Black Culture Education Equity and Justice Grandparents Parenting Teaching Teaching and Learning

From Grandparents to Primary Care Givers.

From Grandparents to Primary Care Givers.

When you reach the stage of a grandparent, your role is different from that of the parent. You’ve raised your kids, hopefully in a manner that makes them responsible. No one warned you of the possibility that you’d go from grandparents to primary caregivers.

One day, far in the future I’ll be a grandparent. My role will be to give my grandkids a couple of days out of the month, so their parents can remember what it was like to be kid-free. A grandparent is to the equivalent of a relief pitcher; the biological parents are the aces.

Moreover, taking on your grandkids full-time can be both positive and negative.

The Positives.

1. The genuine love that you have for kids that are an extension of you. These kids embody your genetic makeup.
2. The ability to watch your grandkids learn and grow in a controlled setting.
3. Giving your grandchildren a stable environment where you can be a decision maker or a narrative changer.

The Negatives.

1. Anger or resentment, which is natural because these are not your children, you’ve raised your children.
2. Guilt; feeling as if you didn’t do a good enough job with your child, so you’re on the hook for their kids.
3. Grief, no longer having your independence.

Some folks dream of the day when they can walk around their homes, the way they want to walk around.

Tips for Grandparents who become Primary Care Givers:

1. Take care of yourself. You deserve that, and you’ve earned it.
2. Make sure you have hobbies to center the universe around you. ”Me time” is significant.
3. Building the capacity of the grandkids is okay. Kids nowadays are capable of being a lot more independent.

Moving Forward with the work.

According to data from AARP in 2016, three million grandparents are raising their grandchildren.

As we move forward in this work, I would like to bring attention to the following. Grandparents often receive no additional income for raising their grandkids. There needs to be legislation that allows grandparents to foster and adopt their grandchildren. Grandparents should be eligible to receive government funding in addition to money from their pensions. It may help with some of the stress associated with grandparents as the primary caregivers of their grandchildren.

Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

10 Intangibles of Good Teaching:

The following ten intangibles of good teaching are in no particular order. However, feel free to prioritize based on your needs.

1). Be reflective in your practice. It takes teachers at least four years to learn the curriculum, and become good at managing students. In years 0-4, be humble, hungry, and reflective.

2). Be selfless. Teaching isn’t about adults or what the profession can give to you or what the job can do for you. Education is about your ability to facilitate learning for others, and those others must be the central focus, thus making the profession one of selflessness.

Collaboration is key:

3). Collaborate often. You can always learn from your colleagues, even if you are learning what not to do from them. The goal is for you to take teaching tools and build them to fit your personality.

4). Build relationships with parents and students. Parents are stakeholders and should be considered thought-partners. Not every parent will interact with you on a level that you are familiar with, so be prepared to come out of your comfort zone and meet parents where they are without judgment.

5). Believe in your students. All students can achieve, but as the educator in their lives, it becomes your job to create an individual learning plan that allows students to experience success.

Feedback can shift the tide:

6). Always seek input. Implement the information immediately. Invite colleagues in your classroom, and ask for their honest opinions. Put your defenses down, and leave your ego at the door. Constructive criticism isn’t about you; it’s about the students.

7). Consistency– you should plan to attend work 98% of the time. Only if you are sick and contagious should you miss work? Your students will see your dedication and passion, and they will assimilate accordingly.

8). Teaching is a very demanding job, so establishing work-life balance is hard but necessary. Find ways to let off steam, I.e., Gym, recreational running. It’s crucial for you to come in every day fresh and reinvigorated.

Learning is forever:

9). Become a life-long learner and always share your love for learning with your students. Students need to see this passion.

10). Have fun! Laugh a lot, and don’t take yourself too seriously. Your ability to have fun and laugh at your mistakes will prolong your teaching career. Now go out and kick some butt.

Please feel free to add any thoughts that you may have. I look forward to learning from your comments.

Education Equity and Justice Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

Chopped (Teacher Edition)


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.

Education Equity and Justice Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

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.”

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:

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).

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).

Education Equity and Justice Teachers Teaching Teaching and Learning

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.
Education Teachers Teaching

Four strategies to reduce teacher talk.

Four Strategies to Reduce Teacher Talk:

This Article was originally featured in the Superintendent Journal .

As a teacher, I valued the importance of the students having a voice in my class. Often it’s tricky trying to decipher the perfect balance of teacher talk and yielding the floor to the students. As an administrator, my thoughts are no different. We still talk way too much. A lot of us come to school, voices ready to spout facts, redirect opinions, etc. We do these things with the best of intentions, however valuable learning opportunities get lost in the midst of excessive teacher talk.

It is with that notion I offer four practical alternatives to help reduce teacher talk in the classroom.

1. Turn and Talk. The teacher gives students an idea and then had a chance to share their opinion on the concept to their selected peers. Teachers can have students share out on their partner’s thoughts, to ensure students are actively engaged on the task. Turn and talks work best when the strategy set up for the students. If you are in a co-teaching environment, the perfect segway to introduce a turn and talk would be to model the expectations with your co-teacher. Students get into this strategy as it allows them to learn and interact with their peers.

2. The flipped classroom. This generation of students is resourceful and tech savvy. If they have the opportunity to learn things beforehand, many if not most will take the opportunity to participate in pre-learning about a subject. Pre-learning gives the teacher a chance to ask guiding questions, set-up pre-made differentiated groups to maximize student output. Having students learn about issues before coming to school cuts down on lecture time, and allows teachers the much-needed space to facilitate.

3. Student Modeling and Share-outs.

In Math classes especially, all teachers give their students a practice set. When it comes time to review the practice set, allow the students to present their work. It’s a two-pronged approach, 1) Kids learn better from each other. Other students give their undivided attention to the student presenter. 2) It allows you as the teacher to talk to your students about the simple mistakes that they make day-to-day, and it will enable you to capitalize on how your students approach solving problems. If done correctly, not only are you speaking less, you’re more useful to your students as a facilitator of their learning.

4. Think-Pair-Share. Initially, students focus on a question, and even if they struggle with it, it is okay. Students then pair with their peers and discuss their answers together. The students can pick each other’s brains to determine how he/she arrived at their conclusion. After a lengthy discussion, students then share out their findings to the rest of the class.

Teachers can get through the same content while talking less. The more you speak during lessons, the faster it is for students to check out. One of the more common mistakes made by teachers is the thought that you can talk yourself through or out of a lousy lesson. When it comes to the teacher talk, less is best.