Some call me "Flem"

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B.S.Ed | M.Ed | Passionate | Compassionate | Purpose-driven | PUBLIC school teacher | There's a lot more...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


Hey! What's good? Many of my colleagues call me "Flem" (sounds kinda gross, but it's short for Mr. Flemming...not that you asked, but the gross kind is spelled p-h-l-e-g-m). In any event, it's been about two months since my last post. No. I haven't gone anywhere. Yes, I'm still passionate about the things I tweet about. I'm just choosing to take notes. There has been a lot going on that I could write about and discuss, put on blast and reap the consequences. Most of it dealing with some "random" (cough) school district, other dealing with the 45th, and other stuff about leadership, and the like. But nope. I'm sitting back in the cut. Watching. Observing. Note-taking. When the time is write---ooops----right, the flood gates will open. My advice? Watch how you treat people. That's it for now.


Friday, December 16, 2016

"Teacher of the Last Abyss"

(drafted yesterday)
What kind of a title of a blog post is THAT?
Let me explain.

There are moments and experiences during the teaching and learning journey that are difficult to put into words. Today, and all throughout today, that occurred.

We're publishing a class book. Today we continued idea gathering. As I've done in time past, I modeled for them the thinking, drafting, idea-gathering process. I asked each class (I teach 3 ELA blocks of 5th grade students) to give me an idea. They had ideas up the wahzoo! In one of the classes, one student gave me the idea of "the last teacher on Earth". BAM! From there I demonstrated my thinking in coming up with a title, characters, setting, and major conflict. (That last sentence seems so blah #boring, but it really was fun!!)

Based on each classes ideas I, with their influence, came up with the following titles in order to walk them through a possible creative avenue or stream of thought for their individual narratives.

Class 1's Title: Let Me Find Out! A tale of a battle for popularity among students, the Tablewares and the Appliances. Setting: Kitchen Middle School

Class 2's Title: The Teacher of the Last Abyss - A tale of the last teacher...ever. Chapter One, The Last Lesson Plan, Chapter 2, The Teacher of Ruin. Setting: The South Pole and the darkness of the abyss

Class 3's Title: The Year Christmas was Kidnapped - December 24th came and went without a single issue. Kids were excited. Parents were content. Everything was going well until the calendar switched to December 2------SIXTH! Wai---wha???

To be continued...

Saturday, December 10, 2016

This Week in the RearView...

Every now and then I sit and reflect on the day or the week gone by. Not all the time do these thoughts make it onto a page or onto Twitter. This time they will.

On Monday a few of us made our way to the Maplewood Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center to make new friends and read to them! We went after school and had a great time. We plan on going back.

This past week, I also taught the classes some self-regulation strategies, mainly for fluency. I wasn't required to do so, but since the school district makes us "AIMSweb" the kids and makes major decisions about them based on it, I decided to teach them how to monitor their own fluency. They actually liked the exercises we did. They've been partnering up all week as an extension of our pleasure reading time.

Thursday I noticed a student was peering for an extended time into one of our autistic support classrooms. Instead of "Can you keep up with the class," I pulled him aside and asked if he'd like to volunteer in there from time to time. He said "yes" excitedly. After school I spoke with the teacher and she, too, was onboard. So we'll be working something out in the days ahead.

Friday was writing work day. Let me add that this was the plan, not an after-thought; this dedicated time to write. (I could say more, but real teachers know how it is sometimes...*wink*) As one who loves to write, I understand the need for time just to get thoughts down onto paper. Since we'll be publishing books through Studentreasures Publishing, we dedicated time to brainstorm ideas and begin drafting. This was an extension of a previous homework assignment. The time was also used to fine tune our understanding of poetic devices like similes and metaphors. Many took great advantage of this work time.

As I reflect further on the week gone by, there are lots of moments that occur each and everyday, such that if I were to enumerate them all, we'd be here for a minute! There were, however, some things that kids said that were memorable for one reason or another. It's important to note that I overheard much of what they said. The statements were not directed to me, making them all the more genuine.
  • Student whispers, "Yes!!" when I called him over to the table for some one-on-one reading/instruction with me.
  • While listening to a Flocabulary video, a kid whispers, "Oh I get it now!"
  • Student, while at the nursing home, "Man, this place is way cleaner than John B. Kelly!"
Also memorable were some funny moments we had. Like the few who made up some LIES about my hairline! HA! First, close followers of my tweets know that I don't play about keeping my jawn sharp! Second, I had just got a fresh boi the day before. Third, I ain't some wack teacher who ain't gonna come back with a bangin' teacher #clapback! This teacher right here will grind you all the way up!! Bruh! AND I did!! LOL!! Shoot! Got me chop! You know it's good when the class goes "OOOOHHHHH" Then we got back to work now that we all had an understanding what the deal was! 

Then there was one day I did a lil something different with the lay. Kid, "OK, Mr. Flemming, I see you with the fresh lay on! Let me find out! You look more educated." lol

There are some moments that I'd like to forget or would rather not deal with, but we see too much of that in the media especially for kids who look like me. So no, you won't hear a lot at all from me about those moments (except in cases of systemic injustice)! We have them. I deal with them as a concerned educator and human! #ByeFelicia

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

New Friends at Maplewood Manor Nursing Home

When I get the chance to sit and think, that can be a good way!

Yesterday, a few of my students and I, along with a few of my colleagues, went to Maplewood Manor Nursing Home to read to the residents there. We went to read and came out smiling!!

The facility is about a 15-minute walk from our school, right there in our community. It began as a thought about a month or so ago. I called Maplewood, left a message, received a call back and we set up a tentative date. We spoke of the possibility of making this a once a month thing as well. I sent out a survey to parents to gauge the interest level. There was interest.  Permission slips were sent out, I spoke with the principal, and boom!

The idea hit me like a ton of bricks that it would be better to go after school. Why? Just because. That little blurb was in the survey too. Still, there was great interest on behalf of the 5th grade families. (There were some kinks on my end that I'll have to fix for next time.  Long story short, me being too hype, I got unorganized and quickly)

We left the school around 3:15pm. But before doing so, the kids and I had a little chat. "This is the first time your teacher has done anything like this. We'll see how it goes. No matter what, just go with the flow. We'll speak, be polite, introduce ourselves and why we're there and enjoy ourselves."

On the way I allowed them to snap pics, and to snap, as in....this. Why? They're "snapping chatting" (lol) about going to read! Why not?!?

The staff was very warm, gracious, and welcoming! We entered the recreation area and immediately we all got to work introducing ourselves to the our reading buddies and the kids got to reading. My colleagues and I would only step in for a sec to move a kid closer or to slide the book between the two reading buddies. #SmilesAllAround

The kids loved it! They'd read to their new friend and in a couple of cases their new friends took the book and read back to the much younger buddies!! I even got the chance to read to a couple of the residents, "Mother to Son" by Langston Hughes and "Green Eggs and Ham". Both were a hit!!

We stayed for about a half hour before heading back to school to the waiting arms and cars of parents! Wow! That's all I can muster right now. Wow!! It was one great experience for us all!

Today, during one of the classes we had a panel discussion. The students ran it. The panel (the students who went to Maplewood) took questions from their classmates about the event and they responded well.
The student panel

More than 24 hours later, I'm still sitting here reflecting in rapture! There isn't a test in the WORLD, no benchmark, no Pearson, no PSSA, no PARCC, nothing, that can capture the essence of that and myriad other experiences!!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Lunchtime Sit Down

In addition to giving my students space to chat and let out their feelings about the election, minus the teacher's bias, I did inform one kid that I wanted to see him at lunch and speak with him some more. I had him as a 3rd grade student and was pleased as punch that I would be the opportunity to work with him again as his 5th grade English teacher.

In third grade he proved himself to be quite the presidential scholar, often choosing to read and speak about presidents during our times of SSR and the subsequent "book talks." We talked a lot when he was in 3rd grade and I was interested in this thoughts on this election now that he is in 5th grade. I've blogged about him before on here.

Lunchtime came. We sat and chatted about presidential politics like we were two old men. His favorite president was Kennedy "because he helped a lot of people." His least favorite was Nixon "because he got impeached and lied." When asked about his feelings regarding this election, he used the word "disappointed." When asked why, he enumerated the myriad reasons we all as adults have named. We then talked about taxes and what revealing them may uncover. He wasn't really aware of how that all worked, so I started small (very small) with what my returns would reveal. Donations to "do good" organizations like animal shelters, the church, etc. After my example and explaining what Trump's could say, he got it.

He also noted that he didn't like neither Clinton nor Trump, but of the two, Clinton would have been the better choice.

After several minutes he got up to leave and expressed how he enjoyed the chat and that we'd have to do it again. Agreed.

P.S. I'm a public school teacher in Philadelphia. He and I both share a heritage. Just an fyi just in case any other mental images were coming to mind.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

In the Classroom the #MorningAfter Trump Won

So, there it is. D.J. Chum—ahem—Trump will be the 45th President of the United States. I’m choosing not to go into the myriad reasons why I don’t agree with a clown taking the Oval Office. Instead, I’m going to focus on the fact that I am a public school teacher in Philadelphia who teaches students with opinions about these things.

Today the mood around the school was somber. Staff and students alike seemed to be walking around in a daze, stunned that such a man could have possibly won the long 2016 election and is set to become the 45th President of this country.

Instead of ignoring the feelings the students had, I allowed them time to express themselves. I didn’t get to do this with every class the way I wanted. But in their Social Studies class with my colleague, they also had the opportunity to express themselves. Many had strong opinions about both Trump and Clinton. Others didn’t have an opinion about the election at all. And when asked what advice would they give to Trump if he were to come into the classroom that very minute. One student said, “Quit!” #classdismissed

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Student's Art/Reading/Knowledge sketch

"Mr. Flemming, I have this drawing idea of a fist coming out of books with the title 'Knowledge is Power'. Can I bring it to you?" ~5th Grader


J. Smith, All Rights Reserved, 2016