#BlackBoyLit: Getting to the Heart of their Reading Lives

Happy Black History Month! As Dr. Kim Parker says, “Every child has a story about their reading lives, it’s our job to get to the heart of it.” As educators, we have been charged to take on that challenge. In this episode, Aeriale Johnson (aka Ms. J) and Dr. Kim Parker chat about ways to rethink how we create environments and spaces that welcome all that Black boys bring to our classrooms. Checking our biases and assumptions about the students we serve is essential to begin this work. It starts from within and begins to flow throughout our interactions with our students and colleagues. Ms. J shares her classroom rule by saying, “Our one rule in our classroom is to be loved.” What if our spaces did just that? Just imagine.

Want more?

Dr. Kim Parker: Twitter @TchKimPossible & www.drkimparker.org & #DistruptTexts

Aeriale Johnson: Twitter @Arcticisleteach & www.kinderbender.com

Let’s Talk Alternative Assessments: A True Measure of Student’s Brilliance

“If they learn in a particular way then assess them in that way” is a phrase that Dr. Keri Orange-Jones used to explain how she ensures that authentic assessment takes place in her classroom. In this episode, 2020 New Jersey Exemplary Educator and 5th-grade social studies teacher, challenge us to pause and reflect on ways that determine their strengths and growth areas. How do we continue to connect with students that we have never seen face to face? How do we connect with students that we have to social distance? Listen in on some examples of how this can be done with your students every day.

From Little People to Free Big People: Power in Class Community

Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop shared her brilliance with the world by saying, “Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange.” So how do you bring those views into your classroom? In this episode, I talk with former Heinemann Fellow and Bronx, NY teacher, Islah Tauheed. She shares some life lessons learned from her students and spaces that she provides for students to contribute to a classroom community that invites them and their families into the learning environment.

Creating Spaces for Students to See Themselves Again

Brazilian Educator, Paulo Freire, was known for saying, “students become the teacher and the teacher becomes the student”; however, that can only happen if we are authentic in our efforts. In this episode, I chat with Julia Torres, a librarian, consultant, and writer from Colorado, about ways that our efforts must line up with our beliefs about this very thing. Creating spaces in which student voices are elevated, requires us to be intentional in our planning, teaching, and follow-up. This episode will be one that you will need to pause, rewind, and replay because of all of the gems that Julia shares.

Building Community and Joy in Our Classrooms!

“I can’t teach you, if I don’t know you.” -Author Unknown

One thing that we as educators have learned is the power of human connection. Oh, how we long to hug and be with our students. Unfortunately, we are reminded daily that we are still in a pandemic AND 6 feet apart with masks on is our new temporary normal! I had the chance to chat with LaMar, a middle school English teacher and college professor,  who shared ways that he has and continues to build community while creating an environment of joy with his students, regardless of the environment. If you want to learn more about LaMar, follow him on Twitter at @teachLTL.

Survival Tips for Unchartered Territory

Marian Wright Edelman said, “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your world and community better than you found it.” With the untraditional start to a new school year, educators around the country are on a roller coaster of emotions. With anxieties around which school opening model districts will land on, missing their students, the inequities that exist in education, it’s challenging not to want to curl up in your bed and wake up when the chaos passes over. So how do we cope? How do we remind ourselves of the silver linings that show up from time to time? Listen to this episode as I give you quick tips that will help to bring you back to your WHY. We all need a little reminder from time to time.

Not Freaking Out! Getting Our Minds Ready for a New Year

Who would have thought that we would still be talking about this pandemic and its effects on education? When we think about all of the events that have surfaced over the past few months, we can’t help but reflect on how this will inform our teaching in the future. Concerns around virtual, blended, or a traditional start, continue to be a topic of discussion. All of these adult decisions are happening, yet we never invited our students to the planning table. How are they handling this? In what ways will it affect their motivation to learn? In this episode, I had a great conversation with my son, Keith! As a high school senior, he shared with me his experience with his teachers and his strategy for staying motivated to work independently.  At the end of the day, we must be reminded that it is not about an impact rather it is about reshaping education.

Get Out of the Box: How to Create a Virtual Space for Student Connection

How do we ensure that we are connecting with our students in a variety of ways? It doesn’t just happen and we must be intentional in our efforts to build and strengthen relationships with each and every child…even in a virtual space. There are many lessons to be learned in a virtual learning space, yet one that continuously rises to the top of the list is the question of equity. In this episode, I had a great discussion with TaTanisha Copeland aka Counselor Lady. In her students’ community internet is scarce, family involvement is limited, and the priorities are not always academics. She shared her experiences of balancing self-care while being creative with connecting with her students. Connecting with all learners, making sure they are all seen and all heard is essential.

A Pandemic Doesn’t Stop Education: Navigating the Virtual World

An abrupt pause to traditional education and the green light on virtual learning. Sounds familiar? In this episode, I had the opportunity to speak with the coauthors of “Read the World: Rethinking Literacy for Empathy and Action in a Digital Age” by Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris. Teachers are faced with the challenge of engaging and connecting with their students in unchartered territory. The good news is that teaching is not a silo. Kristin and Katie share some great tips and strategies that will help to make the student experience a more meaningful one through the digital world.

Every Child is Valuable: Culture is Not a Costume

How do we ensure that all students feel a sense of belonging all year long? This episode with Tamara Russell highlights the importance of biting the elephant of racism one student at a time. A mindset shift from the way we do education requires an overhaul of the way we do school. Accepting students, their families, and their background experience is valuable for every student in your classroom. Creating a authentic sense of belonging is crucial to building students’ sense of value for themselves.