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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Teaching Journey Continues: Next Steps

The summer has been a dynamic time for reading and research to empower the teaching days ahead. I'm very excited about the many good ideas and experiences I'll share with students in the year to come, ideas and experiences that include good books, field studies, expert visitors, learning resources, and project/problem based learning. This preparation reminds me of the prep I do for a good trip--I read all about the places I'll travel to and map out the itinerary with care. I always leave room for spontaneity and I coach myself to have an open mind to new opportunities that might arise.

The school year is like a wonderful adventure and we make the most of that if we prepare well and embark with that right balance of well thought out plans and prep and an open mind to what opportunities and challenges students, families, colleagues, and systems will bring.

In the days ahead, I'll continue both my professional and personal prep for the busy year ahead, prep that includes reading, writing, research, setting up the classroom, making sure my personal obligations are fulfilled, and more. Too often our struggles in school come from the fact that we don't have the needed time, space, or support to do the job well, at this juncture in the road, I'm feeling like I have the privilege of working with amazing colleagues and terrific support from so many that I know the year ahead will be a wonderful year of teaching and learning. Onward.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Audit Your Affiliations

Who we support, who will affiliate with, and what we do tells a story of what we believe in and what matters to us.

In the United States there is great freedom to be what we want to be and do what we want to do? There are limitless ways to direct your time, money, interests, and relationships to the life you dream of.

I support this amazing potential as long as your choices do not limit the good choices of others.

Individuals will never be equal in all things--there will always be variability with respect to what we have and how we live, yet we can work to ensure that people have the basic elements of living well, elements such as access to quality education and health care, adequate housing, nutritious food, living without prejudice and living with the essential rights to speak freely, practice your religion, and do as you please as long as you are not hurting others.

As I consider my own place in this big world of potential and possibility, I recognize that it's essential to audit your affiliations now and then--who do you support and spend time with, and why does that matter.

I get hundreds of invitations in person, by phone, and online to contribute to all kinds of causes. I'm always hesitant since I'm not rich and I have committed to paying my bills, educating my children, time with family members, saving for retirement, some fun, and working in a job that doesn't lead to great wealth. Yet I have a few dollars to contribute--who will get those dollars?

I will contribute a few dollars to people running against current #GOP candidates who have continuously supported President Trump's disrespectful, demeaning, and potentially illegal efforts as president. I want to see our United States Congress free of self-serving, bigoted, lazy, and unpatriotic individuals, individuals who vote for their personal pocketbooks and power rather than standing up for the rights and opportunities for all Americans and the global partnerships and efforts that will make for a better world. I'm disgusted by the greed, inactivity, and selfishness of these politicians who are paid by our hard earned tax dollars and do nothing for the people of the United States.

I will contribute some money to the ACLU and Amnesty International since I value human rights and I ache when I see the stories of peoples around the world denied their rights to live a good and simple life. This is abominable and I see these two agencies as agencies working to right the tide in this regard.

I will contribute time and continued membership to the teachers' union because I know that hard working individual educators who have chosen a profession because they believe in the promise and potential education holds do not have the time, energy, money, or support to battle against greedy organizations, individuals, and companies that work to deny everyday people their rights to a quality education for their children. Teachers have to unionize if they want to promote what's best for American schools, families, and children.

I will give a few dollars to #educolor to as that organization is helping me to teach all my students with good knowledge, truth, equity, and strength.

I will contribute dollars to innovating what I can do with and for my students. While I work in a system that provides good support, there is often little to no financial support for innovation or personalization when it comes to teaching well. Rather than continued fighting to obtain those dollars via the system, I'll spend my own money as well as write grants to many generous organizations that exist, organizations that match my desire for more student-centered, active and meaningful educational experiences and supports for all children.

I will continue to support my beliefs for a free and equitable nation by using my time to read, research, learn, and write to support the best of whom we can be as a people for and with one another. And of course, when possible, I'll support local causes that people I know and respect are working for.

We will all choose different affiliations in life. We all have varying abilities to contribute, but we all have a responsibility to think deeply about who we are and what we support. That's a responsibility inherent with regard to living in a free country. What will you choose? Who will you support? How will you audit your affiliations and why does that matter?

Exercise Your Right to Vote!

Clearly President Trump's election to office has been a painful lesson for most Americans that if you don't get out there and exercise your right to vote, you have to live with the outcome of an election that may jeopardize your rights and quality of life. While as citizens we'll rarely agree on every issue, we need to encourage each and every citizen to learn about his/her right to vote and then help them to exercise those rights. The more people work for their best interests and vote for those interested, the more, I believe, that our country will live up to it's aim to provide life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for each and every resident. 

What can we do to forward this incredible right to vote that's a cornerstone of the United States. First, make the voter information accessible, clear, and easy to read. The links above will help Massachusetts residents to access needed information from our state's terrific election website.

Next, educate friends and family members about voting. Provide them with the information they need to register, study, and vote. People all over the country can make lists similar to the one above to help people access the information they need. 

Then, make sure that people know their rights. Today I'm joining the ACLU as one way to contribute towards helping everyone know and receive their rights as American citizens. This is imperative especially as we near the midterms with the evident cyberthreat from Russia and elsewhere, a threat that the President of the United States will not speak out about or work against. This makes our work as individuals even greater at this turning point in American history.

None of us are powerless in this nation. We can immediately act by sharing this information of how and when to vote, and then continue our impact by getting out there and supporting good candidates who represent a will to stand up for and develop our country in ways that matter. This is a good way to respond to Trump's demeaning and troubling remarks on the world stage yesterday. We can do better.