Social Justice In the Classroom…..We have to start somewhere!

 

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As an educator, my personal experiences initially influenced my personal attitudes and beliefs about diversity issues in my classroom. Overtime, I became immune to my colleagues who lacked diversity tolerance. I would use the strategies I learned to ensure that all students in my classroom received equitable instruction, yet I took a neutral stance on others’ lack of knowledge and tolerance. (I had not yet focused on the true meaning of equity and equality.) I never imagined the effects that this would have on my students. I quickly began to speak up about the injustices. Teachers must engage in professional learning to improve practices that promote positive outcomes for all students (Vescio,2016). The lack of knowledge may be the ultimate reason teachers sometimes struggle with the changing demographics. Through continuous learning, I have improved my teaching practices to better serve all students. I will continue to transform my practice using the knowledge gained as a result of my learning. The students’ past experiences are vital to their success (Montgomery, 2001). My teaching practice is inclusive of strategies that are specific to the needs of the students in my  class, and to the school environment. I believe that the school’s environment is just as important as the instruction in the classroom. Providing appropriate information and resources to teachers, parents, and the community is essential (Watt & Norton, 2004). Misconceptions often lead to misunderstanding.

Two years ago, I received my English as a second language (ESOL) certification. I have become more aware of how a deficiency in English can negatively affect a students’ positive learning outcome (Swanson, Kong, & Petcu, 2018). My MSED specialization is in elementary math and reading. I currently teach 4th grade mathematics. The students served in ESOL are often under served and over represented in special education. (As well as our African American students.) I aspire to research schools that have used strategies that have been effective for meeting the needs of their ESOL student population. After researching the strategies, I look forward to sharing the data and implementing these strategies in my own classroom.

I have deepened my knowledge and understanding of the needs of diverse populations in a plethora of ways. During the research required during my MSED program, it was revealed that the African American and Hispanic populations are under served in my local schools as well as many schools around the country. It has been long believed that the achievement gap was only related to socioeconomic status, and not ethnicity (Alt & DiLallo, 2016). This has since been debunked by current data. The achievement gap will not close but will widen if there is not a plan in place to address the needs of the students. To continue to meet the needs of African American and Hispanic students, I will identify and implement two culturally relevant topics of study and integrate them into my instruction. I plan to share the experience and outcomes with my colleagues. Maybe this will spark the necessary conversations. Integrating topics that can reach our under served students will aid in connecting the instruction and promoting positive social change within the classroom.

Final thoughts: My purpose as an educator is to provide all students with a positive educational experience, regardless of any differences they may have. I have been exposed to content that has provided me with the strategies necessary to offer the positive outcomes among the students in my classroom, school, and community. I recognize potential biases due to my own personal experiences. I use this knowledge to provide effective instruction for my students and promote positive social change in my school. I will continue to promote positive social change. Social change is not an overnight process. It takes leadership and dedication. I will continue to advocate for my students and families through bringing awareness to the social injustices of our education system. Will you be the one to advocate for the students? 

Signing Out,

The Melanin Educator

 

References (Great Reads!!!!!)

Alt, M., Arizmendi, G. D., & DiLallo, J. N. (2016). The role of socioeconomic status in the narrative story retells of school-aged English language learner. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 47(4), 313-323. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=4b9ca9e2-7258-43e2-ad40-cdaf545eba0e%40pdc-v-sessmgr01

Montgomery, W. (2001). Creating Culturally Responsive, Inclusive Classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33(4), 4. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer /pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=4d8992d5-d9a4-4663-bce6-c5a50a378a79%40sdc-v-sessmgr01

Swanson, H.L., Kong, J., & Petcu, S. (2018). Math Difficulties and Working Memory Growth in English Language Learner Children: Does Bilingual Proficiency Play a Significant Role? Language, Speech & Hearing Services in Schools, 49(3), 379-394. Retrieved from https://eds-b-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=c98d2929-ded0-4a04-8c97-19e4b5eb8f65%40sessionmgr104

Vescio, V. (2016). An equal Chance at Success: Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices Address Students’ Differing Needs. Journal of Staff Development, 37(5), 18-22 Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/e’ds/pdfviewer/ pdfviewer?vid=4&sid=75518455-cc85-43a6-837d-a37bf32b9d74%40sessionmgr4008

Watt, S., & Norton, D. (2004). Culture, ethnicity, race: what’s the difference? Pediatric Nursing, (8), 37. Retrieved from https://eds-a-ebscohost-com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=8d8a2374-eb42-4294-a10b-d743f212cac9%40sdc-v-sessmgr04

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Disappointment……Not Again!

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Life is great. You have accomplished all the goals you have set, and your family is well and…………..BAM! Disappointment hits you like a baseball thrown at 100 miles per hour! Does this sound familiar? If not, you are one of the luckiest people in this world. I have experienced this scenario many times during my life.

People try to be empathetic and sympathetic in their approach to comfort you, but there is not much truth or value in their words. You hear things like: “It will all workout” “I am sorry to hear that.” “There is light at the end of the tunnel.” These statements fall short of a resolution, and leaves the person even more confused with false hope. Often times, it leaves one to commit the same act and expect a different result, only to be even more disappointed than before.

I am not a pessimist. I believe that every situation has a resolution. The key is finding the appropriate resolution and not necessarily the quickest. In my experience, the loss of confidence is inevitable with each disappointment if not handled correctly. Continuous disappointment will definitely bring doubt. You start to doubt your decision making practices. You may even start to doubt that you are on the right path. These doubts are valid. In order to make your detour valuable to you, you must take it as a lesson and create a better plan. The only advice I seek is advice that leads me to a better path.

Final thoughts……When you are continuously knocked down it can be harder each time to get back up. The most frustrating thing is believing that you are doing all the right things, but failure is the result. A dream is nothing without action. While completing goals, we have to remember that detours should be expected. How we handle these detours will determine our successes. Disappointment is a part of life, but you choose if these are lessons or your demise.

 

Signing out,

      The Melanin Educator

Conditional Love……..I Love You……As Long As You…….

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As a young child I quickly realized that love seemed to be complicated. This concept was baffling to my young mind. Eventually, I adapted to these conditional practices and began to make choices that would make others love me. I was aware that this was different for each person in my life. This love quest continued well into adulthood. As an adult I realized that this was a never ending cycle that led to unhappiness. It was draining and honestly pointless. People love at their own will. At this time I began my pursuit of happiness.

 

I constantly hear the phrase “I love everyone”. This comment has so many meanings, but it essentially means that you do not wish any harm to anyone. This is not the love we seek as children or as adults. It would be misleading to say that love is completely unconditional. There are factors that hinder us from loving another person, and rightfully so. Though I may not hate anyone, it does not mean love is present. There may be tolerance, but our love changes as we evolve.  

 

At this point in my life, I have evolved and so has my love. I have faced adversity living my truth. There has been incidents along the way, that led me to the realization that everyone does not have my best interests at heart. Family is supposed to love you UNCONDITIONALLY right?….. This is not my experience. Some people love you for what you can do for them. Others love you because you are who you are. My discernment has allowed me to decipher between the two. I am thankful for this gift, because it protects my energy.

 

Final thought, expectations of love are relevant to the person and their practices. You cannot make anyone love you, so live your truth. If there is unconditional love present, you will know. The only unconditional love that is controlled is your own.

 

Signing Out,

The Melanin Educator

 

 

 

U.S. Constitution:1st Amendment Rights……Don’t Shhhhhhhhh Me

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For those of you who are unfamiliar….

The 1st amendment to the constitution states “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances (Legal Information Institute,2018).

Most people summarize this entire clause spewing “Freedom of Speech”.  Is there a true freedom of speech? I think not! Nothing in this clause says that you can say whatever you want, where ever you want, whenever you want. It just reassures that no laws will be passed through congress that hinders religion, freedom of speech or press, peaceful assembly, or to petition the government for injustices.

Now that we are all acquainted with the ambiguous words used in Amendment 1 of the U.S. constitution…….lets get real. As a young, black, outspoken, educated woman……..I know I am seen as a serious threat to misrepresentations of justice. Rightfully so….. I am the biggest skeptic when it comes to words. I put my stock in the actions behind the expressions.

There have been so many times throughout my life that I have been coached about what not to say around a certain audience. Infuriated by reprimands of speaking truth, I would reluctantly sit and listen to slurs of information embedded with deception. I often wondered why I had to silence my passion when there was no suggestion of disrespect or deceit. Of course, I rebelled against the “sit and nod” notion and quickly found myself in a world that I was now perceived a threat to the ignorance.

I would hear people say, “Freedom of Speech” and repeated it as knowledge and not as hear say. This is a decision I despise, but I can appreciate that it made me gain the knowledge necessary to speak truth. After being schooled by one of my mentors, I read the Constitution in its entirety. All those rights, I thought were protected quickly became undefended as I focused on each word of this document.

I just wanted to be heard without the label of “menace to society”. I remember my mentor teacher telling me not to speak out against anything if I wanted longevity in education. This almost made me want to reconsider my career choice. I chose education to become an advocate for the apparent educational injustices. I was temporarily disarmed, but I found my way.

Blackballed, banned, blacklisted, ostracized, snubbed…. whichever term you chose, your words can easily land you in a position where you are wearing one of them on your shoulders. It is unfortunate, but this is our reality. Many of us work for corporations, businesses, or for the state/federal government. There is a very real chance that what you say could cause self-sabotage that will follow you your entire career.

ADVOCACY!!!!!!!! I have the right to speak out against injustice….Nope

I am an advocate. I will speak out and take action against any injustice that I face……I just have developed a type of system that keeps me accountable, but safe. I am always aware of my audience and what is at stake. I must consider the personalities and the hierarchy that is present or will later hear of my statements.  Why should this matter if you are only giving justified opinions or stating facts? It shouldn’t, but it unquestionably does.

In brief, freedom of speech depends on your social status, race, sex, and audience. I will never accept this and will continue to advocate for myself and others that do not have a voice. Since the 1st amendment or any other part of the constitution will not protect me, I will protect myself with wise decisions. Even though listening to ignorance quietly, doesn’t seem productive…it is. You get the chance to hear the inaccuracies that will help you in your plight to right the wrong. Remember to always stay humble and speak your truth.

Signing Out,

The Melanin Educator

Over and Done: When Loyalty Ends!

tierra and meThere is something to be said about a “loyal” person. As a loyal person, you are expected to withstand disloyalty and still give other people 100 percent of your loyalty. As a loyal person, you are expected to forgive and forget. As a loyal person, you are the last person considered for any accolades. When does loyalty end?

A few years ago my answer would have been astoundingly different. I considered loyalty to be the top character trait that I looked for in people. You live and learn right? The importance of loyalty and the definition of loyalty has become subjective over time. I often questioned why I felt like I was getting the short end of the stick. It was not just a feeling, it was my reality.

I decided that the definition of loyalty is situational. There are always going to be more than one reaction to an action.  Loyalty is providing what is needed in that particular situation with the hopeful outcome of success. Knowing this, my circle has changed overtime. I realized that I do not need “yes” people in my life. I am self-motivated, and I do not need external motivation. People in my life hold value in different ways. Loyal friends and family will continue to cheer you on, as long you are on a path towards success.  I do not consider it an act of  loyalty when someone cheers you on as you are headed toward disaster, without first acknowledging the catastrophic outcome.

So, when does loyalty end? It doesn’t. As I continue to grow as a person, loyalty continues to change its purpose in my life. Being taken advantage of, is not a way to prove loyalty. It is a way to be manipulated and unhappy. Remaining loyal means that you advocate for the success of a person or idea. I have been fortunate enough to have a support system that is the epitome of loyalty. Are you loyal? Are the people in your circle loyal to you?

 

Signing Out,

The Melanin Educator

Purpose: What the heck is it?

Your journey begins, when excuses end!

The calling……I guess

Snapchat-1314208948Have you ever wondered about that empty place that occupied your heart….even when you seem to have it all? I did…..very often. The day this picture was taken….an epiphany surfaced. I came to realize that this space was my life’s purpose…..unfulfilled.

Question after question has filled my head during times when the focus should have been else where. I needed to find my purpose. But, what the heck is it? I still do not have exact answers, however this blog is definitely a part of it. I never thought about starting a blog, so the nagging feeling to do so was baffling. Well, I’m here and ready to start this journey. Whatever the purpose of being here, I hope to help others on their journeys as well. #firstblogpost #purpose