NYCTF: Introduction to Special Education in NYC

I’m sitting here at Northeastern University’s Student Center, and I just finished my introduction to Special Education in New York City Online Course! It took me about 20 hours, and they said it would only take 10. But I’m done now and I have a ton of color-coded notes to go back to throughout the year.

Now I’m off to the gym to get a quick workout in, and then back to studying.

When does someone’s past become their past?

This is a conversation I had with a friend of a friend this weekend. We’ll call him…. David for the sake of this posting. David, a soon to be 3rd year law student, mentioned an article he recently read in the NY Post about Jay-z and how he shouldn’t be allowed to market/represent a major sports franchise given its family-friendly image. You can read the piece related to Jay-Z below:

Nets on Jay-Z track

As long as the Nets are allowing Jay-Z to call their marketing shots — what a shock that he chose black and white as the new team colors to stress, as the Nets explained, their new “urban” home — why not have him apply the full Jay-Z treatment?

Why the Brooklyn Nets when they can be the New York N——s? The cheerleaders could be the Brooklyn B—-hes or Hoes. Team logo? A 9 mm with hollow-tip shell casings strewn beneath. Wanna be Jay-Z hip? Then go all the way!

“I guess I won’t need my color TV anymore now that the Nets will be wearing black and white,’’ writes reader John Lynch.

And reader David Distefano now wonders what’s left for the Nets to choose as “their alternate third-uniform to sell during nationally televised games.”

Read more –>> HERE <<–

David gave everyone a quick run down of the article and then closed with the fact that he agreed with the author. Insert my reaction here…

Wait…. what? You don’t think Jay Z is a good fit for the Brooklyn Nets franchise…. please explain.

David and I began what I guess turned into an hour long debate about why Jay-Z wasn’t a suitable choice to represent a franchise in the NBA.

David’s Argument:

Jay z has made his entire career off of marketing and glamorizing his lifestyle as a drug dealer. Which has helped promote the self damaging affects of gangs, drugs, and everything in between. This message has led to the increase in the number of young men who have tried to follow in his footsteps to find their own rights to success. I can not support anyone who has made their claim to fame by promoting a negative message. Also, the NBA is a family oriented business. Why would they partner with someone who so clearly built his entire celebrity off of negative actions? This does not seem like a good fit to me.


My Argument:

Why is Jay Z not allowed to capitalize off of his past? Everyone else in America is allowed to use their past as a platform for success regardless of if their actions are considered positive or negative. Furthermore we have to look at the reality of where he came from – we can’t blame Jay Z for speaking his truth and having millions of people connect with his stories about selling drugs or being a womanizer. If anything it just shows that his reality is a very real and very prevalent lifestyle that many people in this country live today. There is a larger problem that needs to be addressed, the fact that so many minorities feel as though their only route to success is to resort to selling drugs or being involved in illegal activity. What systems are in place that are making them feel that way? Also – the Jay Z I know isn’t the one that sells drugs. He’s one who has made many successful business ventures, a scholarship foundation, and one who has broken the stigma of what a black man from the “hood” can accomplish in their lifetime. There are politicians and CEO’s who have all done negative things to help them get where they are today. Why is Jay Z villainized and they aren’t?

Points of clarity – I want to make it clear that I am in no way condoning the sale or use of drugs. My point is this, to my knowledge Jay doesn’t need to sell drugs anymore and hasn’t for quite some time. He seems to have left this in his distant past in an effort to create a legacy for himself and his family that will last generations after he and his wife Beyonce have left this earth. At what point do we start judging this man, and really everyone we encounter, by their current being, and not who they were in their past.

What was interesting about this argument is that David is slated to become an Assistant Prosecutor for gang related crimes within a few weeks. His words and views will hold an  unequivocal power and weight that many people may not initially realize. I would assume that it is not often that their are prosecutors of color, so for him to suggest that someone can not change, especially someone as well known as Jay Z would be a dangerous statement. And more importantly a dangerous belief. We must believe people can change in order to see their change. In the end, we kind of agreed to disagree for the night on the grounds that we will see each other again, and the battle can be continued.

What do you all think? Is it wrong for someone to capitalize off of their past, especially if their past was a negative lifestyle? When do you forget about someone’s past and take them for who they’ve become. What about people who are struggling somewhere inbetween?

What are your thoughts on this? Leave a comment and lets discuss.

NYSTCE: Test advice

The other post was getting crazy long so i figured I should separate the day from the test. To find out more about the day I had go here –>>Clash of the Titans: Examination Day <<–

The test itself was pretty easy. It took me about 2 hours not including my constant space outs and a quick 5 minute bathroom break. One suggestion I would give people is to go directly to the written response section at the beginning of your exam. There is no strict order to how you need to take the exam. I read the argument and made sure to jot down a quick outline of my response. (This whole process took me maybe 5 minutes). Oh I also read all of the instructions too. That maybe took 10 minutes because it was so boring that I kept spacing out. But That is where I found out how to skip around on the test.

I then went back and answered the 80 multiple choice questions. I guess this took me about an hour and a half. I made sure to give my mind a rest every 15 minutes or so. Being by the window I could still hear the sounds on the street. I would focus on those and just clear my mind when I felt necessary. 4 hours is a lot of time, and I knew that I rushing would only increase my risk of making a mistake. Once it was time to argue my case I think my brain had had enough time to process the best way to support my argument with real and timely facts.  By the way. – my topic was something along the lines of “Should reporters be allowed to assume fake identities to research their stories?” I agreed that they should as long as the general public supported the actions, and felt that the need far outweighed the inconvenience, or invasion of privacy. I also tried to make it clear that public support was very subjective, so that must be kept in mind. I couldn’t think of any huge political examples to share. However, I did think of “How to Catch A Predator” and thought that it was actually a more universally understandable example to use. I mean, if I was a parent you’re damn right I want to know if this is going on in my community, because if it is then I need to start putting some barriers into place to protect my children! I mean come on….. what is the rebuttal to this example!? #POW!

Anywho, I do wonder how the review board will take my use of what may be a risque BUT, very real source to support my argument. At the end of the day I made my testing experience fun. Which helped keep me calm, and focused for the most part. We’ll see what my score looks like.

Study resources I used:

Barron’s NYSTCE: Last ATS-W CST [Paperback]

(I ripped the pages out of the book and stapled them together in small 20 page packets. It helped me study because I could bring the packets with me without having the hassle of bringing the whole book.)

I also used the study guides that NYCTF provides on their webpage.

Clash of the Titans: Examination Day

I recently took my New York State Teacher Certification Exam (NYSTCE – LAST) exam. Its one of two exams I have to pass before I start the summer training in a few weeks.

Unfortunately I didn’t sleep well the night before at all. Not because I was worried about the exam. My mind has just been on overdrive in the past few weeks and I haven’t been able to turn it off sometimes at night. Eventually I ended up passing out – which led to me waking up 30 minutes b4 my exam was supposed to start. I definitely planned to have an hour in the morning to prepare.

So I jumped out of bed, threw some random clothes on and ran to the train station. The testing center was a 15 minute train ride away, so I figured time was no major issue. On the train I decided to do some last minute studying. Somewhere during this week I decided that I needed to go on a self imposed study-strike, so it was time for the last minute refresher. To help counteract my laziness.

Eventually, I made my way to the testing center with a little help from my Maps app. Imagine how relieved I was to get to the testing center on time even with my unexpected setback in the morning.


The feeling was immediately snatched away when I walked up to the large glass window by the testing center’s door and realized this wasn’t the type of testing center I was used to. I imagined 20 something’s all taking their graduate, law, medical school exams. I walked into a room of about thirty people all dressed semi-professionally, and they were all easily old enough to be my parents. I’m talking late 40’s and up. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I just assumed I would be with my young professional peeps, LoL. Now that I think about it I guess I’m taking a professional certification and not an academic one. The other people there were taking professional exams for nursing, real estate licenses, etc… All of a sudden a huge wave of awkward landed on my face.

I felt extremely out of place and intimidated for a few seconds. Here I was looking like I had just come from the walk of shame to come take this exam. And here these people were looking like they just left the boardroom to come take theirs. I definitely felt like all judgmental eyes were on me. The crazy black kid who came unprepared the testing center. But then as I walked to the front desk I realized I had to get over it. Regardless of what anyone else thought of me, I needed to pass this exam, and I knew my material, so lets get down to business… Fuck them. You can judge me by my appearance if you want to, but just make sure you respect me when I pass this exam.

I signed in at the front desk and waited to be called to my testing station. The testing center was run like a medium security white collar crime prison. You can’t have anything with you while you test. This includes water, chapstick, watches, anything bigger than a shall or sweater. Its an unnecessary authoritarian mess. I mean… who really expects people to take these exams that can last up to for hours without a bottle of Poland Springs to quench their thirst!? I’m actually still surprised I was able to part ways with my Burt’s Beeswax long enough not to have a panic attack.

Eventually one of the staff came to escort me to my personal computer station. I really do think I was a character in a modern day professional Clash of the Titans. And the gods up top were recklessly throwing small challenges my way to see if I would crack. I ended up being placed in a small… add-on for lack of a better term, station.Picture a regular computer lab, and then a small walk in closet attached to it that they added after the fact to accommodate more people.

The small room was big enough for one computer station and had a large window revealing a nice view of another office building across the green walkway. There was a slight and constant chill about the room. Oddly enough it helped me stay relaxed and alert throughout the test. I don’t know why, but I kind of felt like a rebel fighting an underground cause while I was there. I really played being in the separate room to my benefit. I took a quick 60 second micro-nap when I felt a little too tired. I even managed to break away from my written response for about 5 minutes to doodle out a large image of a woman  sitting at a table staring back at me. I really wanted to take a picture to share with you guys. I even kicked my shoes off, and flipped my chair around during the last 30 minutes or so as I proofread my essay.

This post is really long – so I made a new posting to talk about the actual test itself. You can find that here

–>> NYSTCE: Test advice <<–

As I wrapped up my exam, I hid my page-size drawing of the woman into the inside of my testing note pad. Think of a spiral notebook, but instead of paper – we had to take our notes on wipe boards. I wonder whats going to go through the persons mind when they see I wrote absolutely no notes except for a quick outline, a math problem or two, and a huge drawing that clearly isn’t being tested for, LoL.

I got on the elevator with another woman who had just wrapped up her exam as well. I’ve been trying to be a lot more social lately and just comfortable starting and maintaining conversations with people I don’t know lately. So… as the elevator doors closed I randomly asked her what test she was there for. She smiled and said her nursing exam and asked me the same. We exchanged short pleasantries and then she told me that you’re not required to answer all of the questions on the nursing test, but that she did in an effort to secure her a better score. I thought that was so dope for some reason. Lets hope I would have done the same thing.