Inspired by kids

My kids inspire me everyday… Some days more than others admittedly, but on Monday when 3 of my students were in class doing what they normally do, I was inspired. After running 26.2 miles the previous day, the marathoners took that spirit, like they do everyday, and applied it to their learning. Like Nike, these kids “just do it” everyday in the classroom and althroughout their lives. The student whose gear is pictured finished in something like 17,000th place. But 1st in my eyes. Keep trucking folks, keep trucking.

educational 3rd spaces i have experienced this weekend…

i have the pleasure in working in a field that is in constant change… some exciting, some rhetorical, and some just plain depressing. within the span of a mere weekend (two days that supposed to be OFF from work) an ICEBERG of issues were floating around out there and somehow found way to my brain allowing my to offer my perspective on some. here are a few:
on saturday morning my wife (a teacher of 3 years if you count this year, as she has been “subbing” for herself… having been laid off last year) received, as many colleagues and personal friends of mine did i am sure… her second lay off notice from our esteemed district… which begged the question, how can you lay off someone who isn’t even under contract? after posing this we proceeded to laugh and move on with our weekend, having learned the past year that the massive problems plaguing LAUSD weren’t created in a day, neither will the solutions be and therefore should not ruin ours. things are worse for many others and we are grateful to still be able to laugh.

at coffee i intercepted some tweets around the critical teaching in action conference from some friends who were presenting their work there… i was unable to attend let alone present this year, but their work was around media and how it allows someone like me (who didn’t want to be at a formal conference) to benefit from the work that was presented there.

went out to breakfast with a colleague and personal friend who has been teaching at my school for 10 years (twice as long as i have) and enjoyed the company of someone who i might not have the pleasure of working alongside with next year, as i have come to terms with the fact that my creative and philosophical needs around educating youth will be better served elsewhere… perhaps here (at the obama global preparatory academy – working alongside colleagues from UCLA and ISCA) or here...

celebrated the admittance of a friend to the UCLA film school… an accomplishment that will spawn many others as this artist continues to pursue her art to help tell one of many stories that is not being told in the dominant culture… mainly that of the experiences of students and teachers dedicated to educational equality in the inner city… we celebrated this by being rock stars for the night…

today my educational tour over the weekend was wrapped up by an interesting dialogue? with friends/colleagues… around many issues of power, inequity, dialogue…
hegemonic, critical, and transformational identities that we all have. in a safe space that has allowed if anything, a fumbling (albeit entertaining and often times enlightening) exploration into true liberatory pedagogy and the possibility these 3rd spaces open up, for our students, our school site circumstances, and for ourselves… not only as educators but as actors on this world stage.

as i move forward in a spirit of collaboration with all the wonderful people i have had the fortune to meet by being a teacher… i am reminded of the immense work still left to do… but inspired by all the possibilities there are to do it…

Life in the desert… (my campus after 3pm)

What do our kids do after school? For all the complaining we as educators participate in about the lack of character, discipline, decision making… And the fact that we are constrained to a certain extent from teaching these things throughout the course of a standards-based curricular day, it would seem that afterschool programming would be ideal to address the multiplicity of issues some of our students are facing… Yet everyday for the past year or more, my campus, so filled with loud and vibrant life during the day, instantly transforms into a barren sea of unused space where kids should be playing, hanging out, learning (it takes place after school whether we support it or not)… The few programs that are on campus, one of which I am very much a part of… are exceptions, trying to survive amidst the complete absence of funding or support of any type for that matter. The garden club, the drum club, the Boys to Men rites of passage program (forgive the outdated link, one of my charges as a board member of this organization) I am involved with working for at risk youth without male role models in their lives to help steer them thru adolescence… These outliers exist on the fringe of the school culture that sends the strong message: leave, your time for being tolerated is over. Go find something to do, but don’t get in trouble…