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!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Say it ain't so!!!!

As I reflect on this day gone by, what I enjoyed most occurred during our Social Studies lesson. It was a review of the time of the early explorers to what we're studying now, the Revolutionary War.

As we happened upon our review of the Boston Massacre, my Resident Presidential Historian asked if "they" were ever caught (British Soldiers). Love the question!!!!! I took the time to explain that they had and that there was a trial and they got off.

I intentionally prepared myself to glance his way when I named the lawyer who represented the British soldiers in court, John Adams!! The reaction I got from him was PRICELESS!!!!!! I giggled like a little kid! He stood up, smacked his forehead and fell back into his chair, undoubtedly in despair that a future president of the United States could possibly represent British soldiers who attacked American colonists AND be acquitted!!!!

It is important to note that my Resident Presidential Historian attends a Philadelphia public school in Germantown.

It is also important to note that my class, in this public school, can enthusiastically detail many of the main events from the time of the explorers (including the imperialistic slant of their explorations) to the Revolutionary War. #JustSayin

Thursday, January 22, 2015

3rd Grade Historian

I'm learning them! My third graders. I'm learning them. Having taught for a little while, I can pick up certain things about kids right away and other things require much more observation and conversation. I learned early on that I have a kid who loves history and the presidents in particular! I call him our Resident Presidential Historian!

After the children spend some time reading silently (works of their choice), I give them time to converse about what they chose to read. This is a daily occurrence. The kid who I'm referencing almost is always discussing some presidential "thing" with his classmates. I normally sit on my perch somewhere, out of the kids' way and listen in on conversations from a distance.

Today, however, I called him over and just wanted to chat with my future PhD in History 3rd grader. I asked him how many presidents names he knew. He said he didn't know and just started spewing off names. John Kennedy (his favorite), Calvin Coolidge, William Taft, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Lyndon B.  Johnson,  etc. Impressive!!!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Intentional teaching

From the sound of it, this could be a long post, a paper, or a book. Nope.

Short sweet and simple.
Be intentional!

I believe in being intentional in everything that I do in the classroom. There is a reason for the reading, the talking, the moving, the singing, the rapping, the "being a rapper" for a few minutes, the art, the poetry, the arrangement of the room, everything! Everything has a "why"!

Intentional, though I may be, I tend to be accident prone! Accidents do happen in the room and they are phenomenal instances of equally important intentional teaching and learning experiences!

We call these accidents..............wait for it............wait for it.............wait.........hold up..............ready?..........teachable moments!!

{que the "ahhhhhhh" and the text lingo 'lol'}


Monday, January 19, 2015


Today I chose to rally and march with a few thousand other Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians on this Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday. This march for many social justice agenda items brought together many groups, faiths, creeds, cultures...people!

The pictures and tweets under the hashtag #ReclaimMLKPHL tell many of the countless stories and experiences.

While there are quite a few causes that I support, two of the main reasons that I walked, #BlackLivesMatter and public education, particularly in Philadelphia.

While I'm too young to have experienced the marches and fights of the 1960s, I'm old enough to appreciate the victories as a result! Unfortunately, I'm also old enough to see, experience, and fight against regression! To that end, here's to the marches and fights of the 21st century!!

"What do we want?"
"When do we want it?"
"SHUT. IT. DOWN!!!!"

Photo Credit (below): Philadelphia Student Union

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Black Male Teachers...Why? and What?

Why am I ardent in my belief that our public schools need more black male teachers?
Why shouldn't I be?

One, the worldview of a black male is vastly different from that of a female, even our African American sisters and from those of males of other races. It's not superior, it's different. And since it's all but guaranteed that any child in the United States will have a white female teacher most of the time, having a black male teacher will add depth and variety to worldview from which students are taught.

Just recently, I retweeted this:

The context of this quote? The need for more black male teachers. As this young man alludes to, there isn't necessarily a deficiency in the quality of instruction he received, but he wishes he had the "connectivity" that comes with having a black male teacher at some point. We can connect with our young black men in ways that others cannot. That is just as important as the content!

I could go on and on on this topic and include arguments for why schools with populations that are majority white and wealthy should also have a diversified faculty that includes black males. I could, again, mention U.S. Department of Education statistics. And so on and so forth!

But what? What am I doing to help?
One, I'm continuing to teach!
Two, I sat one night and thought of who I could speak with and would be most likely to heed the clarion call to go back to school and consider teaching. My brother! BINGO!!! I shot him a detailed text of my thoughts about him going back for his M.Ed and aim for a Social Studies cert since he was a Poli-Sci major and enjoys politics, history, and engaging in conversations about both.

His word to me? "Confirmation" We were born and raised in a Christian household and were taught to reverence the attributes that make God, God. So, "confirmation" implies just that. That the Lord was already working on my brother with this idea and that his big brother just came by and confirmed the word.

Who next?
Hmmm, let me think...

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My "Arts" Beliefs...

My belief in the arts being a component of children's learning experiences is not anything new.
As I was looking through old facebook pictures, I came across one when I was the Youth Program Director at the YMCA in West Philly! (Yup, I was born and raised in West Philly---and Southwest---52nd Street corridor)

I was responsible for nearly all youth programming at the branch and was always looking to improve upon the quality of our programs. I loved my team of youth program staff and volunteers and the majority of them loved "Mr. Steve" right back!

You'll notice the book I circled in the picture. With our leadership and with a great core of young arts teachers (high school students who I hired from CAPA in South Philly) we put together a PHENOMENAL dance program and a budding drama program!! At one point we had more than 100 girls enrolled in any one or more of our dance classes in two studios at the Y!

We had big productions throughout the year that would coincide with hat/glove drives and would also bring news crews. One year, we chose to take our end of the year performance at one of theaters at the Annenberg Center on Penn's campus!!!

The School District of Philadelphia, City Hall, and Harrisburg must do more increase the arts experiences of the students in Philadelphia, something that is as basic and expected in many of our wealthier suburban school districts. Many of our students have creative minds and abilities and are stifled because of the dearth of arts programs in our schools. Many teachers try to fill the void as best we can, but I will humbly admit my limitations!!

Click the link to find out what I did this past week for a kid who is always drawing in class!

We have GOT to do better!

Looks like my kids and I will be writing letters and sending some emails! It's not enough to just complain. Stay tuned!

P.S. I remember one critique from one of my principals was that I do too much "arts stuff" for Social Studies and not enough reading, lol (I actually did do quite a bit of reading with them--and it was good too, but every time there was a visit it seemed to be during our singing/rapping segments)

The Sweet Life!!

Weekends off!
8-something to 3-something Monday through Friday!
Summer's off!
Every "invented" holiday off!

A close friend and I often get into these verbal tiffs about how "sweet" the life of a teacher is! I mean,  really, with all of the afore mentioned perks, this life must be sweet!! Right? (or nah?)

Why, then, aren't more people signing up for this gig?

Like some of the old folk used to say, "Baby, everything that glitter ain't gold!"

P.S. I love teaching, but let me insert an "OBJECTION YOUR HONOR" to the idea that this is the sweet life! Everybody not 'bout that tEaCHer lyfe ya'mean?