Thursday, October 29, 2015

Classrooms are no longer SAFE

In light of recent events in South Carolina, New Jersey and even here in Georgia, it's very clear that our classrooms and schools aren't safe anymore. According to Every Town Research, "Since 2013, there have been 153 school shootings in America, an average of nearly one a week." SMH

It's not safe to be a teacher OR a student anymore. The danger isn't even limited to elementary, middle or high schools. Colleges/Universities get it too. Public or Private, it doesn't matter. 

How can we protect ourselves? Should we arm teachers? School districts in Missouri, Colorado and other states are taking measures to protect teachers. According to this article in the Huffington Post - Missouri Teachers Conceal Weapons, "For a $17,500 fee....teachers are required to spend five hours in a classroom and 35 hours on the range with the required firearm, a Glock 19 semi-automatic pistol." 

School handbooks, policies and guidelines aren't being followed consistently. Should we staff all of our K-12 schools with more resource officers. With this image of Spring Valley High School dominating the media, what district would rally around this?

Teacher preparation programs in our colleges/universities don't prepare us for ANY OF THIS!! This is crazy!! You have countless videos out there illustrating violence in our schools, Instagram pages DEDICATED to showcasing student-student or student-staff violence. GroupMe chats where students plot and scheme to abuse teachers, cause disruptions, schedule fights, devise food fights, plan bomb threats, etc....There is no way to prepare someone for these events. We CLEARLY don't get paid enough for this. States are strategically finding ways to cut costs in education, and thousands of teachers haven't seen a raise in years.

Our students, our teachers, our schools, and our classroom aren't safe anymore. It's above my pay grade and above the scope of this blog to figure out how we can make our schools safer, because situations like these are no longer acceptable.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sesame Street = TRUTH!!

Earlier this week, Sesame Street announced that they would introduce a new character named, Julia, that has autism. According to NPR, "For over a year now, Sesame Street has been working with organizations such as Autism Speaks and Autism Self Advocacy to help reduce the stigma associated with autism spectrum disorder." Read NPR - Sesame Street Article if you want to know a little bit more about this. 

I think this is a great move for Sesame Street but also a great move for young children and their parents as well. Too often, autistic children get dismissed as unruly, or rude or etc. This campaign brings awareness to a situation that gets INTENTIONALLY overlooked. 

What's great about this, is that Sesame Street is known for bringing up social issues. I don't know if they've always been socially conscious but they're known for integrating characters on the show that have their own unique set of challenges that they've had to overcome. 

DID YOU KNOW: That in South Africa, Sesame Street introduced a puppet named, Kami that is HIV positive???

DID YOU KNOW: That Big Bird and other characters on the show taught children how to cope with death/loss??

DID YOU KNOW: That they have a muppet named, Lily, that suffers from food insecurity in an effort to highlight global poverty and food shortage??

SESAME STREET =  TRUTH!! What other show INTENTIONALLY and PROGRESSIVELY tackles difficult issues like this to raise awareness in our children??

Go ahead and support the show, whether you have children or not. You'll be a lot wiser for it.  

Read this - 13 Muppets that Made a Difference on Sesame Street

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Breakfast for Teachers!!

     What do teachers eat for breakfast? How often do they eat breakfast? Which group of teachers eat breakfast the most? Do they eat a savory breakfast or a bootleg one? Does breakfast food depend on the content they teach? Are ELA & literacy folk more prone to donuts or are the Social Studies people? What about the electives/connections teachers? What do they eat? They seem to always have time to eat. HAHA! J/K

     Surprisingly, there isn't a whole lot of data concerning what teachers eat for breakfast. As a math teacher, I like to support things I say with data, but there just isn't a whole lot of data on the subject. Plenty of studies on children and eating, or adults and obesity but NOT MUCH TO SAY on the eating habits of educators. Every teacher knows that the quickest way to an educator's heart is through food and dry-erase markers!! But, I would say the eating habits of educators are JUST AS IMPORTANT if not more important than the eating habits of our students.

     Teachers cycle through the day just like students do, and each teacher is unique. I'm a morning person, so my 1st and 2nd periods get PREMIUM MATH INSTRUCTION!! By the time I get to 5th & 6th period, I give em whatever I got left!! Lol...for some it may be the other way around. All of my NOT-morning people may teach their best in the afternoon, but I guarantee that the energy teachers have for the day is in direct relation to the food they eat. That's why it's critical to collect some data on this matter, because I think that could be a small way to promote growth and achievement in our students is to ensure and protect the physical health of our teachers!!

     I eat breakfast about 2-3 times a week, and I usually pack lunch. The type of breakfast I eat depends on what type of mood I'm in. Lol. Eggs, bacon, sausage and toast USUALLY happens on a Monday morning. I think we all can use God and a little protein on Mondays! Haha! The rest of the week varies. It could be oatmeal. Could be cereal. My wife buys those Fiber One bars so it could be one of those. Burger King and Mcdonald's are close by so I could possibly slide through and order a #1 with orange juice and strawberry jelly.

     All of those different breakfast foods provide the energy that I need to fully function for the day and all of it DEFINITELY plays a role in how effective we are in our classrooms. McDonald's just started 24/hour breakfast so I can only imagine what type of effect that will have on not only teachers, but students and their parents as well. I'm going to collect some data on this, so PLEASE COMPLETE THE SURVEY!! Maybe I can use this as my doctoral thesis one day. Who knows!!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Advanced Technology Development Center - Customer Discovery Survey

This survey is for all my Math and Social Studies teachers. I'm working on a project at Georgia Tech University here in Atlanta, Georgia and I need to collect some data from teachers. Please take a moment to fill out the survey, so I can have a enough of a sample size for my data.

Thank you,

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Motivation - Purpose

I came across a couple of Ted Talks that encouraged me to keep doing what I'm doing. Check em out! Both are kinda long, but well worth it.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Filial Piety and Achievement - A Teacher's Perspective

Filial piety is, "is a virtue of respect for one's father, elders, and ancestors." This is a critical tenet in ancient Confucian philosophy and has significant meaning and importance in Eastern Cultures. In a broader sense filial piety means, "means to be good to one's parents; to take care of one's parents; to engage in good conduct not just towards parents but also outside the home so as to bring a good name to one's parents and ancestors."

My premise for this blog post is, "Cultures that exhibit high degrees of filial piety tend to have more academic achievement than those that don't." I submit to you that cultures that emphasize COLLECTIVE success instead of INDIVIDUAL success tend to have more academic achievement. There is something critically and vitally important to having the generational support of immediate and extended family at home. It is not necessarily quantifiable or measurable, but I believe that this is a crucial element missing in the US education system. I believe that the emphasis on "me" instead of "we" has had a detrimental effect on our education system. This "crabs in a bucket" mentality has ultimately lead to the crumbling of the family unit and the weakening of our education system as a whole. 

Teachers everywhere can see that there's a new generation of students that have little to no respect for their parents. their grandparents, and especially their teachers. There is data to support my premise that there is a correlation between cultural respect and academic achievement. 

Let's take a look at some data from 2012.  "The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) measures student performance in mathematics, reading, and science literacy. Conducted every three years, each PISA data cycle assesses one of the three core subject areas in depth." (National Center for Education Statistics). Check it out in more detail at National Center for Education Statistics

Eight out of the Top 15 countries are Asian countries that have the principle of filial piety firmly embedded and established in every areas of their daily lives. What about the other 7 countries? Culturally, how do they take care of their elders? Let's take a look at an article from USA Today

Read this article, Retired Seniors Have It Sweet. This article discussed the standard of living of retirees in Switzerland. The article also had this interesting infographic. 

You see a lot of countries appearing in both lists. The respect these countries have for their elders is inspiring. The value placed on their health, happiness and overall quality of life says a lot. Let's look at a research-based article on the extended family. 

In, "The Extended Family and Children's Educational Success." the author, Mads, Meier Jaeger, concludes that " the total effect of family background on educational success originates in the immediate family, the extended family, and in interactions between these two family environments." (Jaeger, 2012). You can read the article here, The Extendend Family and Children's Educational Success

Our parents and grandparents have a profound impact on how we interact with the world around us. Cultures that value the family capital that comes with our parents, and grandparents experience more success than those that don't. The family unit has become fractured, and because of that families have less and less to invest in their our children. These children come to school with an entirely new set of values and unfortunately, education, more often than not, does not seem to be something valued anymore. Folks are not focused on bringing honor to their families, they are more focused on bringing honor to themselves. Let's make a cultural shift and celebrate our immediate family, extended family and ancestors. Let's bring honor back to our houses so we can bring honor back to our schools. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Breast Cancer Awareness - 5K Walk

Started off the day with some community service. My wife and I recently joined Tabernacle of Praise Church International here in McDonough, GA. Today they celebrated Breast Cancer Awareness Month by organizing a 5K walk. The proceeds from the walk go to a local breast cancer organization called, "Sisters by Choice." It felt great to get plugged into something great. Here is  a video clip of the balloon release.

Link:  Tabernacle of Praise Church International

Link: Sisters by Choice

Monday, October 5, 2015

Linking Social Studies to Mathematics: Tax Commissioner

I have developed a business called, "SocialMatics." My vision with SocialMatics is to seamlessly link middle grades Social Studies and Mathematics concepts so that they do not appear as separate entities or separate subjects. My vision is to explicitly link the mathematics in social studies and to explicitly link the social studies in mathematics. My goal is to help students realize that most of the things they are learning in school ARE RELEVANT and they ARE INTER-CONNECTED!! Not only that, but I want them to think about jobs in careers that use social studies AND mathematics!!

For example, here in Georgia we have an 8th Grade Social Studies standard.

This standard requires students to IDENTIFY REVENUE SOURCES FOR AND SERVICES PROVIDED BY STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS. Simple to understand right?! However, how can we connect this to mathematics??

With the adoption of Common Core, students learned about how to apply tax rates in 7th grade.


In a brief analysis of these two standards, they both mention the concept of taxes. As an adult it's easy to see the connection of these two standards but for an 11-13 year-old it might not be so obvious. That is the beauty of SocialMatics. We have intentionally brought together two seemingly unrelated disciplines for the purpose of bringing academic unity to the young self-centered, adolescent mind. Isn't it wonderful?!

For the record, there are a number of jobs and careers that are available in local/state governments and fortunately, quite a few of those jobs use mathematics in their daily routine. I've decided to focus on one job, which is a county Tax Commissioner!!!

From the office of a local Tax Commissioner, it is the mission of the Tax Commissioner’s office to collect and disburse all taxes due the State, County, and School System in a timely manner, while also providing excellent customer service with integrity and fairness for all. The Tax Commissioner has authority to bill, collect and disburse property taxes, and a Tax Commissioner should collect and receive public funds with honesty, integrity, grace and mercy. 

For those students who have exhibited mastery with proportional relationships you can remind them that they have developed an employable skill. Simple proficiency with taxes and tax rates can lead them to a great government job which can easily net them upwards of $80,000 depending the county!!! 

As teachers, we must find ways to be inter-disciplinary in our instruction. Collaborate with other teachers in your hallway. Find out what they're doing in their classrooms and deliberately try to connect what you're doing to what they're doing. It will provide a much more holistic learning experience for our students. Don't be afraid to speak about jobs in the midst of these conversations. If our goal is to make them College and Career Ready, we need to spend a lot more time on the "Career Ready" aspect!!