Some call me "Flem"

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I'm a passionate, purpose-driven, public school teacher! Period! I hold both a Bachelors and Masters in Education and am a certified Elementary K-6 and English 7-12 teacher as well as a certified Reading Specialist! I love teaching! I love learning! I love what I do and will defend it at all costs!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Are teachers the only ones?

It's been a little while since my last post. It's been that kind of busy!!
In any event, earlier in the month, I posed a writing warm up question to the kids. "Are teachers the only ones responsible for making sure kids learn?"

I love what one girl wrote. "No, because teachers are not the only ones who teaches kids parents do to. Your parents tolt you how to talk and walk, eat, play not teachers"

(I tried to preserve some of the writing miscues intentionally)

Her argument is solid!!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Principals must be...

Here's a random Saturday thought for you, I'm opposed to "quickie" principals, principals that haven't spent but a half a second in the classroom and now are in roles where they are instructional leaders and set the tone and course for the entire building! What do you know?

Principals must be instructional leaders. To become a great TEACHER it takes years of teaching, trying, failing, and trying again, a willingness to learn and collaborate, a solid foundation of at least undergraduate coursework, etc. But fast track to be the "boss"? Nope.

If you are 20-anything and are a school principal, it's highly unlikely that you spent at least 10 years teaching (which is what I think the minimum should be). I know it's unrealistic because outsiders have beat up so much on teachers, that some cannot take another bruise and would rather be the ones doing some of the bruising. Self-preservation, I get it (or nah?).

I may be provincial in my thinking and may be limiting myself to become an even better educator, but I'm also honest. If I ever have to answer to a principal who hasn't taught but maybe a year or two, or even three, take a seat in the back of the class and learn something.

At 8 years in, I'm still learning and am enjoying it! I couldn't imagine having three years in and then become a teacher-leader or principal. Credibility lost!! Go brush your baby teeth.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Legacy of black educators in my family

Shout out to the members of my family on both my father and mother's side of the family who are/were teachers! This teaching "thing" didn't just begin with my generation. On my mother's side, we have generations of Philly public school teachers, beginning with my grandfather. On my father's side, New Jersey's and Philly suburban public school teachers.

Proud legacy of educators! Now my sister and I are currently Philly public school teachers with a couple of my other siblings going back to school to get graduate degrees in education so they, too, can join the most noble profession on the planet!

Monday, February 16, 2015


Why the SRC shouldn't approve the 39 new charters...

Want to know why the SRC shouldn't approve the THIRTY-NINE (39) NEW charter schools?

Multiply John B. Kelly Elementary School's story by SEVERAL DOZEN real public schools and feel free to add things that at the moment I can't think of because I'm irritated:

1.  We don't have a nurse five days a week, we have her 3x per week (and some schools less than that)

2.  We have an art teacher once a week. On a Tuesday. (many schools don't even have that much)

3.  We have four Noon Time Aids for 700 kids at the lunches

4.  Kindergarten classes are sitting at 30 kids (contractual limit yes, but why max out?)

5.  One secretary for 700 kids, more than 100 adults, and a host of parents, delivery persons, outside agencies, etc. who need to be "buzzed" in. But security is a priority?

6.  I buy dozens of books so that my kids can have NICE, clean, new books to read and not tattered, old, donated books from the 1980s and 1990s

7.  I painted my own classroom from whatever old, jaded (is that the word I want? Probably not, but I'll use it anyway) color it was to reflect a classroom that says, "You're Welcome Here" and not "I don't give a rat's houtinany about you"

8.  With my own money I purchased magazine subscriptions and have purchased whole class sets of grade level (or slightly above) books that are relevant (i.e. The Story of Ruby Bridges)

9.  A guest teacher, during her prep and lunch is organizing Afro-centric books and placing them  in clear view for teachers to use in class because we have no librarian

10. I haven't seen a raise since January, 2012, nor have I seen a step increase since 2013 or an upgrade in pay when I received my M.Ed (and Reading Specialist cert, by the area that many of our children struggle in...I'm just saying...)

I'm sure I'm missing a TON of other things that I'm not thinking of that truly make our schools, schools and places where teachers feel respected and appreciated.

But there's a whole movement out there that is pushing for the approval of 39 NEW charter schools which would all but completely bankrupt our district and cause more harm than good! We have 86 charters already. The second largest district in Pennsylvania can be found right here with our charters along with the largest district, our district run, real public schools!

Stupid people we have in this world. Just idiots! Sheesh!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Scholarly Orderly Chaos

Just sitting here reflecting, as I often do, on my classroom. One of the aspects that I was thinking on, was on what some unenlightened soul could perceive as "chaos" in my classroom. It is anything but!!

There are times when they are sitting and quietly working, but there are times when we:

1.  get up and converse with other classmates about what we read during our silent reading time

2.  get up and converse with other classmates about the math that we're working on

3.  take several "30 seconds to stretch" breaks throughout the day

4.  are scattered all over the floor with personal rugs, pillows, or on the larger area rugs to read

5.  are up and moving and dancing to the beat of some educational rap/rap video

6.  are up and moving to a wall or corner of the room where the answer to some question I asked
about grammar or figurative language is posted on construction paper in the teacher's handwriting

7.  when we just sit quietly and doodle after lunch, in the dark, with filtered light from the sun and the sound of WRTI 90.1 FM's classical music playing in the background

8.  are doctors performing sentence surgery on sick sentences

9. quickly make our way back to our seats as the teacher counts down from 5 with the warning starting with "original seats in 5, 4..." or to the tune of a preschool song, "Everybody take a seat, take a seat, take a seat! Everybody take a seat, right in your chair. Not in the ceiling, not in the air, everybody take a seat right in your chair"

Chaos for lack of classroom management? No sir! Scholarly Orderly Chaos!

The Church

This post is dedicated to a huge part of my life, the church.
I was born and raised in church and am appreciative of the many Godly principles that I've been taught and the countless experiences and encounters that I've had with God.

My parents raised us to be people of prayer, faith, and the Word of God, the Bible.
We were also raised to live the life; that our faith isn't something that we put on and take off as we would our school clothes, but that this is our way of life. Prayer, Bible study, praising God, singing and glorifying the God of our salvation, living a clean and sanctified life...this is how we are to live.

The churches that we were brought up in were a part of the larger Pentecostal Assemblies of the World (PAW). This organization is historically significant to the African Americans and the Pentecostal movement in America, tracing its roots back to the small mission in California in the early 1900s and great Azusa Street revival.

Even with great moves of God, the country was still deeply divided over race. Unfortunately such differences found their way into the church, no fault to the Lord. As a result, the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World became a predominately black Pentecostal church organization with many of our white brothers and sisters forming our sister organization.

Today, however, PAW and other organizations are much more inclusive than they once were, realizing that God is not God of an organization but over his organism, the church of the living God.

The church is still very much a huge part of my life and I'm grateful to my parents for raising me in it. I couldn't be thankful to them without paying tribute to our ancestors who yielded themselves to the move of the Holy Ghost, not only in the early 20th century, but also back on the day of Pentecost spoken of in Acts chapter 2!