Celebrate Black History Month

“ A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”  ~ Marcus Garvey

As we begin Black History Month, I am reminded of the various BHMs when I was an elementary, middle and high school student.  The month was peppered with various versions of stories about Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks and no one else. It wasn’t until I reached my senior year of high school that I delved into documentaries about famous Black Americans. 

When I changed professions and became an educator, I struggled with what to expose my students to and what to shield them from.  Black History is American history and should be treated as such.  When February 1 arrives, we should begin the celebration of all influential Black Americans and those that contributed to the culture! The month should be an endless celebration.  We have 11 additional months to focus on the struggle and the hardships that the culture endured, let’s take this one and focus on the strength and character that the culture maintains.  I suggest this because if done correctly, you are constantly teaching your students about Black History, so during this month that scholarship continues.  The continuation just morphs into a celebration.

I encourage you, as an educator to find one incredibly exciting aspect of the culture to celebrate daily or weekly!  Support a black business or entrepreneur, encourage a budding idea that will help influence the culture positively.  Do it all, and do it in the spirit of celebration.  Black History Month is dedicated to the evolution and expression of the culture and should be treated as such! 


Character is Important!

“We must remember that intelligence is not enough.  Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education. -------- Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we begin the next semester of the school year, we have so many new policies and procedures to implement in the classroom and many of those are based on ideas we tightened up over the break.  The students are not clean slates, as they are now coming to us with the knowledge that we shared with them during the first half of the year.  We must remember that during these times, we are not only responsible for intelligence, but we are also duly responsible for encouraging our students to exhibit strong character traits. 

We must teach out students that intelligence is no longer enough.  Character is developed by genuinely serving others.

Happy MLK Day!  “A Day On, Not a Day Off!” 


“You have two choices, either evolve or repeat”~ Unknown

The quote above simplifies much of what we do on a daily basis as educators.  When presented with issues that we’ve experienced in the past, we can either choose the easy route and “repeat” or customize a different journey that requires us to “evolve”.

During November and December, we have an opportunity to evaluate our missed opportunities to “evolve” as educators.  Many times our choice has been to “repeat” the previous lesson, task, mistake, or pattern.  However, as we move into a new season with our students, we are also responsible for moving into a new mindset as adults.  

Consider the aspects of our lives that are constantly on “repeat”.  Are there areas in our classroom or embedded in our routines that will allow for an evolution?  If and when those occasions for evolution present themselves, I challenge you to choose the opportunity to “evolve”!

There is too much at stake when we remain stagnant.  Evolution requires flexibility and flexibility requires a willingness to stay open to the process.  As you walk into your classroom over the next few weeks prior to winter break, look for the limitless opportunities to “evolve” as educators.

Bite by bite…

“How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.” ~ Unknown

This month’s blog is a friendly reminder for educators.  Everything cannot be taught in one lesson, one week or one month.  As we begin to succumb to the numerous stressors that are inevitable, there are several things to remember.  Take the time to unpack the skills for your students, creating a consistent flow and their growth will be apparent.  As educators, it’s tempting to teach, reteach, remediate and then stress.  Once concepts are taught, give students an opportunity to digest the lesson.  Each of your students may not experience the light bulb at the same time, but it will come.  Remind yourself to breath and you will be just fine.  We are only one quarter in.  This is not the time to throw in the towel.  It’s time to reboot and get back in the game.  You eat an elephant “one bite at a time” and you teach a child, one lesson at a time. 

Save Yourself…

“When I is replaced by We, Illness becomes Wellness” ~ Malcolm X

There is so much to be learned from this very brief quote.  Many times, during this season, we become stressed by the minutia that fills the day.  We also forget that we do not teach on an island.  We need the help of colleagues to make it through the year.  Malcolm X argues that illness is a byproduct of trying to accomplish a goal alone.  When you decide it’s okay to rely on or ask for help, many of the issue that plague you become void.  It is helpful to remember that working alone creates stressful conditions, but collaboration creates a sense of peace.  It is essential to find a colleague or “teacher friend” that you can depend on.  Wellness is not one option, it’s the only option.  Ask for help if or when you begin to struggle.  There will always be someone there to smile, lend a hand or offer sound advice.  Education is a team sport.  Teach on…. 🍎

Pay or Profit?

For these are all our children and we shall profit by or pay for what they become.
James Baldwin

Our babies have finished their first week of school!  As I thought about what to discuss this month, I recalled the faces of the pre-kindergarten students entering their classroom for the first time. Their faces were full of both fear and excitement.  For many, it was their first experience in a classroom.  Much like the teachers, students don’t know what to expect when they enter a new space and begin this journey.  
I love this quote by James Baldwin and its embedded reference to education and the system that strives to create strong learners.  We profit from the creation of strong learners and we pay for students that struggle through their educational journey. 
We can look at our purpose as educators in one of two ways:  we can help students thrive as they experience learning, or we can pay for the byproduct of what happens as a result of their failure. 
When walking into week two, think of the faces of the students you journeyed with on your first year as an educator.  That anticipation that you felt when they entered should be the same anticipation experienced each and every year. 
If we continue to strive for unmatched experiences in our classrooms, we will continue to experience them in the most concrete ways, ensuring a debt free journey for our students! 


Reflect on your first year…

Be the reason someone smiles today! ~ unknown

We are beginning yet another school year and while most of my blogs focus on the treatment of our students, I want to spend a few minutes discussing the treatment of our coworkers.  Many times, as educators, we have a tenancy to get so caught up in the “return to work drama” that we forget to openly welcome the new teachers.  When I think back on the times that I sat in professional developments and didn’t try to explain in detail a concept to a coworker or reiterate an idea because it would “take too long”, I cringe.    
I remember the first year of teaching and I can name on one hand the number of teachers that really extended themselves.  Those opportunities for mercy were welcomed and, in many cases, received with a level of gratitude and loyalty that I still feel inside when thinking of them. 
The reasons that new teachers smile inside the classroom are very few.  A student may touch their heart, give them a small trinket or recall information.  However, ask yourself if they are also smiling outside of their classroom.  If that answer is no or very little, your only responsibility for the 2019-2020 school year is to “be the reason someone smiles” every day.   When you see new educators in the hall, and you see a lack of optimism but sense defeat, step in and offer a thoughtful word or strategy.  Education is hard but teaching alone is harder. Enjoy your year, but also try to help make some “struggling” educator’s year a little easier by helping them smile! 

Yesterday is behind us…

“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done.  One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow…- Dalai Lama

As we approach the new year, many quotes or anecdotes emerge, either urging teachers to do something new or reinforcing their already strong ideas about education.  Like most educators, my social media feed has been no different.  However, when I saw this quote, I immediately stopped to think about what it really meant on a personal level. 
When I reflect on my students from past years, I know that I cannot erase the carbon footprint on their educational journey.  Dalai Lama’s inspirational words are true.  We cannot do anything to change the past.  Yet, worrying about how our impact on students we will have in the future is also futile.  We must focus on the students we have in front of us at this very moment.  School year 2019-2020 should be one for the books. We have all of the tools necessary to excel as educators.  Let’s make this a truly incredible year with our students. 

Stumble or Fall....

This blog will be brief, as it’s simple food for thought, or a nugget of wisdom.  Consider this: “When babies take their first step and then fall on their bottoms, we praise them for taking the step.  We don’t criticize their fall.  As adults, this is an essential lesson.  We spend more time criticizing our falls and not enough time applauding our small steps.” ~Unknown
As we begin summer, it is natural to reassess our year as a necessary part of the close out process.  There are several aspects of our profession that we could dissect.  However, it’s equally important to recharge and refuel.  It’s essential to focus on the positive aspects of the school year before looking at ways to alter those areas that weren’t as successful. 
Heal for a moment before working through the difficult parts of the previous year.  In doing so, reflect on what you were able to offer your students and how you enhanced their lives. 
If you introduced a new program, walked the halls of a new school, moved to a new grade level / position or simply changed your room décor, you should take a moment to applaud the “small steps”.  Over the summer, look at ways to celebrate yourself more and criticize yourself less!  You deserve it.