Category Archives: Media

Reflecting on this week

This was a good teacher week.  It was a good teacher week because I felt that there was at least one lesson that really hit the kids.  It was a good teacher week because we ended positively.  It was a good teacher week because I slept a lot.  It was a good teacher week  because two different people from my childhood showed me they cared because they saw an area where I was needy and provided.  It’s things like that — not advice, not suggestions — just physical funds, resources, or labor, that really speak to me as a teacher, right now. 

Today, I also happened upon THREE DIFFERENT teacher-related links that were all so good.  I think these are good for everyone to read.  It speaks to me, as a teacher, but should also let people know a bit of what teachers experience.

How To Be a Teacher for More Than 5 Years Without Killing Yourself

I’m working on different parts of this list written by Justin Stortz, a former teacher who is incredibly vulnerable in his posts.  Last year, I was thisclose to burnout, and I wish he had written this post sooner.   And I’ve already learned the hard way why it is important to stay humble and not “set yourself and your class up for failure by letting your ego get in your way.” :-/  Also, this year, I’m trying to maintain a hobby (working out and writing), trying to cook more, and I put myself on a sleeping schedule.

The Hardest Job Everyone Thinks They Can Do

Inspiring kids? Inspiring kids can be downright damned near close to impossible sometimes. And… it’s downright damned near close to impossible to measure. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s test scores. You can’t measure inspiration by a child’s grades. You measure inspiration 25 years later when that hot-shot doctor, or lawyer, or entrepreneur thanks her fourth-grade teacher for having faith in her and encouraging her to pursue her dreams.

Maybe that’s why teachers get so little respect. It’s hard to respect a skill that is so hard to quantify.

Fellow teacher friend and HGSE grad shared this link on Facebook.  Dennis Hong, a molecular biologist – turned – teacher shares a few tidbits on what teaching is and why it’s so hard.  A short, thought-provoking piece from an apologist for teachers.

First They Came for Urban Black and Latino Moms (For Arne Duncan)

A few months ago, I walked past a “successful” charter school here in Harlem, NY, speed-walking to get my school supplies for the coming school year. I noticed a huge crowd of mostly Black and Latino families all waiting to pick up their children when a taut, pony-tailed White man came out with a clipboard and yells, “Alright, parents, we need everyone to line up!” My inner voice yelled “What!?” at the entire scene. No one protested. A few snickered and rolled their eyes. They all got in one straight line, parallel to Malcolm X Boulevard to pick up their children.

This would have never gone down at a suburban school.

Jose Vilson, hits on a piece of white privilege that we so often ignore.  Also, coming from a successful charter school, I see this all the time.  It’s articles like this that reminds me that it should not be so normal to witness this kowtowing as schools begin to own the children.  I rage about families that don’t support their children, but in the same sense, we should be helping families support their children, not just forcing our parenting upon the families.

Must Watch: 20/20 Children of the Plains

I just turned in my first final exam yesterday.  Two more due Wednesday.  The final one due Friday.

I feel like I should be at least 85% productive daily.  But I took a break to clean my room and watch this: http://abc.go.com/watch/2020/SH559026/VD55148316/2020-1014-children-of-the-plains.

I really wish you would watch it.  It’s heartbreaking, and I would like to talk about it.

I wonder, though, there’s such a finite power in human beings.  The questions of hope and life are answered by the Giver of Life alone.

“Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-14

What exactly did Katehi authorize?

I laughed when I saw Occupy Harvard.  I thought it completely ridiculous.  I understand that these undergrads mean well, but actions rooted in good intent don’t really mean anything if there isn’t an effective plan.  If anything, I equate it back to 2004, when a bunch of us high schoolers drove to Sacramento to protest Gray Davis’s cuts to Basic Aid.  (“Hey Hey, Governor Gray, Basic Aid has got to stay!” – catchy!).  Misplaced zeal and passion.  We protested; we yelled, waved signs, gave demonstrations.  Probably not very effective though- Gov. Gray wasn’t even in the office that day.  (Great planning, guys!) It’s true that where there are numbers, people listen.  But in the same sense, I felt Occupy Harvard was just a bunch of undergrads who wanted to protest something but didn’t have a united vision or anything like that.  Furthermore, I felt like Harvard students have so much going for them in terms of resources that they don’t need to sleep out in tents (which is basically the front yard of their dorms anyway…).  If they really wanted to do something, they should rally their PARENTS to send letters of outrage, etc.

With all that said, I’m impressed by the actions of the Harvard administration because they are so careful and correct with everything.  They didn’t ban the students’ right to protest but they are restricting access to the Harvard Yard – only students are allowed inside.  The policemen are guarding student safety, but they aren’t attacking the students directly.  I feel like such actions also diminish the self-righteous “yeah! I’m protesting!” attitude of some of the undergrad too.. because honestly, they’re protesting in such a “cush” environment.  It’s almost like Harvard is simply accommodating for their “silly little protest” – a good tactic from their side.

California, on the other hand, is insane!  Honestly, no other state is going down the tubes as fast as this one is.  In terms of the UC Occupy movements, it seems like their complaints are legitimate (tripling budgets? hello!)  These people aren’t expecting to be coddled; they are engaging in civil disobedience to make a statement and they know the consequences of such action (arrest – not physical assault). It’s not like the UCs don’t have the means to respond peacefully or properly.  They have their own police force.  So, when civil servants then retaliate with violence, there is NO way ANY of this is right. [see: Colbert’s Take on Occupy Berkeley]

Even if you disagree with the Occupy movements (and honestly, I don’t think I completely understand them because it’s really disorganized, nobody is defining what exactly they’re occupying, and some people are just “anti-capitalism”… which I don’t think will help anything), you can’t deny the fact that people are getting hurt, and it’s on the grounds of a republic, in a state that prides itself for revolutionary ideas and free speech.

The UC Davis incident is concerning not only because policemen sprayed pepper spray directly at the students, but they forced upon students’ mouths and caused internal damage as well.  It’s also suspicious that nobody is coming up to produce the orders from UC Davis Chancellor Katehi.  She could solve all this clamor for her resignation if she shows that she didn’t authorize this.  She probably did! Which brings me to another point: hello California; haven’t you learned that police force is never the answer?  In my short 6 years in the East Bay area, there have been so many “accidental” killings from police.  And these aren’t high-risk situations with masses of people. I don’t know.  I’m all for individual rights, but it’s hard to argue when the “good guys” lack judgment and act just like the “bad guys” do.  I say “lack of judgment” because obviously, who’s dumb enough to act like this when there’s camera’s rolling.  I don’t think our police force is insidiously evil – they’re just poorly trained or unprepared or something.

Personally, the reason I began to get curious and think more about this was when I was in Boston waiting for lunch with a few friends.  I saw a large group of “Occupy  Boston” and at first, I was a little frightened.  Then I heard them talk and yell and explain and I just thought “whatever.”  However, I looked up from my book and looked at the people in the crowd.  They didn’t look like “career protestors” (a la the tree-climbers of Berkeley, 2008) .  I read their signs.  These were your regular Joes and Janes.  Able to work, but jobless.  There is a problem, and when people start to take to the streets, it’s not because they have nothing better to do, it’s because they’ve exhausted all other options and are at the end of their rope. I am in grad school.  I’ll have a job.  Many of you guys probably have jobs.  Do you necessarily deserve it? Maybe I’m not the 1%, but I definitely won’t be in the 99%.  Isn’t this huge gap an issue?

Sesame Street and Vocabulary

Barney, Lamb Chops, The Puzzle Place, and Sesame Street.

Anybody else a Lamb Chops fan? I still remember that I was changing in the locker room for swim club when I found out that the Lamb Chops lady (Shari Lewis) died.

What does not belong?  Sesame Street!  I never enjoyed Sesame Street growing up.  I liked the other three shows (albeit, I only liked Barney secretly), but despite the fact that I grew up with a lot of Sesame Street toys and gear, I thought Sesame Street was b-o-r-i-n-g.

Yet as an adult, studying reading development, I’m really beginning to like and appreciate Sesame Street!

Actually, take that back a few years.  When Sesame Street began bringing in celebrity guests, well, that was genius.  But I simply appreciated the humor and the guests back then.  Now, I appreciate the educational merit of Sesame Street.

Exhibit 1:  Mark Ruffalo, Murray, and Empathy

This is just great.  The word “empathy” is audibly repeated numerous times.  The definition is visibly demonstrated and explicitly stated.  There is context provided, and it’s personalized.  Lastly, it’s entertaining and celebratory!

This sort of unfamiliar word through TV is great especially for young children from low-income backgrounds.  In one study, it was shown that the average 3 year-old from a welfare-dependent background had 500 active vocabulary words, whereas a 3 year-old from a professional family background had more than 1,000 words!  Then, according to the Matthew Effect (the richer get richer, the poorer get poorer), these differences become more and more pronounced as the children get older. *

I used to think Sesame Street was a gimmick, and I don’t want my future kids to watch TV.  But I do see how, in a sense, it provides the scaffolding and repetition for students who are less likely to learn new vocabulary easily through the medium of TV.  I do wish Sesame Street would actually SHOW the word though.  Students need to see it (because, fun fact: Spelling actually matters! (It’s not arbitrary!)  Spelling helps build vocabulary which in turn has a direct effect on Reading Comprehension).

Okay, I had an exhibit 2 in mind so that I could talk about phonics, but I think I went too long about vocabulary.  Take a look anyway!

*From the Vocab chapter in Best Practices in Literacy Instruction (4th ed.)