My students and I were reading “Thank You Ma’am” by Langston Hughes. If you’re unfamiliar with the story, a young boy attempts to rob a bigger, older black woman on the streets of Harlem in the 1950’s. In an interesting turn of events, she gets the best of him, “kicks him square in his blue-jeaned sitter” and “shakes him until his teeth rattle.” If you don’t know the story, I encourage you to read the rest of it.
Anyway, I always tell my students to visualize what they read and to make personal connections. In the story, only a few people stopped to watch what happened. I asked the students what the people in their neighborhood would do.
One kid: Take out my cell phone and record it.
Me: And put it on worldstarhiphop.com?
THE CLASS: YEP!
work with kids! I won’t discuss whether I laugh with or at them but I laugh!
I have one particular student who just can’t seem to turn down her hood when she writes essays. I told the class to include a simile in their narrative essays. She gave me “it was as dark as if the light bill wasn’t paid.”
Last week, they took a district test and had to write three essays. The first, a narrative, was about doing something you thought you couldn’t. She wrote about jumping a fence. In it, she included the simile “I ran as fast as a turtle on crack.”
Sometimes, the laughter turns to tears, however. The second essay was an expository essay in which they were to explain if it was better to believe in yourself or for others to believe in you. In this essay, she was completely unfocused and off topic but had the nerve to write “R. Kelly, Amber Cole, Chris Brown they are believers.” R. KELLY?? The man who recorded his sexual and piss-ual encounters with a child?? Amber Cole?? The teenager caught on video giving oral sex? Chris Brown?? The convicted batterer??
Now you caught my heart for the evening
Kissed my cheek, moved in, you confused things
Should I just sit out or come harder?
Help me find my way…
There’s this student, we’ll call him Peter, who is a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal. He’s notorious for going off and will do it for the most simple things. For example, if the kids call him Paul, he’ll set it completely AWF! Luckily, I don’t teach this child.
So why did he follow my class into my classroom today? To tell me that one of my students called him “Stinko.” This should’ve ended there. But nooooo.
Me: Why are you in my classroom?
Peter: But NO! He called me STINKO!
M: You need to leave.
P: DON’T TRY TO PROTECT HIM!
M: Look, lil boy. You don’t know me and I don’t know you. It’s best you turn around and leave.
P: YOU’RE TRYING TO PROTECT HIM!
M: Stop talking. Turn around. Walk to your class.
P (to anybody who will listen): SHE’S TRYING TO PROTECT HIM!
Then he stood there huffing and fighting back tears. What did I do? Closed the door in his face.
Once my students and I were safe from his wrath, I told my students that if I have to deal with THAT type of crazy, it better be something more clever than STINKO.
Something tells me that this isn’t over so if you hear about me on the news, know that I was justified and defend my honor. Chiiiile…
Class management is a big deal! When it’s thirty kids and just me, I must have systems in place to keep students doing something. Since I teach English and Reading, that “something” is reading. I’ve amassed a pretty interesting classroom library and when students finish working, they are to grab a book from the shelf.
Without fail, every year the students are reluctant. “Miss, I don’t like to read.” or “Say, Miss, I don’t be reading like that.” I get all kinds of resistance but MY class, MY rules.
Two things happened today that made me smile. Before school, my assistant principal told me one of my students said I was her inspiration and I make her want to read more. They had this conversation because the student wanted to go to the library to check out a book by Walter Dean Myers. She read one of his books in my class and wanted to discover more of his writing.
During class, I saw kids RUSHING to grab their book! “Don’t get that one! That’s the one I’ve been reading!” and “Look! I’m almost done with it!” Can’t front—that made me proud.
The teacher supply store doesn’t check i.d. so if you know your child is struggling in some area, make a small investment into their academic success. You can purchase workbooks, reference materials, supplies and supplemental aids so your child can continue the learning process at home. Your child’s teacher is responsible for ONLY a FRACTION of learning.
Sometimes, it feels like certain people get whatever they want. I’m not one of those people. I crave MORE. MORE money. MORE fulfillment. MORE peace.
Many people who know me in my real, for real, life know how unsatisfied I am in my career; a career I’ve had for 7 years as of last Friday. I thought I had positioned myself for MORE by getting MORE education but I’ve had my advanced degree for months and haven’t found MORE opportunities for advancement. I’m a pretty private person so I won’t go into details but in my personal life, I also DESIRE MORE.
So why can’t I get what I want? Why don’t I have MORE?
One night a couple of weeks ago, I was on Twitter, following the #TwitterChurch topic, a nightly “sermon” of tweets from Jay Gamble, a Maryland minister. He tweeted the following:
“God always blesses who He can TRUST… Can you be trusted? If God sent the thing you have been praying for into your life RIGHT NOW, would you honor God with it? I know you’ve been praying for MORE money. If God sent it to you RIGHT NOW, would you tithe? The husband or wife you’ve been praying for…if they showed up at your door RIGHT NOW, could God trust you with them? While trusting God is CRITICAL, I’m working on MYSELF so God can trust me. Trust goes both ways. When God can trust you with the blessing, you will have the blessing.”
Now, aint that a word?! I don’t have MORE to say. I have MORE to do—prayerfully work on myself so God can trust me with MORE!
“When I look at you, I see myself. If my eyes are unable to see you as my sister, it is because my own vision is blurred. And if that be so, then it is I who need you either because I do not understand who you are, my sister, or because I need you to help me understand who I am.”
- Soror Lillian Pierce Benbow, 15th National President
1. Wrap presents
2. Make homemade biscuits (they NEVER turn out right)
3. Finish this list because I’m pretty good at most things. lol
… for parents!
I don’t give the students homework for the holiday break. It’s their break too so I don’t want to grade it and truth be told, I don’t want to GRADE it! But, I do have some homework for parents:
- Re-up on school supplies. The second semester is always state test prep and your kids will need lots of paper, pencils, and all of that.
- Wash their coats and jackets or take them to the cleaners. Your kids wear the same hoodie everyday, all day. That thang stinks!
- Buy some more uniform clothes because they’ve probably outgrown the ones you bought in August.
- Make them clean something every day. Don’t let them be total couch potatoes and it might be too cool outside for them to play.
- Make them read. A book. The newspaper. Something that isn’t a comic book.
- Talk to them. Really have a conversation. America’s youth lack effective communication skills especially when talking to adults.
I know some may disagree with this statement but I really believe that this country should start vocational training in middle school. Yes, I’m an educator. Yes, I believe that all children should be given a fair and equitable opportunity to learn. Yes, I believe that every child should put forth efforts toward academic achievement. But, let’s be honest, not every child is going to college. Let’s be honest with ourselves and with our children.
If you feel so inclined, you can find statistics for your state in areas of dropout rates, attendance rates, college readiness, academic achievement, etc. What I can tell you, as someone who is working on the front-line, many kids are waiting until they are 16 just to drop out. And sadly, many reach that age in 8th grade. I’ve taught so many kids who would rather work construction than go to school. I’ve also taught so many kids who actually do go work construction instead of coming to school.
Instead of wasting money and resources at the high school level, give the kids job training in middle school. I think it would improve middle school attendance and dropout rates then, when the child is of age, they can gracefully bow out and make room for those kids who actually want to learn and aspire to attend college.
My employment history is quite varied. I’ve worked in a call center, a clothing store; as an intern for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; a life insurance salesman; a high school reading tutor and now, a middle school English and Reading teacher. Through the years, I’ve encountered THAT GUY.
THAT Let Everyone Know Everything I Did Guy. So annoying because very few people care that it was you who filled the copier, or made the sign for the restroom, or created the PowerPoint. It’s just not in my nature to be the glory-seeker. I’m always willing to share and contribute ideas and resources and have never felt it necessary to make sure everyone knows.
THAT Talk Too Loudly on the Phone Guy. Seriously! FYI, we all talk about yo’ loud ass behind your back.
THAT I Just Come to Work to Wait On Happy Hour Guy. When I was a high school tutor, I could set my own hours. One teacher would leave the same time as me on Fridays. He told me “Shiiiiii, I’m trynna to get to Pappadeaux’s Happy Hour.” We get it, you like to hang out. But unless drinks on you, I don’t want to hear it. It doesn’t make me respect you, professionally, when all you talk about is how you can’t wait to get to the bar.
THAT Buy What My Kids Are Selling Guy. I’ll say what everyone else won’t: Unless it’s Girl Scout Cookies, we don’t want it! What I look like spending $10 on wrapping paper because it’s YOUR child? Now, I get wanting to help. Shoot an email. Place the order form in the breakroom and let that be it. I don’t want to put you on the “don’t make eye contact with them” list because you’re being pushy about some nasty chocolate-covered almonds.
THAT I Don’t Wash My Hands in the Restroom Guy… well, Gal. Eeeewww! I’m convinced that kind of nastiness is generational. You must have been raised to be such a filthy bitch. And I’m gonna call you a bitch because only an animal would do that. But they’re always the Can’t Wait for the Work Pot Luck Guy too. This is PRECISELY why I don’t participate in such festivities.
I guess it aint enough to come to work, do your job, and go home. Maybe I’m the crazy one.
I love listening to my nephew talk. His reasoning, logic, creativity and even his questions are the most interesting things you’ll ever hear…
Him: Look Aunt Mel! A high scraper [sky scraper]! Why are they called high scrapers?
Me: Because they’re so high that they touch the sky.
Him: But they have to move to scrape the sky. Like this! moves hand back and forth
Me: You’re right. You’re pretty smart.
Him: Yep. We’re all smart on my planet.
I’m not saying I think the guy killed MJ but I never felt like the guy would have a fair and objective trial. The public found him guilty before the trial ever started and that was an insurmountable hurdle for his defense team.
I certainly believe that he compromised his professional integrity by using such strong medication outside of the proper medical setting. For that, I do believe he should lose his license.
RIP Michael Jackson
I’ve been an English and Reading teacher for many years and the greatest lessons I teach aren’t over conjugating verbs or drawing conclusions while you read. The greatest lessons are teaching kids to think, behave and react.
This morning I was talking to my lowest group of students about their low performance in classwork and on tests. I told them that I didn’t feel they were giving their best effort. I also shared a quote from Sun Tzu that says “Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?” and we discussed what this means. I told them to make a promise to me and to themselves that they would step up their game then we continued with the lesson for the day.
Over the course of the lesson, I had different students go to the board to answer questions and at one point, I called on one of the shortest students in the class. After he correctly answered the question, I asked him to lower the screen for my PowerPoint and he couldn’t reach the handle. He made one attempt then turned to me and said “I can’t.” I yelled “IMAGINE WHAT YOU WOULD DO IF YOU COULD DO ALL YOU CAN!” He then jumped in the air, grabbed the handle and pulled it down.
We were both proud.
Five Step Apology Process
Here’s my understanding of how I hurt you
I will never do this again
I want to make this right by …
Please forgive me
Life owes me nothing. Baseball owes me nothing. But I cannot, as an individual, rejoice in the good things I have been permitted to work for and learn while the humblest of my brothers is down in a deep hole hollering for help and not being heard.
That is why I have devoted and dedicated my life to service. I don’t like to be in debt. And I owe. Some of my friends tell me I’ve paid the note a thousandfold. But I still feel I owe—till every man can rent and lease and buy according to his money and his desires; until every child can have an equal opportunity in youth and manhood; until hunger is not only immortal but illegal; until hatred is recognized as a disease, a scourge, an epidemic, and treated as such; until racism and sexism and narcotics are conquered and until every man can vote and any man can be elected if he qualifies—until that day Jackie Robinson and no one else can say he has it made.”” —
Jackie Robinson, from his autobiography I Never Had It Made, originally published in 1972. I highly recommend reading this book.
Sam Cooke (January 22, 1931 - December 11, 1964)
- Expect lots of paperwork and actually read it. In addition to the ever-important lunch application, expect a calendar you need to keep handy to know school holidays, testing dates, and report card dates; surveys that may seem intrusive because they ask about your household income but are important for school funding; and the student code of conduct, which is important because you need to know your child’s rights and discipline protocol so if you have to defend your child, you’re aren’t writing a letter to the district saying “they just hatin’ on my baby.”
- Register your child with good, reliable telephone numbers. We need to be able to get in touch with you. Plain and simple. Sure we might annoy you with call-outs to remind you of Meet the Teacher Night or aggravate you when we call to tell you that your child is acting a jigaboo in class. But what if we’re calling to tell you your child has been injured and we get that familiar “The number you’ve dialed is not a working number”? You’ll be mighty mad to learn eight hours later that your child suffered a concussion because his ignorant ass jumped a flight of stairs and fell. BONUS: If you’re old enough to have children in school, go ahead and take those silly outgoing messages off. Once I called a parent and heard “Hi! You’ve reached ___ and if you’re calling about money you might as well hang up now because I ain’t got none!” Now she was too big for that!
- Wait to buy school supplies other than paper and pencils, unless your school has already provided a list. If you go out and buy what YOU think they need, you get all pissed off when you get the list from the teacher. We ask for these supplies because we’ve designed our classroom instruction around them. Your child shouldn’t be disadvantaged because you got ahead of yourself and have the attitude of “I ain’t buying this shit! I done already bought what I’m buying!”. BONUS: Be prepared to re-stock supplies too. That pack of paper and pencils WILL NOT last an entire school year!
- Don’t ever let your child leave the house empty-handed. The first day of school is the only day your child can get away with coming to school with nothing and even then they at least need a pencil. EVERY day your child should leave home with an adequate amount of paper, pencils, and something to carry homework back and forth. As a teacher, I’m pissed to the highest level of pissivity when I see kids come to school with absolutely nothing.
- Help us enforce small rules. No school welcomes children with chewing gum for obvious reasons so don’t let them bring it to school. If the school’s uniform is blue or khaki pants, don’t let them wear jeans to school. Teach your kids that this world has rules and exceptions aren’t always made.
- Know your child’s teachers. Why would you trust complete strangers to look out for your child’s best interest for eight hours a day? Know the principals who make disciplinary decisions about your child. Hell, know the bus driver who holds your child’s safety in their hands! BONUS: But don’t annoy us though. Be reasonable. I’m not going to call you every time I assign homework so don’t ask me to. Don’t pop up in my classroom “just to see how they’re doing.” You don’t want to be bothered with unnecessary work and interruptions at your job and neither do I.
I hope you all have a wonderful school year!
“Hey brown girl! Come here!”
“Hey girl! I bet you a freak! What’s yo’ name?”
“Say! Say! Say! You want a ride?”
Ladies, sound familiar? Street harassment is as common in “the hood” as the ice cream man or the candy lady but isn’t taken as seriously.
Recently, journalist dream hampton began a discussion on her Twitter about street harassment, making the statement that young black girls are harassed on the streets by men more than young black men are harassed by police. Such a bold statement shocked some and bothered others but I agree.
Her statement prompted many women to share their stories of enduring street harassment by not just strangers but neighbors and family members. Others shared chilling tales of family members killed for refusing the advances from men. It was impossible to read without crying.
I have many of my own stories of street harassment. I’ve been chased. Old men have tried to get me in their cars. One guy exposed his penis to me. Others said some really nasty things to me. And you know, I never told my parents or any other adult because it confused me. I didn’t know if I should have been flattered although I knew it was wrong. At one time, we had a trap house across the street so there were always men hanging around outside and would often yell things at me. My father told me to let him know if any of them bothered me because he would kill them. I honestly believed he would so I never said anything.
It took years and maturity for me to realize how those experiences affected me, which I won’t get into because it is deeply personal, but know that it manifests in different ways and shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s not just “guys being guys.” It’s not just compliments from strangers. We need to call it what it is: PEDOPHILIA.
Yeah, that’s right. I said it. PEDOPHILIA. Adult sexual desires for children. A child is a child, regardless of how old she may look. Too many men get passes for inappropriate behavior because “she looked grown.” No face is pretty enough, no body is developed enough, no outfit is revealing enough and no amount of makeup is enough to warrant grown men preying on young girls. It is disturbing, disgusting, inappropriate, and harmful.
How can it end? Well we can start with awareness and conversations. Boys and men need to know how threatening this behavior is and girls need to know that this form of harassment shouldn’t be tolerated. And girls need to feel comfortable reporting such harassment and must be protected by the legal system when they do.
As a final point, please watch this video. And consider yourself AWARE! Now pass it on.
“What was previously a deep sense of sin and shame, God used for good.”
It’s national book week.
Rules: Grab the closest book to you, go to page 56, copy and tweet (tumbl) the 5th sentence. Don’t mention the title of the book.
“You are being blasphemous.”
Not .mp3s. Not cds. Not cassettes. RECORDS!
Morris Day & the Time “What Time is It?”
Classics include “Gigolos Get Lonely Too” and “777-9311.” The opening guitar riff on this song is so G!
I’m blessed to know some incredibly amazing women. Intelligent. Talented. Clever. Driven. And single.
Recently, I’ve had a lot of conversations about being single and my friends’ perspectives run the spectrum of despair to patient to carefree and loving it. These conversations are never easy because there isn’t a formula to getting chose by the one you want and if there is one, I don’t know it!
What also makes these conversations so difficult is because, often and for many, the line between single and lonely is blurred. For me, that line is as wide as a six lane freeway!
Single is a conditional state of being. Loneliness is a mental state.
Single doesn’t have to be lonely! It’s too much living to do and too many blessings bestowed to let being single get you down! It’s too many people in the same boat to feel it’s a conspiracy against your personal happiness! When those feelings creep into your psyche, do something else! Embrace the single period in your life as an opportunity to have fun, meet new people, go new places, pick up new hobbies and explore new interests!
You can drive yourself crazy trying to figure out WHY ME. You can listen to Steve Harvey tell you it’s because you’re not thinking like a man. You can buy into the bitter notion that women of other races or homosexuals or the prison system has taken away the man meant for you. You can read goofy articles written by people with a need for self-justification that say it’s because your standards are too high OR your morals are too rigid OR your bedroom has seen too many visitors. But, at the end of the day—no, at the BEGINNING of the day—it’s just not your time.
And that’s okay.
I got this from my prayer journal a couple of years ago and it is still something I read from time to time. I even typed it up and put it in my classroom so I could read it at work.
Enfolded in Peace
I will let God’s peace infuse every part of today. As the chaos swirls and life’s demands pull me on all sides, I will breathe in God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. He has promised that he would set within me a peace too deeply planted to be affected by unexpected or exhausting demands.
Calm me, Oh Lord, as You stilled the storm
Still me, Oh Lord, keep me from harm
Let all the tumult within me cease
Enfold me, Lord, in your peace
-Celtic traditional poem
I have a birth mark in my left eye that looks like some of my eye color leaked out.
I never learned how to walk in high heels. (Don’t laugh at me)
I learned how to ride a bike in the sixth grade (Don’t laugh at me)
I’m so afraid of heights that I can’t even climb a ladder to change a light bulb.
I didn’t get my ears pierced until I was 20. I was born with an ear infection and had several procedures done before I was even 3 so I guess my parents didn’t want to chance it. As I got older I was scared it would hurt.