Some call me "Flem"

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I'm a passionate, purpose-driven, public school teacher! Period.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How It Should Be Done

This is how real professional development and teacher evaluation works!

For a second time, one of the professors of the college where I'm pursuing my M.Ed with Reading Specialist cert, came to observe and collaborate with me.

After her observation and our debriefing, I felt empowered! She has taught in the K-12 setting and continues to teach at the graduate level! She came to observe specific teaching strategies employed when working with a small group of learners.

Based on past experiences and the latest reading research, she commended me on what I had done well and offered unabrasive, nonintrusive, very practical suggestions for how I can enhance a particular pedagogical approach and writing model!

The relationship was professional and collegial and felt very right. There was a sense of mutual respect, my respect of her years of experience and her respect of my classroom. I wish all district PD's and meager attempts at professional collaboration and observations were like this and not just about "domain 2", whatever the heck that is!

When she left, I still had a 3rd block to teach. With that class, I immediately employed her suggestions and I'm pleased with the initial outcome.

I look forward to trying this again and again and emailing her the results of my attempts.

That is how real professional development and teacher coaching and enhancement takes place! It's not a "I'm out for your job" situation! It's all about improving upon the noblest of professions, teaching!

Vygotsky speaks of that "more knowledgeable" other! Professional development, observations, and collaborations ought to be done by and with those who've "been there, done that" and have the t-shirt and key chain to prove it!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

That's our fault too I guess!!

On the trolley a few moments ago:

I'm sitting, rereading a William Still book for the third time and a couple of early 20s get on with about four children. Based on some of what I heard, I don't think at least two of them belonged to this couple. I'm also unsure of the relationship of the couple. Nevertheless...

I'm reading, one little girl, maybe 3 years old, is very active, refusing to sit down as the trolley is moving. She's playful and jovial, but even over the playful "demands" of the young woman refuses to sit down. She falls a few times, but no injuries. The young woman says "that's what the @*%$ you get" and laughs!

The little 3 year old girl replies, "Who you talkin' to you dumb @*%$??" Because she was loud, most of the trolley, including the young woman, erupts in laughter!!

Me? I'm FUMING!!!! Here's what I see.

I see a future 5th or 6th grader who is out of control.
I see non-supportive parents.
I see a spoiled brat who'll get whatever she wants.
I see parents that will only come to the school if there is a problem and will defend this girl.
I see a child who will likely not get A's and B's because education doesn't seem to be a priority.
I see suspensions in this child's future.
I see early sexual activity.
I see looking to the government for help.
I see a cycle that I've ALREADY SEEN over and over again.
I see legislatures in Harrisburg and City Hall putting the blame on teachers.
I see principals who want to know what "strategies" we have in place to put this child on the road to proficiency.

At this point, I don't care if I'm being judgmental. I don't care if I'm being a doomsday prophet. I don't care if I'm being stereotypical. I don't care if I'm being insensitive. I don't care if anything I just wrote is politically incorrect! I don't care if this post offends anyone! I'm calling a spade a spade! A rose by any other name is still a rose! I don't care!

I am sick and tired of our public schools and my colleagues and I taking the fault and taking the blame for circumstances beyond our control!!! That little girl needs some REAL parents! Parents who will model before her appropriate social and academic behaviors! Period!

Sue me!

~Flem

I MUST be tough!

I'll be moving to a different section of the city soon. Today, as I met with the leasing agent, she noticed that I was a teacher. When it came out that I was a 5th grade teacher in our city's public schools, her response? "Oh you MUST be tough huh?"

I didn't take offense at all in the least bit! I chuckled and said, "you better know it! I have to be!"

I firmly believe that public school teachers anywhere, especially in urban areas, are THE toughest in the profession! Those of us who remain for a number of years, our skin MUST be made of teflon!!

We get attacked by politicians, demonized by philanthropies, unappreciated by some parents, harrassed by many students, frequently observed by some "out to get you" principals, yet we STILL come to work every day! Some would call that crazy! I call it dedicated! Years of dedicated service and commitment to students and communities needs to be celebrated, paid well, and not considered dead weight!!!

Yup, we MUST be tough!

Made My Day

{Walking up 38th Street, toward the Wawa, young man walks up to me and shakes my hand. I give the "Oh Lawd, you're one of my alum from somewhere but you're grown up and I don't recognize your face" look}

Him: You had me at the Y

{I look at name tag then at his mom who was with him, spit out his last name then his whole name excitedly! I then proceed to not believe who I'm looking at and how grown he had gotten! We commence the inevitable small talk and realize there was a connection between another former student I had some years ago in public school}

This encounter really made my weekend, especially since he's doing well and hasn't been beat up by urban life and the struggles that come with being around so much foolishness!

Shout out to his mother who I recognized once o took a second look!! Mom dukes, you've done a great job!!

Shout out to him (I'll call him Bob). Shout out to you Bob for staying on the straight and narrow!!

If we have had the privilege of being in a teacher/student encounter (even if you were 7 and in the second grade 12 years ago) stop me! Say hi! Give me a few seconds and I'll spit out your first and last name too!

That really made my day!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

No cops?

I'm wondering where the throngs of police are! I'm in Center City and I see dozens and dozens upon dozens of teen, twenty, and thirty-something year old people at Suburban Station. They are loud. They are carrying boxes of beer. Some have these noise makers. And all of them are dressed in green! What I don't see is what speaks volumes. Not a police officer to be found. Not one in sight! No news cameras covering the "violence" or "flash mobs"! No press conferences by the mayor or any other public official about how they are not going to tolerate this in Philadelphia!

Maybe if everyone's skin tone was a darker hue, we could get a cop around here! Surely because all these young people are gathered and are loud, they MUST be up to no good and need the heavy arm of the law to come down on them!

Geez, the things we have to do to get cops around here!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Oh Freedom! - The Golden Gospel Singers (Lyrics in Description)



Showed this to one of my classes today. You cannot talk/teach about American History without talking/teaching about Black History! African American History IS American History!