Tag Archives: education

when they know better…

These teens that live in my house know all I have been talking about is how I wanted to finish my three 20-page papers for grad school and how I wanted my semester in teaching to be OVER! When both had come, I asked that they let me sit/lay around and not do anything. Not cook, not wash… I didn’t even want to think. Just give me 24 hours to re-center my breath. They agreed.

We mailed out our Christmas cards and boxes to family in other states, put up our house decorations and caught up on television shows I had missed out on. We shared the cooking for the holidays and my youngest even baked desserts all by herself! Their grades are posted online so now parents don’t have to wait until the paper report comes out. I asked about them twice, and both times my oldest pulled out her chrome book and demonstrated that the website was down.

Today I asked about the site and it worked…

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If you are a parent you already now what this face means!!! “WHY WOULD YOU WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE TO TELL ME WHAT I SHOULD BE EXPECTING WITH THESE GRADES?!” I am thankful that they let me relax when they saw I had fallen asleep on the couch or read a book of fiction that I had been missing. (for 4 months my life consisted of non-fiction books and essays!) But somewhere along the line, there was space and time to prep me! So now I am sitting at my desk trying to write a list of things that teenagers with grade point averages of 2.5 and 2.3 can do in my house! NOT TOO MUCH!

I now have three phones and an immaculately spotless home! I also have a list of their short term goals. After my lecture on education and questioning if they studied and gave 100%, I’m not saying we won’t be here again – but I am saying they will tell me ahead of time. (if there is a next time)

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as parents

parents – (n) The hardest working person in the universe.

We can see beyond horizons and be as blind as bats.

We can hear as keen as owls and be as deaf as a day gone.

We can be energetically defeated.

parenting – (v) The hardest job in the universe.

I dare to say our most imminent goal is to ensure our children can live successful independent lives. And to make sure that goal stays in the forefront of our mind, we will do what we must. That includes perfect vision in a forest and closing our eyes in the light. As long as the goal is protected.

That is how I try to reach the parents of my students. Some of them have a spry and transparent engagement with the social and educational growth of their child. But the majority are only proactive towards their counsel to teachers on their personal goal and avoid any reactionary response on classroom feedback that does not comply with the said goal.

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As a parent, I have had uncomfortable conversations in regards to the behavior of my three. And some have been the embarrassing repeated behaviors of “overly social”, “running in the hall” or “incomplete assignments.  I had to grow into a position with my parenting to concede that, the same behavior I correct them with at home, is the same tone they exhibit with other adults. So when I get phone calls and reports that my youngest, who only stops talking when she is sleep, is “overly social” in class, I believe it. I’m not sure what it is that shapes in parents heads that their child’s calamity somehow stops the second they enter the school building. If your child is flipping furniture at home, there is a 90.9% chance you child will come into the classroom and do the same.

Continue reading as parents

a new career, for the 3rd time; the first year

In between speaking engagements or during the interim of writing projects, I picked up side jobs to keep me financially ahead instead of becoming creatively stifled due to trying to maintain or “stay afloat”. After I wrote my play, “Hope’s Return”, I was introduced to the Atlanta theatre world and re-connected with previous theatre buddies. With this, I was invited on several occasions to apply to teaching positions in the theatre capacity.

After years of executive retail store management, I had NO interest in working with a theatre company and devoting my nights and weekends. And after experience with non-profit organizations, I had NO interest in working for a community/neighborhood theatre and contributing countless loads of money to guarantee a successful and professional looking production. Now, I have done both of these positions before and at that time in my life they were incredibly rewarding and I thoroughly enjoyed them. However, that time has come and gone. I have both of those t-shirts folded somewhere in my closet.

A few years ago, I began substitute teaching for public schools. I quickly learned, after several assignments, I was great with pre-k to 4th grade. I didn’t have the language or patience for any grade above 4th grade. I joyfully worked a full school year as a sub, even so that towards the end of the year, I was requested by teachers and principals more than I had to seek assignments. The following school year came and the only thing I wanted to change was to be stable as a long term substitute with two or three schools. I saw a posting for a long term substitute for a school that had three campuses. I thought that this would surely keep me busy and it is exactly what I had prayed for. I applied and got the position.

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I started my six week assignment for a 4th grade English Language Arts (ELA) teacher going on maternity leave. I loved the environment of teachers I was around everyday! And as luck would have it, a fellow 4th grade ELA teacher had resigned and would be leaving around the same time my assignment would be over. Administration asked me if I was interested in becoming part of the team as a full-time ELA teacher, I accepted.

So there I was, I had entered a new career (outside of my artistry), for the 3rd time. A job that concluded between 3:30 and 4pm and was conveniently close to my home. And the best part, I was able to impose the magnitude of words in the young minds of brown kids 5 days of week. I was able to share my passion of sentence structure and reading on some impressionable minds.  What I had never taken into account were the behavioral curves and obstacles that reared its’ ugly head every day.

Continue reading a new career, for the 3rd time; the first year

the artist and the endless nights

One of the roles of the artist is to re-create life’s perception within a societal context. Some say the conditions of the moment define the creation of art through political, cultural and religious/philosophical terms. With that, there will always be an audience for our voices, so why do we torture ourselves with endless edits and insecurities of not being artistically accepted?

So many of us sit surrounded by genius pieces of art inspired by our immediate communities. Award winning poems and best selling novels. We have garage spaces and storage units full of paintings and sculptures that depict an opulence of emotions. And the fear of our vulnerability being labeled as weak disables us from sharing. And the masses of our culture in the states does not support our profession so we get a “regular job”. And turn our passion into a past time or extra way to make money.

Everyday of the week. In every situation in life. The individual in the position to persuade or that perceived the story will always have an audience that understands and supports them. As artists, we have to identify when in our lives we began to believe no one would appreciate our art and stop this. Because no matter what the discourse is from the expression, it will be perceived by someone that understands and folds our endless nights.

Trusting Ears

While in Jackson, Mississippi I had a conversation about life coaches and motivational speakers that are under the age of 40 years old with two Jackson State University professors, one a historian/documentarian and the other a PhD. It was quite enlightening.

Long story short, experience doesn’t make you an expert. A head doesn’t make you a leader nor does a tongue make you a speaker. Social media is a tricky, tricky machine. Make sure it’s passion and not access you’re chasing.

Classic Langston Hughes

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In the 2nd grade, I told my class I wanted to be an actress when I grew up. My teacher made me memorize this poem. I didn’t understand it but I was told I “had to know it” if I wanted to be in the arts.  So I never forgot.

With time, I was told being a black woman in the arts meant I had to be better at quoting Shakespeare, knowing Frost, knowing Poe, understanding Greek theatre, and audition for all the classic plays in American literature that I could. Even though none of the characters described my features or spoke like me or ate the food that I ate or told my story.

Maybe when I stood in front of the class and said I wanted to be an actress my teacher knew… she just knew she’d better make me memorize this Langston Hughes poem and tell me sternly, “don’t forget this.” And I never forgot.

And through my (mis)education and living life in the arts, my dream indeed was deferred. But I remembered this poem, and fully understand it now.

The Casualties of “Keeping it Real”

“Keeping It Real” Campaign

Genocide – the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political, or cultural group.

1)  This is the first generation that will not exceed their parents academically for the African American community.

2)  This is also the first generation where the elders fear the youth.

Happen stance?  Believe what you want but I’m going with the notion that both of the previous statements were strategic actions. 

Continue reading The Casualties of “Keeping it Real”

Political Focus in college SGA and BSU

 

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Allow me to introduce Lesley McSpadden and Michael Brown Sr., the parents of the unarmed young man gunned down in Ferguson, Mo. in August, Michael Brown Jr. aka Mike Brown.

The images from this tragic incident have quite powerfully paralleled to that of images from the civil rights movement.  Images from all over the world that prompted political attention and involvement from communities in Mexico to parts of China.  In my opinion, some of the most significant photographs came from colleges and universities that participated in the “Don’t Shoot”
Continue reading Political Focus in college SGA and BSU

A Fault in Schooling

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A few years back I remember there being a flux of best selling books on entrepreneurship and how to become an effective leader.  The company I was working for actually bought a few in bulk and made them available to all members of management to read and keep in rotation until we had read them all.  I have recently been having conversations with colleagues who stand with an austere tone that they wasted time in college only to collect debt on degrees they have no use for. These discussions have made me reflect on whether or not entrepreneurship was provided as an opportunity during our course work.

One of my friends shared with me that she remembered sitting in the office of one of our professors and confiding in him that she was interested in taking the writing track for her MFA.  She told him that ultimately she wanted to write for television in Hollywood.  She said he began to laugh so unsparingly that tears fell from his eyes.  After his laughing rant, he advised her she was in that program to become a teacher.  There was no conversation on “how” her visions could be actualized.  I think back to reading those leadership books while I was working to sustain someone elses’ dream and I remembered I had quite a few “a-ha” moments.  I learned of life/business strategies I had not learned from my parents or at any level in my schooling.  In undergrad and graduate school I had been given the basic tools to seek employment but I had not been given tools, or conversation, on how to be an independent artist or entrepreneur.  I had no direction on how to create my own paths. Continue reading A Fault in Schooling