November 20, 2023

But For Real Though, how are the children?

In loving memory of Brent Hamlet •

America has significant challenges with its Education System. An ongoing trend has been often to go along to get along, so we are not to question the writings on the wall of white supremacy, capitalism, elitism, etc. that shows up in and out of the classroom. These root causes are why some of our students experience exhaustion, irritability, etc., and this rarely gets explored. These challenges have exacerbated more harm than good and stifles the collective joy of our young people.

Silence to the horrors, and the harms of the outside, and that many of us perpetuate on the inside. There are far too many metal detectors than laptops, far too many security guards than counselors and social workers but funding is scarce we say. Yes! We invest too much into policing practices than developmental needs. That must change!

As a solution, Professional Development is the answer. We must learn to find ways to appreciate the differences in the students we serve and look to educate them with an equitable lens. One of my mentors: Dr. Gholdy Muhammad, acclaimed writer of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy, provides great insight as to how to achieve this, and I encourage all teachers to dive into this practice.

I am all for implementing her works along with those of  Dr. Bell Hooks and James Baldwin as we consider reimagining what professional development might look like. 

From my experience teachers need to be able to open up with students to achieve the best connection. My previous students of a certain age can tell you that I have given them permission to speak freely when they are with me.  I want to hear the authentic truth. I respect and encourage the use of gender pronouns and expressions because my classroom is a laboratory for liberating not constructing a prison. It is a classroom, I have vehemently called Woke Academy. 

This mindset allows my babies to be vulnerable and straight up. Vulnerability and being straight up gives me the opportunity to reciprocate that energy and share with administrators their concerns and often that has often been met with hostility. 

I prepare my babies. I ground them in their radical hospitality as well as expanding their radical imaginations. Our young people are not robots and when we begin to feed into the falsehood that somehow they are, we are not practicing joy. We are not abolitionists then. We become a part of a system, I must always insist we resist. 

In a short amount of time, we inadvertently become fixated with this idea of performing together rather than transforming together. I believe collectively educators can and should once we are all given the right tools, permission to speak freely even for us educators could certainly offer up the joy some of us crave because it is paramount to us and the students we say we love and care about survival. I believe we will win!

Background Image:
In loving memory of Brent Hamlet