This is a total call out. So, read up!
Teachers need the support of parents and the community in the districts in which they teach. In the past week since a Cobb County School District, GA assistant principal of a local school filed a law suit against CCSD’s Superintendent Ragsdale and named others, there has been an outcry… and pardon my pun… to shush this and put it to bed to protect the District’s reputation.
Faculty and other staff who stand up to their districts are to be applauded. I understand why other teachers do not offer out loud support to their colleagues. They are afraid of losing their jobs. I appreciated all the shock, dismay, and even tears my colleagues shared with me. The words of support whispered in my room, the pats on the back, the hugs. Sure, those were great. But where was the anger? Where was the moral outrage at seeing a fellow teacher so blatantly targeted? Nowhere. Teachers have mouths to feed. I can entirely understand and forgive their silence. Even if I would have pulled my ever-ready soapbox out and shouted the roof tops off in their defense.
However, when something tragic like the death of a child occurs, or for those once in a blue moon instances where an educator or parent files suit against the county, there are those who want it all shut up to protect the reputation of the county. The ones who have the problem with bad PR are generally of the White Status Quo.
Let me be clear. You are not representative of the 85% and counting students of color, other languages, and national origins in this county. You have not walked in their shoes. Those of you who live in nice large homes with manicured lawns… what do you know of poverty? What do you know of not having the means to feed your children, let alone fight a large powerful district with a WSQ Board to back it on all fronts.
As a mediator, I will see to it that justice is served fairly.
For GA teachers, teacher associations like PAGE and GAE can only do so much, and only to the extent of protecting your job and certificate; sometimes, that is not enough.
You need someone who can help negotiate the best terms in disciplinary matters.
For families with children whose civil liberties and educational rights have been violated, you also need someone who is there to see that justice is served for the best interest of the child.
You have a right to ask for mediation. Know and exercise your rights!
Teachers who work the hardest for their students of color are often under appreciated, more often than not, harassed and bullied out of education. These are the stories that make good non-fiction.
School systems that expect teachers and students to march to the drumbeat of the White Status Quo are killing creativity in both teachers and students.
Learning begins with building relationships. A teacher cannot expect students to be attuned to concepts and principles of the curriculum if they do not feel there is a purpose for their being in the classroom. Passing the course is not an objective, nor is it a purpose. Students should look forward to entering the classroom whether it is a subject excelled in or one in which they have had previous failures. The teacher at the podium makes that distinction.
A teacher who effectively builds meaningful and lasting relationships with students is the teacher who sees the best work ethic, attitudes, and performance of each student. Students can sense when a teacher is excited about the art of teaching, and the empowerment of learning. This dynamic combination is experienced fully when students know the individual at the podium has a stake in student outcomes, personal as well as academic. Even in larger instructional environments, the teacher who is well-versed in the skill of relationship building can generate a positive and personal force with students, thus engaging them on both the personal and academic levels. When students see the investment of self on the part of their teacher, then they are more likely to invest themselves.
The academic success of students is predicated upon many factors. The level of education and teaching skills of the teacher is never to be minimized; however, individuals who leave the halls of academia for their prospective professions do not remember the teacher whose students had the highest test scores, they remember the teacher who had the ability to make each student feel seen and heard.
This involves: Seeing color. When well-meaning teachers tell their students they do not see color, they are saying, “I do not see you.”
When Crickets Chirp
CCSD has still not responded to my Diversity & Inclusion Plan. An AP is suing for religious discrimination, I was railroaded out for the same reason, 90% of the kids in ISS/OSS are of color. What Gives CCSD?
When Inquiring Minds Are Not Allowed To Discover.
As large as the Cobb County School District is, and as much as they boast of their STEM/STEAM and various magnet programs, there are no actual considerations for students who are exceptionally gifted with IQs above 130.
Many of our elementary schools are Title One schools, and the schools that are magnet/IB high schools turn down Title One endorsements due to the stigma; parents of “elite” children do not wish to have their students attend a Title One school. What this means in the big picture is that students who are not enrolled in these programs do not have new books, field trips, or other enrichment opportunities that could largely enhance their learning.
Prior to resigning from my teaching post for Cobb County Schools this past year, I was taking the gifted endorsement course. It seemed that with each of the assigned readings I found myself thinking of my daughter, a handful of students I have taught in the past 14 years, and myself. In one of the assigned case studies there was the tale of a boy named Alex who was “different,” obviously bright, but never challenged in school. While there was no evidence that his parents advocated for him, in reading of a relationship Alex had with a professor and college aged students, there must have been something in his home life that would cause him to gravitate toward a college professor and much older students.
However, for many gifted students, home life may not have enrichment opportunities that would lead them to seek out mentorship from anyone such as a professor or college students. This is disturbing as most students spend more than 80% of their lives in school with teachers who come from all backgrounds and teaching ethics; therefore, there are no guarantees that students like Alex would be recognized as gifted, let alone have unique needs met.
When you are the parent of a gifted child, your battle is never done. I do believe that just as education must provide the least restrictive environment for learning disabled students, it should also for learning enabled students.
When my daughter and I first moved to the district, she was in second grade. In kindergarten she was already reading chapter books, and was placed in 5th grade math. She was in the gifted program in our prior district and she was excelling. Happy. Thriving. From the minute we set foot through the doors at her Charter, Title One school, all of this changed. I was told she could not read books in the Accelerated Reader (AR) program that were above grade level as this would skew the data used for Title One funds. She was made to read picture books. We supplemented at home, but this was difficult as young children are by their very nature rule followers and see teachers as the highest of authority.
By the time my daughter was in third grade there was a battle with one of her teachers over the fact that she preferred fact over fiction. My daughter preferred reading biographies to the junior versions (allowed) of the Harry Potter series. Her favorite fictional books were those in historic settings. The closest she ever came to enjoying fantasy was Black Beauty… as told from the horse’s perspective; and at the age of five she realized it and was able to discuss it.
In her elementary school, the AR program was required, and in 4th grade, my daughter who read at that time on a 12th grade level, lost her love of reading. The same was done to her in regard to math, and all that she had learned at such a young age, was lost, the methods used to teach math were lost on her, and she now struggles in math, a subject she once excelled in.
Science, also was a favorite. She was curious. By the age of five she wanted to be an anthropologist. Due to a phenomenon I call “Learning in the Bible Belt” – science, inquiry, and theory building is not taught to the majority of students. She was chastised by classmates for not going to church and for “believing” in dinosaurs. Teachers never addressed these issues, or recognized it as bullying.
At the age of 17 my daughter has finally became comfortable with not being confined to cathedral shaped box. Had I been able to, we would have moved to a more progressive area. Now, I wish we had, as my daughter’s natural gifts have been to a large degree extinguished either by teachers who due to their own biases did not teach inquiry, or due to their own fear of chastisement by administration.
Yes, this exists and I have been on the receiving end of such chastisement my entire career.
There is research to support that students who are taught that bible stories are fact, have difficulty discerning fact from fiction in school. I propose that teachers who believe bible stories as fact have difficulties teaching students to question and to delve, to challenge the text to dig deeply, to inquire. This might be the reason Southern schools produce the lowest scores across the nation.
Students like the ones who used to gravitate toward my desk for ex parte conversations about science, history, and social issues are the ones who have not been encouraged to question the unquestionable. These are also the students who thrived in my classroom, yet seemed to struggle in others. Teachers must challenge students, and that challenging does not stop at getting them to learn 10 more words than the required 5, or to work 4 more math problems than the required 2. It means to challenge them on deeper levels that cause them to want to dig more deeply into and outside of the curriculum. To be nurtured, so that they may also nurture minds in the art of inquiry.
When a religious fundamentalist was named Secretary of Education, I saw that my tenure in K-12 education would most likely end with my daughter’s in 2018. At that time, I could only hope that as when I began college, and it was then my gifts were finally discovered and nurtured, that hers would be also.
As it turns out, I never finished my gifted course, or the 2016 school year. My principal wrote me up earlier that year because I “refused to teach the Bible as fact”… and when Cobb County School District let her get away with it, and became involved in false accusations of my aiding students in cheating on a non-state mandatory test… Fast forward to a good PAGE (Professional Association of Georgia Educators) appointed attorney… and my case was “settled” without the false allegations of misconduct going forward, and without my filing charges against the high school principal for violating my civil liberties.
The day I was written up because I “refused to teach the Bible as fact” I enrolled in a course taught by Henning Mediation and Arbitration. PAGE, and organizations like them can only do so much, and they have done a great deal for me. However, they cannot do more than protect a teacher’s certification. They do not handle employment law or civil rights violations.
As a mediator, I hope to fill that gap for teachers who have limited resources for protecting not only their jobs, but their reputations. I also hope to provide a means of resolution for students who are made by coaches to bow in prayer, and for parents who feel they must go along so their children will not be singled out, bullied, disenfranchised, or lose favor with coaches who can make or break their hopes of athletic scholarships.
When two adults are parents to a child or children that biological or legal fact never changes. No matter what the other party says, or the courts say, parents are always parents. Yes, there are times when the act of parenting is difficult, and there may be times when one parent is slightly “better” at it than the other. However, barring one parent placing a child in danger, or causing direct harm to a child, no parent should ever face the
fear of losing a child as a punitive measure for not being a good wife, or partner.
Children only get to be such at one time in their lives. Parenting means realizing every single day that every action taken affects the children. Sometimes this means that when two adults find they can no longer resolve conflict and provide a safe, harmonious home for their children while living in the same home, that one of the parties must move out of the home. Sometimes this is done as a break or a separation until heads cool, and this is a good idea. Sometimes it happens when one person has reached a breaking point and feels that separation or divorce are the only option.
When this occurs, no matter the circumstances, again to iterate, unless one of the parents has caused direct harm, physically, emotionally, or through negligence to a child , that parent still has the right to parent, and to be a part of that child’s life .
It is typically when one party feels wronged by the other through infidelity that the urge to strike out occurs. The “injured” party is angry, hurt, and saddened that this has occurred and is the reason for the break-up of not only the marriage, but also the family. These are all very valid and understandable feelings.
However, when the injured party decides to retaliate  through withholding visitation of the children, or making visitation almost impossible, this cannot be validated, even when understood.
When a divorcing couple cannot come to terms over how they will parent their children, there needs to be intervention. The hardest thing to do is to come to terms that they must put their hurt, their anger, and yes, even their grief on the back burner and focus their energies on what is in the best interests of the children.
The GA Courts are very stringent when it comes to child custody matters . Very reasonably so, the courts do not want there to be any loopholes that can later cause problems with interpretation.
When parents can no longer co-parent, the courts will tell them how they must do it. This is done in the best interests of the children, WHEN THE PARENTS ARE NO LONGER ACTING IN THEIR INTERESTs .
These are harsh words, they hit below the heart.
When two people come the decision that they must separate or divorce, it is important that they find a means of settling their conflict so that the best interests of the children become the focus. Attending mediation and working through the conflict can help.
A mediator is a neutral party , either assigned by the court, or selected prior to or in lieu of court when couples come to an impasse and lawyers cannot help them to come to an agreement on matters related to the children.
Children are not property. That is the reason that the custody of the children is addressed in an entirely different section of a divorce decree than the division of property and assets.
With mediation, there is negotiation, but when there are children involved, they should not be bargaining chips, or a means of punishing the other party.
Mediation is a means of getting it all out on the table so-to-speak, with a neutral party who is there to facilitate discussion, and lead the couple to a resolution that puts the children where they should always be: First.
Coming soon: Child Custody: When Grandparents Become Collateral Damage
 “Child Abuse and Neglect-Symptoms,” WebMD, accessed April 14, 2017, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/child-maltreatment-symptoms.
 “Learning about Child Custody | Georgia.gov,” accessed April 14, 2017, https://georgia.gov/popular-topic/learning-about-child-custody.
 “Infidelity: Consequences of Punishing the Offending Partner,” GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog, March 10, 2010, http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/consequences-of-punishing-offending-partner-in-infidelity/.
 “Learning about Child Custody | Georgia.gov.”
 “The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents,” Psychology Today, accessed April 14, 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201112/the-impact-divorce-young-children-and-adolescents.
Whether it is a minor slip of the tongue or an entire foot in the mouth, either can lead to some uncomfortable moments followed by the instinct to explain what was “really meant.” While most are truly embarrassed and even remorseful when making a racially, culturally, or gender-related insensitive comment, attempts to make explanations or excuses often create a more uncomfortable situation for both speaker and hearers.
Admit and Apologize
If recognition of the faux pas is immediate – as often happens- it is best not to wait for acknowledgment that it was received negatively. Unfortunately, all too often such comments are left unchallenged either by the intended or unintended target of the comment or bystanders. Do not walk away with the false sense of relief that the comment went unnoticed, it is almost a definite it was noticed. The most effective thing to do is to admit you were insensitive, admit your own embarrassment, and apologize for any discomfort or embarrassment caused to others.
Air Out and Move On
Often an admission of insensitivity and a sincere apology is enough to move beyond the moment; however, depending upon the comment and others involved it may be necessary for some open discussion; again, no excuses. Having discussions of race and culture are often uncomfortable, especially in times when cultural tensions are high. Some may feel that there is an oversensitivity, but unless shoes are on other feet and miles walked in them, these types of assumptions should not be made. It is believed by diversity and inclusion professionals that a work environment that invites open dialogue on these sensitive topics is one where employees develop an awareness of their own biases all the while fostering an awareness and appreciation for those who are different.
Diversity Training – Not a One and Done
Most organizations offer diversity and inclusion training as a part of their onboarding process, annually to satisfy EEOC requirements, or in reaction to an occurrence; however due to a lack of follow up, many fall short of being truly effective. Just as employees receive ongoing development of their professional skills and knowledge base, they should receive ongoing training in the areas of racial and cultural awareness,  for one cannot be sensitive to the feelings of others, until he or she forms an awareness and appreciation for the differences that exists and enrich the workplace.
Take Responsibility for Racial and Cultural Awareness
It is important to realize that as our workplaces become increasingly diverse that in the absence of continual training individuals should take some responsibility for their knowledge of other cultures. The age of technology and instant information leaves few excuses for a lack of effort to learn more about the people within shared work environments.
Make it your mission to get to know your co-workers. It is okay to express genuine interest in their culture, cuisine, and traditions. Our lives can be enriched greatly when we invite new people and new experiences into our midst. The more we learn about other cultures, the less likely we are to open our mouths and insert our feet. The closer and more familiar we are with our co-workers, the easier it is to make amends if or when we do.
 Premack, “14 Things People Think Are Fine to Say at Work — but Are Actually Racist, Sexist, or Offensive.”
 “How to Apologize at Work after Making a Microaggressive Comment – Business Insider.”
 Miranda-Wolff, “How to Talk about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
 Blackman, “What Is Diversity & Inclusion Training?”
 Florentine, “Diversity and Inclusion.”
Mother-daughter conflict is as old as time and often the topic of many a classic as well a modern novel. Freud believed that the mother figure could very well be the root of all grown children’s neurosis, but it is probably much simpler than that. Mothers have the age-old desire to see their daughters achieve what they did not in their generation.
The Origins of Conflict
When a mother experiences fear or concern for a young daughter’s behavior she also remembers when she was young and how receptive she was to her own mother’s advice, talks, shouting matches. Yes, there is a progression and any daughter or mother can attest that sometimes advice and talk get bypassed and shouting becomes the way of saying this simple sentence: I love you and I am so afraid of you making a mistake that could cost you your future.
Part of the reluctance to say these very true and meaningful words is the memory of how obstinate she was at “that age.” Even if a mother has done most everything right herself in a mother-daughter relationship, there may come a time when she projects her teenaged behaviors, thoughts, and feelings upon her daughter.
Most good mothers are so, not because they had a stellar relationship with their own mothers, but because they did not, and they are determined to have a good relationship with their daughters. The intent and pledge to do so is so strong, that when there seems to be the least threat to that relationship, that sacred alliance, the mother lashes out at whomever or whatever poses the threat. Often that may be the daughter herself who at a certain and normal age of her development wishes to assert herself as independent of her mother.
Fiction is Fact
Anyone who was a member of the cult following of the Gilmore Girls (2000-2007) remembers the enviable relationship between Lorelai and Rory. The only times there were ever disruption to their harmony was when there was a male in Rory’s life that posed a threat to not only the mother-daughter relationship, but also to the brilliant future Lorelai saw for her daughter; the one she herself did not have, because of a boy that ultimately led to teen motherhood.
The juxtaposition of their relationship is that Lorelai would not take anything for her daughter. However, her cognitive mind recognizes that had she not become a mother at sixteen her life would have been easier, if not better. This sort of cognitive dissonance is the stuff for which mother-daughter relationships are made of. Mothers love their children, mothers love their daughters, but they wish so much more than motherhood for them.
If It Is Not Hate, It Must Be Love
When a mother and daughter come to an impasse in their relationship it is painful to them both, it may seem that they hate one another. The daughter may feel that no matter what she does, her mother hates her. The truth is that rarely do a mother and daughter actually hate one another, they simply find themselves at odds in the relationship. The daughter needs independence, and the mother is afraid to let go and allow her daughter to make mistakes; mistakes that could possibly be fatal, or at least heartbreaking.
There are no easy answers for any mother or daughter. However, open communication is a must. Even when it is painful. Even when there may be raised emotions and voices involved. No matter the issues, the words: I love you should be expressed often in the conversation. Even if these words are prefaced with: I am angry or I am disappointed, or especially, I am afraid. No psychologically healthy mother ever hates her daughter. She simply does not like the power that child has over her to drive her back to when she could have changed her course, and did not.
Daughters: Be Kind to Your Mothers. They Love You No Matter What You Do. Mothers, Be Kind to Your Daughters. They Love You No Matter What They Do.
 Missy Molloy, “Mother-Daughter Ambivalence According to Sigmund Freud and Chantal Akerman,” PSYART; Gainesville, 2014, N_A.
 Paul M Usita and Barbara C Du Bois, “Conflict Sources and Responses in Mother-Daughter Relationships: Perspectives of Adult Daughters of Aging Immigrant Women,” Journal Of Women & Aging 17, no. 1–2 (2005): 151–65.
 Susan J. T. Branje, “Conflict Management in Mother-Daughter Interactions in Early Adolescence,” Behaviour 145, no. 11 (2008): 1627–51.
 Molloy, “Mother-Daughter Ambivalence According to Sigmund Freud and Chantal Akerman.”
 N A Gonzales, A M Cauce, and C A Mason, “Interobserver Agreement in the Assessment of Parental Behavior and Parent-Adolescent Conflict: African American Mothers, Daughters, and Independent Observers,” Child Development 67, no. 4 (August 1996): 1483–98.
Branje, Susan J. T. “Conflict Management in Mother-Daughter Interactions in Early Adolescence.” Behaviour 145, no. 11 (2008): 1627–51.
Gonzales, N A, A M Cauce, and C A Mason. “Interobserver Agreement in the Assessment of Parental Behavior and Parent-Adolescent Conflict: African American Mothers, Daughters, and Independent Observers.” Child Development 67, no. 4 (August 1996): 1483–98.
Molloy, Missy. “Mother-Daughter Ambivalence According to Sigmund Freud and Chantal Akerman.” PSYART; Gainesville, 2014, N_A.
Usita, Paul M, and Barbara C Du Bois. “Conflict Sources and Responses in Mother-Daughter Relationships: Perspectives of Adult Daughters of Aging Immigrant Women.” Journal Of Women & Aging 17, no. 1–2 (2005): 151–65.
As the end of yet another school year approaches some teachers are taking the initiative to create their class syllabi for the upcoming school year, some are looking for other teaching opportunities, and a growing number are contemplating leaving the profession altogether. A word from the wise, the initial excitement of a career change can soon lead to disappointment and disillusionment. I found a few things out the hard way, and as a result have at least five versions of my resume that showcase the skills and experiences I have acquired as a teacher in a way that best fits the job for which I am applying.
One of the most shocking revelations for me as I began preparing myself for a career change was that most employers – whether in corporate America or non-profit -tend to infantize teachers and minimalize what we do. I have received many proverbial pats on the head at the end of an interview. These have toughened me up and taught me a great deal. Most of us have become accustomed to this type of treatment from our administrators, but to find this is how many “on the outside” also view us was a bit troubling. Even when I have been told by people in my social circle that they admire me for being a teacher, that teachers do not make nearly enough, it is because they see us as having the most stressful baby-sitting job in America.
If you are one of the many teachers thinking of leaving the Smart Board, faculty meetings, and chronic UTIs behind, let’s take a critical look at what you really know how to do.
Management/Supervisory: Teachers manage up to 30 or more people at least three times a day, depending upon whether they teach a block or traditional schedule. That can = totals of 100+ “employees”. Teachers conduct an equal number of performance evaluations every four to six weeks, with a final performance evaluation give to each “employee” at the end of the year.
Project Management: Teachers plan and oversee large and small-scale projects designed for both group and individual deployment.
Strategic Planning: Teachers must plan strategically in order to meet overall objectives for optimum ROI (Return on Investment). Teachers recognize that if they are unsuccessful in the onboarding process of their planned initiatives, that high turn-over and loss of revenue could result.
Conflict Management: Teachers must have and exercise strong conflict management and resolution skills for not only their students, but also in regard to parents and colleagues.
Data Collection and Analysis: Teachers have the ability to collect and assess data efficiently and often at a glance using both formal and informal measurements.
Communication Skills: Teachers communicate on average with over 100 people per day using various mediums from face to face, email, text messages, and even video conferencing.
Fiduciary/Budgeting: Teachers must plan budgetary expenses to ensure the work day needs of 100 or more individuals are met for 180 days of the year.
Research and Development: Teachers must research various topics and develop appropriate vehicles for conveyance and dissemination of information.
Public Relations: Teachers recognize that they are emissaries of their institutions and that their conduct is reflective upon their industry and the institutions with which they are employed. Teachers communicate with various stake-holders and community members in order to keep all parties apprised of goals and objectives.
Diversity and Inclusion: Teachers must create workspace that is inclusive for all individuals regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, gender/gender identity, or political affiliations.
These are just a few of the skills and knowledge teachers possess that can be translated into employment or even business ownership outside of education. Be prepared to pitch these skills and demonstrate through analogy and example how these are relatable and translatable skills.
As a Navy veteran, I remember leaving the service and joining the civilian workforce. Employers with whom I interviewed were always impressed with my skill set, but most of all they knew that as a U.S. Military veteran, I also had discipline and character.
Teachers have the discipline to get up and go to work 190 days per year whether they or even their children are ill. When they cannot be at work, they manage their classrooms remotely, as they are required to have lessons planned for substitutes.
Teachers have the character to influence and inspire the next generation. Few people can share how a boss has influenced or inspired them, nearly every successful person can name a teacher who has.
Just because the standardized testing we all know and love has finally come to an end, does not mean that school has. No matter what grade level you teach there is still much left to do for the remainder of the year; even for seniors.
I told my junior students I am now focusing on getting them ready for their senior year. Their new teacher will love me for it. Besides finishing out the text book, there is no reason these students should not be getting a jump on resumes, learn how to fill out job applications, or write award-winning scholarship and college essays, the list can and does go on.
The state and district-wide standardized tests, while they do factor into the class grade for most students, are not an accurate reflection of what students have actually learned in class. Students need to feel they have come to class every day for 180 days for a reason. Standardized tests do not make them feel that way. While the skills and foundational knowledge in class are transferable to these tests, the students are quick to recognize these test bear little resemblance to lessons taught and specific content learned daily.
It is important that teachers not just pack it in now that these tests are over. English teachers can teach that favorite novel they just did not have time for prior to testing. Science and math teachers can pull out that STEM project they have been drooling over. History teachers can have their students work on a cumalative museum project.
The last thing any of us want for the last two to three weeks of schools is to sit in idle boredom and have the kids with glazed over eyes texting and “liking” on their phones. Worse yet, skipping class.
Some other ideas:
- Socratic Seminars
- Create a Broadcast
- Write and Act out a Play
- Teacher for a Day
- Film Critiques
- Role Plays
- Create a Puzzle
- Paint a Mobile Mural
- Start a Fundraiser
Do something. Your kids and your brain will thank you for it.
Then… you can have a truly great summer!