Unpacking my mobile classroom-office-changing room


Back around September I realized I was carrying around a 45 pound book bag with me all over the city. It wasn’t long after that I was determined to show what the hell was in my bag with me all these days. Here is a sneak peak. I took these picture back in January right when after we started Spring Semester grad classes. Throughout the fellowship I’ve seen people get pretty creative with their mobile offices. Here’s what I do…… throw everything in my compartmentalized book bag.

(click pictures to enlarge)



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Umbrella – I rarely check the weather in the morning. I just use this.

Stapler & Scissors – I travel around the school a lot, and there’s never a set place for essential supplies like the stapler or scissors. These actually come in handy for grad school projects  as well. And really just everyday use. These are probably the two most important supplies I have.

5hr Energy – … I keep one of these, Redbulls, or Starbucks shooters on deck at all times!

Colored Pencils/Dry Erase markers – Similar to the stapler/scissors. These are essentials that I’ve pulled out many times during random  impromptu activities in class.

Story Cubes – meh… something I’ve never really used. But they’re supposed to help students come up with ideas for their writing.

Deodorant, aspirin, etc… –  If you follow the blog you know there are many times I’ve had to brush my teeth in the morning at school. Refresh after a long day with some deodorant, blow my nose, or offer my students some tissue, etc… These are really essentials.

Teacher Pencils and Pens – These are my special (expensive) pens that I love writing, grading, and note taking with. However, students never seem to come to class prepared so I always end up handing them out and never get them back.

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Journal 1 & 2 – Places where I store my notes, ideas, sketches, etc… Earlier in the year I used these quite often.

Everything else should be self explanatory.

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Extra school materials – This is where I keep all my extra copies of worksheets, IEP notes and drafts.

Lesson Plans and School materials – Lesson plans and some of my JW/Rewards graded work.

Grad Class Folders – Its been really important to keep the grad materials organized and labeled. We have a lot of additional articles to read, drafts for lesson plans, journals, project plans, and syllabi.

Laptop  and Differentiating Instruction Textbook – Self explanatory

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Workout gear, iPod Shuffle, Earbuds, Grad School Notebook –  here should be self explanatory.

Ripping and running around NYC makes you have to have everything you’ll need throughout the day on you.  I generally leave around 650am-ish on a good day, and don’t get home until  around midnight. There’s no time to run home and grab my workout gear, or switch to my grad school bag after a long day.  I used to hate having to lug this thing around. But I actually think its dope to be carrying around 45 pound all day. I’ve created the image in my head that I’m getting a constant workout.  LoL

Cirque du Classroom: Official Grad School Observation #2


Re-reading these observation notes is a bit misleading. This was by far one of the 3 worst class sessions I’ve had this school year. Made exponentially worse by the fact that I had an official observation with my Grad school coach. I remember a few times thinking about either blowing up, or shutting everything down and having the class sit there on “punishment” while we all calmed down enough to continue. BUT, since my coach was there I had to keep powering through and trying to just let the minutes on the clock tick away as I tried to get us to learn the material. Anywho, here are the notes. This observation happened on March 6, 2013. 

Description of Class

When our students entered your classroom, you asked one of the boys to distribute the folders.  A girl asked what you were doing today and you said you were doing “Just Words,” and you had a jam-packed lesson. You asked your students to take out their journals.

You said, “Hello, Everyone.  Welcome to Wednesday.”  You told them that you had projected a picture of a golden retriever and began reading the text, but Natasha asked why you didn’t do the one about the man who fell into the hole and died.  She began explaining what had happened to the man in Florida and you asked her to explain what a sinkhole was.  She did and you added to her explanation.  The class was very interested in what Natasha had said and wanted to know more about sinkholes.

You projected a picture of a sinkhole on the SMARTboard.  One of the girls said she was scared and wanted to know if it could happen in New York.  Janae tried to explain how sinkholes happen by talking about volcanoes.  You said that she was partially correct and explained tectonic plates and how the earth is constantly moving and that what more than likely happened is that one of the open spaces below the ground shifted and the earth got weak and it opened up.

Marsha said if you stare into the sky you could see movement.  The phone rang and you answered it.  You then said that they had their geography and science lesson for the day and that you would try to find something like this for Friday.  You then projected the Launch and said that they had two different prompts. You asked them to either:

1) Write about your last trip.  Where did you go?  What made this trip memorable for you?  If you haven’t gone on a trip recently describe your dream trip.  Where would you go?  What would you do?  Who would you see?

2) Draw your own skyscraper.  What will it look like on the outside?  How many floors are there?  What types of businesses are there?  What types of people live there?  What outrageous features make your skyscraper better then others?

You read the prompts and said that you were setting the timer for five minutes.

At 10:37, Juan came in.  He asked you for a piece of paper and said he is staying but he is not doing this work.

While students were working, you went over to one of the boys and talked to him about how he has been a little drowsy for the last few classes and you were not going to accept it.  You wanted his head up and you wanted him to do work.  He sat up in his seat.

Natasha was talking and not working and you asked her to work.  She asked why she should work since it was Wednesday.  You thanked her for voicing her opinion and asked her to begin working.  Natasha then asked why you weren’t writing.  You said that you had to walk around and make sure everyone was working.  The phone rang and you answered it but it was the wrong number.

The alarm went off and you asked if someone wanted to share.  Marsha said that she went to the Dominican Republic.   She went to different hotels and three different water parks.  And she had to hear her family talk “a whole lot of shit”.  You paraphrased and said she heard her family talk crazy. You asked her questions about her trip and she replied.

Cassie shared next.  She said she went to Holiday Hills and it was a lot of fun.  There were some “big-assed” pools and she went canoeing.  You asked her when she went and she said in June.  You responded by saying that there were a lot of summer trips.

Cassie added that she also went camping in Connecticut and you asked if it was this summer.

Katrina shared next.  Her last trip was to Bush Gardens in Virginia.  She explained that it was like a water park and had lots of buffets.

Janae shared next.  Two weeks ago she went to Atlantic City.  She went shopping and she went on the boardwalk and in the pool. And they went out to eat every morning and they also had dinner out. She added that what she liked best was the shopping.

After Janae shared, you thanked your students for sharing.  You said that you really couldn’t remember the last trip you went on.  Natasha asked you where you wanted to go and you said Tokyo, Japan.

Next you flashed a slide on the SMARTboard with four words.  You quickly took the slide away, but Marcus said the words he had seen:  could, would, should, and been.  You asked the class how to spell those words.  You said that on the last progress check, some of the class got these words incorrect, so you wanted them to write would, could should and been in their journals.  Most of the students began writing.  You went over to a girl on the side, asked her to open her book and write the words.  You told the class that in their mind, they should be thinking about sentences that they could write with those words.

You projected the four words again and told them that they should check to see that they wrote the words correctly in their journals.  You projected, ”plant,” and asked Cassie what the word was.  Then you projected, “plant er” and asked what the base word was.  Your students said plant.  Marcus said –er was a suffix and you asked if it was a vowel suffix or a consonant suffix.  He said vowel.  You asked Cassie how you know if it is a vowel suffix or a consonant suffix and she said “e” is a vowel.  You showed them how you wanted them to mark the base and the suffix and wrote the word “planter,” on the dry erase board. You said they should underline the base word and circle the suffix.

You said that today the class was gong to be learning a lot of new suffixes – six new vowel and consonant suffixes.  You asked what suffixes they have learned so far and Janae said, “est, er, ed, ing, es, s.   Marsha called out ld and ost, but you explained that they were not suffixes.

Marsha kept calling out letters.  Janae asked what you call sh or st but it was difficult to hear because of Marsha.

You projected the word thankful and said that there was a base word and a suffix and asked Janae what the base word was. She said thank.  You asked what the suffix was and she said ful.  You said you wanted them to turn to a new page in their journals and Natasha asked why you were wasting paper.

The next slide was “thankless.”  You asked what the base was and what the suffix was.

The next slide was shipment.  You asked Kareem what the base word was.  He said ship.  You said suffix was ment.  You added that they should write ment in their journals – and they should have full, less, and ment.

You asked Juan if he could cooperate and he said.no.  You made a phone call (but I could not hear what you said.)

The next slide was kindness.  You asked what the base word and suffix were and said to write ness in journal.

The slide after that was childish.  After students told you the base word and the suffix, you told them to write ish in their journals.

The final slide was freshen.  A woman came to the door.  Juan said something under his breath and you said that was not necessary.   He got up to leave the class and you went outside the room and spoke to the woman and Juan.

You came back and asked if they got freshen.  They said yes.  You then told them what you wanted to do.  You wanted them to pair up and asked if Natasha and Cynthia could be a pair.  You asked Trevor to come up to sit with Katrina.  Natasha didn’t want to move.  Trevor didn’t want to move.  Someone asked you to start the lesson, but you asked how you could start the lesson if two people didn’t want to move and two people had their heads down.  You asked them what they think you should be doing and said, ‘you guys are really frustrating me today.”  You went over to Kareem and Phillip and said you needed them up.  Phillip got up and left.  At 11:04, you went to the phone and made another phone call.

You said that for each suffix, you were going to give them 60 seconds to come up with as many words as they can with that suffix.  When you started the timer you said you wanted to see how many words they can come up with.

Marsha called you over and said she wanted to ask you a serious question.  She began giggling and asked you if you know the muffin man.  You ignored her question and went over to another student.  You asked who had written down 3 words?  5 words??  Students began sharing words.  Sometimes they said a word that was not a word – like chestful – and you corrected them.

You then gave them 60 seconds for “less” and then asked them to share.  You then moved on to “ment” and started the time.   You asked who had three words and several hands went up.  You asked who had more than three and Cassie raised her hand and said she had four. Janae had basement and punishment.  When Cassie said comment you wrote it on the board and explained why it wasn’t.  You asked what was the base word?  Com wasn’t a base word. You then said you were going to give them three minutes to do the rest of the words – ness, ish and en.

The door opened at 11:14 and Phillip came back into the room.  You asked him to step outside and went outside the door to talk to him.  Natasha got up and went over to Kareem’s desk and threw his book and paper on the floor.  She went back to her seat and he went over to her and threw her pen on the floor.  A woman with a radio and a man came in to the room.  The man looked through the folders in the bookshelf on the side.

When you came back into the room, Natasha said that Kareem threw her pen to the floor and you asked them to go outside to talk to you.  Before you went out, you said that you wanted the class to add as many suffixes as they could to the words on the sheet that you would collect it at the end of the period.  They would receive credit for doing it.

When you came back into the room, you gave Natasha something to write with because she said she no longer had a pen. The bell rang and you reminded your students to put their names on their papers because you were collecting them.

Strengths/ For Further Understanding

Even though the Just Words class is scripted, you began your class with a picture you thought your students would find interesting and a Launch that invited them to write about themselves and share their thoughts, ideas, etc.  You projected a picture of a golden retriever, but when Natasha began talking about sinkholes and the class expressed an interest in hearing about what happened in Florida, you allowed that discussion to take place and googled a picture of a sinkhole to show your class.  By doing this, you showed your students that you value what they are interested in and also took the opportunity to clarify some of their misconceptions about sinkholes.  The launch also showed an interest in them and their lives, and gave them an opportunity to communicate with each other before settling down to business.

It is wonderful that you give your students an opportunity to write about and share their experiences.  I am not sure that all of your students wrote in their journals before sharing.  Since the Just Words class is not a place where they do self-generated writing, it is a good idea to ask them to write in their journals at the start of each class.  Continue to encourage them to write first and talk afterwards, instead of just talking about the prompt.  The more they have the opportunity to write informally about themselves, the more comfortable they will feel about writing in general.

Throughout the period, you gave your students directions for breaking down words into the base and suffix, and then generating lists of words which include suffixes.  Your students all had a handout and you also showed them a series of slides.  I want to suggest that when you switch to a new activity, you always model what you want the to do.  For example, towards the end of the lesson, you gave them a list of words and wanted them to add all of the suffixes that work with those words and some of your students were not sure of what to do.  By writing the word “rest” on the marker board and thinking aloud as you add all of the suffixes that work, your students would clearly see how they should proceed.

I want to commend you on the professional and caring demeanor which which you conduct your class.  During our debrief, we talked about how you were frustrated with your class this period. When you wanted them to work in groups and Trevor and Natasha didn’t want to change their seats, you told the class that they were frustrating you today.  I want you to know that I think you handled all of their frustrating behavior (Juan who did not want to cooperate today, Phillip who left the room when you asked him to pick up his head and work and then came back later on in the period, Marsha asking you if you knew the muffin man, and Natasha complaining that Kareem took her pen) in a very calm manner.  You did not let your students get a rise out of you and you dealt with each situation appropriately.  When necessary, you took the student out of the room to talk to him/her.  You let your students know when their behavior was not appropriate, told them what you expected and continued the lesson.

Your students are very fortunate to have you for their teacher.  You clearly take an interest in who they are and what they need in order to be successful in school.


Read more of my observations here: Observation Notes

66% – Percent


Monday 3/11/2013: –  It’s 7:59am, and I’m in another classic make it work moment. I’m working with about 3 hours of disconnected sleep today. My goal was to wake up an hour early so I could get to school with an hour to spar. This would give me time to accomplish some of the things still on my to do list. Reality – I woke up about an hour late. With just enough time to get to school before the opening bell at 8:20….maybe.

Major things in today’s to do list:

Create a draft IEP for student’s mother in preparation for our IEP meeting

Prepping for my Just Words lesson even though I left my lesson materials at school over the weekend

Prepping for sDIG/IT student technology presentations for their free laptops

Graduate class tonight (even though the university is closed for spring break.

Reflection: I just registered for summer classes and it looks like we only have to take one class per summer session, and we don’t have to teach summer school this summer. Part of me doesn’t know what I’m going to do with all this extra free time. The other part of me wants to capitalize by getting a part time job to get some extra $$$. I’ve been trying to prepare my students all semester for their digit presentations. Personally I’m not happy with the quality of the presentations or my time management leading up to the presentations. Students are supposed to invite a friend/parent to witness their presentations. None of my students had any, so I made them buddy up and present their presentations to each other. It was weird seeing even some of my strongest students in the class get nervous about presenting infront of a crowd. I had to work with students multiple times to contain their frustrations. Students let their nerves get the best of them. They literally started saying they weren’t going to participate 5 minutes before we were set to go on. I wanted to pull my hair out a million times last period, but finally we got through the day and the students. Grad class was decent. We’re working in groups to help create our own unit plans. Initially I think most people hated this idea, or were confused. Group work always seems like overkill when everyone is working with their own schedules and challenges. I like my group and I like being able to bounce our ideas off of each other. I’ve decided to create an english unit for my Race/Class/Culture course this trimester. My group members are creating units on Math – probability and Science – the building blocks of life. Today was a productive day.

Tuesday 3/12/13: Again I didn’t sleep much last night. I think I finally went to bed around 2:30 am. Only because Sesis (the internet program we create, and edit IEP’s with) shuts down at 2am. So… I couldn’t make additional edits to Student A’s IEP in preparation for my phone call with their mom today. It was a STRUGGLE to get out of bed today. I finally rolled out of bed around 6:35. I powered through my morning ritual. Sans brushing my teeth. I’ve just realized its easier to do that at school… On the train I listened to Kelly Rowland’s Kisses on repeat, I had about 3 swigs of coffee left over from last night. So I gulped them down before I left the house. Sitting on the train, I powered away reviewing and making notes for Student A’s IEP. I got to school. Normally there are things I need to prep for my first period english class. But today is the last day before of the trimester so luckily I didn’t have anything to print out or prepare. I was pleased with myself in class today because I feel like I was having quality check ins with my students as they worked to complete as much of their missing assignments as possible. 2nd period was a sluggish prep for my IEP meeting, followed by a micro planning session for my Rewards (reading intervention) class. Rewards is a fucking mess. I hate teaching this class. The students hate the class even more than I do… I have to figure out something to reinvigorate everyone in our final trimesters. I grabbed Student A, for the IEP meeting. Unfortunately their mother wasn’t available when I called. So I took the time to do the student’s vocational assessment. This was actually a great backup idea because I got some very usable data. 5th period was our department meeting. I don’t quite remember what I did.

Reflection: I’ve been coming home dead tired. I’ve also been putting off the work I know I need to do until late at night. I don’t know what bothers me more… The fact that I’m always getting more things to do. OR the fact that I never seem to get any of it done.

Wednesday 3/13/2013: Woke up 20 minutes b4 I needed to leave the house to get to school on time. Jumped in and out of the shower. Today was a Laid back day. We have early dismissals on Wednesdays. I tried to create a plan for my JW classes today. I got as far as knowing that I wanted them to use chart paper in groups to showcase their learning. But… when it came down to it just played a movie and made it a free period. I hate that I’m starting to rely so much on movies to kill time. I’ve been letting the students know that time is running out for these movies. Its been my go to after I finish the day’s lesson. I’m hoping that I’ll have more energy and time I create longer lasting lessons come 3rd cycle (trimester). Last night I made assignment templates for my Digit classes make up work called Amelioration. Amelioration is usually two days we save after the grading period ends to give our students a chance to make up any missing assignments (competencies/outcomes) in order to legitimately earn credit for their class.  Today I was given (or reminded of, depending on who you ask) a ton of IEP work to do. Its ridiculously frustrating feeling like I never know everything due for my IEP students, nor knowing everything that is expected of me in regards to my role as a special education teacher. It always makes me feel like I’m not working hard enough/ keeping track of my responsibilities.

Thursday 3/14/2013: I woke up dumb fucking late 7:30…. again. I need Spring Break to get here NOW. Its imperative that I reset and recharge my body and mind with a significant rest period. I don’t know how I’ve made t so far. I’ve woken up late for school 3 times in the passed 2 weeks. This is crazy when I’ve been late twice the whole year before that. That is one positive to having a co teacher for my first period class. But it’s a horrible way to start the day. Today we’re doing credit amelioration as mentioned before.

Reflection – Today was a super long day. Amelioration went well. My and co teacher and I were ripping and running around the classroom all day frantically helping students. One of the difficult things about teaching young adults is they don’t realize when they’re being given a second, third, fourth chance. Their normal attitudes or resistance to authority/leadership can really be stressful to a teacher when trying you’re trying to create/manage/or repair relationships with a struggling student who doesn’t understand that you want them to learn and pass, and not suffer the consequences of failure. After school I went to a planning meeting for fundraising event me and some friends are putting together. Stay tuned for more details about Art of War, our inaugural fundraiser help on May 2, 2013 at Hotel Indigo. More details coming soon.

Friday 3/15/2013: I’m so happy today is here!!! I woke up at. 640. Which is still 40 minutes after I used to get up at the beginning of the school year. But, early enough to brush my teeth and hop on the train. Brushing my teeth, showering, or just running out of the house have been my only options lately. Today is another Credit Amelioration day. Yesterday I helped two of our digit students complete the class so they could get the free laptop they had earned. Even still there were two students who didn’t show up to amelioration. One came to school late and still didn’t come to my class to finish her work. Another got injured last weekend and has and excused medical absence. I’m looking forward to tonight. I’m planning out my weekend so I can get as much accomplished as possible. Here’s a short list  of the tasks I can think of:

Workout  2X

TAL 857 Class – Read Chapters 5 & 6 in  Differentiating Instruction : Thousand, Villa, Nevin

TAL 857 Class – Assistive Technology Project Research

TAL 885D Class – English Unit Plan Review

TAL 856 Class – Performance Based Assessment (incomplete class – 2 hours)

Scholarship email to fraternity brothers

Unit plan reviews

Organizing Computer files, Google drive files, and Grad School Files

Blog Posting

Organize and Trash school files in room

Pack in preparation for the move

Complete the NYC DOE part of my taxes

Student A IEP: Complete Present Level of Performance (PLOP) and draft Goals

Student B IEP: Draft Plop

Uh oh… I just got a seat on the train. Lemme take a quick nap. Happy Friday everyone! 🙂 7:37 am.

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Scholarships for African American Males in Education


It never hurts to know what type of $$ is out there to grab. Here are a few generic lists of scholarships and fellowships available for black male teachers/educators. I pulled a few interesting scholarships from these websites and posted them below. I suggest browsing the websites yourselves to see if anything pops out. Quite a few of the scholarships/fellowships listed are regional.


  • United Negro College Fund: Scholarships for black men in educational leadership are offered through grants such as the Cynthia Denise Robinson Horton scholarship fund, Douglas Palmer and the Fort Worth Independent School District Programs. Contact info – United Negro College Fund–UNCF, 8260 Willow Oaks Corporate Drive, P.O. Box 10444, Fairfax, VA 22031-8044   800-331-2244   uncf.org
  • Call Me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) Scholarship has African American males at heart.

    The State of South Carolina offers Call Me Mister, a program designed to recruit African-American males to seek degrees in education. Nine South Carolina universities offer the program, including four historically black universities. The program provides tuition assistance in the amount of approximately $7,000 for students. Contact info –

    Call Me Mister,

    203 Holtzendorff,

    Clemson, SC 29634,




One difference between a fellowship and a scholarship is that most fellowships are not based on need. They are usually based on skill, GPA, and qualifications to work in a certain field. Another distinction between a fellowship and a scholarship, is that most fellowships are payment for some type of work, such as teaching at the college level, while obtaining a master’s degree or Ph.D, or doing extra training in a hospital to earn board certification as a specialist in a certain field of medicine after an M.D. has been earned. Fellowships tend to pay for internships or fieldwork, so that students, usually at the graduate level, can enhance their training in their field of interest. (Source – http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-difference-between-a-fellowship-and-a-scholarship.htm)

Additional Sources:

  1. Subject: Alternative Teaching Certificate Programs
  2. Scholarships for African American Males in Education
  3. Grants for Black Men Pursuing Educational Leadership

  4. Grants for Black Males in Graduate Programs

  5. Scholarships for African American Male Teachers

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