Show me your friends and I’ll show you your soul. Who are you surrounded by? How are you feeling? Are you inspired? Are you drained? Are you anxious? Are people talking about ideas or about other people? That is the question. And, when people answer…when people show you who they are, believe them. No judgment. Accept it but don’t you ever settle.
Our life’s work is what and where we go each and every day. Most of all, it is who we spend the most time with. I am grateful to be an educator and life long learner. It is a major part of who I am. We are in a constant process of becoming. Constant change. Each morning is a new morning and a new day. I yawn. I wake up. I stretch. I meditate. I breathe. I remember who I was, who I am and who I am in a process of becoming. I get to see who children were, are and are in a process of becoming. I get to see who families were, are and in a process of becoming.
I learned a lesson, a major valuable lesson this year during the Coronavirus. If you don’t like something, say it even if your voice trembles. Speak up even as old trauma reopens because you’ve been triggered by someone’s behavior. Always stand up for those who are not present in the room even when you’re afraid to. Follow your gut. Your instinct. It will never ever steer you wrong. Ever. We are always in a process of becoming never reaching the final product. Movement is life.
I am thankful. I am grateful for all that I have experienced. I learned a lot and will continue to. I forgive but I don’t forget. I use it to propel even further holding hands of others on the same route.
Healing from Trauma:
Time: Give yourself time and hugs
Journal: Write a lot
Journal: Create an art journal *Bonus: Paint some canvases/cardboard and give it away!
Write a letter *your choice to send it or not*
Reach out to those who care about you
No need to respond to toxicity: Let it go, let it go, let it goooo!
Cut out negative+toxic relationships
Stop making excuses for people and hold them accountable. If they don’t change. You leave. Let it Burn as Usher would say lol
A return to normal? Thank you for the offer but no thank you. Who defines normal anyway? What is the standard? What does the new normal even mean or signify? How are you feeling right now in your present moment? Where are you pedaling to? I’m curious. Are you? Who are you? Why are you? Who are we in a process of becoming?
I am embracing building up something different and a chance at change. I am embracing the giant within. Full steam ahead. We are all born geniuses and giants. Let’s not stand on shoulders. Let’s walk and stride like the giant we are. We are giants and geniuses. The word genius in Latin literally means to give birth to. What is your gift? What is holding you back? If you have a gift…Give. It. Away. You can’t take it with you when you leave this Earth. So giants and geniuses: the question is — is when do we start feeling as though we are not? That moment, change. The moment you feel small, change. Do that thing that scares you. Let go and let it be. Learn and move. Movement is life. We are somebody and nobody at the same time, simultaneously.
The ant and the human have a lot in common when you look real close as Emerson and Thoreau had had. And, as I had a close up look in real life. Instead of researching at Walden pond, my research occurred behind my garage as I meditated and observed ants. I see just how much we are connected to all living creatures. True story: when I was little I still remember covering up ant hills and in real life crushing an ant and seeing the effects after close study: I vowed never to crush another ant. At least, not on purpose. The image stays in my mind. But I remember watching as they rebuilt their sandy hill. When something is destroyed, it can be rebuilt into something even better. The ants souls and spirits were not crushed. Although my five year old sticky fingers pushed their ant hill in, the ants decided to rebuild. That is courage and resilience.
Nature shows us character and stories of life. Life is easy and hard. It can be both, at the same time. It can be both beautiful and crushing. These days, I’m not settling for less than what I or what human beings and living things deserve. Point. Blank. Period. Labels? No thank you. Limitations? No thank you. Identifying problems lacking solutions? No thank you. Running circles around the same mulberry bush? No thank you. Stress and worry? No thank you. Meeting myself and others right where they are and row, row, rowing this boat. Singing. Together. Off key. In the words of Mimi: Still teaching in the Key of Life (and beyond). Get her book y’all! It’s a page turner. I return to it again and again to remind me of my why. My why is not to make a living but to make a life. Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. Be careful with this one precious life. Real life y’all! There are real life vampires who don’t just visit in October.
And I embrace movement. Growing pains hurt and heal and all. Crawl, walk, run. Repeat. We are who we are in our actions. Words plus actions. Show me who you are and I believe you. “There is more in us than we know, if we could be made to see it; perhaps for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.” — Thank you Kurt Hahn for that quote that resonates and encourages me even today.
Who is it behind the mask? Behind the signs? It goes beyond the mask, signs and into a realm of how to deeply care for each other. Love. Is. How. We. Do. That.
That is humanity. That is science. I see you. I see your soul. I don’t care what your mask looks like. I don’t care what you look like. Show me your soul. I care about who you are on the inside and beyond that. Whoever you are and whoever it is that you are in a process of becoming.
There is now a business of masks. People are selling them and matching them with their outfits.
Who would have thought?
A mask hides who we are. A mask protects us from the virus and the germs.
The mask is protecting us from each other. From ourselves. Or is it?
Thank you for your work and working with children and families. Most of all, for caring. I hope your host family cares for you like how you care for them. The definition I found for you is:
An au pair is an unmarried young adult aged 18 to 30 years, who has no children and travels to a foreign country for a defined period of time to live with a host family. … The main purpose of the au pair placement is a cultural exchange, which gives the the au pair an opportunity to improve his or her language skills.
Au pairs in the USA must receive a minimum of $195.75 (!!!!!!!!! WTF?) pocket money per week, depending on the specific arrangements made between the host family and the au pair.
But YOU are way more than this. You are so much deeper and more meaningful. You are unseen and unheard. And, it is a cultural exchange program but is it a true exchange of culture and ideas for each and every Au Pair who travels to America? Yes and no. Experiences vastly differ from extremes of really great-good dreams, in-betweens to terrible nightmares. Is it an exchange program or is it low cost nanny service? Come on! This is NOT okay.
If you are an Au Pair living a nightmare as they sold you a pipe dream that you literally paid for just like your host family did, I hope you get justice and get what you truly deserve. You deserve better. I also hope that you get more than 195.74 a week for working 45 hours. I hope you feel like a full member of the family during your temporary stay. Do not be gaslighted and do not be taken advantage. Many Au Pairs are a part of a vulnerable population of American society and are being taken advantage of right before our eyes especially as they are learning a language. Not all Au Pairs (as experiences vastly differ) but many of them and this needs to STOP. It is not okay. Au Pairs are someone’s daughter and/or son, they are someone’s human being! Injustice and unfair treatment needs to change even if their stay is temporary. No one should be taken advantage of. Not like this. Wake up America. Wake up.
Speak to people in real life and if you have the opportunity — move to the place where they predominantly speak the language you’re learning. I know right now it’s difficult and challenging especially during the coronavirus while wearing masks a substitute aka bonus: there are apps where you can virtually connect but realize real life and in person is the best kind of way.
Be yourself. Stay true. The authentic you. When people ask where you’re from: be proud and tell them.
Make mistakes and do the thing that scares you. Many times it comes down to confidence. Talk even when you’re scared to and even when you don’t know what to say. That is where you’re language breakthrough and explosion is waiting. When you say: I don’t know how to express that or when you ask how do I say that? YOU are learning how to express yourself in real time.
*Note on Identity and Accents
Do not try to sound like someone else — be authentically true to who you are. EVERYONE has an accent: be proud of yours. When someone asks you where you’re from. You make sure you tell them. Always remember and honor the spaces and places you are from.
No one will ever sound or say sentences how and the way you say them. There will never be another you. So be the best you. Remember that.
It’s Halloween time and I’m reminiscing when I was little and went trick or treating. You know when grownups would and will ask a child: “So what do you do?” And, children do a song or dance? I sang the little witch song and changed the word witch to (can you guess to what rhymes with witch—change the w to a b).
My sister was shocked and everyone laughed. In that moment — I realized the power of words.
I knew and realized in that moment just how powerful words are and the effect they may have on us. Most of all — words can incite us. Words can also invite us to talk or push us away not to talk and forever hold our peace.
My sister cursed like a sailor. I would curse at school as I tested out the words and expressions she used. Such as: #1 B#tc$ to describe best friends and sister Bonds. F#€|< it or f#€|< you when angry or frustrated. I went to school — testing out these words and phrases with friends but no grownup ever knew.
We test out words and expressions.
This brings me to another moment in time as I was teaching and all of us were outside on a field trip (giving a plug to the National Building Museum in Washington, DC). We were in the blue construction room: Play Work Build exhibit where my class aka engineers, architects and builders were building and constructing very cool creations and structures! One of my Fireflies as he was trying to fit a square peg into a circle and he was exasperated by all of his unsuccessful attempts (he kept persisting and showed a lot of resiliency!) and to everyone’s shock and dismay minus my own: he said, “Awww, f bomb, it’s not fitting!”
All of the grown ups stopped and stared at us and looked very carefully at me. I was the responsible grown up for this class. I looked at my firefly that lights the night sky and who clearly just lit up this space like the Fourth of July. I got low and spoke low. I said, “I see you learned a new way to express exasperation and frustration. What word can you use instead of that one? I said, what rhymes with it?” He smiled and said, “Oh, shucks, oh muck, ohhh tuck, ohhh luck” we laughed. I took the stigma and the struggle away. Again, language can incite us. Language is explosive. Language (most of all — the connections in the brain) are also exploding for preschoolers at this time.
If we reprimand or dismiss, shut down or get shocked how do we model? If we kick out, put in detention, suspend or expel how do we teach?
Teachable moments happen each and every moment. Don’t overlook them or dismiss them. Don’t lock it up and throw away the key. Words are caged birds begging to be free. Teach with compassion, love and understanding.
Restorative practices, compassion, learning and justice is meant and intended not only for preschoolers. It is for all ages, stages and levels of life. Meet children, youth and grown ups where they are are and help them to where they are going.
Bonus: listen to some of my stories made up from my heart and brain.
Ego sum. I am. I am many things. You are. You are many things too.
I am a teacher and have been teaching for a decade. During my ten years, I have witnessed and experienced so much turnover in this field. Most of all, our children and families experience it. It feels like salt to an open wound.
We leave due to financial, most of all due to lack of support and freedom to do the right thing for our students. Our children. I hear the following phrase often, “I close the door and do what’s developmentally appropriate for my students.” What does this mean? I dare you to read 3 books: Developmentally Appropriate Practice and Much More than the ABCs and the fable The Animal School written in 1940 BUT still applicable to today and if I have time I would love to read it. We’re so busy readying our children for the next thing that we forget to meet them right where they are. We need to ask, “Are we ready for them? Are we doing the right thing for children by putting our research into action?”
An over reliance on test scores and teaching to a test is burning teachers and children out. How is it that standardized testing is linked to funding and performance? Relying solely on data and scores all the while telling our students you are more than a test. Meanwhile at private schools such as Sidwell Friends…project based and expeditionary learning are taking place. The right thing happens. I ask when you choose a school do you look at scores? Or do you walk inside to “get a feel” for the climate and culture. Instead of asking schools for our scores ask us how we’re feeling. Nationally: How are our schools feeling? What are our children showing us?
Our schools are sick. This is an egregious problem!
There is an article published by the Learning Policy Institute for policy recommendations.
To stem teacher turnover, federal, state, and district policymakers should consider improving the key factors associated with turnover: compensation, teacher preparation and support, and teaching conditions. Click the link below for some of those recommendations:
I graduated high school in 2004 and that’s when the PSSA was rolled out in Pennsylvania. We were like guinea pigs. We were the first class where it would count. I was already accepted into college. I scored above average on English and writing but scored below basic in Math. I took the math part 3 times. I went to tutoring everyday. As a result, I would not get a seal on my diploma. My math teacher tried to help me cheat and I said, “No, that test is showing my strengths and it is not math!” She pleaded. I never changed my answers and it turned into a huge dilemma for my school as I threatened to call the news stations. I was adamant that that showed my abilities. I reflect on this thinking, if changing answers and fudging scores happened then then it most certainly is happening now.
It is not okay and we are a part of the system. We need change. Change happens from within but we need better and effective policies. Teachers would stay and not quit when listened to. Children and families would want to go to school if we did the right thing that is appropriate. Each and every child, family and school is different. It’s time we did the right thing. Teacher turn over would stop and I’m sure teachers long and gone would no longer be turning and rolling in their graves at this catastrophe and what I believe is a national crises.
Teaching is an art form. So is learning especially life-long learning.
There are a lot of factors contributing to teacher attrition but by far the three major ones as mentioned are testing, fringing on teacher autonomy (creativity) and devaluing education. At some point we lost our way or have been lost and now are finally waking up.
There is a bigger picture occurring. We are pushing children to get ready for the next thing meanwhile failing to meet them where they are and supporting them during their process of the next. Ever since NCLB and state standards and all of this testing. I feel and know this to be true: children are showing us and have been showing us all along what they need. We need to listen. Why can’t we have a style of learning and teaching that meets all.
Collaboration, connection, creativity and caring. When we care and children care then the rest handles itself. Instead emphasizing tests or scores, I want children to focus on connecting with another on a project that they care about. Find and issue and create a solution. There is so much learning in that one project alone that takes place and connects all subjects. Most of all, it connects our children. It connects us to make an impact on our world.
Who is magic? What is magic? When is magic? Where is magic? Why is there magic? How is there magic?
My first memory of magic was stepping on a magic rainbow puddle aka oil slick and the rainbow disappearing and spreading outward. My mom whispered, “Make a wish.”
I did. And, it came true.
I thought inside, “Wow”. Not only was the oil slick magical but my wish coming true held magic in it too.
My mom was and is magic. Real life. Today is her birthday. The numeral 26 holds such significance as well as the numeral 8. This is why this blog is published each and every month on the 26th at 8:26am in honor of my mother’s memory and legacy.
Today I stepped on an oil slick aka a magic rainbow and I made a wish and thought of my Mom.
I smile and still see where the magic is. It’s found in a rainbow puddle. It spreads outwards. It’s in me.
Wait. Will we be happier? Who loves zooming? Is it trueeee? I do, I do, I do, I do, ooooo in the reminiscent Kenan and Kel series when asked if he loves orange soda. Is zooming good for us? While yes, it keeps us connected does it aid in burnout and result in frustration? Is in-person real life interaction(ing) better than zooming?
Yes and no. Yes, as teachers, we see real life home environments and children in their first and most important learning environment. Then no, as we know children’s learning is play and hands on learning in the real natural world. However, technology is a part of our real natural world now isn’t it?
As an advocate for literacy, I must admit and say that I am now an advocate of digital literacy for children especially as they are growing and will turn into grown ups who need to be prepared for professions not even created yet and jobs that they indeed will make up themselves. Our future coders and developers must have the capacity of critical and creative thinking which is opened up through natural world and online digital learning.
Being able to see digital literacy and book literacy is incredible. Some students are using the chat feature to type and sound out words. Some are hacking banking systems. Seeing the stages of emergent reading and writing online is incredible aka as drawing.
Learning to Write and Draw happens in stages and now think of the following stages digitally accompanied by text and emojis.
Stage 1: Random Scribbling (15 months to 2½ years)
Stage 2: Controlled Scribbling (2 years to 3 years)
Stage 3: Lines and Patterns (2½ years to 3½ years)
Stage 4: Pictures of Objects or People (3 years to 5 years)
Stage 5: Letter and Word Practice (3 to 5 years)
Thank you to Zero to 3 for the above stages! For more go to:
*Please also click on, see and take a closer look at the images above. My student sounded out Charlotte from Charlotte’s web as “sleet” and used emojis as symbols from the story. My student also did so much more up there. Coding. Lot’s and lot’s of coding.
If we use technology in meaningful ways our students will grow in book literacy and digital literacy simultaneously. Using technology in meaningful ways is necessary for children’s growth and development as they grow through the stages of life. They can use it to tell their stories and that is powerful in itself.
So, what else can you do to encourage children’s literacy aka the process of art and writing skills *creative and critical thinking*? Let’s add to the list: emails, messaging, creating videos, drawing digitally, podcasts, chatting, zooming and coding as these are all a part of our real lives. If we know children imitate us and watch as we do not as we say then let’s embrace it in meaningful and appropriate ways.