Tag Archives: feedback

Early Reflections: Black Male Empowerment Gathering 2

Early Reflections: Black Male Empowerment

Gathering 2

A lot of educators in the room. Both the first and second gathering was filled mostly by educators. I’m curious to know what draws us to these events. I’ve also been unsuccessful drawing and maintaining the attention of non education centered folks. What work can I do to better engage this audience?

I’ve realized that this is difficult to do. I was explaining to a friend that I’m entering a new phase in my skillset, in my work. I’m leaving a phase of education and learning via graduate school and learning a new industry and field of education. I’m not in a creation phase. Trying to create an educational vestige in my own image. Its hard. Its overwhelming. It’s humbling. It makes taking constructive criticism so much more difficult to hear and implement. I’m in a space where I’m re-nervous. Re-insecure of my moves and actions.thinking

People wonder why I’m doing this. What’s the mission? What’s the point? I haven’t developed a clear concise answer for them yet. But I know that the space is necessary and so I’m still trying to carve it out and save it while we figure out what language to prop it up and ground it in.

There have been a variety of men who have attended for a variety of purposes. Coming from many different stages of life and hoping to reap various benefits from such a gathering. My mind is focusing on usefulness. Making the space useful and beneficial for the participants. I think we’re getting there. Again I probably need to expose myself to language from other organizers as they worked to define the specs of their work.

Some more positive reflections is that we stuck to our 2-hour agenda window. That felt good considering some of the feedback of our last one was the difficult position we put attendees in when we went over time. Ending on time actually allowed for natural networking to take place at the end between the men in attendance.

Teacher moves are still on point and applicable. I had forgotten a chord to hook my mac up to the University smart board. Luckily there was a computer already in the room, but I didn’t know the password. With about 20 minutes to go I started frantically making flipchart of all the slides. I was just about done with the flipchart and rearranging a few pieces on the agenda when with 2 minutes to spare we got the password for the classroom computer. I made all of the materials available on Google Drive so it was just a matter of signing in an cueing the materials up from there. I felt good knowing that in the time of a crisis I didn’t panic, came up with an alternative plan and rocked with it whole heartedly in the spur of the moment. That’s absolutely what’s needed.

I must say that I was a bit shocked that it was time to have the second gathering. I was overwhelmed with work. Trying to have a somewhat full personal life. Still readjusting from traveling overseas, and… just drained. I had very little time to properly publicize the event. Luckily, I opened a MeetUp group with supported the engagement of interested community members.

I’m excited to work on the publicity in the future as I know it’s not my strongest area. Which is a perfect segue into two of the most pressing pieces of the work to date. Finding a Name for the group, Determining a mission, and Figuring out the proper Branding. This part is the biggest headache. Probably because I have my undergraduate Public Relations training pushing against my Education training. I absolutely know the importance of a strong image and marketing portfolio. However, I feel like that can easily be developed once I have a strong foundation and understanding of my curriculum and community services. It’s the battle of which one do I focus on first.

Next Gathering:

BlackAcademyCommunityEmpowerment Flyer3

Register for free:http://tinyurl.com/EmpoweredBM3

Join our Meetup Groupwww.meetup.com/EmpoweredBlackMale

Skoolhouse Blues – My worst day yet


I got my ass handed to me yesterday, by none other than my principal… Go figure. I’m shitty beyond belief at her critique of my performance thus far. As you can see it’s 4:08am, I need to be up by 6:30am to have a decent start to my day. Overall she was dissappointed that my instruction had pretty much completely dropped off the map. Or at least it is far far far from the normal scripted curriculum we had been using in Just Words. She also feels I’ve neglected my IEP/Special Education duties.

My pushback was that, yes, my instruction has suffered, and perhaps is not the strongest now. However, I’m a new teacher, and have been entrusted with a hell of a workload. A workload you have decided to give me. At what point was I going to receive some type of mentorship/leadership from those more knowledgable and experienced about things so that I can do to make my curriculum and IEP’s better? In my opinion, I’ve been left to figure it all out on my own. Speaking solely on the special education side of my job I have shown very little comfortability with the process, and have always shown that I will do it wrong if someone isn’t available to help me. (competence is a better word, but thats not something I want to say in an official meeting) Quite frankly it should be no surprise to anyone that I’m continuing to struggle with my IEP’s, I have been struggling with them since day 1! Why am I getting in trouble for this when from my point of view I’ve clearly expressed my need for more support on multiple occasions to multiple people… Perhaps I’ll go into more details later.

At what point is it the student’s job to make sure they’re on top of everything, and at what point must the mentor(s) take that step to ensure their students are learning and growing in the areas they do and do not show competence!? It was a really really really difficult day, I was probably the most upset and bothered I’ve been all school year, even more so than the roommate fiasco. Luckily I stumbled on a few inspirational articles and videos that will hopefully keep me going strong through the end of the school year.

In the mean time check out Rita Pierson’s TED Talk – Every kid needs a champion

Observation Notes

JW 5.2 Blog Screen Shot

Today I was observed by one of my university professors. Here is the transcript along with the electronic and print materials I used for today’s lesson.

FILES: JW 5.2 Ppt Link      JW 5.2 Pdf Link     JW 5.2 Worksheet


Description of Class:

I arrived to your class as you and your students were entering.  You asked Martin to give out the notebooks which were stored in the classroom.  You projected a slide on the SMARTboard and said hello to your class. One of the girls said she missed you very much and you said you missed her to.

You then said that you had projected a picture of Right brain, Left Brain, and you also had copies for them to keep.  You wanted them to have this.  One of the boys asked you if you were encouraging them to drink and you said, no, you were just showing them the right brain/left brain and they could interpret it on their own.

You called Marsha and Renee to attention because they were chatting.  You projected the Agenda (Unit 5 Day 2) on the screen and said that this was a short lesson and if they did everything, they might have free time at the end.  You then told them about their launch:  Describe a time when you helped out someone in need.  What did you do?  Why did you decide to help this person?  How did helping this person make you feel about yourself?

Students started working.  You asked Jaleel to take out his book.  He said something about never helping people.  I asked him if he might have helped someone without even realizing it, and he thought for a second and said, “Probably.”  He began writing.

You told your students when there were three minutes left. You added if they like, they could share out, but they do not have to.  You told them when there was a minute and a half remaining and said that you were very excited about hearing their stories.  You told Kenny that you saw he had written a nice amount but wanted him to write for another minute.

You asked if there was anyone who wanted to share out.  Marsha said she did and you said that everyone was going to listen to Marsha.  She read about seeing a bum on the train when she was going to 42nd Street.  She said she noticed that no one else had given him something and wondered why they were so selfish.  You asked her how it made her feel, and she said it made her feel like she wanted to keep her ass in school, because she didn’t want to see herself doing that.  A discussion ensued about how some people who beg actually have money.  You asked how they know and one student said you could tell by the clothes – like wearing Jordans.

Janae read next about walking down the block, seeing a woman and her daughter coming out of the liquor store, and being asked by the woman for money for food for her daughter.  The daughter said that she wanted a doll and one of Janae’s sisters gave her a doll.  Janae found out a week later that ACS took the little girl. You asked her how she felt and she said she felt bad about that.  You said something about her giving the girl a little positivity before this happened.

Another girl told a story about her mother giving someone who needed clothes some new clothes and the person returned the clothes to the store and got the money.  You told her that her mother sounded very nice – like a very giving person.

Next, you told your students the purpose of this activity.  You connected it to the launch theydid on Monday, writing about something they were thankful for.  You thought that the more they surrounded themselves by positivity, the more positivity will affect them.

At 10:45, you started the Syllable Review.  You asked what they know about syllables and the boy near me said they come in all shapes and sizes.  You said that people have different tricks for being able to break the syllables down.  You asked how do they know when a word has more than one syllable.  Marsha said it takes more time to say it.  It sounds like more than one word.  You agreed with what Marsha said and said that every time you have to take a separate breath, it is another syllable.  You said any time your jaw drops, it signifies a new syllable.

You projected cabin onto the SMARTboard and asked how to separate.  Marsha said ca- bin.   Janae said cab –in.  You asked how they know which one is the correct way to break down the syllables.  You asked them to raise their hands if they think cab – in is the correct way.  Nine students said it was.  You asked about ca-bin and three students raised their hands.  You told the class that the first one was the correct one – cab – in.  You asked them if they remembered what a closed syllable was – any time they had one vowel closed in, followed by one or more consonants.  That is a closed syllable.  You said that whenever they are breaking a long word down into syllables, the first has to be a closed syllable.

Next you projected “locket,” and asked how to separate it.  One boy said loc –ket.  Three agreed. You asked Cassie and she said lock –et.  You asked Mounique if she had something to add.  Seven agreed.  You asked Phillip what ck was and he said it was a diagraph.  You asked what they know about diagraphs and someone said they stay together.  We can never separate diagraphs.  That is why the one on the right is correct.  You projected five diagraphs:  wh, ch, sh, th, ck.

Next you projected “public,” and asked who can break it up.  A student said pub-lic.  You said that whenever they have a multisyllabic word, and asked if anyone knew what it means.  You said it means more than one syllable.  You also explained that in a multisyllabic word, if it ends in the sound “ick” it is spelled “ic.”  Phillip gave maverick as an example – and found a word that broke the rule.

You projected three words:  upset; pocket; and tonic: and asked them to divide the words into syllables.  You asked for someone to come up to the board and asked them to break the word up into syllables.  Phillip did the first one—upset.  He wrote up/set and you said he did it correctly.  You asked if up was a closed syllable and your students said yes, it was.  Phillip “scooped,” each syllable and marked them as closed.  He also put short vowels sounds on top of the vowels.  You said that this is how they should mark their syllables from now on, so they should take this in.

Marsha did pocket.  She wrote pock/et.  She marked the diagraph.  You asked her to mark both the first and second syllables as closed.  You also asked her to write in the short vowel sound above her vowels.

You asked who wants to do tonic and Whitney said yes.  She wrote ton/ic.  You said it was correct and asked her what was her next step.  You asked if ‘ton” is closed and she said yes.  You asked how she knows it is closed and she explained about the vowel in between two consonants.  You asked if “ton” was a long or short vowel sound and she said short, so she wrote in the sign.  You turned to the class and told Kareem to pick up his head because his head was down.  Whitney then wrote in the closed syllable and short vowel signs for “ic.”

You said that they were almost done with the lesson today, but you needed them to pep the energy back up for you.  You gave them a handout.  When you gave the handout to Phillip, you said you liked his participation but he needed to get it together.  He agreed.  You asked Marsha to take her feet down.  You said you would give her ten seconds, but she needed to take her feet down.  When ten seconds passed, Marsha did not take her feet down.  She sat there and looked at you.  You continued the lesson.  In a few minutes, she took them down.

You gave then directions.  You would say twelve words.  They would spell it correctly and break it into syllables.  Then they would scoop and mark the short vowel sounds.  You said you would do the first word as an example for the.  The first word was mascot.  You wrote:  mas/cot.  You showed how you broke it up and added that you wanted them to mark it as well.

2.  nutmeg   3. misfit   4. whiplash 5. frantic  6. public  7. Chipmunk    8.  Frolic

You said that you understand that they may not know how to spell these words, but the way that they learn if by sounding them out and try.  You want to see something in every box on their paper.

9.  disrupt        10.  nutshell    11. exit    12.  Index

You said that you will quickly go through the numbers again and catch them up.  You read the twelve words over again.  You projected the correct spelling on the board so they could correct their spelling (if they had gotten it wrong).  You added that you wanted them to mark them correctly.  Show the closed syllables and whether or not the vowels are long or short.

Throughout the lesson, students asked to go to the bathroom.  You asked them to be back in three minutes and they complied.  When it was Phillip’s turn to go, you asked him to finish his work first and he did.

As students were working, you walked around the room to see how they were doing.  AT 11:22, you said there was five minutes left and if they were completely done, they should close up their folders.

Students brought up their folders and chatted with their classmates until the bell rang.

Strengths/ For Further Consideration


I like how you are using your launch to help your students focus on what is positive in their lives.  You chose a prompt that everyone in the class could write about, and that was thought provoking for most of your students.  I also like the way you told them that you were excited about hearing their stories.  You made them feel like what they had experienced and were writing about was valuable.   When students read, you asked them how the experience made them feel which opened up a discussion in the class.  You obviously do a lot of sharing out in your class and have put in place good procedures for sharing because your students were very respectful when their classmates were reading.

During our debrief, we talked about the value of the Just Words class.  We both agreed that the skills your students are learning (spelling, sounding out words, breaking words into syllables) are important skills.  I wondered, though, if your students are becoming better readers as a result of this.  You told me that next year, when they are sophomores, there is more of a reading component to the class, which makes more sense to me.  We also talked about how the content of this class allows your students to feel successful.

I think you have a wonderful way of interacting with your students.  In a calm tone, you clearly let your students know what you expect of them and why.  You are positive, supportive and caring.  When Marsha had her feet up on the desk, you told her she needed to take them down and told her to do so in ten seconds.  When she didn’t, you didn’t confront her, but gave her additional time, and she did take them down.  When Phillip was attracting attention, you went over to him and in a quiet but firm manner, told him how you wanted him to act.  You also spoke to Kareem at the end of class in a caring, concerned way, telling him that he needs to come to school every day.

Your students are very fortunate to have you for their teacher.  It is obvious to met hat they enjoy being in your class and are focused and engaged on their work.

It was a pleasure observing this class.  I look forward to observing you again in the near future.


Google Survey Tool

Click image to enlarge

Here is a tool I found explaining how to make a Google Survey. I’m personally more used to using SurveyMonkey. But my co-teacher suggested Google Survey. So I figured it would be cool to learn another online tool for my own personal toolbox.. Here is a quick little site I found that describes how to create a Google Survey.



I’m using the survey to get feedback from our technology class on the content, speed, and their time with teachers in our class. Check the screencap to get a peek at the questions I decided to use. I’ll see how the students do with this. Depending on the feedback we get I may try to incorporate these on a regular basis.