Made our bed, now we must lie in it

This is from my other blog-site. I share it here for all of you educators and readers whose heads are still spinning in disbelief. If this is not you, please disregard.

You Don't Know Me, But You Will...

I rarely get more political on this blog than necessary. I have been pretty silent throughout this election, watching closely, doing my homework (literally and figuratively). Waiting. Waiting to see if it was all a bad dream. Waiting to see if this country and its people would come to their senses. Trying not to hold much stock in the polls, or what the media said. Then, when reality began to set in, I waited some more. I voted my conscience (mail-in ballot). I went to work, I did my graduate courses. I kept largely silent. I waited, and I hoped right and love would prevail. Then Wednesday morning dawned.

i-vomited

I was in shock. I was deeply saddened, disturbed, and perplexed. What are people thinking? Is this really our reality? Is this what we  have to look forward to–what about my child’s future, all our children’s futures? What have we done…

idiot-sandwichOur…

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An “Unaccompanied” Immigrant’s Story in Video

This video, from the Los Angeles Times and featured on Facebook, is a very touching example of what many immigrant/refugee and unaccompanied youth face….day after day, they work, try to get an education, and stay off the radar. It’s all about the American Dream for them…will they actually ever attain what is rapidly becoming almost unattainable: Respect, a decent living, an education, and a safe place to call home.

Watch and share your thoughts, if you would.

I apologize for the lack of a visual or subtitles (some Spanish dialogue)…the embed didn’t work like it was supposed to. I will repost later with any corrections I am able to make. In the meantime, still quite viewable, nonetheless.

 

Fear and Loathing in Professional Development

This is a bit of a rant, so I apologize in advance. However, it is not all negative. Let me start with this disclaimer: I actually enjoy (most) professional development  opportunities…hell, I sign up for some I am not even required to take! Summer is a great time to get this out of the way. We even get a stipend, on occasion. And I actually enjoy exchanging ideas and learning new things with like-minded colleagues.

The issue I am going to discuss is more about “professional relationships”.

I am a naturally private person. But, like most people, I want to be liked, or at least shown a little respect. It is difficult for me to put myself in social situations, and pretend to be anything other than myself. Despite the “norms” of a professional development gathering, when teachers get together  in one space for more than a few hours, hackles go up over the most trivial things. Now, multiply those few hours by four days, and you will totally understand the saying “familiarity breeds contempt”.

The human ego is a very fragile thing. I admit that my ego gets ruffled and takes quite a beating on a regular basis. Part of this is because I am a sensitive person, with a tendency to be critical of myself, and sometimes others. I have learned over the years to swallow my pride, and filter my feelings, especially when I think someone is full of shit.

Teachers are notorious for seeking approval and getting on a soapbox. Sometimes I think they are one step away from a career change to politics or acting (and some actually do go there). We all have something to say about something, and we all have years of experience and ideas we are eager to share. At least most of us.

At the most recent PD symposium I attended this past week, which was specifically for ELD and Bilingual educators, we were called “experts” in our field, but we were also expected to listen and learn. Teachers are sometimes not the best of students. They can be found sitting in little cliques, often only associating with those of their preferred social group: Same school, same race, same language. Often, they will be seen chatting and basically ignoring presenters, or worse, they will interrupt with a personal anecdote that is only marginally related to the discussion.

This is to be expected, I suppose. I have found myself wanting to share my personal thoughts on a method or issue of education, and my hand will shoot up, just like it used to when I was in public school. I am not one for attention seeking, as a rule, but when I have a burning question or think I have the answer, I am on it.

This tendency I have is met with mixed reactions. Mostly I get to say my piece, and I am encouraged and acknowledged. Sometimes, I am rebuffed or even ignored. I can take it with some dignity. Now, sit me at a table of individuals with whom I have only a passing acquaintance, and things begin to get uncomfortable. Especially when they start judging you. And you them.

I will cut you Uni

At first, they appear welcoming. They save you a seat at the table. They ask questions about your work, and tell you a bit about themselves. It’s all very cordial and amicable. They invite you to sit with them at lunch break. They ask you what you think about a topic. Everything seems smooth.

Then, as the hours and days drag on, they start to show another side. Personal agendas, attitudes and pet peeves work their way into the conversations. They say things like this:

“I thought you were mad at me when you made that comment” (when maybe you are just hot, tired, or distracted, and give terse responses), or “You really like to jabber don’t you?” (when you deign to volunteer to answer questions for the group), or “You seem competitive!” (when you are supposed to be working on something together). Soon, you begin to doubt yourself, feel self-conscious, and slowly  withdraw.

You look for any excuse to get away from them. Take a restroom break. Get up to stretch at the back of the room. When on break, you seek out other people who seem open and friendly, or alternately sit alone outside under a tree.

Sound familiar? It’s just a typical summer PD that has gone on for too many hours and days, and everyone’s wheels start spinning. Until it is almost out of control, and no one remembers why they even signed up.

Suddenly, it ends. You pack your crap up, say rushed goodbyes, and if cornered, make somewhat insincere attempts at heartfelt farewells and reconciliation. Meanwhile, you are screaming “Get me the hell outta here!” in your brain.

Looking back at the experience, you might believe you would have been just as well informed if they had actually handed you the binder of reading and instructional materials, so you could peruse them at your leisure at home, instead.

After all, you still have about a month left of vacation. Sheesh!

Go to Hell

 

 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day: Why We Should Honor the Dream, Not Just the Day

martin-luther-king-jr-day-l-xgoagm

The national holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr. was hard-won in the state of Arizona. In the late 80s, we had an ultra-conservative governor, and a complacent  legislature (as sadly, we do again), who refused to join the majority of the country, and honor this great American figure for freedom. Despite the public outcry, and the eventual impeachment of then-governor Evan Mecham, it took about 5 years for the holiday to become law in this state. A short timeline:

1983, Congress passes, President Reagan signs, legislation creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

1986, Federal MLK holiday goes into effect

In 1987, Arizona governor Evan Mecham rescinds MLK Day as his first act in office, setting off a boycott of the state. 

In 1992, Arizona citizens vote to enact MLK Day.

1993, For the first time, MLK Day is held in some form—sometimes under a different name, and not always as a paid state holiday—in all fifty states.

So today, I am off of work from school. It is a day of reflection for me, and hopefully for many other citizens in this state, as it should be in states across the nation. I started the day watching a special on PBS World, on the filming of Eyes on the Prize, a massive documentary released in 1987. (click on photo below for more information)

Eyes on the Prize

It has also been a day to reflect on how far we’ve come, as well as how far we’ve stepped back—and how what was once a fight for equality and social justice, now encompasses much more. Poverty, economic inequality, and continued violence continues nearly unabated in our country. It continues to be perpetuated against those of color, those of other national origins, different religions, and sexual orientations. Our only weapon against it spiraling completely out of control is the power of social media, and a new breed of activists who are not afraid to stand up.

black-lives-matter-1

 

So today, I am grateful for MLK’s legacy, and for his message of The Dream. It is a day for reflection and service to others. For some others, this time may be more about having an extra day off to go buy discounted products, and binge-watch their favorite TV shows. I think it is profoundly sad when our society uses a holiday such as this one, a day that should be about giving back and standing up for what is right, to sell products and cash in on it.

Although it is admirable to grow our economy at the grassroots level, and to encourage people to work and earn a living, using this day as an impetus to get out and buy stuff is a bit insulting, especially as there are still so many in this society that cannot partake in our economic freedom, because poverty and inequality is still so prevalent, especially among non-white races.

Martin Luther King Day Sales: All The Best Deals From Target, Walmart ...

Refugees, immigrants, and disadvantaged citizens of this country will not benefit from any “deals” on this day. More likely, they will be on the other end: Working long hours, making little money to show for it, and having no real voice in our society–and thus, no real rights. What kind of “deal” is that?

MLK Day Parade

 

So, if one is inclined to go out and buy things in the name of MLK Day, remember that our freedom, which was (and is still) so costly, is the reason that we can do so today.  That we can have a day off from work and service, that we can shop anywhere we wish, that we can eat in any restaurant, that we can ride on public transportation, and most importantly: That we can stand up publicly and speak out against what is wrong in our government and society–these are the reasons for a holiday. We still have a long way to go in gaining the full impact of MLK’s dream, but there is still hope that we will, if people of all ages, orientations, religions and races, here and  in the world over, keep their eyes on the prize.

 

 

 

Welcome/ترحيب/ bienvenida/dobrodošli/歓迎/accueil/Welkom/добро пожаловать….

This is to be, hopefully, a forum to explore what it means to be a teacher, specifically of  English Language Learners (ELL/ESL), and the particularities thereof.  Not just for myself, but for others who may share  similar experiences. I have many interests, but I am especially passionate about the importance of knowledge and learning, children’s growth and development, Multiple Intelligence Theory, and multicultural education…tempered by compassion, humor, and free thinking.

I do not wish this to be “just another teachers’ blog”. This is my story, and my vocation is a very important part of who I am. And, although I come into contact day-in and day-out with others in my profession, there are very few I can share my feelings, ideas, and thoughts with. And, let me tell you, I have a lot. The purpose is to open a dialogue, via my posts and the readers’ comments. My fondest wish would be that they find a voice here that they can relate to, and that it somehow makes a difference.

Everything's a Teacher