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I Have A Dream

This year I have picked some quotes from Dr. King’s most famous speech that most people have not read in its entirety. If you would like to read the entire speech click on this link.

“So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice.”This

This speaks of the urgency that Dr. King felt in 1963. Too many white people have accepted the “tranquilizing drug of gradualism”. We allow People of Color to suffer believing that as long as there is some progress towards racial equality that is enough. While we stand on the sideline observing this slow progress to occur, our black students are being harmed. If you are not addressing race in your class you are willingly ingesting the drug “tranquilizing drug of gradualism”.

“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.”

White people need to stop feeling anything but a need to help our Black brothers and sisters attain equality. We feel ashamed when we learn the ghastly history of our past without using that to fuel our anti-racist actions in the present and the future. We should be conscience-stricken about the past because it was vile and we (white people) are benefiting from that abuse of Black People today. However, if that is where our actions stop it is not enough. Black People statistically don’t have the power to do the work of changing society alone.

As educators, we have the ability to co-liberate our students and ourselves. White people fail to recognize that we are suffering from racism as well. You see we (white people) have separated ourselves from other Black People who deserve equality. Together we can make a more equitable world where “we could join forces to bring about a more equitable distribution of wealth that would benefit us all”. (link) Most importantly,
“we are missing out on the benefits of deep human relationships with people of other “races” and cultures, and all that can be learned and enjoyed in such relationships.” (link) Segregating ourselves has negatively impacted our souls.

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote.”

Here we are 55 years later and we are still speaking about police brutality. It is more than just the police however. “Bias by decision makers at all stages of the justice process disadvantages black people. Studies have found that they are more likely to be stopped by the police, detained pretrial, charged with more serious crimes, and sentenced more harshly than white people.” We have to look at our criminal justice system and understand that is not working for everyone equally.

Voter suppression is still alive and well. Shelby vs. Holder decimated the voting rights acts. Just look at Georgia in the last election. “African-Americans make up thirty-two percent of the state’s population, but they represent nearly seventy percent of the suspended applications.” (link) We need to call for election day to be a national holiday. Need a day to get rid of? Cancel the false worship of Columbus and now you have the opening to make election day a national holiday.

I will leave this blog with the part of Dr. King’s speech we all know. Honestly, I need some hope right about now.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

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Mary Turner

Saturday was my son’s eighth birthday. To prepare for his birthday dinner I stopped by Amish market after work on Friday and dropped 25$ on pickles as part of his hamburger bar toppings. I also picked up some chocolate covered bacon as well because well, it’s chocolate covered bacon and it was in the same place as the pickles and I am in impulse consumer with very little will power.

After working my second job at the liquor store till 10:30 and then going shopping at Wegmans after that I was exhausted. I came home and fell asleep. It seemed like 30 seconds later, although the clock told me it was 8 hours, and Saturday morning was here. It was time to go coach basketball. Being my son’s birthday and the fact that I have an addiction to bagels, we stopped and grabbed some delicious pork roll, egg, and cheese bagel sandwiches topped with ketchup and hot sauce. The day was going well.

Practice ended and it was time to clean the house and get it ready for the birthday dinner. This means that headphones go on and I clean for about six straight hours. I started cleaning the kitchen and all was going well. I had a clean dishwasher ready to be loaded and the pots and pans were soaking. Motown was blaring in my ears and life was moving along.

I moved upstairs to clean the bathroom and I switched over to Audible and continued listening to #ClearTheAir book of choice White Rage. I had already learned about Reconstructing Reconstruction and was now learning about Derailing the Great Migration. The book is hard to read (listen to) because it shows how black people have been systematically kept down every time it looked like there would be progress. I am ok with hard. Then it became unbearable.

WARNING: The historically accurate narrative I am about to relay is brutal and may cause an intense emotional reaction. The rest of the blog is emotionally charged as well.

Dr. Anderson, the author of White Rage, recounts the tale of Mary Turner. The story starts out explaining just how horrible of a human being Hampton Smith was. Smith was a plantation owner who abused his workers to the point that he couldn’t pay any more people to work on his farm. “Smith often had to resort to the debt peonage system as a way to find workers for his farm. Back then, it was common for cops to arrest black people on frivolous charges, then give them fines they couldn’t pay. But employers like Smith could pay off those fines, then force the black arrestees to work off their debt—a system that took the place of slavery in many parts of the South.” (link)

One day Hampton Smith had the tables turned and he was shot by 19-year-old Sidney Johnson after he had beaten him for not showing up to work because he was sick. It didn’t matter that Johnson had already paid his debt back and was in no way shape or form obligated to work for Smith. Days later Sidney Johnson grabbed a shotgun and killed Hampton Smith. “The following week Brooks County saw a mob driven manhunt which resulted in the lynching of 13 people including some who were in the local jail.” (link) Sidney Johnson was one of the 13 people killed.

There was no evidence that any of the other people killed had anything to do with the death of Hampton Smith. One of the other men who was hung was named Hazel “Hayes” Turner. Turner had a wife named Mary who was 8 months pregnant. She denied that her husband had been involved in Smith’s killing, and threatened to have members of the mob arrested. What happened next is one of the most brutal things I have ever heard.

“According to investigator Walter F. White of the NAACP, Mary Turner was tied and hung upside down by the ankles, her clothes soaked with gasoline, and burned from her body. Her belly was slit open with a knife like those used “in splitting hogs.”[11] Her “unborn babe” fell to the ground and gave “two feeble cries.”[11] Its head was crushed by a member of the mob with his heel, and the crowd shot hundreds of bullets into Turner’s body.” 1

“In their mind, they’d taught her a lesson, made of her an example. And despite the fact that a full report, including the names of instigators and over 10 participants, was given to Hugh Dorsey, the governor of Georgia, no one was ever charged with the murders.” 2

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hazel_%22Hayes%22_Turner
2 https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/sayhername-100-years-ago-mary-turner-was-lynched-1826019454

There have been not been many times when I had to stop reading or listening to something because something shook me to my core. This was one of those times. I started to take long deep breaths. Tears flowed from my eyes. I had to sit down in the bathroom. I paused the book and opened up my Voxer and tried my best to explain to the book chat just how hard that was to read.

I imagined what it was like for Mary knowing the mob was looking for her, what she felt when they found her, and the sheer fear and terror of being tied upside and have gasoline poured on her. She had other children who had just had their father taken from them. She had a baby in her stomach. She knew that she and her baby were going to die a painful excruciating death. The scene played out in my head and I just sat there all sort of shook. It took a good 10-15 minutes for me to get up and start cleaning again.

How do we get people, specifically our students, to understand exactly how brutal it was for black people? Obviously, we aren’t going to unleash this emotional fecal bomb on elementary or middle school students. We teach about slavery, lynchings, and poor conditions for Black people yet I never understood exactly what that entailed. They were words or phrases that did not paint a very clear picture in my head. It took me seeing pictures to truly understand what a lynching was. How do we shield our children from the trauma of understanding rape, hangings, and physical abuse yet expose them to the truth about just how sickening those things really are on a level they can take meaning of?

Speaking as a parent, I want to shield my kids from this; yet I feel a responsibility that they fully grasp what our country legally sanctioned. They need to understand the true history of our country in order to grasp the conditions that exist for Black people today. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Mary Turner and her child were executed in the worst possible way only 100 years ago. I don’t have any answers for this. I don’t know how we have people grasp the depth of the brutality of the history of the United States. I do know that I will always err on the side of giving too much information to my children instead of too little. At some point, my children will learn about Mary Turner from me and I will be there to hold them as tears flow from their faces.

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Blog Alert!

If your timeline did not have stories about #SurvivingRKelly you need to follow more black women. I say that for two main reasons. First, the black women I follow are brilliant and are tweeting some of the most important events going on in the world. This includes the government shutdown, astrophysics, mathematics, and history. Secondly, black women live at the intersection of both racial and gender oppression. This gives them a point of view that NO ONE else has. Black Twitter was going crazy tweeting about the repulsive story that is R Kelly. Andy Milne’s blog addresses both dating violence and sexual assault.

Andy Milne’s #SlowChatHealth blog Uncomfortable Listening is a crowd-sourced resource of podcasts dedicated about dating violence/sexual assault. I know this is not light listening but if you interact with students there is a really high chance that one of them will experience dating violence or sexual assault. As a teacher, we have to understand what experiences our students are walking into our classes with as well as understand how to broach the subject of violence and sexual assault if the need arises. As a health teacher, we need to be explicitly discussing sexual assault with our students starting in 1st grade. Yes, 1st grade. It should be a simple as discussing what your bathing suit area means and that you have control over your body. If you can listen to the podcasts that were crowdsourced. Surviving R Kelly is linked at the bottom of the blog.

The next blog I read was penned by Sherri Spelic. It was titled Weight Gain. I love reading Sherri’s work because her heart and soul shine through her words. You feel her emotion when you read her work. This weeks blog was no different. In her blog, she relates shame, disappointment, guilt, struggle, expectations, being a woman, the past, the present, and the future all related to her body weight.

Her blog made me think about my weight related to my job, which is Physical Education and Health Teacher and my gender. As a teacher of both Physical Education and Health, I have an expectation that I look a certain way. I don’t need to be jacked but I do want to show students, parents, other teachers and the community that I practice what I preach. This means that I have to be physically active and keep my weight somewhat under control. This will be something that is harder to control as I age. As a male society also gives me a little more leeway in how I look. That will definitely impact how I view my body as I age. I highly recommend you read her blog and see her insight into how her husband, society, and her own views influence how she sees herself.

The third blog I recommend you check out was written by Dr. Ash Casey. The Concept of Physical Literacy breaks down this simple yet complex idea of physical literacy presented in Margaret Whitehead’s 2001
European Journal of Physical Education article The Concept of Physical Literacy. Every teacher should know what physical literacy is just like every like they know what numeracy and literacy are. Specifically, Physical Education and Health Teachers need to understand this concept because SHAPE America has built our future upon it. Here is an excerpt from Ash that sums up why we need to understand this concept:

…”She did, however, conclude by saying “as an aspect of human potential integral to a fully realised human existence and influencing much of life as habitually experience, the achievement and exercise of Physical Literacy plays a significant part in the development of self-realisation, self-confidence and positive self-esteem” (p. 136). Taken this way, Physical Literacy deserves a place in our discussions about the future of physical education.

The final blog I recommend Physical Educators check out is Shane Pill’s blog Closed and Open Practice. The basic premise of the blog is that closed drills serve a purpose.

“Closed drills are those that provide a relatively stable practice environment. For team sports, that means a practice environment where defenders or opposition are removed from the action, or placed in passive roles.”

We are in education so we know that the pendulum swings with gusto instead of gently swaying. There is still a place for working on skills in and of themselves whether they be physical skills or mental skills. Practicing your math facts will make you better at math just as practicing dribbling with your hands and feet will make improve your physical skills. I am not advocating for drill and kill of either math facts nor dribbling. What I am saying is that there will always be a place for honing your skills by yourself or in a closed drill environment.

Hopefully, I have given you something to think about as well as highlighting some people doing great work in the field of life and education. I highly recommend that you subscribe to the blogs I have listed above. As always thank you for your time.

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One Word: Support

Sometimes I don’t want to do things simply because everyone else is doing them. To this day I still haven’t fully embraced the Dave Matthews Band simply due to the fact that everyone around me couldn’t stop talking about how great they are. That’s how I feel about this one-word goal setting blog mania that sweeps the edusphere every New Years. I want to hate on it but I can’t. When I read the blogs every year I get inspired. The kind of inspired you feel when the Patriots lose in the Super Bowl. That is what keeps me taking the #oneword challenge.

Before I get started I will recap my last two one word challenges. In 2016 the subject was fear. It was based on the fear that Donald Trump was going to win the election and what that was going to mean for every student who was not white, cis-gendered, heterosexual, and Christian. What followed was exactly what was feared.

” The report found that 7,175 hate crimes were reported by law enforcement agencies in 2017, up from 6,121 reported incidents in 2016. While the number has increased, the number of agencies reporting also increased by about 1,000.

Of the 7,106 single-bias hate crimes reported, 59.6% of victims were targeted because of the offenders’ race/ethnicity/ancestry bias; 15.8% were targeted because of sexual-orientation bias; 1.6% were targeted because of gender identity bias; and 0.6% were targeted because of gender bias. Sixty-nine multiple-bias hate crime incidents were also reported.”

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/13/politics/fbi-hate-crimes-2017/index.html

In 2017 my #oneword was disallow. I stated, “The number one reason I am choosing that word is that someone needs to stand up when they see things that go against what they stand for.” I believe that I did start to change how I approached things. I no longer allowed the people I cam in contact with to get away with saying things that were either dog whistles or just plain hateful. This is embarrassing because I came so late to the party. I lived over 30 years either being a white supremacist or allowing white supremacy to continue without ever addressing it. No cookies will be eaten over here.

In 2018 I took a break and took the 100 word challenge from my man Dene Gainey blog. Here is what I wrote:

“Teaching is sharing time with people. Every day I get the opportunity to provide a safe environment for kids to explore and have fun. We form connections and memories that will leave a lasting impression on all parties. Together we enjoy creating new neural connections constantly challenging ourselves to grow. I get to feel that I am impacting the world battling hate and fear. Future generations will be changed for the better if I continuously grow and make a positive impact on my students. I am leaving the world a better place than before I got there.”

Now that I have reflected here is why my 2019 one word is Support. It is time that I consciously make sure I am using my platform to support what others are doing. Specifically I would like to support those who are not white, cisgender, heterosexual males like myself. The reason for this is not because I don’t feel like we don’t have anything to say or that we can’t add value to the world. The reason is because we don’t need the support. It is there simply because of who we are. Here are the three movements that I support through my time, my money, and my standing in the #physed community.

The first person/movement I would like to publicly support is #ClearTheAir created by Valeria Brown. ClearTheAir has allowed me to learn more about race and power than anywhere else. The books, Twitter chats, Zooms, and Voxer groups that Val recommends and creates pushes my thinking and make me extremely uncomfortable. That is probably why I have grown so much in my worldview in the past year. In order to support her I will be donating money so she can start to build the ClearTheAir community further and donate books to those that can’t afford them so they can be involved in the movement. I will also be using my time to show up on Twitter chats, Zoom gatherings, and whatever else she has in mind.

The next movement that I would like to support is the MAPSO Freedom School. The idea behind their organization is:

“Freedom Schools were temporary, alternative free schools for African-Americans mostly in the South. They were originally part of the Civil Rights Movement to organize African Americans to achieve social, political and economic equality in the United States. Our (Maplewood South Orange) MapSO Freedom School events will capture that historical spirit as we struggle together and move forward.
Our classroom sessions, professional development, and community events seek to develop understanding of racial justice in students, teachers, and parents while empowering those same groups to take action in an effort to make social change.”


I first learned of this organization through Okaikor Aryee-Price. She will rightfully say that there are a lot of people involved and doing the work; however, she puts in a lot of work and is the face of it to me. Okaikor is exactly the type of person we need if we are going to make a systemic change in education. She is brilliant, passionate, and willing to give of herself and her time in order to shed light on anti-blackness in America our schools.

I have supported the MAPSO Freedom School by donating money. Secondly, I will be showing up to at least 3 Zooms in preparation for BLM Week of Action at schools and the Teaching Tolerance Workshops. Lastly, I will be attending the Teaching Tolerance workshop in March. If you are interested in supporting them contact Okaikor. Also, follow @mapsofreedom.

The final people I will be actively supporting are Kennedra Tucker and Stephanie Sandino. They are in the midst of creating a Social Justice podcast for Physical Education and Health Teachers. This project has taken a while to get moving but I am so excited to see it come to fruition. Both Kennedra and Stephanie are amazing educators whose passion is apparent to anyone that has ever come in contact with them. I will be definitely be amplifying their work! Follow them on Twitter or join them on the Voxer equity, diversity, and inclusion chat on Voxer.

My goal this year is to continue to de-center myself as well as raise the social consciousness of others who are doing great things in the field of education. It will be a busy and tiring year for sure. That will not deter me from continuing to better myself and those around me by supporting others who are doing the important work.

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Reflection: Grace and More

The end of the year forces us to reflect. This holiday season/new year I am going to focus more in the vein of Yom Kippur than Rosh Hashanah. What that means is I am going to focus more on being forgiven for my sins than celebrating the New Year’s arrival. I believe I have grown a lot both personally and professionally.

The biggest growth I had was in confronting the harm that I had imposed on others. This blog post named the people directly who I have harmed as well as me attempting to repair the harm. It was time that I openly admitted to my errors to these people and the world. This also forced me to constantly remind myself that I make mistakes all the time also prompts me to realize that others are doing the same thing. We are all making mistakes of one kind or another.

Reflecting further I know that I have not reflected the grace that I hoped would be shown to me when I attempted to repair the harm. This does not mean that I need to forgive and forget. It means that if someone did something and truly felt remorse for it I need to make sure I am being as magnanimous as I expect others to be. Honestly that does not always occur.

One of the areas that I am attempting to learn more about is power. I don’t always understand power dynamics. I have come to realize this is because I have usually had the power or possessed the ability to ignore the power in my interactions. My goal is to make sure I listen when people call my attention to this.

This year I brought the idea of identity and intersectionality into my Health and PhysEd classrooms. This was a direct result of me seeing a world that treats people inequitably simply because of their race, sexuality, gender association, religion, and socioeconomic status. I felt it was time that I started showing my students how there are different systems in place that have (and still do) created obstacles for certain groups of people to live their best life in the United States.

Last I am grateful for all the people that are actively working to help ignorant individuals like myself grow. Arthur Chiaravalli wrote a fantastic blog post and follow up thread that names a lot of the people I would like to thank.

To conclude this reflection I would like to recommend some chats and resources you should follow if you want to make changes in your pedagogy and social awareness.

#ClearTheAir Val Brown creates a bridge where people with an open heart can learn without being fearful of being attacked. You will be challenged for sure. It will be uncomfortable no doubt. And you will grow as a human being.

#EduColor- “was founded by people of color, with people of color, for people of color. We are an inclusive collective, and have co-workers in the work for true equity. Our members come from many parts of the education sector, including educational technology and higher education.”

http://www.peprn.com/ – “The aim of PEPRN (which originally stood for the Physical Education Practitioner Research Network but now, like the BBC or NBC, is now better known for its acronym) is to bring together physical education teachers, coaches, physical activity leaders, volunteers and university practitioners from around the world to talk about practice, young peoples’ experiences of physical activity, and research.”

http://eshpodcast.libsyn.com/  – Dr. Dye runs this podcast that, “Empowerment Starts Here is a podcast that explores power, social change and disrupting the margins.” Dr. Dye allows me to help uncover my blind areas when it come to power. I have soooo much work to do.


Tonight we ordered a couple of pizzas for dinner and told the in-laws to come over for dinner. I hopped in the ole gray Jeep Patriot to go pick them up. After I procured them I had a strange and interesting thought pop in my head. I thought the pizza box hasn’t changed much in the last 15-20 years. So I went home and did what every curious human does and asked the Google what is the history of the Pizza Box. I stumbled upon the website Serious Eats  and learned myself a little something about the pizza box. 

What we would consider the Mitochondrial Eve of the pizza box spawned in the 17th century and seemed somewhat sophisticated and environmentally friendy of a system for transporting hot dough like food.


“In the early 1800’s, bakers were using copper containers to transport small breads and pizzas on the street. They often employed their sons to cart these stufas (literally stoves) around the neighborhood in hope of selling the scraps for some extra change. It was kind of like Newsies, but with much less singing and dancing. Unlike today’s model of made-to-order pizza delivered hot and fresh to your door, stufa boys were hawking pre-made pies. Stufas kept the pizzas warm, as copper has high heat dissipation capabilities. They also had pointed lids with covered vents to help manage steam exhaust. Brilliant!”

https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html

Nearly 100 years later a pizzeria in America started doing a really poor job of packaging their food to go.


“Jump ahead 100 years and pizza starts to catch on in New York and other industrialized American cities. Legend has it that pizzas were being sold “to-go” rolled into a cone, wrapped in paper, and loosely tied with twine at Lombardi’s (America’s first licensed pizzeria).”

https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html

So now we have moved to the idea that we slide a pizza into a brown paper bag after we put in on a piece of cardboard. Fun fact. I have gone to Federici’s a number of times over the years and their pizza is delicious.

“The post-WWII years exposed millions of American GI’s to pizza in Italy, so interest dramatically increased upon their return home. In the 1940’s, lots of pizza purveyors offered take-out pies. The pizza would sit on a stiff corrugated base, which could slide snugly into a large paper bag. The bag’s thin structure would allow steam to escape but only at the price of heat loss. Still, it’s not a bad means of conveyance. You can still find this method in use at Federici’s in Freehold, NJ, which has been bagging pies since 1946.”

https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html

Ok we are almost to the end!!! The boxes appear. And no more greasy bags.

“The 1950’s brought pizza into the dining rooms of a booming nation and as orders piled up, so did the pizzas. Bags don’t stack very well and we didn’t even have that funky-little-white-plastic-dollhouse-table-pizza-box-support yet (more on that in a future post) so mankind was forced to adapt. Thin paperboard bakery boxes provided a bit more support, and so were born the earliest dedicated pizza boxes.”

https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html

Finally, Domino’s to the rescue! I have to be honest. If you eat Domino’s I may be judging you right now. Just a little bit. It also happens that I hail from an area that has the best pizza in the country. I have five pizza places withing 15 minutes that are amazing. Moving on. Check out below how Domino’s changed the game.

“One of the greatest leaps in the evolution of the pizza box can be attributed to Tom Monaghan, founder of Dominos. Since Dominos focused its business solely on delivery, it should be no surprise that they were the driving force behind pizza delivery technology. In order to deliver hot pizzas in a timely fashion, Monaghan searched for a company to develop a corrugated cardboard box in the mid 1960’s. According to Monaghan’s autobiography Pizza Tiger it was more difficult than anticipated to make a container that was scored properly for folding yet strong enough to hold its form. After a long development process with Triad Containers, a Detroit-based corrugated box company, they finally achieved success. The resulting pizza box has become a standard for the pizza industry right down to the way the box base doubles over itself to lock into the base, known appropriately as “Michigan style”. Regardless of how you many feel about the quality of their edible products, it’s hard to ignore the impact Dominos has made on the history of the pizza box.”

https://slice.seriouseats.com/2011/07/a-brief-history-of-the-pizza-box.html

So what does all this mean? This means for 50 years pizza boxes have been doing their thing. Sure add a little plastic table for Shopkins but the pizza box has done it’s job well. As always my mind drifts back to my teaching.  What is something that I have done in my career at a really high level that hasn’t changed much? What is my pizza box? The answer to that I really listen to what my students are saying. I intentionally focus on what they are saying and figure out how I can change my class for the better. This is my strength. Talking with the students and allowing them to have a voice in my class.

What is your pizza box?

Pretty Nails

This weekend my wife and her sister took a trip to the Poconos to see her aunt. This meant three days and two nights alone. I was mentally prepared to be Mr. Dad and rock the weekend until IT started. By IT I mean the wailing that was coming out of my daughter’s mouth when my wife went to leave. The faucets were wide open and the tears flowed like the taps at an Irish Pub on St. Patty’s Day. My wife hadn’t even got out of the door and things were going off the rails.

Working at a summer camp allows me to have an insight on kids crying when their parents leave that few other mortals have. I knew the longer the scene dragged out the worse it was going to be. Ripping the band-aid off became priority one.  I quickly helped the ladies out of the house and closed the door behind them. My daughter had just started to calm down when the door opened and my wife came back in with some stuff from the car she didn’t want to travel with. NOOOOO!

The scene reverted back to the pub. I grabbed a mop and a towel and was ready to clean up the lake that was forming under her. My heart was breaking. My brain was hurting from trying to figure out the quickest way to get a unicorn or a pony to appear in the kitchen. I then started down the road of inquiry that I knew would make everything better. “Do you want to paint my nails?” The tears stopped and together we walked over to the table.

My daughter is the quickest nail painter on the East Coast. Five minutes later each nail was a different color with some nails being partitioned and painted two colors. My daughter was calm and soon bedtime was upon us. The house quickly fell asleep and soon the morning rooster crowed.

We woke up and I went to coach my kids basketball teams. All was going well until one of the 40 kids in the first session asked me why my fingers were painted. I had totally forgotten about them! I explained my daughter had painted them and the kids started giggling. The same question was asked by a child in the second session. I explained again how Abbie had wanted to paint them and I was cool with that.

One of the fathers at the practice who I was friends with asked me about them as well. I told the story and the empathy immediately flowed from him. He has a daughter and understood without any need of explanation. He then proceeded to take a picture and send it to our friends.

After basketball I took the kids to a play with my parents. My parents are somewhat conservative and both of my parents made it a point to bring up my nails. It was not negative but the mere fact that it was brought up said something about how this wasn’t quite a social norm.

I have kept my nails painted all weekend because honestly, I am too lazy to find the nail polish remover and take the color off. I was also somewhat curious about what the reaction would be from the people I interacted with. I don’t know what judgments people are making about me when they see my fingers. Do they question my sexuality? What assumptions are they making? I know personally, I must feel some way because I forget that they are painted and when I see them it jars me for a second. That has to say something. Let’s face it. Most cis-gender heterosexual men don’t usually paint their nails.

I probably won’t clear my nails off for work tomorrow either. What will the elementary students I teach think? It will be a topic of interest I am sure. I purposefully wear a pink sweatshirt to show my students that gender doesn’t dictate color preference. This will be no different. My nails have nothing to do with my gender nor sexuality. This goes hand in hand (pun intended) with my gender lesson that I do with kindergarten students. We identify the difference between boys and girls. This year I will include intersex into the conversation as well. One of the answers the kids give is that boys don’t paint their nails. I counter with the question of whether it is legal or not. We discuss how most boys don’t paint their nails but that is a choice nothing more or less. This will give them a concrete example of someone choosing to have their nails painted.

I appreciate your time for reading the blog. Hopefully, this will push your thinking a little and see how you can show your students where their bias is. Drawing attention to it is the first step.