Sunday, October 1, 2017

4 Years Later

Mr., " I still tell people the story of what I did to your car,
and I say we still talk and now we are there for each other. "

4 years later
A boy turns into a young man
Almost 18 and graduation is on the horizon
No longer his teacher, but now a mentor.

We still meet about once a month for lunch and discuss school. 
" I'm trying to get my head in the game.", he says.
After going to the football games
After buying the snacks
After the hours of meetings
After countless restorative conversations
After the years of checking-in with him and teachers 

4 years later
" I can't wait to see you walk across the graduation stage and I'll be the loudest person there."
I know this day will come. 

Perseverance and Persistence.

5:30 am, the alarm goes off
6am, out the door
Teaching all day
Teaching kids how to treat one another
Teaching kids how to write their letters
Teaching kids how to write complete sentences
Teaching kids how to do long division
Teaching kids to self-advocate respectfully
De-escalating tense situations
Learning from kids each day, hoping to be better the next.

3:30pm, school ends
After school detentions
Meetings with parents
Last minute co-planning
4pm, running to my car
Driving an hour to my Ph.D. program
running around campus with three bags

5pm, pull the door open for class
breathing heavily as if I just finished a 26 mile marathon
Research articles, dynamic academic discourse, presentations, and reflections.
Learning so much from a wealth of knowledge
Youngest in class and feeling not good enough
Barely had enough time to read/annotate all of the articles and make sense of the complex topics

9:30pm, open house door
homework for 4 hours
responding to emails
trying to remember my job's paperwork
making a to-do list

1am, time to sleep
Last minutes thoughts of wishing I could have done better that day
Hoping my students are doing okay
Can a teacher really do everything well?


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

I Stand With Dreamers

                                              I Stand With Dreamers:

                                 America, the land of the free and the brave.
                                 America, the land of opportunity and the American dream.
                                 America, Discovered by Native Americans, but developed by Immigrants.
                                 This country is great because of the diversity and hope it stands for. 

                                  Today, many of our students walked out of schools.
                                  They protested DACA being rescinded.
                                  I stand with them in solidarity and hope. 
                                  Every child should feel safe and secure while they are learning.
                                  How can we punish those who were brought here by their parents?
                                  Dreamers keep dreaming, keep hoping, and keep fighting for change.
                                   Education is key to building your platform of empowerment.
                                   You have many allies who support your efforts.
                                   You are not alone.
                                    I stand with my students.
                                    I stand with my community. 
                                    I stand with dreamers. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

3 Years

3 years.

3 years of saying, " Get back to work, I ain't playin games".
3 years of positive phone calls and phone calls for parent support.
3 years of lecturing, restorative courageous conversations, and saying I'm not giving up on you!
3 years of hearing the " Leave me alone, why do you care"
3 years after the crawling on the floor and making noises..not aware what 5th grade meant.
3 years later, the young man sitting correctly in the chair and working respectfully.
3 years of, " Mr. you know me better than any teacher, but you try too hard."
3 years of tears, smiles, laughter, hard work, and tribulations.
3 years of modeling, teaching, and listening.
3 years of hundreds of hours of after school homework tutoring and running after him to come back and finish his work.
3 years of family partnership and hundreds of phone calls.
He got partially proficient on the ELA PARCC.
He did it all by himself.
He chose to go for gold.
I can move on in peace...I will always be his mentor and teacher...but now he is flying.

I am so happy

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Always Remember to Love Youself

As a teacher we are always busy taking care of others and balancing 1,000 tasks at once, we often forget to take care of ourselves. Today while having brunch a lady with her family was about to leave when she kindly said, "You have a beautiful smile." I said thank you and and that she made my day. It made me remember to take time for myself and enjoy life. We want our students to see a good life/work balance and as a future administrator, I also want to encourage the motto, " You have to take care of yourself first to take care of others." I will remember this as we wrap up our school year! Yes, some days will be stressful and others will be great, but each day taking time to be thankful and appreciating life.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Power of Field Trips

          Today, the 7/8th grade students and fellow teachers were able to leave our humble school and attend a baseball field trip. This was much needed after weeks of testing and an increase in behavior escalation incidents. We used it as a reward and 85% of the students were able to attend because they did not receive a refocus at all in a month and completed at least 95% of all of their homework in all classes. It was wonderful to see students smiling, cheerful, and enjoying themselves as we walked about a mile from our school to the baseball stadium in the downtown area. It was a great way to continue building authentic teacher-relationships, have some parents attend as guests, and eat food the kids normally wouldn't be having. Kids were laughing, cheering for a home run, and getting to know each other better. As a teacher, its good to see students making friends with one another and being positive. On our way back, one of my favorite parents got out of her car and slowly approached me with her arms out. She has been battling a severe form of cancer for about a year now. My heart felt heavy and she touched my hand gently and said thank you for having patience with my son and making sure he is okay in school. I was at a loss for words and also remembered how my dad looked when he was also going through cancer. I looked at her and smiled and said it was an honor. In the summer when she was stronger, she drove my student to the library where I held 10 tutoring sessions where we would practice reading and math skills. I am so grateful to collaborate with such inspiring people. It made me remember why I got into teaching. I wanted to make a positive difference for students and families. Today let me get to know our students better and also it gave me the strength to keep persevering and teach another day.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It Feels Like This is Home

Surprises when I'm not looking
They always love my reaction.
Kids constantly rummaging through the fridge
looking for snacks, as if this place was their own home.
Braids in his hair, he doesn't care
I'm inspired by the freedom
It feels like this is home.

Kids rushing back from lunch excited to be in my class
The guys saying," let's just have a guy class and eat the cupcakes!"
Talking about life, the future, and our past.
It suddenly dawns on me that this was a perfect day.
I love my job, the students, and my co-workers.
It feels like this is home.

Teachers spying through the crack of the door
Laughing at me working in my room.
They come in and we talk about Spring Break .
It feels like this is home.

Last meeting at 3:15. We celebrate a student's success.
Exiting from Special Ed. 
Holding back tears in my eyes as I go through my speech of how proud I am.
His smile is brighter than the sun.
It feels like this is home. 

I'm about to walk out my classroom, but turn around.
I look at all the student work, the pictures, and the letters.
I read my favorite one. The one where they proclaim they ran away from me but will make me proud.
The worry is in my head. They will be hard-working and succeed. I Smile and lock the door.
Will I ever find a school like this again? I sent positive vibes and can only pray.
It feels like this is home.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Attitude Gap or Achievement Gap?

      Many professionals in education will discuss the achievement gap when they talk about students living in poverty, are English language learners or students who have disabilities. Yes, many students in these subgroups do have large disparities in academic achievement outcomes. However, we need to dig deeper than untaught foundational skills, spiraling of the curriculum, and lack of critical thinking. The attitude gap is what should be front and center as well. The attitude gap can be defined as how students might not have a true understanding of what an education can do for their life, how elementary and middle school education is crucial to a successful high school transition, and what it takes to be truly prepared for college or advanced vocational trades. Community members and families play an essential role in how young people form perspectives and values concerning education and how it connects to their future.

      Schools must not let parents do this alone. Educational communities, families, and educators must come together to ensure the entire community is teaching, preaching, holding conversations , showing, and listening to how students must value education and study habits. I know I didn't care about education until I went to a friends house one day for a sleepover. I usually don't share this, but I lived in poverty half of my life as a kid. My parents divorced when I was young and my mom had a house and a stable income thanks her flight attendant job and my dad's child support. However, my dad lived on a broken down 30 year old boat with an ice-box, mold growing inside of it, no functioning shower or bath, no heat or air conditioning, and about 300 square feet of living space. I remember running to the outhouses in the marina ( 5 minute run) to take a shower and use the restroom with my brother in the mornings. I drank soda out of the bottle that sat in front of the boat, and  we never had fresh vegetables or fruits. My dad did the best he could and I don't hate him for being in poverty. ( He died when I was 19 due to lung cancer). I remember falling from the dock trying to get off the boat to go to school one morning and falling into the water below. My backpack and school books/homework were ruined/wet. I never felt so worthless and dumb in my life. I started to question why I even cared about friends or the future. I wasn't from one of those perfect families living in a nice new house, nice cars, and went on cruises in the summer. I wanted to give up on myself and dreams.

      Everything changed when I went to a new friend's house for a sleepover. His dad was a doctor and I remember arriving at his house off the school bus and it was a brick mansion on the river! I was stunned to see a garage with multiple cars, a pool, huge windows that were 2 stories high. I was nervous just to be in a place so nice. I felt like I didn't deserve to be there. My friend's mom was nice and made us dinner and we watched a movie. My friend was in all of the top honor classes and his mom made sure he did his homework and studied for at least 2 hours each night. My parents never helped me with my homework or made sure I did my homework. I remember my friend asking if he could spend the night at my place. Well, that week I was on my dad's boat. We didn't even have a bed and I was so embarrassed that he would see how I lived. I always said my dad doesn't let people stay over. My mom let us have friends over and it felt like another world living in a house, your own room, and your safe place to call home. Living in two worlds, one of poverty and one of the middle class made me realize the attitude gap. I felt like I changed my personality depending on who's place I was staying at. From that moment on, I knew education would ensure I never had to worry about not having a refrigerator, bathroom, or a place to call home. 

      Not every child or student gets to see both worlds and realize the opportunities that exist. I try my best to talk to my students about how big the world is and the amount of adventures that are ahead in the journey of life. Education is the ticket to the galaxy! Nothing is in your way when you are an educated person. Sometimes, my students say, " Mr. oh god, not this story again." However, deep inside I know they understand I'm there for them. I'm not saying that your family is bad for being in poverty, I'm saying that if you want more, the desire to take care of the people you love, to learn all the exciting things the world has to offer, and to be an independent young man or young woman, you must value your education. The attitude gap does exist, and it is our duty as educators to work with the community on improving how kids value education, themselves, and the world. 


New Buzzword!
Everyone gets what they need to be successful and have access!
Values-based leadership!
Prioritizing students with disabilities!

Words are easy to write, say, and share. 
However, implementing what they stand for is rare.
Transformational leaders or calculating schemes?
I feel like we are letting down our students who need us the most!

Ideas are amazing, inspiring, and helpful. 
However, if they never turn into actionable steps that can be measured, what was the point?
I promise myself, my co-workers, my students, and my parents that I will always strive to be someone who implements ideas and ensures authentic results. 
Our students deserve nothing less.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

An Unforeseen Path

 I love to talk and share ideas
 However, today I'm speechless
Where is the love?
Where is the compassion?
Where is the America I thought I knew?
How can one person have so much power in a democracy?

Far away, lives broken 
Refugees' dreams vanish into thin air
Its easy to contemplate with everything I need surrounding me
Don't worry, It's not my life, It's not my family
It's easy to close the door, when your love one isn't the one waiting to get in

Please tell me this nightmare is over
This is not how I thought it was going to be
2017, the future is here
Or so I thought.

The past repeats itself
People compete for power
What can one person do?
What can a crowd do?
What can 1,000 protests do?
I will continue spreading love
I'm thankful that I was adopted from another country
I am thankful that I have opportunities I would have never had!
However, this is not the path I thought we were going.

Spread love, not hate
Connect with people, not divide them
Diversity is beautiful

Leader of the free world?
So easy to terminate with a signature
So easy to let people continue to starve, die, and live without a home when you have no idea what that is like.
How can people be so blind in perspective?
1,000 years from now, if humans still exist, I hope they forgive us for how ignorant and trivial we really can be.
Please America, be what I know you once were