I’m Baaaaaack! Took break due to…..

Packrat…MENTAL EXHAUSTION! Instead of blogging, I’ve been hitting the pavement exercising both running and cycling. However, this summer I will work on a life balance and factor blog writing in the equation.

Now that testing and the 2013-14 academic school is finally over, I can do some reflection and planing for the next school year. Some summer projects I would like to work on:

  • Integration of fitness and nutrition with current CCSS math curriculum (especially since it a part of the health literacy component of the 21st century framework )
  • Delve into the hype of Rasberry Pi and make “heads or tails” of it
  • Decide to either use my Edmodo, Moodle or iTunes-U with my classes.
  • Work on a EdTech publication! It’s time to share with the world all of the useful knowledge in my head
  • Either dye or pluck out all of the gray hair from my head due to stress (just kidding)

I am planning to attend to CMS Summer Institute (#CMSSI14) for two weeks. I am a little excited about this conference and of course I will share my excitement here. Enough of my rambling, let me get back to boxing up my classroom…

Pack rat powers, activate!




Who is Ethan Young?

The other day after a common planning session, one of my colleagues shared this video of a student. You may see him an an ordinary pupil, but he speaks for the millennial masses under the Common Core standards reform. With an open mind, please check out this video and share your thoughts.

21st Century Educator = Hyperconnected Educator?

As connected educator month closed in October, I thought I would share a few of myhyperconnected thoughts. At this time, an educator can get away with just using their email for communication and a land-line phone to contact parents and community partners. As the technical expectations of the 21st century educator expands, should one look into other avenues to demonstrate their worthiness to be deemed as distinguished.

Is it expected for a distinguished educator to be hyperconnected? I don’t believe it’s essential but an important element. To go beyond and impact classrooms outside of your own, having a PLC, usage of social media and vid/podcasts for communication with parents and the community, being a hyperconnected nerd may be a requirement to demonstrate the mastery of your craft.

 What does it mean to be hyperconnected? If you are reading this blog post from two laptops and/or your app on your phone at the same time, you are technically hyperconnected. Hyperconnectivity is just a buzzword for being overly connected to the Internet. Just like everything else, too much of anything is not good for anyone.

IMHO, keeping it simple with technology should be enough as an educator to meet the demands of being considered a 21st century educator. I know of a teacher (for the record, I am not mentioning any names) that fears technology. Are they still a 21st century educator? Yes, but they are cased in a 20th century mindset. This mindset will be the discussion of future posts.

Productive 21st Century Citizens

In my humble opinion, these are very difficult times in education. As an educator, I must take the huge responsibility to maintain the course (of study) and trail blaze new territory.   The next generation must be educated in preparation for jobs that don’t exist yet. However, take note that real world connections and effective communication are two skills that are necessary, period.

I know that you’ve heard this before, but unlike my generation or the previous generation who are still in the trenches, we cannot present content in a way that it was presented to us. An overhaul or the politically correct term in education would be reform is definitely needed.

I suppose I should get more involved with this side of activism outside the classroom.  This way I am able to see that students get what is required to become “productive 21st century citizens.”

Do you model what is required to be a productive 21st century citizen? Like Malcolm X eloquently expressed, “if you do not stand for something, you will fall for anything.”

Creativity = Innovation

I like this guy, Ken Robinson. During this Turkey Day Break, please take a moment and see if you agree with what he has to say. (If will not play for you, you can go here to check it out.)

My Thoughts on Teacher Suitability

I feel a little guilty for not blogging for over a month. Unfortunately this blog has been low priority on my totem pole of things to do. I have really been stressed out with the budget situation with my school district. Not to mention feeling the big weight on my shoulders in getting my students to excel on the upcoming state assessments. What teacher is NOT stressed out nowadays, eh?

I ran over an email discussion on teacher suitability; where it was discussed the issue teachers strong in content and yet struggle to get through to students. Here is question that was posed: Is there a way to determine in advance who has the right personality to get through to students? Can this be learned?  Also, how does one judge themselves or others if they are fundamentally unsuited to be a teacher?

In my honest opinion, teaching is something everyone has the natural ability to do. So if one wants to be a teacher, LET THEM!!!  One solution to “weed” people out would to integrate hands-on (not literally!) student interaction in teacher training, not just limit interaction to the praticum/student teaching. I don’t believe that this is an issue to tackle in regards to teacher suitability. I believe in what we should address is KEEPING the teachers that have proved themselves and made a difference in student lives. I have seen many great teachers that are very suited and good with their content, just leave teaching in pursuit of another career path. Teaching is kinda like working on cars. To be a good mechanic, you must know your car parts and work with what you know…

Are you a warm demander?

After reading this article provided by my principal today, I decided to go ahead and do a little reflecting. I figured she forwarded this article to us because this style of teaching is vital in maintaining academic engagement in high-poverty schools.

I definately agree that a warm demander must enforce respect in the classroom and insist students to complete the academic tasks. But… what is warm demander? One who displays personal warmth while maintaining an instructonal style that demands achievement.

To become a warm demander, one must:

  1. build relationships deliberately
  2. learn about students’ cultures
  3. communicate an expectation of success

 I really found it interesting that the article pin-pointed the issue of highly disengaged middle school students. These student shared that they were simply bored with the curriculum.  Warm demanders must reach out to these students to make content relevant and rigorous to defeat boredom. Check out the article for yourself and discover some additional information to assist you and your students towards the pursuit of academic excellence.


This week as I started watching the beginning of the fourth season of The Wire, I can’t help but to reflect on…

1. My first year of teaching in Baltimore City with real chalkboards and san air conditioning & technology (including calculators).

2. I remember back  in 2002 when Mayor O’ Reilly kicked off the Baltimore Believe campaign to lift the spirits of the citizens.

Funny as we go into battle training mode for high-stakes testing, we need to BELIEVE that our students can and will achieve. Also, first year teachers at this time are probably making career decisions based on their experiences from the past eight months. They too must continue to BELIEVE in themselves that they also are important in their craft in making valuable contributions to our children; and are valued for what they do.

Hats off to…

Dorothy Calloway

Dorothy Calloway

The above 75 year old math educator (yes, still in the classroom!!!) has truly inspired me. I stumbled upon an article in my NCAE newsletter that spotlighted her accolades and perseverance in the classroom as a fellow front-line  veteran soldier for over 50 years!        

From the reading, I took note of the following….

  • She informally assess her students by their actions by watching their pencils, papers, and expressions. Also, she knows her limits.
  • When she deals with troublesome students, she calls on a higher authority… no not the principal or superintendant, or even Obama. Dorothy calls their name before the Lord and ask Him to help her – and you know that God delivers! This is what I need to do… she seeks divine intervention with the students End-of-Grade tests.  She starts asking at the beginning of the school year!
  • Dorothy believes keeps it old school. No electronics, that includes the overhead or even computers. The chalkboard is king – Away with dry erase markers  & boards, new text books, and calculators.  Straight OG, son!
Ms. Calloway….  thank you for your many years of dedication to the craft and may the Lord continue to give you
strength to mold minds and futures.