The Fear Factor – & its antidote

The Fear Factor
is so real —-

it is like teachers are suffering from anxiety, PTSD, Battered Wife Syndrome, and Stockholm Syndrome all at the same time.

 

And … we can trust no one … not our unions, not our bosses, not our district, not our politicians, not even our friends – our friends do not get it – our families do not get it.
so …. we take meds …. we drink … we use drugs … we are sick  – and we are dying.

The only antidote is unconditional love for our students.

unconditional-love-oscar-wilde-quote

 

“Today I resigned from the school board.” From Teacher Wendy Bradshaw PhD

Teacher Wendy Bradshaw PhD from Florida handed in her resignation letter today. Her letter speaks the unspoken words of thousands of professional educators across the country. Her letter is the cry of what is in the hearts of teachers who, also, can no longer harm the children.

Please share her words so just maybe, we can once again have schools that love and tenderly care for the well-being of our most precious gifts – our children and grandchildren. #DoNoHarm

“Today I resigned from the school board. I would like to share with you what I gave them. Feel free to share it if it strikes you as important.

To: The School Board of Polk County, Florida

I love teaching. I love seeing my students’ eyes light up when they grasp a new concept and their bodies straighten with pride and satisfaction when they persevere and accomplish a personal goal. I love watching them practice being good citizens by working with their peers to puzzle out problems, negotiate roles, and share their experiences and understandings of the world. I wanted nothing more than to serve the students of this county, my home, by teaching students and preparing new teachers to teach students well. To this end, I obtained my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of education. I spent countless hours after school and on weekends poring over research so that I would know and be able to implement the most appropriate and effective methods with my students and encourage their learning and positive attitudes towards learning. I spent countless hours in my classroom conferencing with families and other teachers, reviewing data I collected, and reflecting on my practice so that I could design and differentiate instruction that would best meet the needs of my students each year. I not only love teaching, I am excellent at it, even by the flawed metrics used up until this point. Every evaluation I received rated me as highly effective.

Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process. I am absolutely willing to back up these statements with literature from the research base, but I doubt it will be asked for. However, I must be honest. This letter is also deeply personal. I just cannot justify making students cry anymore. They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing. Their shoulders slump with defeat as they are put in front of poorly written tests that they cannot read, but must attempt. Their eyes fill with tears as they hunt for letters they have only recently learned so that they can type in responses with little hands which are too small to span the keyboard.

The children don’t only cry. Some misbehave so that they will be the ‘bad kid’ not the ‘stupid kid’, or because their little bodies just can’t sit quietly anymore, or because they don’t know the social rules of school and there is no time to teach them. My master’s degree work focused on behavior disorders, so I can say with confidence that it is not the children who are disordered. The disorder is in the system which requires them to attempt curriculum and demonstrate behaviors far beyond what is appropriate for their age. The disorder is in the system which bars teachers from differentiating instruction meaningfully, which threatens disciplinary action if they decide their students need a five minute break from a difficult concept, or to extend a lesson which is exceptionally engaging. The disorder is in a system which has decided that students and teachers must be regimented to the minute and punished if they deviate. The disorder is in the system which values the scores on wildly inappropriate assessments more than teaching students in a meaningful and research based manner.

On June 8, 2015 my life changed when I gave birth to my daughter. I remember cradling her in the hospital bed on our first night together and thinking, “In five years you will be in kindergarten and will go to school with me.” That thought should have brought me joy, but instead it brought dread. I will not subject my child to this disordered system, and I can no longer in good conscience be a part of it myself. Please accept my resignation from Polk County Public Schools.

Best,
Wendy Bradshaw, Ph.D.”

do no harm
Letter printed with permission from the author.

Let Love Lead the Way – An Important Message from Principal Jamaal Bowman

From Principal Jamaal Bowman opening The Call to Educational Justice Conference in NYC, October 17th, 2015:

“Our Work is About Two Things – Children and Love –  and not just love of children, obviously, but the love of the world, a love of the work, a love of our future, and most importantly, a love for ourselves.”

Click here to comment on the video.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/142844242″>Let Love Lead the Way</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/michaelelliot”>Michael Elliot</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Film-maker Michael Elliot has once again captured a defining moment in the battle to save our children and restore humanity to our educational systems.

Please share this video and comment on the FaceBook page. If  you like the message and want to spread the word you have to SHARE IT! Tag it in your comments with names of friends you want to see it. That will get the message to reach MUCH FURTHER!

Poetic Justice would like to see this video touch 100,000 viewers.

Let love lead the way – it is and always was ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN!

jamaal-bowman

Who Are “The Disposables”? – from Dr. Mark Naison

Here is a “must-read” blog post from my friend Dr. Mark Naison. We are losing millions of lives. They are just disappearing. They are “The Disposables”.

Who Are “The Disposables”?

My friend Jo Lieb just called for a “Revolution of the Disposables”.

Who are the Disposables?

– They are the more than 90 million Americans of working age who are not in the labor force and do not have regular jobs.
– They are the millions of teenagers who dropped out or were pushed out of school in cities like Detroit and Memphis and New Orleans and Los Angeles and Chicago and have disappeared from view because the divisions between charter schools and public schools have made it impossible to develop a coherent strategy to make sure no child is lost.
– They are all the people who graduated from college with huge debt and can’t find a job with benefits so they package together three or four jobs to make ends meet whether they are living with their parents or living with groups of friends
– They are the rural heroin addicts that no one knows how to explain and no one knows what to do with because they don’t neatly fit in anybody’s idea of what kind of country this is.
Will all these folks ever find common cause with one another and demand that some form of economic security and decent schooling be available to all?

Or will we continue to sink deeper into poverty and stagnation?

at_risk

And here is Poetic Justice’s response:

Recipe for Educational Malpractice and National Catastrophe:

BEGIN WITH:

Forcing children to read texts that are 6 grade levels and more above their instructional reading level.

THEN ADD:

Forcing children to write in a formulaic and robotic manner disallowing any personal connections or life application.

STIR IN:

Pressure to achieve high scores on invalid and unreliable assessments.

COVER WITH:

Stressed out, paranoid, and targeted teachers only thinking about their own evaluations.

This is the perfect recipe to create a nation of disposable children who will just disappear from the data by the time they are 21.

Choose to #DoNoHarm

Jitu Brown Fight for Dyett #fightfordyett12

Here is an interview with Jitu Brown about the critical lens through which we need to see our children, especially our brown and black and most at-risk children.

Are our children commodities to control, or are our children precious gifts to treasure and protect?

Film maker Michael Eliot captures the heart of the hunger strike in this short video. Please watch and share.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/138892667″>Jitu Brown #FightforDyett</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/michaelelliot”>Michael Elliot</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Teaching is far more than just wanting to

Wonderful and inspiring and challenging words to start the 2015 2015 school year from Frank Bird III.

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The daily meanderings of a teacher

Bird Droppings August 13, 2015
Teaching is far more than just wanting to

“I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, ‘Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.’ The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

When I saw this quote earlier today it reminded me that wanting to in any endeavor is a powerful force. A few days back in an email a friend asked about the idea of…

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Getting into the Back to School Mind Set – Two Free Musings

My Back to School Musings for August 4 – T minus 20 days until I meet with a whole new crop of at-risk teens.

Today I decided that I am going to keep track of the aha moments I see this school year. The aha moments . . . when a student makes the connection between text and life;  when creativity is sparked and a new concept is created; when a block is finally taken down and my student can read, speak, or write with freedom and joy; when a student finds boldness and shares learning and wisdom with the world around her. The moments that come from pure “WONDER” and the joy of learning.

Those aha moments are why I teach and have nothing to do with common core or with high stake testing except to place those external aspects of the day in the correct perspective. That too is an aha moment – for me and for my students.

So this year, I am going to keep track of this moments and run with them and let them be the fuel to keep on keeping on.

Aha Man

August 1st is for me the start of the new school year. It is today that I start planning for the next wonderful crop of students. It is today that I start looking at how to revise old lessons and create new lessons. It is today I set a goal for the year and a tone for the first day of school.

It is with more trepidation than ever that I begin this school year. I fear this year will be a terrible one for public education. But today I choose to put aside my fear and cling to a glimmer of faith.

In 24 days, I will meet a new crop of at-risk teens – some of them brand new and some of them returning but all of them ready to be touched by love and by wonder.

All I have so far is my motto for the year – the quote that will go on my lesson plan book and on the bottom of each and every email I send out. It is:

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.”
― Socrates

My prayer is that we all catch hold of wisdom and ride the wave of wonder.

TL005VG-wonder-is-the-beginning-of-wisdom-poster