If you’re looking to change the energy that flows through your day I would recommend you get a Good Thing Jar. What is a Good Thing Jar? Well besides the fact that its something that does not have a catchy name, it is a place, a process, and a purpose that will create positive energy in your life.
The good thing jar works because it forces you to think of spaces in your life that are going well. It made me think of spaces where I was gracious in my life. It also helped me see that there’s sooooo much bounty in my life. As you see in the video. I have a huge jar of maybe 100 or so good things (rough estimate) and I have fallen off hard on even contributing to my jar.
The good thing jar at times this year has been something that I’ve really looked forward to getting home and filling up with the amazing moments that have happened for me, with me, or even to people I know and care about this year.
Its super easy to get started. All you need is a receptacle, preferably with a lid.
You start by just making a quick note of thanks, of appreciation, of whatever YOU want, and put it in your jar.
Take note as your jar and your blessings grow throughout the year. I know i’m sharing the message with you late. But its honestly never too late to start. I haven’t placed anything in my jar in at least over a month. I”m so happy that today I get to add a new note talking about how grateful I am to even be in a space to share with you guys my Good Thing Jar.
I’ll leave you with what my jar used to look like back when it was just a mason jar.
Are you willing to start a Good Thing Jar? I definitely need to get back on it. And am so happy to start today. I know I’m going to be blown away when I finally sit down and get to read all the greatness I was able to be a part of this year.
Be easy y’all!
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A classroom and email conversation with two Black-Male students
I recently received an email from a Black male student asking me to explain life to him. He’s an older student and this is the first time I’ve taught him at the school. This was a first time I’ve had a student reach out for such poignant information. The following day, before I could respond, he told me that he and a friend, also in my class, were riding the train the night before talking to each other, and they kept saying the word Nigga.
Somewhere through the journey they confessed having made an older woman cry due to their reckless public vulgarity. It was then that I found out why my student had reached out to me about life the evening before.
Both students told me inconsistent stories about the events as they happened in real time, jokingly placing blame on each other, in a denial-deflection-comedic-confession with each other.
In the moment, there was work to be done, so, I expressed sincere dissappointment in their actions and inability to manage their behavior in context, and specifically with regard to the elder, then redirected them to their work with intentions to reply in detail via email.
The following was my email response:
What’s up y’all.
Ok, my bad that it’s taken me so long to respond. I wanted to make sure I sent something thoughtful back. Here’s some feedback.
Nigga Response –
It’s a dreadful word. It’s used to describe a group of people stolen from their land, and bred to be enslaved-captured people here in the American continents. The African people when I visited don’t call themselves nigga. The enslaved Africans were renamed Negroes by the European and other geographic people. It has been so ingrained that those African people have now taken to calling themselves Negroes instead of what they truly were and are. That’s why it’s a bad thing to hear so many Black/African people say Negroes/Nigga/Niqqa/Nicca. It’s a word of negativity and weakenss. The moment you stop calling yourself and your loved ones that word you start to get a stronger grip on the world, your history, and your role now in it. I hope that made sense. Here is a link to some phrases/meanings of negro throughout our recent history. I found this really useful for my own knowledge about 4 years ago.
Negro stereotype (the black brought over to be run over by society.)
I view y’all as so much more than niggers, niggas, you know all the spellings. In real life, I view myself as a young King. Everyday Paladin, the young King walks into the classroom. Everyday I’m greeted by young Warriors [Student 1] and [Student 2]. But as long as you’re calling yourself a nigger you’re never going to realize that. Nigger and King are opposites. Nigger and Warrior are opposites. Nigger and whatever you want to be known as are probably opposites.
The lady was probably mortified that y’all couldn’t edit the word out even if you tried. I get really sad too when I see kids out and they just can’t control it. We’ve been taught to say it. It has power over you. And that’s not good bro. But the good thing is it’s easy to stop. You just have to choose a different word to say. In college my frat brother started saying ninja, then we all started saying ninja. Then somewhere along the line I started saying homie. Now I even say bro. I say fam. I even say King. Choose something and roll with it. I try my absolute best not to call people that I love nigga.
Y’all ask me and I never really remember in the moment. I get a lot of stuff from thrift stores. My regular stuff is from Levis, American Apparel, Uniqlo, Urban Outfitters, stuff I see on Instagram, and sometimes the vendors on the streets. I normally check the sales. But will spend real money every once and a while for stuff that will last like jackets, bookbags, and boots. I rarely pay over 50 for a shirt or pants. Normally never more than 70 for shoes. Anything more prolly just isn’t worth it. Watch your money and save your money. A lot of my stuff is like 5 to 10 years old. When you buy stuff that fits well it lasts longer in my opinion.
Tutoring Time –
I’m available everyday during lunch:
Monday/Wednesday/Friday – [Location] – Lunch
Tuesday/Thursday – [Location] – Lunch
I also try to stay after school for at least 20 to 30 minutes trying to cool down and wrap up loose ends of the day. If no one comes I bounce. I hustle outside of work and get tired if I’m not on the move. Trust y’all are always welcome to tutoring and after school-time. Just come, and we’ll find something to do.
Y’all are smart. Y’all run the yard and I love it. But I need you both to step it up. You both set the tone for everyone else. I need you guys to work with me & [Co-teacher] in the classroom. Drive the attention to the learning. You aren’t horrible, but you aren’t hustling either. I need you both grabbing these knowledge points. Right now and even if you don’t have me anymore. You both have talent and like a team I need you to push your squad, and me and [Co-teacher], the coaches. Push your talents on the basketball court and in my classroom please. I definitely am trying to bring you my A+ work and I need y’all to help me be great by doing the same please.
1.Take risks– Pursuing your passion means making yourself vulnerable in every aspect. You must become emotionally naked, allowing yourself to make mistakes and risk being terrible. Even if you don’t desire fame and grandeur, pursuing your passion means that you want to be good at it. It means that you want to excel in it; and excellence only comes with de and re construction and you cannot be deconstructed without exposing and becoming vulnerable. Risk also involves opportunities; seizing every one that is beneficial to you and the pursuance of your passion. Read up on the stories of the people who excel in your passion, whatever it may be, and guaranteed that the level of success they achieved is almost directly associated with the level of risk they had to take to get there. Its not easy and can even be as serious as violating the values and priorities to which you adhere. But, it is necessary and it is ultimately this that distinguishes the difference between a hobby and a pursuance of passion. Do what no one else would and become what no one else can.
2. Remain Teachable- One of the hardest parts of being a human is pulling down your ego and learning from and listening to someone else. As hard as this is it is integral in pursuing your passion. You must be able to accept what you are not good at and listen to people you respect on the road to change and growth. Defense is an enemy; you must listen to criticism and be able to be broken down and take any criticism objectively and use it to your advantage; appreciate it. Now, there are people out there to whom you shouldn’t listen, as their intentions may not be genuine or they could be haters to put it plainly. These people are to be nodded and smiled at and their “criticism” taken in one ear and out the other. Discerning between them and true friends may be difficult, but with common sense and evaluation of character, they will be found out.
3. Make complacence your worst enemy- In your passion there is ALWAYS room for growth, always. Whether you grow vertically and improve on what you already do or horizontally and switch lanes to tackle something different or use a different approach to what you already do, growth is possible. With this said, it is most definitely ok to be happy with something and to leave it alone. When a song I have finished gives me that complete feeling, I leave it alone. There are times I even have to be told to leave it alone, but, nonetheless, I do. Sometimes things are perfect just the way they are; but, holistically, as far as my vocal ability and the way I sing and how my voice sounds, there is no limit to how much I can improve. It is easy to become happy with where you are and dwell on that but just know that you can go higher. If you’ve conquered a city, focus on conquering the state, then the region, then the country, and dare I say the world? And yes, the universe as well. It all lies in the balance of knowing your limitations and not having any at all.
4. Research and analyze- As a musician I no longer listen to music, I analyze it, unconsciously sometimes.When a song enters my brain I almost automatically hear harmonies, tone, technique and how the singer hits the notes, and everything in between. A passion consumes you and you cannot be afraid of that. In whatever your passion is you must research and analyze the best of the best. It is necessary to get yourself familiar with what makes the greats great. Watch their interviews and how they work. Research their stories and their history. In an age of ubiquitously available information, you have your passion at your fingertips; take full advantage.
5. Don’t be afraid to be great– An unknown fear of greatness is what I believe hinders us all. There is comfort in mediocrity and people don’t realize how limited their mentality is and how they hinder people from their own greatness. In short, Mothafuckas are haters and in most situations their hate is a reflection of their own limitations, doubts and fears. I used to be afraid to say I wanted to perform like Michael Jackson or I wanted my vocal tone to be as pure as Whitney’s in her prime. I used to be afraid to have standards higher than those around me for fear of standing out. In pursuing your passion you have to have the confidence to RESPONSIBLY associate yourself with the greats. I say responsibly because we all know someone who LOVES to do whatever it is they love to do and claims they’re the best at it, but in actuality they suck, morbidly! If you’re a painter, set Van Gogh or Warhol as your standard. If you act, aim to be as good as Meryl Streep. If you are a film director, be Michael Bay and nothing less, but do it responsibly and in your own manner of course and know the work that’s set out for you to be that great. Above all, prove it! Don’t just talk about it. Greatness speaks for itself. Know internally what your standards are and claim them commandingly. Know that you are and can be THAT GREAT and let the work speak for itself.
Back 2 Music is the motto. Hailing from Baltimore, Md currently living in Boston, Ma, Antoine is an independent artist bringing back real music one song at a time. His style mixes so many inspirations and genres alike. His versatility and appeal as an artist sets him apart, making his style unidentifiable, but his music and performance an identifying unmatched signature in itself. Working to make every record and live performance an unprecedented experience Antoine is sure to entertain and inspire, one note at a time. Be sure to check out Antoine’s latest video for his song Make You Love Me.
Even in my own head my most recent post(s) come off as a misrepresentation of what I’m really experiencing this year as a 2nd year teacher and graduate student. By no means have things been easy and just fallen into place properly. If anything I’ve felt as though I have to deal with a lot more chaos than I did at the beginning of last year. However, I’ve been managing it with more laughter and matter of factness, at least in my own head.
This year, I’m working with a lot more freshman students, which is great because its helping me build relationships with the new members of the student body. The freshman class is more independent than previous classes we’ve brought into the school. They seem to be able to work better on their own, and to date haven’t given much pushback when we give them homework or require them to step up to the plate with their work. This has been surprising, but also pretty frustrating when trying to figure out how to bring the same sense of responsibility to our sophomore and junior classes at the school. I’m not quite sure what we can do to bridge the gap for them, but, that will be part of my job next marking period as I work with some of our junior students in the new Post Graduate Prep Elective.
This year’s freshman have been a great social experiment for me. I’ve really been able to push myself and them beyond what I thought I was able to do last year, and with a lot more natural appeal. Had you asked me last year if I was myself in the classroom or some character I presented, I would have answered that I was definitely my genuine self. However, the freshman this year seem to have brought a more relaxed and authentic version of myself into the classrooms as a teacher and my graduate classes as a student. They’ve also helped me realize that no single experience in the classroom starts and ends in that classroom. We live in a world that is constantly pulling and growing on things that have happened previously in all of our lives.
Some of the challenging situations I’ve had to maneuver this year have oddly enough all come from the same classroom. In one class of approximately 20 students on the roster my co-teacher and I have –
A) a student who functionally can’t read (well)
B) a student who for lack of a better term has extreme mood swings within one period
C) a student that has the energy and attitude of a tazmanian devil
D) a student that just so happens to be the son of my barber – which has made subsequent management very difficult do to the inherent conflict of interest.
Dealing with these students in the same classroom has been… interesting. Interesting by the way is my new buzzword for, a fucking mess. I will say though that although these students have kept me on my toes I do feel a genuine love and responsibility to look out for their security, growth, and comfort inside and outside of my classrooms.
A few weeks ago, students B and C, who by themselves have the power to completely derail a productive classroom environment came into class and performed the Dragon Ball Z Fusion Dance. For those of you that don’t know it’s a dance performed by particular characters in the popular anime series that allows them to combine forces, strength, and minds to fight stronger enemies. So far this is probably the single most hilarious memory I’ve had as a teacher. I’ve included a quick video showing the fusion process below, and yes the students literally did this in the middle of class, in unison, together. I died a little inside from shear amazement that they even knew of the fusion dance, and second that they were essentially saying in code that they were combining to wreck havoc together.
Ironically, I actually think both students were able to focus and get a decent amount of work done this day. However, I was taken aback by their seemingly freudian slip. I think subconsciously their act was an admission that they both understood that they had the power to derail the class if they chose to. The whole class period I moved in a semi-state of shock, like what the hell have we gotten ourselves into.
Of course, fate decided that I would be in charge of both student’s IEP meetings. Both meetings brought surprises and challenges never experienced before. One student’s IEP is still yet to be drafted… yet another thing I have to complete this weekend… supposedly. One thing I love about my position as a teacher is being able to connect with my students on a simpler level than their educator. In both meetings with the students, I mentioned the fusion process that I saw in class, and how I was shocked that they even knew what that was. It served as a door opener to students who can be particularly difficult to connect with when not in the mood. Even weeks later I still can’t quite get over having two Super Saiyan students who understand their power to support and disrupt a classes progress singularly and even more-so together.
To tie this back to my initial statement, clearly these students both saw the fusion process years ago at home, and brought the idea into the classroom to really just have a good time and share laughs together. I know I haven’t watched Dragon Ball Z in probably over 5 years, and its been a lot longer since I heard of fusion. In the end, I let both students know that their fusion was hilarious, and I respect them for comedically bringing it into the class. I actually think the three of us are the only ones who caught it in the moment and haven’t forgotten it. However, I’ve already put my co-teacher on game, and let the students know that any further fusion activities will be met with equal force from my co-teacher and I.
We laughed… and to this day they have continued to be lovely difficult students to manage in the class.
*Another facebook snatch, thank you to whoever I got this from*
Elijah’s classmates only wanted better for themselves and their families. What happened to paying it forward, and giving back?
There are no role models in their neighborhoods right now. All of the “successful” people leave the community and never return. They’re taught to leave the community.
When will be begin to combat the selfishnesses WE ALL have been taught and unconsciously display?
What is the common thread between Mother Theresa, Ghandi, and MLK Jr?
They all had an extreme love for people and fought for them even when they didn’t want their help.
Allow our students/mentees/family/friends to be angry, BUT direct their anger to the fact that someone taught them it was ok to behave like that (hurting other people). Direct their anger to the fact that someone taught them that its ok to think that it’s every man for themselves.
The people that put them (us) down, were put down. The people that hurt them (us), were hurt. When are we (you) going to take personal responsibility to change this?
I’ma change that! You need to too!
Teachers, instead of making sellouts, we need to realize that we’re the main people who can change the community, by building its leaders. Yes academically, but more-so spiritually, socially, and emotionally.
The world doesnt have to be every (wo)man for themselves. We can have everyone fighting together and set on one goal. That goal is to make our communities better for the people coming up after us.
Teachers job is of extreme importance. Are you sure you know and are pushing for the full scope?
It’s bigger than me, it’s not about me. But I can change that.
I believe in you
And don’t give up
Tags: Video, education, Teachers, Teach For America, Baltimore, Elijah Miles, Higher Education, Public Education, Teaching
The Creative Dreamers Award has been funded! We’ve met our goal of $3,000. I have a call next week with our liaison on campus to discuss next steps in regards to communicating the scholarship to the campus, alerting the selection committee, and figuring out how we can start building an actual endowment or if we should continue to go the yearly route. In hindsight, it took far more time to get the actual scholarship paperwork complete than it took to raise the total amount of funds. Proof that its not that difficult to do your own if your interested. Hopefully my subliminal hints aren’t so subliminal…
As we all know, the world works in very mysterious ways. I recently stumbled across an article about another young creative dreamer doing his part to spread positivity, push himself, and completely dominate the game. Meet JeShaune Jackson, a 26 year old, business owner, graduate student, philanthropist, and mentor. [He sounds a lot like me, or at least what I want myself to become.] JeShaune recently delivered his first Jeshaune D. Jackson Scholarship to a young African American male student at his alma mater Bedford High School in Ohio. Even better, JeShaune introduces his scholarship winners and runner ups to black physicians and scientists, and develops his own mentor relationship through consistent check ins and relationship building activities.
With his scholarship, JeShaune plans to build black youth by providing them the much needed one on one mentoring and role modeling they will need to support their future successes. JeShaune himself earned a bachelors degree from Bowling Green State University in Premed and Biology. He’s currently pursuing two masters degrees from Case Western Reserve University – Entrepreneurial Biology and an MBA in Design and Innovation, and wants to add a medical degree on top of that.
Donate directly to JeShaune’s scholarship:
JeShaune D. Jackson Scholarship to Treasurers Office
Bedford City School District
475 Northfield Road
Bedford, Ohio 44146
JeShaune is a philanthropist, scholar, and also businessman. He created the business/nonprofit organization BioComm. The organization brings together graduate students from diverse academic backgrounds – medical, law, engineering, business, and other fields – to build proposals for science and medical innovations. Participants gain valuable entrepreneurial and business experience working across fields and with real world clients. With the help of the students, JeShaune’s BioComm looks to bridge the gap between science innovation and consumer. You can watch a video proposal featuring Je’Shaune and BioComm at the Johnson and Johnson Be Vital Challenge website.
As we can see JeShaune is an ambitiously inspirational player on the scene. Its humbling and invigorating to see him accomplish his goals. I love the vision he has carved out for himself and his endeavors. He is leading from the front! Think of it as front-row leadership. Being different and resultantly impactful with your leadership. What are some ways you lead from the front? Leave your ideas in the comments section below.
Find out more about JeShaune, the scholarship, and BioComm: