Showing posts from July, 2016

Black Girl Intimidation - Debunking Misconceptions of Women in Leadership

It wasn't pouring but it was raining enough to not be standing on a rooftop in heels and cocktail dresses. Yet, on the roof of a fancy hotel in midtown Manhattan, with a view of the Empire State Building, we stood, letting the light drops slide down our legs, ignoring the winds, sharing laughs and deep-hearted, long-gazed eye contact as we listened to each other's stories. 
When a woman turns thirty, she tends to reminisce more than she did at any other birthday party. Instances when she was 5 and her dad told her that she could fly and she tried and she fell off the swing but never stopped trying because she believed her beloved and he never stopped believing in her. Or when she was 19 and her boyfriend cheated on her and she lost her mind and self-esteem, only to realize she never lost it because she never actually had it and had to go through that situation to find the true meaning of self-esteem, love, and care. Or at 27 when she began teaching at an inner-city school in Ha…

8 Lessons I Learned after 8 Years in Education

After a very real conversation with Phil Taitt on his talk show, I realized I have truly learned much more than the basics of teaching. The following 8 lessons are some of the most invaluable pieces of wisdom I have gained. Thank you for asking such reflective questions Phil, you are appreciated.

8. Whatever you give to your students is what you will get back from them. If you bring joy, you feel joyous in return. If you allow fun, you will feel happy with them too. If you give love, especially during the most difficult moments when they need it most, you will feel loved in return, especially when you need it most. Don't be afraid to love a little harder when things get harder because that's when it truly counts. 

7. Give your love away, not your power. Unconditional love is key to my classroom management. When we love with conditions, we lose our power. We must do the work of loving our students unconditionally because for some, we are the only ones that will teach them this. …

Conversation Starters for When You Just Don't Know What to Say

"And I've noticed something I really need to work on..." His text read. 
"What?" I was worried. 
"Small talk." 
That's all? What a relief. 
"Feels awkward?"
"Sorta, yea... I've gotten so comfortable being by myself that in communal settings sometime I forget to be fully engaged socially. And since I don't watch tv I have nothing really in common to talk about with the everyday person." 
"Try asking questions like this: How was your week? Give me a few of your highs and a lessons you learned about yourself.... What's up with you? Listening to any thing new in music? ... What are you reading lately? ...Those should help. I suck at small talk too. But I started writing a list of small talk questions to help me."
"Seriously thanks! I be stuck."
"Yup.. Make a little list. You'll feel better about it. I know exactly how you feel. Trust me."
"Yeah I'm gonna practice that."

Learning that Lasts + 10 Pedagogy Guides

Grateful: The unit I led on "The Abuse of Power and Policing" is included in Chapter 2 of the new "Learning the Lasts" instructional guide.
As educators, we must bring text to life through compelling topics. Connecting classic literature such as "The Diary of Anne Frank", the late Elie Weisel's "Night", and Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" to contemporary issues such as the modern-day plight of the Black man in America was most effective in empowering my students and activating their intrinsic motivation to read. I focused on Eric Garner and Mike Brown when this unit was developed but the strategies can be duplicated again and again because these issues have yet to stop being relevant. We have to teach to the babies the truth, shying away will not lift us up. They are the future and for them these issues are not just controversial topics - this is their reality. It is our responsibility to equip them with knowledge so that they w…

Silent Togetherness


Sitting in the Goodwill on 181st, reading near the assortment of leather belts and southern church lady hats. I told myself I was just going to browse for a grandma-flats. I have cute pair of brown ones but maybe I can find a navy or black pair. No luck. There's never any cute shoes in this thrift store but I didn't mind trying. I told myself I wasn't even going to look at the books but I couldn't help it, they are right there and I am right here. Picked up five of them. But I decided I would read some of them in the store instead of buying them. 
I found a lone, ivory folding chair and opened Sarah Ban Breathnach's "Life Book of Comfort and Joy." A book of daily reflection guides. The passage on June 19th, my birthday, drew me in. It was titled 'Onward and Upward in the Garden'. If you had a blog named after a garden, you would be drawn in too! On June 18th, the title is 'Choosing to Blossom'. If you had a mentoring and global servic…

Quick Tips for Progress-Monitoring During Summer Reading

The most effective way to activate a student's motivation to summer-read is to read with the student. This is not a requirement for all of our students, but specifically, for the ones that we know may need an extra push. Call, send a text, or email them once a week to chat with them about the book. Our kids lose so much of what they build over the school year because they don't practice their skills during the summer, a 5-minute check-in can go a really long way. Conferring Questions to Ask During the Call 1. Start with a casual conversation about summer. Then, gradually begin asking questions about the book. 2. Have your student verbally summarize what they have read so far. 3. Ask student about what he predicts may happen next. 4. Rotate your roles and responsibilities by telling the student, "Next week when I call, you should prepare 2-3 comprehension questions to check-in with my progress on completing and understanding the book." Creating questions is a prompt that re…

Loud Black Girls

Erica Garner, we are with you 100%. I woke up to the hashtag #loudblackgirls this morning and all I can do is smile for all of my #loudblackgirls and laugh with all of my #loudblackgirls about how funny it is. Funny that we turn everything into gold. They tell us we are too aggressive,  too angry,  too hood,  too black,  too young,  too old,  too thick,  too skinny,  too feminine,  too masculine,  too real,  too independent,  too much!  And like the magicians we are, we turn all of that into much success. I read about the town hall meeting that President Obama called last night and was not surprised by the accusations of it being more of a lip-service front than a genuine effort to rebuild the community. Erica Garner, daughter of the late Eric Garner, did what any other black queen who is tired of being silenced would do, she "got nasty" as my grandmother would say. However, no matter how belligerent she may have sounded, she was still eloquent as she spoke of being "railroaded"…

Questions Children of Color are Asking: Am I the Next Hashtag?

"Shaming has been a central component of racial assault, yet it is also central to all other dehumanizing practices."  bell hooks.
Consciously working to instill high self-esteem and self-actualization in children of color is paramount to any other form of activism in my life. As adults, we can protest, post Facebook statuses, boycott big-chain stores but what about the children? We must not neglect their voice during this time, instead, it is our responsibility to guide them on the primacy of self-developing their own opinions. 

As a woman who has dedicated her life to service through teaching social justice issues, seeing such egregious abuses of power made me feel numb for a night. No words. No emotions. Just numb to the pain that I usually feel when hearing the jarring screams of children, like the son of Alton Sterling, expressing his agony for the loss of his father. I couldn't move. I did not cry. I fell asleep, only to wake before the sun rose and write lesson plans…

An Invitation to Educate Before Acting

"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude." Maya Angelou

This morning, my intention was to finish and publish an essay and its coinciding lesson plan that I created for teachers to support their students with processing, healing, and coping with the traumatic side effects that may manifest among children who have watched the horrific YouTube presentations of real people being murdered, day by day, over the past week. But while my ideas and perspective on the subject continues to expand and unfold, I am finding myself being pushed in a direction solely focused on the projection of an appreciative energy in all I say, write, and do. 
Woke up this morning. Went to Starbucks. Picked up the paper and a double shot of expresso with sweetener and soy. On my way home, I found five books at the free nomad-book-drop-off shelf on the corner of 181st and Broadway. Two about Buddhism, one Dunbar anthology, one writer's guide for narra…

Never Lonely.

I don't mean no disrespect  but I don't need anyone to come along with me. I am never alone. Where ever I go, there is love. 

Water Shackles

Take off your shackles And run  Be free 
You were born to rule everything under the Sun
Your own kind Even your own mind  May tell you differently But awaken your Soul See yourself through the Divine's eyes
Those are not real shackles  They are made of water You can move through them Leave that water to the soil of your seeds Promising to yield plenty without your tending They don't need your attention they need space and time  Trust their process  Go off  Go off and wander through wild jungles and tall oak woods and do not be afraid when it gets dark You do not have to hide in the swamps  You are free  Get lost in new cities and explore Stand in the middle of streets that were once walked by your ancestors  They are still there, if you are there  They are where ever you are, never letting you lone Roam  because you are free  Find yourself but don't stop once you've found Keep evolving and rediscovering
You are the  Violin of the bees  Flute of the birds  Piano of the rain  You are the seasons Promisi…

Do Not Disturb.

Reading all summer. On my 4th book. I remember when it would take me all summer to finish one. It's cause this summer, literally, reading is all I am doing. No trips, no plans. Just nourishing my mind. Wake up, meditate, pray, eat breakfast, read, sleep, read, read.. Go outside, read outside, come back in the house, read until I fall asleep. Oh ...and working on a few projects - which require reading as well - so yea. That's it.
I dont even want to be invited anywhere because all I want to do is read.


My appreciation for music has been revived after a week without it. I walked down 144th and felt July's breeze on my bare back. My ears clawed at every beat, grabbing hold of the colors that vibrated through each tune. A subtle smile crossed my face, directed to the golden brown babies that walked toward me, then behind me. Do they know? Did they catch wind of what I have inside? What they have too? Have they discovered the secret that was kept from my mother? 
Approaching the A on St. Nic, the fruit-stand-man's eyes followed my subtle smile all the way down the freshly repaired stairs until he couldn't see me anymore. Did he know? 
Just missed the A but the C was right behind. Local. But slow motion is better than no motion. Aware of my body, after 7 days with me and only me, I felt the bend of my pelvis under my black high waisted denim pencil skirt as I rested it on the periwinkle plastic bench. Before I could peer out of the window in my usual meditative gaze, the Voice …