Chopped (Teacher Edition)

Chopped:

In any event, I’m sure many of you are familiar with The TV show Chopped. If you are not, the show chopped is a show on the food network centered on meal preparation. More specifically, chopped puts a highlight on chefs ability to produce quality food in a short time frame, with specific ingredients.

I don’t watch much TV as programming is lackluster; however, I do occasionally enjoy an episode of Chopped.


Model Lessons:

Moreover, as a charter school administrator, I am very familiar with model lessons. Model lessons are apart of the teacher interview process in most charter schools. Teachers receive an objective, and the teacher puts together a lesson plan to guest teach in a class. After the lesson, the teacher then debriefs with the hiring committee to talk about the glows and grows of the lesson taught. I have seen instances in which a teacher has taught a subpar lesson, but was extremely reflective regarding his/her process, and was able to speak to ways to improve upon the lesson taught.


A New Way to Hire Teachers:

There are teaching shortages all across the nation. We have to think of innovative ideas to increase and encourage people to become teachers.
My idea is to create a TV show similar to the show Chopped.

Auditions will be held, creating this American Teacher Idol type buzz.

Potential teachers will receive materials for the different phases of a lesson.

For example, the TV show chopped takes you through a full course meal: appetizer, main course, and dessert.

Teachers chopped would consist of the do now; I do, Closing of the lesson.

Likewise, an urban school district will sponsor each season. A district identified as hard to staff is preferred. Each season would be 12-15 episodes, so a region would find 12-15 potential rock stars to teach in their school district. Not to mention, if the 2nd and 3rd place finishers are talented, they become part of the hiring pool as well.



Your Role:

The viewers at home will play a role in the show as well. You’d be able to dial in, or vote online, and your vote will count as part of the decision-making process.

The panel will consist of principals, and master teachers in the district.  The panel members will provide feedback to the teachers on how to be better for the next round, ultimately playing a part in selecting the winner.

I get it. I know it’s far fetched, but remember it’s going to take outside the box thinking like this to fix our k-12 education dilemma.

Tiger Woods shoots a birdie to Black Folks

I wanted to update this blog post.  Even though I know Tiger could care less about us black folks, I still made a Sunday out today’s 2019 Masters (even though I said I would not anymore).  Regardless of his political and social affiliations, this guy is a phenomenal athlete and a national treasure.  But my opinion of him is the same, he could still care less about Black folks.

This post is about Tiger Woods and his lack of respect for Black Culture.  I ask for your patience as I walk you through my displeasure with Tiger Woods.  Ironically, it starts with an episode of the Chappelle Show.


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Comedic Genius who made it easier to talk about Black Issues.

The Chappelle show was ingenious in that it used a comedic edge to talk about touchy issues in the black community. Through satire, conversations were more comfortable to digest.

However, in today’s cancel culture, I’m not sure if Dave’s show could have survived. We’ve become very sensitive regarding our levels of truth. Things that were once hilarious are now found to be degrading.

I can promise you, if you read my blog or listen to our podcast, we’re going to laugh, it is important for us to find humor in the midst of this insanity.


 

Moreover, comedy has always been edgy and powerful. It has pushed the envelope to help us discuss race issues that have become taboo to discuss.

I used the Chappelle show as a segue into a discussion about Tiger Woods. Do you remember the episode when Dave had the race draft? This draft was a comedic genius. Tiger Woods was the first overall pick.

Tiger Woods 2019:

Circa 2019, Blacks have gone above and beyond to support Tiger. As he went through his injuries, we defended Tiger Woods. When he confessed to having a sex addiction, Black folks supported “Freaky Tiger.” Most recently, when he was caught drunk, and with pain medication in his system, we- the Black Congregation gave Tiger a pass, and prayed for him to get better.

With all of this positive energy that we give to Tiger, he has consistently given us his butt to kiss.  Well no more. No more Sundays in Redshirts for me.

I’m Done:

I’d instead throw my energy into a Black sports figure that understand their place in society.


The Golden state warriors recently met with former president Barak Obama. They previously turned down the opportunity to attend a White House celebration.  Instead of Tiger embracing and respecting this stance, he goes out and plays golf with yall’s president.

Soulja Boy talked about the relevance of Tyga.

In my soldier boy voice, Tiiiiiger? Are we talking about Tiger? Well, not anymore, I’d rather talk about Lebron.

A Teacher’s Pursuit of the Perfect Lesson

This post will be a series of three (1/3) in which we discuss the three components to catching lightning in a bottle or constructing and implementation of the elusive “perfect lesson.”

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Perfection in perspective.

– The planning stage (lesson planning).  There is a ton that goes into the actual planning of a lesson.                          

– The delivery of the lesson (Beyond the planning stages, you also have to deliver the message to the scholars and hope they get the message.)

– The reflection on the lesson (One of the most important, if not the most important piece.)


The Pursuit of Perfection:

In every occupation, there is always the pursuit of perfection. As you may or may not know perfection is often unattainable, but still relentlessly pursued. Daily, teachers strive for perfection.

Many sayings expand on the idea of perfection. Some of those sayings are as follows:

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A perfect ten, hands down awesome lesson.

 

* perfection is the enemy of good
* perfection is the enemy of    progress
* perfection is not attainable
* perfection you’ll never reach it


The Elusiveness of Perfection:

Moreover, the perfect lesson is the equivalent to pitching a no-hitter in baseball, getting struck by lightning, or winning the lottery. It rarely if ever happens, but if and when it does, you’ll never forget it. So what makes the perfect lesson?

If you are a reflective practitioner, you can appreciate how difficult it is to teach a “perfect lesson.”

Unfortunately, I spent years in search of this kind of lesson. I had all but given up on the possibilities of its implementation. I almost accepted the fact that my experiences would only be outstanding, but they would elude perfection.

Here’s a little advice for those of you that are in search of the perfect lesson, it’ll never happen during a formal or informal observation. That would be too easy.


The Occurrence of Perfection:

Notwithstanding my perfect lesson occurred during a sample lesson for an administration position. I would be remiss in not saying that I didn’t understand the need to teach a model lesson for a job that was outside of the classroom. However, circling back, I know and appreciate the thinking behind it. How can you effectively coach teachers on behavior, if you can’t teach or manage?


The Process of Perfection:

I reached out to the team to get background on the students. I asked for reading levels so I could differentiate. I wondered about behavioral concerns so that I could be alert. I requested information about achievement levels, and if the class could be pushed to think outside the paradigm (higher-order thinking).

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The constant pursuit of the perfect lesson is a driver.

Once I received the background information, I thought about a plan that failed miserably with my current students at the time (trial and error). I was in my head the whole time, saying it would never work because I didn’t know the scholars. The moral in that is never to underestimate students.

I wanted to eliminate most of the teacher talk and allow the students the opportunity to do the heavy lifting. In a lecture type setting, releasing some of your power to students can be challenging, but once you do it, and see the results, it’s the most exhilarating experience that a teacher can ever feel.  My release of power helped me to have a perfect demo lesson.

Next post, I will go more in depth around the delivery of the lesson (2/3).

Teacher’s Lounge Toxicity

Teachers Lounge Toxicity:

In my first year of teaching, I saw a lot of things that made me want to quit. I worked with colleagues that had no interest in students. My department chair was too busy being glamorous than to give me feedback on becoming a good teacher. She may have come into my class once or twice the whole year, but it was never to observe. It was usually to ask me to cover her last period class so she could leave early.


But I digress, this post isn’t about my department head. It’s about the negative things that you’ll encounter at schools that will make you want to quit.

One of those is the teacher’s lounge. In my first year of teaching, this was by far the most toxic place in the building. images-5

I’m thinking, let me go to the Teachers’ lounge. The veteran teachers are there, as there’s no better place to get feedback and learn. In theory, I was correct. Unfortunately, my learning was what not to do, which is still learning when you think about it.

The teacher’s lounge is defined as a space in your building where teachers go to have lunch, decompress, and talk about pedagogical improvements.


Implicit Bias in Teacher Lounges:

Moreover, my teacher’s lounge was nothing like that. When you walked in, you immediately heard negative remarks about students and families. images-13 In retrospect, I guess you can learn valuable things to help your students address daily trauma they may face, but the way these families where being talked about was horrible.

After a couple of visits, I vowed never to return. The psychological drain that I put on myself hearing families being spoken about like that wasn’t worth the intel.


Teachers as Change Agents:

Understandably some of you may ask, well what did you do to change it? Here’s what I did:

1. I recommitted myself to being a professional at work. If folks see that I’m serious, hopefully, my behavior will inspire someone else.
2. I spoke to my colleagues individually, and I spoke up for students and families.
3. I created a space in my own room where teachers could come and decompress without having to tear down students and families.

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In essence, my advice to teachers that don’t want to burn out and quit. Do the teacher’s lounge in moderation. The unsustainable toxicity isn’t worth the comradery.

If you have a different experience, please share it with me. By combining learned skills, we grow as educators.

Endorsement for Peter Lewis

I endorse Peter Lewis for City Council.

Endorsement Letter:

This is the first time that I am ever doing something like this.  I never thought I would be this emotional while writing it, so please bear with me.

IMG_1893I grew up with Peter Lewis. He’s my cousin, and I love him dearly. Although we aren’t as close as we were growing up, I still track his moves to ensure that he’s doing well. I’m not sure of the last time I told him that I am proud of him, but I am.

Peter has always had a fantastic soul. He will give anyone the shirt off of his back, that’s just the type of guy he is.


10 Facts About Peter:

Here are ten things you may not know about Peter:

1. He’s a fantastic father of three, (a single dad) that still continues to put his children first.
2. Peter is a graduate of CHS and SLU.
3. He batted over .300 on our little league team
4. He played the clarinet for Chief Sanders and Mr. Mouton
5. Peter is the go-to in our family in any crisis.
6. Peter loves Covington, and will always act in the best interest of the people.
7. He loves Dominoes pizza.
8. His nickname is Ted.
9. He was a pretty good marble shooter.
10. He will serve District A better than any other candidate.


IMG_1894 It is for this reason that I fully endorse Peter Lewis as the City Council candidate for District A.

Professional Development by Any Means Necessary

Professional Development:

As a first-year teacher in 2003, I quickly began to detest professional development. I felt that there was a disconnect between the facilitators and the attendees. The facilitators would present policy changes ordained by the district, but when pushed and questioned they had little to no information to expand. To me, and many of my colleagues at the time, we knew that professional development was supposed to look and feel different.



Make no mistake, I get it and anyone that has ever sat through a wasteless PD gets it too.


PD Energy:

Moreover, rather than sulk and protest through inaction, my colleagues and I decided to take the bulls by the horn regarding PD. We identified a problem, but that was the easy part. We also came with solutions. When you come to administrators with a solution-oriented approach, it makes a huge difference regarding how they receive the feedback.

We introduced a 12 point plan to our principal, centered around teachers as experts. We would attend outside PD’s, and turnkey training for our peers. Professional development improved drastically. Teachers were more willing to exhibit vulnerabilities, thus allowing administrators to focus on the soft skills needed for teachers to enhance their practice.


Professional Development Currently:

Circa 2019, not much has changed regarding teachers and their feelings about Professional Development. images-11

Veteran teachers often say, “I’ve attended a training similar to this, can I be excused?” To which my answer is usually, let’s look at your data. Did 100% of your students master 100% of the standards on their last interim assessment? Alternatively, how were your test scores on the state assessments, did the majority of your students pass?


Professional Development is not the enemy:

If you want to change PD here are five ways:

  • If you don’t like the way PD is going in your school, you have the power to change it.
  • Go to your principal, and let him/her know why the message isn’t resonating with you.
  • Ask them if you could be a part of the process regarding selecting the topic and trainers for PD.
  • No “good” leader is going to turn down your help.
  • Many leaders want their PD’s to change student outcomes by any means necessary.