Oh wait, I’m a second year teacher now

Oh wait, I’m a second year teacher now

SkoolHaze Classroom Purge

Ok, so my goal is to actually get this post out. I’ve tried to write this two times before this and I just ended up trailing off in a blur.

Life is so different for me now than it was for two full years ago. You see, I’ve realized that the time I spent in Boston is a memory now for me. For so long Boston was my life, it’s finally dawned on me that I’ve been in NYC long enough to have created new memories. And in order to do so I often pull back to my time and experiences in Boston. The Bean really was a starter city to prep me for East coast living. Now, being a near two year resident. I can even begin to pull on early experiences living in the city to help push me through to bigger and better with my future. I know that sounds weird – but I want to create history. I’ll say it, even though I feel like its one of those things they don’t like to hear black people say. Of course, my boy Kanye agrees.

kanye genius skoolhaze

We read Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass in my Sophomore English class this cycle. I love reading about Black/African history. It enriches my soul. Imagine that we’re all sitting around making our own history, stories that people will read and learn from and engage with and write about…etc… LoL. I mean, I definitely want this blog to be a part of that history. Y’all can think I’m crazy. I don’t even care anymore. #Kanyeshrug

I read it (The Narrative) for a second time this summer during my reading marathon. That was really dope by the way, and I can’t wait to do it again this summer. One of the books I’m really excited to get into is Introduction to African Civilizations by John G. Jackson. I got to steal some time and read the first two chapters a few weeks ago during winter break. I was a HUGE Discovery/History Channel/Documentary person growing up. I’ve heard stories about the evolution of humans, but conveniently I’ve never heard much about how this evolution took place on the African Continent. The early chapters of the book discuss this evolution and actually use really engaging language that is easy to understand and follow.  In a nutshell it talked about how pre-humans evolved into barbaric humans. Then how barbaric humans turned into civilized humans living in ever growing groups that turned into actual civilizations. It also talks about how humankind went from being a matriarchal society to patriarchal society.

Introduction to African Civilizations John G Jackson Skoolhaze

Speaking of making history…. I mean making historically wise decisions for myself. I’m facing a tough situation at work – again (see Schoolhouse Blues). Long story short I feel like admin has taken aim on me over some bullshit. She wasn’t happy with my peroformance, and as a result gave me some very low marks on my evaluation. The difference between this time and last time is I was actually prepared to talk about it and call her evidence into question. Our last few meetings have looked like this –

Skoolhaze Grapple

I feel like I’ve stepped into a battlefield over the past two weeks, and most folks are recklessly aiming somewhere in my vicinity. Work is a mess man. Classes are ending, Classes are starting, teams are changing to frame a bit of it. The amazing difference is that I actually know my value now and have been far less hesitant giving my opinion on why things that affect my work are the way they are.

I made a conscious effort to wake up and have an amazing and jam-packed Friday. And I was pretty successful. Outside of all of the other trimester ending activities listed about, I had an early morning IEP meeting that almost didn’t happen do to scheduling and communication challenges. IEP’s were one of the most daunting things to figure out 2 years ago. The paperwork behind the scenes is still a nightmare – and to be honest one of the few areas where the powers that be try to act as though I’m incompetent. None the less, the meeting went very well and was probably one of my strongest to date. I made a quick smartboard presentation that helped the fluency of the meeting. I may try to upload the pres once I wipe all the personal information.

Most importantly… and the only thing I’ve really been trying to share over the past few weeks is that I’ve FINALLY made my first curriculum. My post graduate prep course has finally finished its first iteration. I remember back in Boston there used to be all this talk about making a curriculum or finding curriculums that spoke specifically to the students were dealing with back then. Talk about being lost! I’ve finally made my first real curriculum and it feels great. The curriculum as is is far from perfect and there’s plenty of room for growth. But having the skeleton feels amazing! Some of the things I’m looking forward to incorporating this time around is more creative writing, more critical thinking, more activities, more take home resources, more technology skill development, and… better resources in general. If you know any 😉 def send them my way.

I cant think of much more to say. And of course, this was sooo much better in my head. But oh well. Just like the gym sometimes you just gotta get in there to get the kinks out so that next time things turn out even better.

Understanding the importance of language diversity in classrooms

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Understanding the importance of language diversity in classrooms

One of the classes I’m taking this semester is called Literacy and Language. My class is full of 2nd and 3rd year teaching fellows and from the gate we’ve been having interesting conversations about misconceptions and perhaps even missed opportunities to support our students in developing both the language(s) of their home (generally referred to as a dialect of “standard” English) and the language of school and the workforce (generally referred to as “standard” English). One of the early conversations in the class focused on the desire to teach Black and Latino students what has unfortunately become referred to as “Standard” English. I refuse to call it standard, and have relied on calling it “Professional” English, although even that is a bit misleading in it’s title. Basically the argument is – Are we setting these minority students up for failure if we don’t teach and heavily influence them to use the “standard” English that most of us in the working world have come to understand.

SkoolHaze rhetoric

As a Black man I’m a bit conflicted on where I stand with this. On one had there is very distinct way that I communicate when I’m in a professional setting. It’s a guise that I don’t think I have ever really let fall anytime I’m ever with anyone who I consider a work-related acquaintance. Some call it code-switching, at the end of the day I call it my professionalism. However, I’m also fully aware that the moment I’m with a member of my old communities whether it be family, friends, old teammates, frat brothers, I immediately fall into a more relaxed communication style.

I don’t want to get too stuck in the details because in a way they’re unimportant. However what is important is the impromptu conversation I had with a former linguistics student. Part of the way I publicize SkoolHaze is through an ever-growing network of Facebook groups – many of which are education focused. After our first Literacy class session I was really curious what Black Educators/Scholars had to say about… cultural differences in language and how to best use what is known to our students benefit.

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I got a lot of great feedback on potential resources which I’ll include in a future post once I’m sure I’ve compiled them all. However the best nugget was a conversation I had with Mario:

skoolhaze-language-diversity-image_1Thoughts?