfortunately (I haven’t decided which) I got accepted.  I enrolled in classes a couple of weeks before the program started.  I know I have the capability of doing the work.  I just don’t know if I want to devote the time. I don’t know if I really have a novel idea to research to add to the body of research that is already out there.  I’m not a person who quits stuff, but I have been thinking about quitting every single day since the first class.  We will see if I stay the course.

Goal 2 – Learn how to swim.

my glasses

If you saw my tweet the other day about climbing a fence to escape a mouse, you know I fear those rodents.  I also fear large bodies of water.  I cannot swim.  On my high school transcript, I have one bad grade, a D in swim class.  My fear was real, but the teacher didn’t believe me.  My eyesight is horrible; I’m severely near-sighted.  My right eye prescription is -10.50 and my left eye is -11.25. I also have astigmatism in one eye too. My glasses cost around $500.00.  I have to get extra stuff done to my glasses so it doesn’t look like I am wearing two coke bottles on my face.  My eyes are so bad that I don’t qualify for Lasik.  I don’t even qualify for permanent contacts.  I didn’t even know that was a thing.  Even if I did qualify for that, I wouldn’t do it.  After eliminating those options, my optometrist suggested I order prescription swim goggles so I could learn how to swim.  Since my prescription is not the same in both eyes, I had to get them custom made.  They arrived in the mail two days ago.  My fear of large bodies of water is really tied to me not being able to see well.

my new swim goggles

When I was in college, I was a chaperone for a summer church trip to Kentucky Kingdom.  I rode a few water rides with my glasses on, but on the last water ride, I got kicked by a kid who chose to go down the slide too soon after I had gone. My whole body hit the side of the slide and I lost my glasses.  I freaked out and had a whole meltdown after I hit the water at the bottom of the slide.  They had to stop the ride to calm me down.  They did find my glasses.  Once I got my glasses back, I got out of the little pool and this group of kids I was responsible for keeping an eye on were just staring at me.  I said, “I think it is time to go eat some food.”  No one challenged me since I was pretending that my meltdown didn’t happen.  After that incident, I pretty much decided for the most part to stay out of the pool and large bodies of water.  My sons are still learning how to swim.  My husband can already swim.  I really want to conquer this fear; I don’t want to be the only person in my family that can’t swim.

Goal 3 – Work on my platform.

I technically started this a couple months ago.  People are listening to what I have to say when I write, when I do videos, and when I have been a guest on podcasts and several people have suggested that I focus on building my own platform.  It has been pointed out that I have been giving my all and helping move other people’s platforms forward. A few of my mentors even feel like some people are just using me.  I haven’t come to any definitive conclusions on that yet. If I feel that people are not allowing me to have input, but my work is helping you move your work forward then maybe I will have to reevaluate where I am contributing my intellect, time, and resources.  Regardless, of how I work, where I devote my time, I am carving out some time to develop my platform.  I have someone who is helping me brand myself and I also have a coach who is helping me focus my vision for this work.  I don’t know what all will be involved, but I am excited about the journey to work this out.

Goal 4 – Continue eliminating debt.

My husband and I adopted the dfree lifestyle in 2012.  By following those principles we have eliminated over $100,000 of debt since 2012.  It’s not because we are rich; it is because we are focused, have a plan, and are willing to make sacrifices. The only debt we have left at the moment is my SUV (you know the vehicle I had to buy after the idiot hit and totaled my paid off car last December) and the mortgage on our house.  Our long-term goal is to be debt free by 50 and our aggressive goal is to be debt free by 40.  I have already paid off 1/3 of my SUV and I’ve only had it for eight months.  If you want to learn more about our dfree lifestyle, listen to us on the dfree free podcast, “In the Black” on September 17 at 5 p.m.

Those are my goals for 35.  I will leave you with this closing thought.  If you don’t set goals for your life, how will you know if you have ever really accomplished what you wanted in life?

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Concluding 34

img_5901In about an hour, I will officially be 35.  As I close out my 34th year of life, I am grateful.  Thirty-four was a chill year.  It was a year of growth where I started to become more self-aware of what I had to offer others personally and professionally.

I have had so many opportunities in this last year because people wanted to work with me and to pick my brain.  I always knew I had worth.  I just didn’t realize so many people thought I had something of value to contribute to their work or their goals.

I know every year in life isn’t rosy.  People at my church frequently say, “You are either going into a storm, in a storm, or getting out of a storm.  I hope year 35 is great, but if it isn’t, I believe I have the endurance and the will to overcome.

Check back tomorrow.  I will share my personal goals for year 35.

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Monday Musings: How Is the New Job Going So Far?

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This school year, I moved into a new role.  I am currently a K-6 library/media specialist.  Previously, I have been a middle & high school English teacher, a K-5 English as a New Language teacher and a K-6 & 9-10 Literacy Coach. Although this school year is the beginning of my 13th year as an educator, this is my first year in this role. Many people have inquired about my job.  This is how it is going so far.

Pros

  • I missed working with students.  This role allows me to teach and work with every one of the 870 students in my school.
  • I have five educator license certifications and this role has allowed me to use my 4th obtained license which is Library/Media P-12.  Note: Do I have a license is a common question I am asked because in Indiana a school district is only required to have one person in the district possess a library/media specialist license.  
  • I have funds to diversify the book collection in the media center.  I’m super excited to be able to purchase books my students requested and books that reflect the diverse student population.
  • Three students from the last elementary school I worked in attend my current school, so it was nice to have three students know me (and how I operate) on day one.
  • Today, my school is having our BigGreen learning garden kick off.  I brought a BigGreen garden to my last school and was the Garden Lead.  I am an urban gardener so I love that this school has a learning garden too.
  • I’m around books all day long.  I’m a bibliophile, so I love being around books and talking to kids about books.
  • Teachers seem to really love the school.  Some of them even enrolled their children in the school.  Even my principal’s daughter attends the schools.  When teachers are willing to bring their kids to the school where they work, it speaks to how much they trust the education happening in the school. Note: Although my boys could attend my current school, my husband and I have decided to keep them at their boundary school because they have attended their boundary school since kindergarten.

Cons

  • Most of my career, I have worked in schools with a later start time. I really dislike having to be at work at 7:10 a.m. I am a morning person, but I’m a morning at home type of morning person.  I get up early seven days a week.  I just don’t necessarily want to interact with others early in the morning. I’m more alert for interaction with others later in the day.
  • My sons attend school in Washington Township, so we don’t have the same calendar.  This year is the first school year we will not have the same fall break which meant we had to cancel our fall break family vacation.
  • My prep time is super short.  This is the shortest prep I have ever had in my entire career.  When my boys turned three, I decided that work stays at work.  I will occasionally complete tasks from work at home.  Typically, they are short tasks that do not take away from my family life. With limited time, it is taking longer for me to accomplish tasks
  • I am the third person in the role in the last three school years.  As a library/media specialist you serve students and staff.  I’m extremely systematic and I also know that changes are hard for people.  At times I will hear, “Well, previously we…” to which I respond, “Thanks for sharing. I wasn’t aware.”  Then, I share my why behind the change. I have learned if people understand the why, they are more likely to go with the flow.
  • The body of books in the media center needs more diversity.  I don’t like some of the books I have seen in the media center.  They seem antiquated and do not reflect the diverse population of the school.
  • I miss the bell.  In the secondary, students move based on when the bell rings.  In elementary, classes move based on the teacher.  I miss the having the bell to keep schedules on time.
  • I miss coaching teachers.  I have talked to many of the teachers I have coached over the years during the last few weeks and most are doing well, but a few aren’t.  I wish I could help them more than offering advice over the phone or over coffee.

Not Pro or Con – Just Is What It Is

  • When I reflect over the last three years of my career, I haven’t read a book or attended a PD that is new meaning I’ve already been trained in it previously.  I play the game.  I read the book or attend the required training. I contribute to the conversation, but I just want more.  The special area teachers at my school are reading a Responsive Classroom book.  I love RC and I was trained and earned a certification for it four years ago.  The plus is this particular book is RC through the lens of being a special area teacher.  But as a critical reader, I question the need for the creation of the book and wonder if the company just wanted to make more money. It is essentially the same content I know how to do with examples for how you could implement this in gym or in music or in a media center. Talented educators should be able to take a training and make it applicable to their job.  On the other hand, I guess there is nothing wrong with reviewing, right?  I did sign up for a training that will take place later this year that I know a little about but haven’t been officially trained in so I’m excited about that.  I should probably write about making PD better for veteran teachers or teachers who are specialized…(adding this to my education writing topic list)

Despite the cons I mentioned, I’m glad I chose this role.  Nine years of my career has been in the secondary setting.  This role gives me more experience in the elementary setting and allows me to learn about the needs of special area teachers.

My fifth obtained license was my administration license.  At some point, I’m going to make that move.  I could have been an administrator last school year and honestly this school year, but I decided to decline those job offers.  I think my varied experiences will be another asset when I decide the time is right to transition into administration.

This is my first update.  I will give at least three more updates about being a library/media specialist before this school year ends.

Thanks for reading.  Drop questions or suggestions for my next Monday Musings in the comments.

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Monday Musings: Attending the 2018 NABJ Convention

img_5343I have been writing ever since I can remember, but I was only writing for myself back then.  I wrote for my enjoyment.  I had to get those stories and feeling out of my head and onto paper in prose or poem.

Fast forward to today – by day, I’m an educator and by night (or early morning), I’m an education writer and garden blogger.  People are beginning to notice what I write and it is opening up opportunities.  One recent opportunity I had was being invited to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) Convention in Detriot to be part of a panel.  I was part of the panel The Importance of Educating our Black Children along with Wayfinder CEO Chris Stewart, InspireNOLA Public Charter School CEO Jamar McNeely, and NewSchools Venture Fund Managing Partner Dr. Deborah M. McGriff.  The panel was moderated by NBC News Education Correspondent Rehema Ellis.

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Before the panel began, I was sitting next to Rehema Ellis  (you know trying to act normal and not ask stupid questions) and she wondered why I had flown into Detroit the night before and was flying out later that evening.  I explained that I had to take off the sixth day of the school year to attend the conference, but my principal was supportive.  Of course, that launched our table into a mini conversation about school start dates. I knew attending the NABJ conference was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up and I’m glad I took the personal day.

I felt indescribable joy as I interacted with people at the conference.  Let me tell you, there is nothing like being surrounded, on all sides, by other black professionals.  I’m not the best networker and I wasn’t even prepared to network.  Immediately after the panel, several people took photos of me and they wanted my business card and I didn’t have any.  My mind was solely focused on flying in, speaking during the panel, and flying out.  Instead, many people gave me their cards and insisted I reach out to them and I did after I returned home.

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One of the highlights was meeting Roland Martin.  Earlier, he had interjected a question during a story I told when I was on the panel.  Last week, I shared that story again and the question Roland Martin asked in my vlog, “Black with Kids: When Your Child’s Teacher is Afraid of You.”

Because of my writing, I have had the opportunity to elevate my voice on podcasts and panels and a few of my pieces have been picked up by other publications.  I also wrote a viral piece that now has over a million views.

Now, the question I keep getting asked is how long I will keep doing both, being an educator and a writer.  Right now, I don’t know.  It is tough to do both especially since it does cause conflict at times.  I only get two personal days a year, so I can’t take advantage of every writing opportunity nor can I cover stories that I really want to cover at times because I am at work.  On the other hand, my day job informs my education writing and gives me credibility, not that being known someday as a former educator would take away my credibility, but there is a different kind of respect when you are in the day-to-day and you are writing about it.

The problem right now is that you have great journalists who write well but most have never been educators.  I think some schools do a good job of stringing journalists along and not telling the real stories especially when it comes to students of color.  I write to put those stories, both good and ugly, out there.

Although I am an English teacher by trade, I still think my writing could be better.  I think of myself as a citizen journalist.  The only way to get better is to keep on writing and stay on the grind.  I will never stop writing, but realistically I know if my writing keeps moving in this direction I going to have to make it my sole focus.  When that day comes, I think I will be okay with that and I am enjoying the opportunities my writing has brought to me.

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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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