Why Teachers Leave

If you have paid attention to any news headline in any given state, district you have seen a teacher shortage and districts scrambling to figure out at the last minute how to fill HUNDREDS of positions. Just do a quick Google Search: teacher shortage and watch what comes up.

Now let me tell you, this did not happen overnight. This did not start with COVID or any controversial issue or curriculum mandate or even laws/regulations put into place. This started DECADES AGO!!!! You hear me DECADES!!!

I remember being high school wanting to become a teacher and being asked “are you sure? They do not get paid what they are worth. Things are changing. It is not just a job.” I heard those voices from teachers in the back of my mind as I struggled to make a decision. I remember sitting in a class at the local community college and teachers were present because they had to earn so many college credits to maintain their certification. SAY WHAT NOW!!! You mean to tell me I have a degree, I have to keep going to school after I graduate. PLOT TWIST: you pay for that course out of your pocket, if you are lucky enough the district pays or reimburses you. That reimbursement comes with so much red tape so many just don’t even bother. If the district pays it will be course work that will not benefit you or your students because the information will be so outdated and irrelevant the course will bore you to tears.
Then came No Child Left Behind…listen they left so many children behind with that. That expired and we got Every Child Will Succeed…more lies and smoke screens. The achievement gap is not Grand Canyon wide and deep.
Guess what population of students constantly get the short end of the stick? Guess who is still being left behind, who is affected the most by laws/regulations/decisions, guess who is stuck in overcrowded classrooms with mold, outdated textbooks, astronomical amounts of behavior challenges, lack of resources, high teacher turnover, high discipline issues and issued….let me spell it out for you

Our black and brown children. Our children whose parents cannot afford the after school tutor. Our children who are coming from working class and the working poor. It is not just the poor anymore. If you do not have the means for tutors your child will suffer. If you do not have books of all genres in your house, your child will suffer. If you are working and your child goes to before and/or after school care, your child will suffer. If you have older children who are in sports and now the whole family is going to and fro to support games and practices, your child will suffer. If you are not carving out time to sit and talk with and to your child, your child will suffer.
This is no longer about who is not going on family vacations. This is about BASIC everyday skills that we forget/forgot about. TALKING at this point is a lost art. When a child enters kindergarten and did not attend pre-k or preschool, they are starting FIVE YEARS BEHIND!!!!
Kindergarten: they are expected to read by the end generally a level D (at least 4 sentences on a page, familiar and unfamiliar words/vocabulary, fiction and non-fiction), write a paragraph (4 sentences)


Now think about that child who comes into school only knowing their name. Not recognizing it just knowing it when an adult calls it and I am talking about their government name. Our roster does not have nicknames on it. We get the name on the birth certificate. This child comes into our classroom and they are expected to end at the same place as the child who comes in knowing all their letter and some letter sounds, can write their first name, and can read a few words (like, see, the, cat, dog). Then there is that child that can write their first and last names, read a book and tell you what it was about, knows all the letter sounds, has traveled outside of their state and should probably skip a grade but socially they are not ready. Again all are expected to end at the same place but when they start they are at different places. Now let’s add that child who has delay but we don’t know it so we monitor their development. Add the behavior child. The child who’s native tongue is not English. We do not have only five children in our classrooms. So take each child and multiple it by five. That’s being nice to have it evenly split. Most cases it is not and our classrooms are always unbalanced. There is no full time assistant teacher in the classroom in kindergarten. Some states still have this but not all. Some states have a cap on the number of students allowed and some do not and some just don’t care. Those kindergarten students come to first grade rather they are on grade level or not. Then they keep going up and up no matter what. Most districts won’t even entertain retaining a child until 3rd grade. You know how much damage is done by 3rd grade. Every research shows that if a child is NOT on grade level by the end of 3rd grade they may not ever catch up. They look at 3rd grade reading levels and determine if the child will grow up to live a life a crime. Jails and prisons are full of adults who are illiterate and struggled academically. Education has become a business. Education and the school to prison pipeline are now full-time partners. “Politicians and journalists often claim prison planners use third grade reading scores to predict the number of future prison beds needed” from The Relationship Between Incarceration and Low Literacy https://literacymidsouth.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/incarceration-and-low-literacy/

PROBLEM 1: Over Crowded Classrooms

24 kids plus ONE adult in a space meant for 15 kids is a problem. We can all safely agree that the kids today are not the same as ten or twenty years ago. When you have 24 kids plus ONE teacher, that one teacher is over used. Kids do not all come to school the same way. Six kid is coming to school hungry and sleepy. One kid is being molested/neglected/abused. Two kid has BOTH parents involved and part of the PTA, checks homework every night, stays in contact, and wants to know how to help and support. One kid is one grade level behind. Five kids are two grade levels behind. Ten are three grade levels behind. Four kid you wonder what have they being the entire time they have been in school because every day is ground zero where nothing sticks, so now you gotta fill out paperwork and document everything to get some help (this process takes 30-90 days to just get the ball rolling, the actual plan/diagnosis will not happen for another 30-90 days before you know it, it is spring and school is coming to a close). One kid will be on grade level and is excited to come to school and learn. One kid will have a behavior problem and terrorize the class and school everyday they show up. 15 will not speak English as their native language. 4 will have an IEP. 5 will have a 504 plan. Now the curriculum that we are to teach does not make any room for these kids. The curriculum is only for the kids that are on grade level and/or have parental/family support at home. There is no way to give all these children the individualized attention they need, require, and demand. That kid who demands the attention rather through positive means or negative gets the attention. We cannot be every where at ONE time in the overcrowded classroom.

Problem 2: lack of resources

Any successful classroom has resources from materials to people. Kids cannot learn in a prison type environment but guess how many classroom look like that before teacher spruce it up to look warm and inviting. These resources cost money. So every year teachers are shelling out THOUSANDS of dollars out of their own pocket to create that warm and inviting classroom. Check out #clearthelist #clearthelist2022 #clearthelists #clearthelists2022 on twitter and you will see THOUSANDS of teachers asking for help and support to fund their classrooms.

my actual classroom before I decorated with no funds from the district.

Resources also means school supplies, listen parents that list is because we know not every child is going to come to school with school supplies and yes we use expo markers in small groups, we use post-it notes while reading along with highlighters. Just get the supplies please. We as teachers need supplies too. If lessons are not engaging your child is not learning.

Resources also means other teachers. ESOL, SPED, Guidance Counselors, Paraeducators, Building Service, Cafeteria Workers, Bus Drivers, Parent Liaison, Therapists (speech, OT, PT, psychologist) Special Teachers (PE, Art, Music) Media Specialist, Intervention Teachers we need every single adult in that building and then some more extras like our substitute teachers. Budget cuts reduce our support staff every single year. Most of our support staff are not just at one school sometimes they are at two or three schools sometimes the whole cluster of schools which can be up to 6 or 7.

Problem 3: Lack of admin support

Now I am clearly aware of times when administration has their hands tied by the district and the policies the district has in place. However I have worked with admin that does what needs to be to retain their teachers and will go to bat for their staff.

When that behavior child is raining terror and we call for help, just know we have tried everything in our power and now we need reinforcements. What we get however is the child right back in our classroom within five minutes of sending them to you.

Let me give you an example: Student A is upset because they are being asked to complete work. Student A begins yelling and screaming “I hate school, you can’t make me do this” Okay teacher calmly talks to student “Please stop yelling, you are right, I can’t make you do this. Do you need help? Let’s do two problems together and then you can take a break for 5 minutes. We will set a timer” Student” F*&% you, you stupid b*&^%” Then proceeds to throw things.
Now the teacher has some choices to make because now student A has become a danger to others and the situation is escalating. Teacher evacuates the classroom to keep the other students safe however Student A is still in the class throwing things and screaming. Admin is called they remove the student. The classroom is a mess. Teacher calls students for a class meeting to do a check-in to answer questions, calm students down, ensure them they are okay and safe now. Everyone begins to clean up a mess they did not make and enters Student A with a smile and candy.
What the entire f*&^. Admin tells the student “now remember what we talked about, you promised you make better choices” Admin walks away. Teacher is dumbfounded and students are now upset “how come they get candy?” Teacher has no answers. Student A does not make better choices repeat what just happened. Now a teacher can only take so much of this before is wears on the nerves, physical and mental health. Kids no longer feel safe. Teacher no longer feels safe. Student A gets to do whatever they want and receive candy for their behavior. What message have we just sent? This is first grade not middle or high school. FIRST GRADE and that was the tame version of that story.

Problem 4: District Policies

I won’t stay here long because this one is exhausting and irritating. Just know that people in charge do not always have education degrees, have not always taught in the classroom and are so far removed from current present day issues they should not be in charge.

Problem 5: Salary

To tell a teacher that they knew what they were signing up for is an insult. To say teachers are in it for the outcome and not the income is an insult. Teachers should NOT have to work two jobs just to make ends meet. I am not talking about living the lifestyle of the rich and famous or even living outside of our means. BASIC EVERYDAY LIVING IS EXPENSIVE!!! Our salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living. When we have to beg for an increase and then slapped with a 1% increase that is an insult. Remember we are required to get college credits to maintain our certification. We are asking for a livable wage. Our salary should not be voted on every year by people who are not in our shoes and have no clue. First year teachers with one degree should be making at bare minimum 70k a year and a 5k yearly increase. First year with a masters should be making at bare minimum 80k a year and a 7k yearly increase. Student loans cost money to repay. Student loan forgiveness is not granted to everyone. Not every teacher is married.

PLOT TWIST: you can check your local school district’s salary schedule to see how much they are paying teachers, administrator, etc. All of this information is public. Do not focus on the average that is inaccurate information.
We are required to get a bachelors degree plus take state exams. Most of us go on to get a graduate degree to increase our salary. We take college courses to maintain our certificate, so we end up with college credits but without that degree it is just additional credits. Our salary does not match cost of living nor out student loan debt. Add in children and we get two and three jobs JUST TO SURVIVE! We should not have to ask for supplies and resources for our classrooms.

Howard County Maryland
Charleston South Carolina
North Carolina

Problem 6: outdated curriculums

This is minor major problem. At this point just stop purchasing curriculums and trust teachers to do our jobs without following a boxed curriculum created by a non-educator. There is no room for individualized and differentiated instruction to the point we are constantly supplementing. Listen Teacherspayteachers should not exist but it does because of the ridiculousness of these curriculums. In addition they end of purchasing a new curriculum and we are back at ground zero learning a new curriculum and trying to make it work for our students.

Problem 7: no work-life balance

Somewhere people expect teachers to work past their contracted hours and say nothing. Teaching is a 12 month job but we only get paid for 10. PLOT TWIST: not every teacher gets paid through the summer. So now we are working over the summer on top attending PDs. There are countless amount of teachers who try to create a work-life balance and not take work home and not stay past their contracted hours but struggle because we want to do what is best for our students. We often neglect ourselves. The amount of teachers who have high blood pressure and UTIs are astronomical. Yes we get a lunch break but often times we are working through our lunch breaks unpaid to return phone calls, answer emails, make copies, lesson plan, deal with students, grade papers, update grade books, update documentations, attend meetings…our breaks are never truly free unless we hid buy turning off our lights and locking our doors or sit in our cars. Elementary teachers are with their students all day. Secondary teachers are with students all day. Some have lunch and recess duties. Some have arrival and dismissal duties. Please stop telling us to use our time wisely when we don’t have time.

Problem 8: the abuse

I am not going to tip-toe around it and call it anything but abuse. From the verbal abuse to the physical abuse. At some point you say enough is enough. Our students abuse us and most are protected by IEPs and 504s so we are told to suck it up and deal with it or document it so that their plans can be adjusted (THIS TAKES 6 to 8 WEEKS!!!) Our students are cursing at us and saying things that should not be coming out of a child’s mouth. The utter disrespect has increased to the point it feels like we are in a war zone. Parents are physically and verbally abusing us. Politicians are verbally and physically abusing us. Administrators, district office, school board…everyone! Everything is blamed on teachers and I promise we are the most powerless. We are told what to teach and when to teach it. Now we are being told how to teach. Our salary is voted is on, we have little to no opportunity to negotiate our salaries. We are told what we need to keep our certificate. We are told how many students are in our class. We are told what to do from the time we sign that contract to the time we resign/retire. Teachers are NOT the ones you need to be mad at. We have been conditioned to take the abuse because we love our kids. We have been conditioned not strike and stand up for ourselves because we are in it for the kids. We are in for the outcome not the income. Teachers have a heart of gold. Teaching is a calling.
NOW because the shortage has gotten out of control ANYONE with a high school diploma can go into a classroom and be a ‘teacher’. Okay good luck with that. There are going to be more issues on hand with this move.

Problem 9: lack of accountability

Okay listen teachers are not robots nor are the students. When students and parents are allowed to abuse teachers there is no respect. NO respect no control. NO respect no control = chaos. School and classrooms have become chaos. Education has become a circus. Everyone is pointing fingers. Everyone is arguing and fighting over something from CRT to COVID. The children are running a muck and no one is helping teachers get them under control. They are seeing violence outside of school at home in the community on social media and they bring it to school in the classrooms. Teachers are called to educate. Teachers are now called to defend and put their lives on the line for their students. So one more thing added to overflowing plates.


If America truly wants to fix/solve the problem, they have to get to the heart of the matter. Talk with teachers. We will tell you what the issues are. We will tell you what we need and want. It is not complicated. These issues did not happen overnight and they will not be resolved overnight. However if you want quality education, you must treat education like it matters. You must treat it with quality. It starts with the teachers, those are educating students.

When Tragedy Strikes…it has been four years

I was unable to finish my last post

https://elizabeth8199.com/2019/03/31/when-tragedy-strikes-part-2/ read here and here https://elizabeth8199.com/2018/03/31/when-tragedy-strikes/ to kinda catch up

It has been four year since my world was turned upside down. I am finding the month of March being super hard for me. Well it starts at my birthday. I would have never known my 37th birthday would have been the last time I heard my mama say happy birthday. March 24th I relive those seven days one agonizing day at a time. I knew life was fragile and short. I lost my dad when I was 16. I knew to cherish every moment you have and love those you love while you can. BUT NOTHING can fully prepare you. When you hear hospice you think…let me rephrase that when I heard hospice I heard “you have time to prepare and transition” In reality I was in denial. I remember sitting on the couch minding my business and my mama hands me a brochure for caskets…..WHOA LADY!!!!! She said she wanted to plan her funeral when Chris came home…. WHOA LADY!!!!! You are fine everything is fine. We are fine.

The lies I told myself. I just needed my mama to be fine. I was not ready. She had made peace with it all and that is purpose of Hospice to help the family to make peace. Kinda hard to make peace when my mama was sitting up talking, laughing, being her normal self life nothing was wrong.

I don’t think you can really prepare and accept death when it happens. When she lost consciousness I knew what happening in that moment but it didn’t click until I had to look at my child the next morning and tell her. I knew there were things we had to do and people we had to call but it just didn’t make a whole lot of sense.

I am gonna try to finish the story.
We helped her out the bed and I remember saying “Chris I have dead weight” and all three of us kinda sitting on the floor. She was in and out of consciousness and then she just didn’t wake up. I kept saying breathe. I don’t know it I was talking to her or myself. Mama you are fine, we are fine. I call 911 and the hospice nurse. The hospice nurse is 45 minutes to an hour away. EMT are on their way. 911 is telling us how to perform CPR. Mama had a DNR in place so we just listened to the steps. Chris is a registered EMT so he knew what to do. The ambulance comes and we are like DO NOT WAKE THEM KIDS!!! They did not see nor hear any of this. They call it at 1:55 am. That is a night I will never forget. Those are images I will never forget. I was not ready.

Now here I am four years later angry and hurt. Sad and confused. Blessed to have memories and knowing I had an amazing mother who loved me, provided for me and laid and excellent foundation. Grief is not linear. You never really fully stop grieving you just learn to move forward with it. I carry her and my daddy with me daily. I wish they where here to see me and keep guiding me. I wish Elise knew my daddy. I wish I had more time with both of them.

Deciding to Leave AGAIN

Listen this school year reminded me why I left in the first place.

Politics and Education DO NOT MIX!!!!

Overcrowded classrooms. Lack of parental support. No planning time. No work-life balance. High stress levels. I legit lost ten pounds from September to November. Behaviors have skyrocketed. It is no longer worth it. I do not like any of my kids. I can tell you my favorite kid from the time I started worked in preschool up until this year. I am happy when even one of my kids are absent. They aren’t horrible kids I just do not have the energy anymore. I have twenty-one kids and only three are on grade level. There is not enough time in my day to catch them up. There is not enough flexibility with the curriculum to provide them with what they need. They cannot work independently so small groups becomes a challenge. I barely eat lunch because I have to prepare for the afternoon. I work in shifts, I make sure my morning is ready and then I work on the afternoon during lunch. I leave work at work. I do not work at home. On top of that things happened with admin at my school, so we are missing that piece. No admin support because we have not had consistent admin in the building to support us. No plan in place to deal with these ridiculous behaviors.

There are more than enough news reports on education and the pandemic. Lack of substitute teachers, bus drivers going on strike, inflation affecting lunch menu options, parents mad about virtual learning, parents made about masks mandates, parents mad about the air at this point, teachers more overwhelmed than usual….the list goes on and on. Just sit and talk with an educator, Titanic finally hit the iceberg and it is sinking. Trust we have only hit the tip and things are only going to get worse.

Elise is ready to go as well. She wants to travel again. She wants friends that make sense. She doesn’t want to worry about school shootings and fights. TikTok challenges are not a thing. Yes the kids have it but the do not take it seriously. Kids abroad take their education slightly more seriously. Parents are slightly more involved. Admin is more supportive and you are trusted to do your job. You are treated as a professional.

I did not have to pick up a side job just to make my ends meet. I am ready to go back to where life was simpler and easier. It was utopia but it was not political.

I am just hoping and praying that the boarders do not close on me and I can get out safely. My main focus has been in the Middle East and Africa.

I have had one interview before holiday break and hoping that once holiday break is over I get more interviews and offers start coming. I will land where I am meant to be.

My brother is supportive of my going. Elise is onboard with us going. That is all that matters and my brother’s vote is extra. As long as Elise is good, I am good.

Here is my timeline for the 2022-2023 recruitment season

NOVEMBER:

Joined http://www.iss.edu and http://www.schrole.com It was $75 each. I applied to schools that I are considered top tier. Some schools you can apply directly and others you have to use a platform. I have mentioned before there is a difference between an international school and a private school. I joined http://www.teacherhorizon.com which is free. I use this to cross reference and check schools to see their local and international population. I then go to the school website and instagram to check if they are really international. There are times international is focused more on the passport but the child is still being raised in the country. This is more common in Asian countries. I already know there will not be a bunch of black faces but what I will not do is bunch of local students. Nothing wrong with it but I have a child to consider. Generally speaking when the local population is higher than the expat/international population, you face more challenges. Example: grades are given, they are more concerned about the locals than your child, parents are annoying or disconnected, students are rude and entitled (they know mama and daddy got money so they do not care) When there is a balance or expat/international population is higher people tend to take education more seriously and set the expectations accordingly.

I would not apply
I would pause here too but I would check instagram and their website, this could be a new school without a lot of data
I am applying without a doubt but I am still checking instagram and their website

DECEMBER

I am still applying because by this point current teachers have started turning in their commitments for the upcoming school year. Recruitment fairs are happening. Schools need to get started on paperwork and visas. They want people in place before the first day of school. I had one interview before break. It went well but now I have to wait until after break and they are on break until January 9. The waiting game begins.
I join https://www.internationalschoolsreview.com its $29 a year. I look on here to see the school reviews. I take it with a grain of salt because most people write a review when they are upset. I also look at what is being said in the review, what are they really complaining about. If it is admin, I check to see if that admin is still there. Is it about upper school, secondary…I do not work in those departments. Is it about the country…what are we really complaining about, you are a guest in their country. White people (both sexes) will have a different experience from black people. Being a black female I will have a different experience from a black male. Being single and a single parent is different from being married or single with no children. All of these need to be considered.
I am making connections and joining Facebook groups to see what life will be like in other countries.
I’m thinking about the documents I will need to gather. Thinking about what to do with my stuff, sell it, trash it, give it away, put it in storage…I do not know yet. I do not plan on coming back but I didn’t think I would be back this time. What would I bring with me or ship over.

January

The waiting game…Listen January DRAGS on and on forever. Waiting is not fun. I am making a list of things I need to get authenticated and completed.
1. degrees ( might as well order these along with official transcripts)
2. birth certificates (I need Elise’s for sure and I grab mine just in case)
3. FBI clearance (this I have to wait until they tell me to get it, I am hoping they do not need one from China cause I have no idea how I would even begin to get a police clearance from China. I still have the police clearance from Kuwait.)
4. physical (agin I will have to wait until they tell me to get it)

I forgot how long it takes between interviews and the actually offer. I had my first interview with a school in December before the winter break. Their winter break ended Jan 9 but they were thrown into virtual learning last minute and news came about an event coming into the country. Okay so I had an interview with a school in Qatar. No need to keep that part a secret. So with the World Cup coming the ministry made changes to the 2022-2023 school calendar. Enrollment for admissions are happening. January is a busy month internationally. During my wait, I had an interview with a school in Egypt. Listen I do not want to live in Egypt. I did not even live my weekend trip to the pyramids. Glad I got to see the pyramids but I just cannot see myself living in Egypt. I sent a thank you email to the Qatar and then I got my second interview.
Let me express my excitement about the 2nd interview: science of reading and the focus on reading and literacy. We spent a large amount of time discussing what this looks like and why it is so important. They are shifting things to help teachers understand the importance of literacy and what it should look like. I shared how I want to shift out the classroom to do intervention and support literacy. Also if I am offered this position and accept, I have the option send Elise to another school in Qatar and they reimburse me for the cost. They said I will hear back sometime this week. Egypt said it would be a couple of weeks. I have applied to all the schools I wanted to apply to and few I did not think about until I did some research. My heart is in the Middle East though. Living and working in Qatar would be great for both myself and Elise.
I continue to wait.
Last week in January: I didn’t hear anything but on Sunday January 30 I got an email to meet at my earliest convenience. I brush my teeth and washed my face and said I could meet today or anytime this week. It was around 5:30 am. Hopped on to a video chat and was asked if I would like to be considered for a reading specialist position. Hell Yeah!!! I didn’t say that but I smiled and very excitedly shared my Yes I would like to be considered for a reading specialist position. They are seeing the effects of COVID on their students and want to jump on it and help fill gaps. My background and experience helps. This is right up my alley. They said it would be for two years and I would shift back into the classroom….um yeah I know how to work this were I can stay in the position permanently. However I am jumping on any opportunity to get out the classroom sooner rather than later. I should hear back around Tuesday or Wednesday. This is a new position and it is tentative. Prayers going up and fingers-crossed and all that jazz so that if this position is mine I am blessed with the opportunity to do so. I am excited thinking about it. Time to gather up my materials and resources for this position.

FEBRUARY

Interview with a school in Rome, Italy….ITALY who can pass up this opportunity. Me… I will pass up on this opportunity. Why TAXES!!!!! The salary is good but I would have to budget and potentially supplement my income. Okay Let me explain it like I have some sense.
1. as a US citizen I have no taxes for the first two years after than here comes a 40% tax rate. Now they have a new tax thing where if I know I am staying for longer than 2 years say 4 since Elise will attend high school in Italy….I could start paying taxes my first year and won’t see this huge sticker shock year 3. That makes it a little better but I am waiting to see actually numbers.
2. I have to pay for rent and utilities. That just sounds horrible at this point to pay bills and taxes. Like what is the point. It was mentioned if I live near the school I could find an apartment for 900 Euros. The further away from the school the higher the rent, then I would have to think about commute and expenses for that.
3. I have to pay for Elise to attend school with me.

Listen all I heard was money leaving my pocket instead of staying. They do put into social security. The salary is decent but once I start paying bills will I be able to save and travel? Eh it does not look like it. I am gonna look for apartments and see about average cost of utilities and food to see if I can survive on my salary but again it does not look like it. I am single with a dependent. I need all my coins.

SIDEBAR: waiting is discouraging. It is mid-February and I still have not received an offer. The school in Egypt said they will follow up about an intervention position. The school in Qatar said they are waiting on approval and these things take time. I have stopped applying because I am being selective and do not want to apply for the sake of applying. I have started looking at private and charter schools here in the states. I have not taken Target off the table. I know I need to be patient and it is still early but I am getting anxious.

Still waiting. I had my follow up interview with the school in Egypt. I keep telling myself it is still early. Be patient it will happen when it is time to happen. I told my principal I won’t be returning next school year and to be on the lookout for reference checks.

Pack your patience folks. Recruiting moves at its own pace.

New school enters in stage left. A school in Indonesia contacted me for interview. A few schools I have always wanted to apply to had openings so I applied with a smile on my face.
I started applying to independent schools in the DMV area. I just don’t think I can take that pay cut. A job opportunity kinda feel into lap via Facebook. I am keeping all options open. I just cannot risk staying at my current school with the current climate of anything goes with these kids and lack of support from admin.

March

This month has me still waiting so far. I ended February with interview number 3 with the school in Egpyt. It truly seems like the ideal job and position. A job where I am trusted to do my job. I pull a small group of kids to help support their development and fill the gaps. I am trusted to do that in ways that I see fit. No set curriculum. No one breathing down my next. No unnecessary pressure. A team of four including myself. I would support 3rd grade, since they are below grade level it is still what I am used to. It is me looking at data and looking at foundational learning and where they are to help them move to next steps. Um yes please and thank you. I do not get to pull small groups like I need to this year but when I do I see the improvements and benefits. Whole group instruction is trash when more than 50% of your class is below grade level. Whole group instruction only works when kids are ready for the content and the learning gap is astronomical. The school Indonesia did not pan out. I wasn’t even impressed in the interview. I have not heard back from the school in Qatar. I spoke with a friend who works at the school I interviewed with and she confirmed my thoughts that I will be free professionally to do what needs to be done and Elise will be fine at the school. I did not even know she worked there. Small world. She and her husband have been there 3 years going on another year. That speaks volumes in the international world. She said I can live off of 1,000 EP that is roughly 63 USD. Um listen that is a tank of gas at this point. I can’t even get groceries for 63 dollars. Still not 100% sold on living in Cairo but at least the school will be what I need. The school will be what Elise needs. I can pick my own accommodations. I know what to expect with Arabs. I do not have high expectations living in Cairo. I have visited. I am okay with living there. I just need to offer on paper to see what I am working with. The idea is growing on me. I roughly scanned Google for accommodations in Cairo just to get an idea. Again the idea is growing on me. I will more than likely accept it. I will stop applying. I have a good feeling about the school. I know from my experience at my last school in China that the school can make or break your experience in a country. I hated my last school which in turn made me hate the city and country. Cairo may end up being my diamond in the rough.

Mid March

is finding me with schools coming out the woodwork contacting me to schedule interviews. March is considered the height of recruitment season. 1. current teachers have made it official they are or are not returning 2. student enrollment is happening so these two things give schools a better idea of what to plan for. They also know the paperwork takes forever and you need time to process the paperwork and just in case there is a mistake or challenges arise then you have space and opportunity to fix it. So March you will see the ball rolling and quickly. Guess who still hasn’t ordered any documents. UGH. I am going to order my documents right now as I type this. I was contacted by a school in Hong Kong and South Korea both are highly coveted schools. Qatar did not get approval for the position they were wanting for me. Waiting on my references for the school in Egypt and now I will entertain Hong Kong and South Korea and see what they are talking about. The school in both would have Elise and me on two different campuses. Hong Kong is a Christian school near the water. Again I will see what they are talking about both are classroom positions. May the best man win at this point. Wherever we are supposed to be that is where we will go. I applied to a school in Kenya AGAIN!. Listen every time I catch a position open that I qualify for, I apply. I usually get the rejection email in a couple of days. It gets depressing but I try until one day they say yes. I really want to teach in Africa and I LOVED Kenya when I was there. We shall see what happens. Tick Tock goes the clock.

Damn the interview with Hong Kong was amazing. Why did it have to go well? Why couldn’t they have been stiff and stupid? Why did they have to actually be diverse and mostly expats? I will double check this information because you know I need facts not passports. They did say they have a cap of no more than 30% local population and let’s face it Hong Kong is not Mainland. UGH!!!! Let me go look on these people website to see if I really want to work and live in Hong Kong.

Just finished my interview with the school in South Korea, if Elise was elementary I would have jumped on it but she would be high school and the high school is mostly locals and I cannot take that risk with her. Elementary campus is more diverse. So now I have to narrow life down to HK or Egypt. My information is with HR in Egypt so that offer should be coming next week. I will schedule a meeting with the head of school in HK. I will pray and meditate on both. It is matter of where can I live for the next four years. Where would be best fit for the next four years. Where is going to propel me towards my goals. This is gonna take some chart paper with pros and cons for the schools and the country. I need to see both offers to see that comparison. Career wise Egypt would be best I would already be out the classroom. HK I would have the option and opportunity for career growth, development, and change. HK school would be better for Elise to start because there are expats. Listen I don’t like making these kinda decisions.

My wall right now. I have little things to big things. Things that do matter and don’t really matter. I wanted to be honest and take a hard look at the bigger picture. I will be in either Egypt or Hong Kong for at least 4 years. Both schools are dope and there are no issues there for neither myself or Elise. It literally will come down which country can live in and which contract looks better.

I received my offer letter from Egypt and I had some questions and I am waiting on them to get back with me. However, those answers will determine if I keep Egypt on the table or not.

I spoke with two team members from Hong Kong and they were dope as well. Neither will be on the team one will return home and the other is moving down a grade level. Both have been at the school for 5 years. Again this is good thing to see people stay for a long period of time. So many schools have high turnover rates due to various reasons usually teachers discover the school is trash and decide not to stay longer than their two year contract.

HK is still doing the whole COVID thing with restrictions and whatnot. Egypt not so much. I just need to see the offer from HK. I have until Tuesday March 22 to make a decision on Egypt. I will ask for an extension by one day. I know they are headed to spring break next week and Ramadan soon follows. I just need to know their answer to my questions before deeply looking at their offer. I am hoping HK comes with an offer today or tomorrow so I can have final decision by the end of the week.

Egypt came through with the answers and it is all good. They are covering Elise 100%. They of course are covering me 100%. They give 48 hours to make a decision and I do not even know if it 48 hours their time or my time. The salary is good. I get a housing allowance that is doable. I get to pick my apartment or villa. I would have to pay for uniforms like with any school but I do not need to pay for tuition.

Looking at an offer is exciting and nerve wrecking at the same time.

I told y’all March is when things move and swiftly.

Here comes HK: their offer is sweet. Man this is a dope offer. I hate to pass it up. However money is not everything. I do not want to be in the classroom. I do not want to live in Asia again. The black expat population is low in HK in general. Lord the COVID restrictions and the schools are virtual. I just cannot do that again. I have 24 hours to make a decision.

Decision made:

I want to be out the classroom. I want to be in Africa. I want to be back in the Middle East. I want to have a high black expat population. I want to work at a school that is laid back. I want to work at a school that has black staff. I want to thrive in my career. I want Elise to thrive. I want to thrive.

Why is the 2021-2022 school year so hard?

Teaching has never been an easy career. We are tasked with educating the future. Students come to us from various backgrounds, cultures, learning levels… you name it we have seen it, heard it, and taught it. So why is 2021-2022 school so hard?
Titanic has finally hit the iceberg, that’s why.

Listen educators have been saying for YEARS, DECADES!!!!! that there is a problem. Remember in the movie when they saw iceberg but it was too late….well this is literally Titanic hitting that iceberg and the ship sinking.

No one wanted to listen us when we told y’all this was problem. No wanted to listen when we said things have got to change.

We asked y’all for more guidance counselors, smaller class sizes, increase in pay, administration support, less state mandated testing, more resources, but what we got was a hearty pat on the back a retention bonus that was taxed and random early release days.

The paradigm has shifted. Children are coming to us with so much trauma and lack of parental support. Schools, teachers are asked and almost demanded to raise our students on top of educating them. This issue goes deeper than education. This is an American problem where EVERYONE has to work and in order to work someone has to take care of the kids. When women were burning bras wanting to work outside the home….hello consequences. As cost living goes up but pay does not….hello consequences. 40 hour work week…..hello consequences. No one is home to help lay the foundation that children are supposed to come to school with. Curriculums are created with the idea that students are coming to school starting with the same foundation and have the same support at home. Ha joke is on them.

Students are coming to school with no foundational skills or various amounts of foundation skills. Picture it.
Kindergarten classroom with 28 kids no teacher assistant or para educator. These 28 kids are in a classroom built designed and created for 15 kids. 15 of those students are not native English speakers 3 of the non native English speaker do not speak any English. 5 students will have documentation started for IEPs or 504s. 20 students will not have family support at home. 3 students are above grade level. 8 are on grade level. 17 are below grade level. 25 students have never been to preschool.

Teacher is handed a curriculum that says review the 26 letters of the alphabet because students should already be able to identify the letters so we won’t spend a lot of time actually teaching letter ID, we have to focus on letter sounds. Remember those 17 students that are below grade level, they cannot identify the letters of the alphabet. Only 11 students can. 3 students are ready to read because they know their letter sounds. Somehow the teacher is supposed to differentiate the instruction to reach all 28 students, this is usually done in small groups. Teachers can only conduct small group instruction if students can independently work. Guess what students are unable to do….work independently. Those students who are being monitored have behavior problems that disrupt learning and other students. Those students who are below grade are frustrated because they do not understand and sometimes cause disruptions out of frustration. Two students have extreme behavior challenges which creates an unsafe learning environment. The teacher is constantly dealing with the behavior challenges. Students are ushered off to lunch and recess. The teacher spends that time making copies and documenting the challenges so far. Math instruction does not get any better. Now the behavior challenge is throwing supplies and turning over chairs and tables screaming and yelling. Administration is called. Student is removed. The teacher and the other students have to regroup themselves to move forward in their day. 10 students are now hungry but no snack time and the end of the day is two hours away. The student that was removed is returned to class. Someone stays and sits with the student for 30 minutes. Now it is time to pack up and go to specials. The students are ushered to their specials class. The teacher documents what happened with the student. Uses the bathroom and maybe grab a candy for lunch. This was a calm day compared to other days. There was no time to plan. Barely time to eat. Little administration support because this is not the only class with behavior challenges.

Once upon a time, there was maybe ONE student in the entire building that created havoc and terror that destroyed property, hitting, kicking, screaming. Now we have at least one student per class. There is only ONE guidance counselor and if you are lucky she is full time at your school and not part-time where you share her with another school or those guidance counselors that are split between three or four schools. The school psychologist is shared between a cluster of schools.

Once upon a time, you could actually plan during your planning period. Now you are in meetings or documenting, returning phone calls, answering emails, hunting down admin for support, making copies, sitting in the room with the lights off trying to hold yourself together.

Parents are only showing up to complain about things that are out of our control. We cannot masks mandates. We cannot control what curriculum is being used. We cannot control another student flipping tables and chairs. We cannot control CRT. We cannot control being quarantined. We cannot control decisions made by the board of education. We just show up and do the job we are told to do.

No one trusts us to our job which is why education has finally hit the iceberg. Ladies and gentlemen get ready for the robots to start teaching your students. When I say robots, I am talking about warm bodies. You will not have people in classrooms who actually care and are willing to spend money out of their pockets to make the classroom warm and inviting and supplement the curriculum. They are going to teach word for word from the teacher editions. They are going follow a script that was handed to them and not know how to adjust, adapt, or differentiate for various needs. They are going to leave faster than the current teachers because they are not invested. Think about the long term effects of this.

Parents we need your help and support. Teachers are not the ones in charge. Our children are suffering. We want to do what is right and best for our children but we cannot without parent support. Please start raising hell about things that matter long-term.

First week of school

As teachers we have been the brunt of ALL things wrong in education. We understand and know that we make NOT ONE decision. When they hold those board meetings and make decisions…do you see a current teacher represented? NOPE! How many of those board members are even educators? How many have children in the district at a low performing school or a Title 1 school? How much money does your superintendent make? Teachers are NOT to blame for what is happening in education. We are merely pawns. We are trying to make the best out of a horrible situation and we are tired.
Now with that said let me tell you who is really to blame: FAMILIES!!!!

Parents this falls on you. If you are not supporting your child at home this is for you.

You cannot expect teachers to do EVERYTHING!

Teachers should not be expected to do EVERYTHING!!

Children should NOT ever come into an elementary school classroom not knowing ANYTHING. Families are fussing and hollering about masks and CRT…SHUT UP!!!! If you do not have that same energy about classroom sizes, mold in buildings, curriculums that are outdated or not researched based, teachers buying their OWN supplies and resources, underfunded schools and classrooms, rezoning districts to keep money in the richer areas and keep the poorer schools poor…then SHUT UP!!!! If you are not advocating for more resource teachers such as ESOL and SPED and counselors….SHUT UP!!! If you have not thanked a teacher or joined the PTA or ensured your child has books at home…SHUT UP!!!

Every year we have children come into our classrooms knowing less and less. We have children who are not capable of following rules or understanding consequences. We have children who lack fine motor skills like holding a pencil to even access the curriculum. If your child cannot hold a pencil, they cannot write and guess what we write in school full blown sentences. Tablets are great but so are crayons, markers, pencils and regular paper. Tearing paper great for fine motor. Cutting with scissors great for fine motor. Your six year old should not fist grasp their pencil. Your seven year old should know how to write their name. For Pete’s sake they should at the very least say the alphabet to know how to find a letter. They should at the very least count to ten. Hell they have ten fingers and ten toes. Exposure is key. If you child comes to elementary school with NOTHING but game knowledge, sorry folks your kid is the low kid.

There are so many resources out here at your disposal as parents enough is enough. I am no longer here for the excuses.

I am not Jesus to be performing miracles every school year. It is exhausting. Our job is getting harder and harder every year because of the demands from families, the district, the state, the nation….see how I have named the adults. Our students come to us wanting us whole and ready and by day 5 I am pouring from an empty cup. My cup was empty day 3 if I’m being honest.

Help us help you help your child.

Teach them their real name…day 1 we do not always know the nickname or even the preferred name.

Teach them to recognize their name…we label everything so they know where their personal belongings go.

Teach them how they will go home….dismissal is a madhouse first day of school and the more your child knows the better.

Teach them the rules of conversation….when someone is talking you are quiet to listen….when you are talking we are quiet so we can listen

Teach them to count and recognize their numbers….when my math curriculum says write they need to know how to write

Teach them their alphabet and recognize the letters in the alphabet….the more they know the better

Read. Read. Read. Just expose them to books for Pete’s Sake the library is free.

If we have to teach academics and social skills. Life skills. We might as well claim them on out taxes. We fed them and keep extra food to make sure they are not hungry. We keep extra hats, jackets, clothes because guess what some kids are not dressed properly. Only thing missing from schools are beds and showers.

Help us. Help you. Help your child.

There is a teacher shortage and pay is not the only reason.

Bali

This is our last LONG holiday before summer break. We have two weeks off for Chinese New Year. I did not want to go somewhere cold and I really did not want to fight jet lag for most of the trip nor when we returned. Originally we were going to Singapore and Japan. Yeah that changed quickly once I realized it would be cold in Japan. It was already cold in China where I stay. Cold wether clothes weighs your luggage down. So I started pricing Bali.

Villas, Villas everywhere.
First you gotta decide do you want to be in city center or not. Bali is small but huge at the same time. I didn’t want to be bothered so I opted for outside of the city center. We stayed in Lovina Beach area which is North Bali. I regret nothing. The trip from the airport was 3 hours. Again I regret nothing.

Going through customs was long. We gotta do better about this a whole. You spend so much time in customs. Most of it is just standing in line waiting your turn. Then all that waiting…guess what still waited on our luggage. Then you need cash IMMEDIATELY! Look I live in a cashless society. I don’t know what the currency looks like most times. I just scan a QR code and BAM transaction complete. I really need the rest of the world to level up and the hackers to level down. I understand as long as there are hackers a cashless world will not be possible.
Anyways my Chinese union pay card was useless as I figured it would be so thank goodness I have my PNC card. Look even that was a hassle because it was a debit/credit card and the ATMs were being picky and complex. Finally I said enough I’ll just ask the driver. Bless his heart he took me to two different ATMs before I was able to finally draw some cash. It was late and we needed to eat. We stopped for snack and a SIM card.

– let me pause right here and discuss SIM cards. Now you are more than welcome to roam and use your American cell phone service. I was even roaming with my Chinese cell phone service. However I am not about that life for two weeks. I wanted fast and reliable internet. I also don’t want any surprises when my bill arrives. I don’t want any issues when I return to China and need to add money to my account. So I purchase a local SIM. It’s easy, simple and straight to the point. I don’t have to worry about roaming charges nor do I have to worry about not having service. Make sure your phone is unlocked or it won’t matter that local SIM will not work. Contact your cell phone provider to get more information about unlocking your phone. I know Verzion no longer locks their phones. T-mobile (which I have) give you free data at 2G speeds. I don’t need that drama in my life. Phone calls are .20 cents a minute. I think text messaging is free. Again I grab a SIM before I leave the airport or right outside the airport. I have an iPhone that has two physical SIM card slots. I pop out my Chinese SIM and insert the local SIM still having access to my US T-mobile SIM. Simple and easy. Better than those days when I carried two phones. That was a pain but whatever.

We drove through the mountains of Bali and about 8 minutes left of the trip I got nauseous and was gonna throw up in this man’s car. If you have ever driven or road through the mountains, it is a bumpy, curvy and hilly ride. I couldn’t handle much more. Thank God for peppermint. I grabbed some peppermint gum and my peppermint oil dabbed some in my face mask and I made it to the villa.

VILLA NYOMAN (http://villanyoman.com) I booked via airbnb.com

we arrived at this ungodly hour…it was like 10:30pm but for me that is bedtime. Anyways. We were greeted with smiles, a cold face cloth and a cold homemade drink. Don’t remember the name and didn’t take a picture.


They handed me a cellphone (an old Nokia looking phone) to use while here to contact them if no one was at the desk or I just didn’t feel like leaving the comforts of the villa. They showed us around the villa. 3 bedrooms. 3 bathrooms. Private pool. Sitting area outside for the pool and to eat. Sitting area inside with a TV. A full kitchen if I wanted to cook or if I wanted the staff to cook. Groceries not included. We settled in for the night.

The first two days we did NOTHING. Elise swam and I sat and read a book. Food was delivered to our villa and we ate outside. We have yet to go to the restaurant area on the grounds.

BALI ADVENTURE TREEPARK

I have zip lined in Bali and I am good on never doing that again. Elise wants to go again but we gotta do that in another country.

WATERSPORTS

I parasailed in Bali. Elise attempted knee boarding and she rode on this thing called a flying fish.

UBUD

I have seen monkeys and elephants in Bali. Bali was good to me and would come back. We were meant to ATV but after the swing we were done and wanted to leave. We learned how silver jewelry was made. Yeah okay. Tried to hustle money out me at the gallery and the artist place. I’m good love.

The Swing

look this was a WHOLE setup. It was beautiful, yes. BUT lord it was hot and crowded. I was over it after the first photo. I did not dress up. It was HOT! people were dressed up and people weren’t. The place I went to offered lunch and a photographer. You have unlimited time, unlimited photos. I will go back when it’s cooler. I’m not gonna be out here sweating and looking fly. I gotta pick a struggle.

THE WEATHER

It was hot and sticky. It rained but never for longer than an hour.

The People

They were amazing and friendly. They were kind and their hospitality was amazing. I live in China. I don’t experience these kinds of things on a daily basis. Being in Bali made me miss the Middle East.

BUGS, INSECTS OH MY

Look suck it up they have creepy crawlies. I’ve seen more ants, spiders, and on my lizards to last me a life time. Oh yeah and mosquitos. I forget these things exist in warm climates and all these trees.

Overall

Bali is an untapped land where they still have rice fields, spice fields, coffee fields, cocoa fields. They have local cuisine with a splash of western cuisine. I enjoy visiting countries that DO NO resemble the west. I hope it stays that way.

Are you UNCOMFORTABLE

Are you uncomfortable yet? GOOD. When you are uncomfortable you look for solutions. When you are uncomfortable to want to make things better.

Black people have been uncomfortable for 400 YEARS!!!!! We have been fighting for our right since we were slaves. We have been fighting for justice since slavery.

How on earth do you go over to a foreign land and STEAL people????? Not only do you steal them, you strip them naked and sell on the slave block like cattle. You sell human beings!!! Let that sink in. Nothing about slavery was happy and joyous for black people. There have been enough movies and books about this that portray this INHUMANE treatment. You separate families. You rape our women and get them pregnant and you are nice enough to put your offspring to work for you in the big house never acknowledging that is your whole ass child. You beat us for running away. You tell us we are not your equal. You tell us we are not human but PROPERTY. You attempt to beat us into submission and oppress us with your lies. You made us take your names because our names were too hard to pronounce or didn’t make sense to you. Some of us, most of us cannot even trace our families because you didn’t keep accurate records and you changed our names. We don’t even know our own damn history because you stole us and re-wrote our history to make yourselves comfortable.

You went to WAR to keep comfort. You went to WAR when you were made to feel comfortable and people called bullshit on slavery and told you it’s INHUMANE. You divided a whole nation because you were uncomfortable. You divide a nation that was built on the back of stolen people on a land that you stole. You did not take the time to understand people who do not look and act like you. You called them savages and told them their culture and way of life was inappropriate.

You see the correlation yet? Are you uncomfortable yet?

Then you lost the WAR and were set “free” with nothing!! Free to do what live like normal folks? How? You told us not read and write? You stripped us of native language and culture. We went out into this world YOU created and were not treated fairly or equally. You saw a slave. You saw an ignorant person not worthy. We were worthy enough to be your maids and take care of your children. We were worthy enough to be your chef and cook your meals. We were worthy enough to wash your dirty clothes. We were worthy enough to keep your yard neat. We were worthy enough to do the domestic work. We were worthy enough to do the work you did not feel worthy enough to do yourself. So we took your crumbs but underneath that mask we couldn’t breathe. We began to educate ourselves. We taught ourselves how to read and write. We learned about your constitution that wasn’t written for us but we wanted the same rights. We were granted the right to vote but actually being able to vote became a challenge and remains a challenge today with voter suppression. You keep giving crumbs and get mad when we choke or ask for more.

We educated ourselves and we bettered ourselves. We were doing good. Life was looking up for us then here come Jim Crow laws. Are you serious????? Purposeful systemic oppression because you were uncomfortable with our gains in the world.

Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation. Named after a black minstrel show character, the laws—which existed for about 100 years, from the post-Civil War era until 1968—were meant to marginalize African Americans by denying them the right to vote, hold jobs, get an education or other opportunities. Those who attempted to defy Jim Crow laws often faced arrest, fines, jail sentences, violence and death (https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws)

246 years of slavery wasn’t enough. You added another 100 years of oppression. 346 years of systematic oppression.

The legal system was stacked against black citizens, with former Confederate soldiers working as police and judges, making it difficult for African Americans to win court cases and ensuring they were subject to black codes. (https://www.history.com/topics/early-20th-century-us/jim-crow-laws)

Enter the KKK. WHITE PEOPLE violence. WHITE PEOPLE protesting. WHITE PEOPLE vandalizing. WHITE PEOPLE keeping us in the box they are comfortable with. How dare we educate ourselves. How dare we try to be human beings. How dare we make white people uncomfortable. How dare we rise out of ashes like a phoenix. How dare we ask for what every other human is allowed to have. We have the CIVIL RIGHTS ACT to end segregation. We have the VOTING RIGHTS ACT to allow us the right to vote without hinderance. We have the FAIR HOUSING ACT to allow to rent and buy homes without discrimination.

But at what point do the minds of people change and become okay with black people being treated fairly. We didn’t ask to be here. We follow the rules, cross our T’s and dot our I’s. We wear a mask to make you comfortable all the while you have your knee on our neck and we can’t breathe. We take one step forward in the right direction to be accepted in this country that you STOLE and STOLE us to build this land and you keep creating rules, laws, and systems to keep us oppressed.

You told us to straighten our hair to make you comfortable. We did by damaging our hair to the point it made us physically sick. You told us we were too dark and some of us bleached our skin. We dressed in a manner that made you comfortable. We spoke in a manner that made you comfortable. We lived in houses that made you comfortable. We wore our mask to make you comfortable with your knee on our neck and not breathing. We played your games and danced your dances. Being an athlete makes you comfortable. You have no problem cheering for us as we win your games and play your sport. We can act in movies and TV shows as long at content makes you comfortable. We have limited our abilities and skills to make you comfortable. After a while that mask became heavy. After a while we couldn’t hide the fact that we are uncomfortable in the skin we are in to make you uncomfortable. After a while we got tired and those bread crumbs you were handing out was not enough.

You need to be uncomfortable. You need to confront your prejudices and stereotypes and racisms. You need to see the flawed systematic oppression that we are experiencing. You need to check your privilege. You need to hold yourself accountable for the silent role you have played. To be silent means you have indirectly taken a side. When folks didn’t vote that nonvote went to the other person. It is the same concept. When you are silent you are agreeing with the other side.

To understand the anger and frustration and rage, you are going to be uncomfortable looking at the reason. When a people are anger they react to the final straw. We didn’t just wake up angry. This is years of built up anger. This is about 400 YEARS!!!!! Check the history that you didn’t learn in school. Schools won’t teach you 400 years of oppression because that makes it uncomfortable and they have to keep us in the box to stay comfortable.

It is time to be uncomfortable. It time to tackle the systematic oppression We aren’t here to comfort you or make this comfortable for you. We are taking our masks off. Either you are with us or not. No more sugar coating the injustice. No more taking crumbs. It’s time to have some hard and uncomfortable conversations . Are you willing to listen and comprehend? Are you uncomfortable enough to make a change? We cannot and will not go back to how things were. 400 years is enough.

Black Lives Matter

In the midst of a global pandemic, black people in America are facing their own pandemic…. racism, inequality, social injustice, systematic oppression. 400 years and 10 months worth of oppression.

My great grandmother was a slave. That’s 3 generations ago.

It’s 2020 and we are STILL fighting for equality.

We have watched and listened. We have silently protested. We have held in our anger. We have held in our rage. We have worn our masks to make folks comfortable while making ourselves uncomfortable. We are tired. George Floyd was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

What makes George Floyd so different? Why now? Whelp white america couldn’t justify his murder. He complied. He was in handcuffs. He was laying face down. There wasn’t a call for well what happened before. What did he do prompt this. NOT A DAMN THING. America watched for 10 TEN MINUTES while this murderer had his knee on his neck. George Floyd died around 3-4 minutes into the video but this filthy murderer kept his knee on his neck.

We have been telling white america for YEARS!!!!! DECADES!!!!! 400 years that the system is damaged. Black people know the system ain’t made for us. But NOW 400 years later you see how it ain’t made for us.

We have to pass laws to not be discriminated for NATURAL hair. The way our hair grows out of scalp makes white america uncomfortable to the point it not deemed professional. So we DAMAGED our hair to make you comfortable and now we have had enough but NO you keep trying to buy us back in YOUR comfort zone by banning hair styles that we have to protect our NATURAL hair.

Then you have the privilege to say ALL LIVES MATTER as a response to BLACK LOVES MATTER!!!!!!!

How dare you diminish the issue. How dare you ignore and continue to avoid the issue. You are part of the problem.

If all lives mattered we would not need a movement to specify BLACK LIVES MATTER. There is no need for a movement if there is not a problem. To not address the problem doesn’t make it disappear. 400 YEARS!!!!!! We’ve been silent, hoping and praying for better. Voting for better. Demanding peacefully for better. Boycotting for better. Not enough has changed.

The system hands us crumbs to shut us up but it’s not enough. We want the same treated as white people. We want what we deserve as humans. Nobody told you to come and STEAL us from our home to create your home on land you STOLE and then treat us like we aren’t even human. Hell we weren’t even human for 246 years we were property. Then we were 3/5 of a person. For 400 years we have been oppressed and enough is enough. So don’t tell me all lives matter when my black life does not matter to the land of free and home of the brave.

Cause this shouldn’t even be a thing we have to explain

While I’m here for you educators check your beliefs and your attitudes towards OUR children. When you don’t acknowledge them and you don’t celebrate them you are causing psychological harm to them. When they come home we as parents gotta undone the damage you did when we trusted you with our child for 6-7 hours a day. When there aren’t books in your classroom that represent our black and brown children you are causing psychological harm. Don’t sit in there and pity our children because you don’t understand their culture. Don’t sit and post about them on social media shaming parents. You go home clear on the other side of town. Your students don’t ever see you outside of school in their community. However for the 6-7 hours you have them you are leaving a mark on their lives. Are you doing your due justice by providing OUR black and brown an effective education. Or are you at that Title 1 school to have your student loans forgiven and then you bounce after you’ve damaged our children? Are you educating yourself about how to effectively educate OUR children?

Our children are not some damn service product. Get to truly know the students you teach. Stop labeling our children. Stop being so quick to diagnosis them with something because they think different and learn differently. It’s called DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION!!!!! Stop putting our children boxes. Little black boys can be more than athletes. Little black girls can be more than mothers.

While I’m here Martin Luther King jr. and Rosa Parks were not the only people involved with civil rights. Harriet Tubman was not the only slave. Stop learning black history that makes you comfortable. Learn about ALL the things we as black people have done and continue to and don’t always get credit for. Imagine what your lives would be like if we took all our inventions away? If we gotta learn about the Holocaust and all of the damn white history, you can take a moment to learn about BLACK HISTORY!!!!

We are not okay. We are done dying. We can’t breathe. Get your knee off our necks. Say their names. Black lives matter. This more than a movement this is revolution.

If you don’t know what to say to us, then say you don’t know what to say.

This list should not be this long. Say their names.

My Decision

January 2020 found the country I live in with a virus outbreak. Over the course of TWO WEEKS mass panic took over. I was on holiday break in Bali. I was not gonna give this issue much thought because I was in BALI. I was not gonna ruin my holiday stressing about what was going on.

However with 3 days left the situation escalated quickly. Emails from work were asking us to return as normally scheduled. Be back by February 3 and self quarantine. School will begin February 17. Stay outside of China or come back became the question I had to answer.
I looked at my bank funds FIRST how long could I really afford to stay out? What happens if I can’t get back into the country? What happens when the money runs out?
I don’t have a ‘home’ in the states. I would have to take myself and my child into other people’s homes until it is okay to return. But when will that be? I know family and friends would let me camp out with them but I HATE LIVING OUT A SUITCASE!!!!! I hate that displaced feeling.
I looked at my child who was slowly going stir-crazy in Bali in the heat. Go figure.

My flight was scheduled to leave 1:30 am January 31. I was to fly from Bali to Hong Kong. From Hong Kong to Shanghai. I was to take a private car from Shanghai to Hangzhou.

I packed enough for two weeks.

It’s crunch time.

I head to the airport.

I am still unsure of what to do.

I look at Elise. I look around me.

We head to the mall. We had LOADS of time to kill. Go to the mall. It rains. I buy two books. We have lunch. I still don’t know what to do. I grab some masks just in case. I look around and all I see are masks and Chinese folks. I’m aggravated just because I don’t know what to do.

Being an adult sucks.

Flight prices were slowing rising.

The city I live in is not highly effected. I can stay inside right?

I get in line to check in for our flight. MASKS EVERYWHERE!!!!!

A calm peace comes over me as I make a decision.

We board our plane.

We are safely back in China in our apartment. Anytime I leave my temperature is checked. I have to wear a mask. Deliveries are being left at the front gate with the guard.

I legit LIVE here. It’s not so simple to just pack up and leave your home. I gotta worry about a dog and a child. Stress cannot control me and my decisions.

I do not regret returning. I have things here I can catch up on that I have been putting off. I am not worried. I have not been contact with NOT ONE SOUL from Wuhan. I couldn’t even tell you where that place in relation to where I am.

SO please take a deep breath and relax. Stop watching the news. Check your sources before contacting me in a panic. I love you all. I am fine. Elise is fine. I came back for my sanity. I did not want to keep hopping countries. I did not want to keep checking in and out of hotels. I did not want to stress and worry my child or myself.

If the US evacuates my city I will get myself and my child on the flight out. Currently they have only evacuated ground zero.

The end of the first week finds my city on “lockdown”

Lockdown definition: an emergency measure or condition in which people are temporarily prevented from entering or leaving a restricted area or building (such as a school) during a threat of danger

Yeah I am not prevented from entering or leaving my apartment complex. They have restricted movement. Meaning I get a pick slip marking how many times I allowed to leave. On the 5th of February it was every two days by the 7th it was twice a week. Only places that are open are grocery stores. I can still order items online and have it delivered to the apartment building and as long as that is allowed, that is what I will do. If I do not need to go outside I won’t.

I send work home to my kids online. Elise completes her work online as well. Cabin fever has not set in yet.

The number of airlines no longer flying in and out of China is growing by the day. The number of countries that will allow me to visit coming from China is also growing by the day.

3 Weeks Later

So it’s been 3 weeks since I returned. Some people have left. Some have stayed. Some are returning. We have stayed put. The city is slowly coming back to life. They implemented a health code via QR code. Basically you answer a few questions and you either get a green, yellow or red QR code that let’s people know if you are healthy, at risk, or sick. If you are wondering the validity of this, there were a few cases of folks who lied and they were discovered. (I think this effects locals because of their ID and being connected to the system better than expats. However our passports get scanned as well when we enter and exit at the airport. The point is don’t think you aren’t being tracked) Any who I was gifted with a green QR code. This means I can enter and exit my apartment complex with no issues. Restaurants are open for delivery only. A few restaurants have opened for dine-in service. You still are required to wear a mask. Stores are slowly opening back up. People are outside walking around the apartment complex. School is still scheduled to re-open March 16 pending government approval and the logistics are figured out about how to return to school and keep everyone safe and healthy. It’s complex. We are still doing online learning. This comes with its own set of problems with slow internet speed when you have a billion people using the same platforms roughly at the same time.

We are relaxing working, watching TV, reading books, doing puzzles, cooking….you know trying not to be bored and go stir crazy. LOL

WEEK 6

School will not start on the 16th. No idea when school will reopen. We are now bored. Things are slowly re-opening with limited hours. The virus is now spreading across the world and things are getting downright ridiculous. I watch the news now even less than before . The numbers are dwindling in China so maybe life will be back to normal sometime in April.
Life will go on.

Online Teaching

Okay so I am going on a mini rant and an educational PD.

January 2020 found China faced with a rapidly spreading virus that will become known as the Coronavirus COVID-19. China literally shutdown and everyone was quarantined. It was a mess. Schools were closed and we as teachers were forced and thrown into this online/e-learning world.

Here is my issue I take with this: most schools are not prepared for this. Most teachers have no clue what this looks like. We live in a society where parents are ‘afraid’ of screen time because screen time at home looks a hot ass mess and they think it will apply to schools as well. So when school starts we are told to limit the amount of technology and screen time we use in class and our teaching.

Wait a minute it is the 21st century. Technology is all around us. These kids could probably operate technology in ways I didn’t even know about. Yet you are telling me to keep little Matt engaged and actively learning when all he knows is technology. Yeah okay.

I am a teacher. I am an educator. This means I have enough since, knowledge and wisdom to seek out ways to properly and effectively integrate technology into the classroom without it getting out of hand and it looking like a hot mess. I know how to implement technology to where it is an extension to learning and not a prize for learning. So I won’t turn on YouTube and let the video do the teaching. I won’t download zombies and aliens on the iPad and allow the to play this a reward. I won’t provide unlimited access to the laptop or Chromebook and not check to see what they are doing.

What technology in the classroom looks like: formal instruction.
One we are going over the ground rules. I am explaining how to properly handle the technology. I am explaining what you can and cannot do. I have set up so many teacher/parental controls, you are only allowed on what I say you are allowed. I am monitoring the usage. I am tracking the dates on the apps and websites. They are only on educational sites and apps. Teacher tested, student approved. It aligns with learning goals. It is developmentally appropriate. It is differentiated. I have formally taught a lesson and now I allow to show your learning and take responsibility.

What technology is not: turning on Youtube and letting someone else sing and teach your students. It is not handing over the iPad and say find your name or picture and “play” on the app. It is not opening the laptop/Chromebook and saying you can only access these websites.

We were thrown into online/e-learning at my school. We had not done anything that involved an iPad or laptop. My kids did not have the opportunity to experience learning with technology outside of YouTube, Starfall and ABCya. I had one student I was testing my personal iPad with.
So image telling my parents to download this app so your kid can still learn at home without your support. They were all for it in the beginning, now at week 6 going into week 7….I have about 5% of kids still completing work consistently.

My own child is doing e-learning and lord I am now teaching two grade levels. My personal class and her classes. One teacher has the brains to do a project while the rest are sending trash home as busy work.

With limited resources what can you really do? With the great firewall controlling everything you are limited to what you can actually send home that parents will have access to. I have access because I am a teacher and an expat. So I can help Elise but how can I help my kids? How can I help my kids who are learning a second language and parents are learning a second language as well. I got kids memorizing Eric Carle books to share during our video chats. I got parents telling kids what to say when they are recording themselves reading a decodable book. Not one of my parents are educator to know how to properly assist and support their child at home.

Week 7 will find us adjusting things AGAIN. The parents want this. The parents want that. What about what is best for the kids? What about what is effective learning for the kids? I can upload all the videos in the world but when the great firewall is causing the internet to be slow and when you are limited to what parents actually can access, it becomes frustrating. I can’t have everything translated because that defeats the purpose.

I am frustrated and jealous. I am jealous of those that got time to prep and plan for e-learning. I am jealous of those who will have a smooth transition because they were already implementing things inside the classroom and parents understood what was going on and the students were involved with the technology. I am jealous of those not controlled by the great firewall and can access all the educational websites. This jealously is why I am frustrated because I am not feeling very effective right now. I am frustrated because I am trying but students and parents are not participating.

Something has got to give with the state of education. Project based learning and inquiry units need to become a real thing. Technology needs to be integrated and implemented properly to where it is an extension to learning. Teachers need to be trusted to do their jobs. Parents gotta step up and support and stop complaining. Schools will never look like it did when we were in school. It is time to shift into the 21st century. We are preparing students for jobs that don’t exist yet. We are preparing students to think outside the box, problem solve, and critically think. Yet our classrooms are boxes and lack creativity. Teachers are given boxed curriculums. Limited supplies and resources. Sites like teacherspayteachers should not exist if we are honest with ourselves. Adopt-a-classroom and donors choose should not exist. If we truly valued education we would invest in education and provide unlimited resources to our schools and teachers. We won’t even touch that $250 tax credit. We spend that much in about a week. Professional development needs to improve and go beyond the box and the norm. We cannot expect our kids to rise above when we keep cutting the resources and materials to help them rise above. People who have no educational experience and knowledge and degrees should not be making education decisions. Just because you can read and write does not mean you should be a teacher. We have got to stand up and say enough is enough and take our profession back. The world is at stake. You want digital learners, you gotta provide the technology to allow it. Trust that teachers will not allow it take over the classroom. We know what we are doing and we know how to seek out the support when we don’t.