November: Monthly Advice–Reminder

As we head into the final two weeks of November, I am reminded, and will remind others, to take some time and double-check plans . . . this month, and every month: Have I included Indigneous voices? This month in particular: How will I ensure my instruction, my holiday recognition, is inclusive, well-rounded, whole?

Take a moment. Reflect. Add to your instruction.

Webinar Time!

I have returned to professional development; I am back presenting webinars!

Join me for a new topic, a very relevant and needed discussion on the unique needs of the Latin/Latine/Latinx community.

My hope and goal: a focused opportunity to evaluate and recommit ourselves to differentiation–every child deserves a holistic educational environment that reaffirms their potential, and propels their learning.

–As always: I understand cost can be prohibitive; so I offer a reminder that claps, share, likes, words of encouragement are equally welcomed & valued gestures of support 🖤

Schools & COVID Protocols

I am an American; I’m an American whose initial teacher training was influenced and molded by a sense of urgency–we only have so much time; our kids are behind; there is so much to do and so little time to do it all.

Maximize. Every. Minute.

I was the teacher that brought flashcards during bathroom breaks to make sure waiting in line wasn’t a waste of time. My kids–stereotyped as well as statistically known to be behind their affluent peers–needed these extra minutes of practice.

I was the teacher that didn’t allow for downtime–you could relax with a book, you could go to the extra practice bucket and find something to review. There’s always something to do. My big line was: be productive. We don’t have time to waste here.

And granted, all of this helped offset boredom, which prevented behavioral issues too; it was strategic beyond learning. And granted, I was working in the state and district with one of the shortest instructional days–Nevada, Clark County School District.

So, while it was at times draining, I have no regrets for instilling or creating an environment that stipulated every moment could be utilized; we had breaks but that was for later. And again, I taught mainly in strategically marginalized and under-resourced communities–many of my students were behind academically and socially thanks to the discriminatory and biased policies that exist in order to foment such disparities. In a way, I was purposely subverting the inequitable systems at-hand and I am proud of that.

Despite all of this, I do understand the importance of slowing down. I do–at times–wish I had had less.

But that was before COVID.

In my original job, this year, we had COVID protocols to ensure safety.

Now, I am pro-safety, but it was maddening, and frustrating, and draining, to do all the things required. Even in a school that was incredibly privileged and could afford the added wasted time–arguably afford it at least–I found myself just despondent over the amount of downtime, truly idle time.

Taking a class to wash their hands *10 times* a day. Switching masks at least once as a class. Cleaning tables–over and over and over again. Staying distant. Reminding everyone to stay distant. Isolating materials for individual use only. Reminding myself and my students to put their mask back, or move it up, or change their mask . . . it was a lot. A lot of effort that simultaneously led to an inordinate amount of idle, lost, instructional time.

I haven’t been in a classroom, teaching, in-person, for about 5 years. Coming back was rough. I do believe in COVID protocols and safety. I can also separate those emotions and beliefs from the real-life facts that COVID protocols, schools, and kids are just not working well. I can say these two things exist: I want safety, I also want more time for actual learning.

Perhaps we all need more time, all routines and changes take time. Perhaps it will go away, eventually, and we can manage our time differently, better. Perhaps in the long-run it’s not something to stress over. Regardless, I must say that while I wanted more downtime, while I wanted to be able to step away from my hyper-focus on maximizing every minute, this is not what I meant . . .

Teaching Abroad: Take a Chance

I have always wanted to work and live abroad–outside of the United States. I had had a few friends do it and it seemed like such an amazing adventure, personally and professionally.

For a variety of reason, some legitimate (finances, career prospects), some less so (lack of partner support), I hadn’t done it, *yet*.

This past year it was my sole focus, my singular goal starting in January 2021: find a job abroad.

Once I had signed, and as time passed, of course I was nervous and getting progressively more nervous. There is so much unknown already, in any job change, but there are extra layers now–arguably even more with COVID. But if I can leave, I can come back. If I once learned a school system, if I once learned how to teach the kids before me, I can do it again–I have the capacity, the tools and experiences to adapt, grow, and learn.

It has not been easy. The first couple of months in a new place–anywhere–is an adjustment. However, there is such a large community of support in my own network, and within the new network that is forming through this experience. It’s not easy but I am learning and growing; I am learning and growing in ways I wouldn’t otherwise at home.

It’s a risk to do something like this, it is also a privilege.

If you are in a position to do something radically different, whatever that may be, I encourage you to do so; I truly feel that because I left to see and do something different, my entire practice–and my being–are being nourished.

I’m Back!

As posted previously: I moved to Istanbul, Turkey. I had measured and budgeted to return here by mid-to-late September 2021 with lots to share . . . and I do have lots to share, I’m a little late . . .

My first teaching post in Istanbul was not ideal. I love living in Istanbul, but I wanted more than the weekends to cultivate a life outside of work here. So I looked for something else, and I found an incredible opportunity–personally and professionally; I am pursuing a position at the university level, a dream role.

In between my original post and my upcoming new post, I have some transition time to catch-up here, to reignite a discussion on classrooms, teaching, standards–all things education-based.

I hope your school year has started off a less bumpy than mine. I hope your classrooms are progressing nicely, and that you are able to teach in a place that maximizes learning and growth–for you and your students.