This week I went to the NJEA convention in Atlantic City. The entire state is given two days off to go to this free convention for members. (I know that means it’s not free) I love how the entire state is given the opportunity to attend. Professional development is the only way that we can improve in this profession.
The first session I presented was entitled Move to Learn. Chris Baccarella has presented with me for the past two years. This year we decided to create content for the classroom teachers. One of the really cool lesson ideas I created using EdPuzzle was a lesson on waves. If you are interested, check out this video here.
What always jazzes me up about teaching with and through movement is the excitement of the teachers as the dots start to connect. They see how easily it is to take the concept that we are showing them and put their content into it. There is nothing better than feeling that you are positively impacting students even if you don’t have direct contact with them.
The second session I presented on was on Social Justice in the Classroom. The session didn’t go as planned. I started the session asking what is the purpose of education. I was hoping the participants would come up with something similar to creating better citizens. This would be the opening to highlight how social justice is a must in schools if the goal is to create better citizens. One gentleman said it was to teach traditional family values. This was the beginning of the session and I wasn’t really settled, to begin with. After I put my eyes back into my head I asked the gentleman to explain further. His answer was something vague about how things were in the 80’s. I asked him to name them but he wasn’t able to come up with specifics.
The conversation with this gentlemen quickly turned to what if we had a difference of opinion. I told the man that if his opinion wasn’t harming others I would be open to his point of view. Brian Costello told me a while ago that I make lines in the sand. This is so true! I have definite opinions about almost everything; however, if you give me new evidence or facts that I was unaware of I will most definitely change my mind. The conversation was overall pleasant but I worried that it was only going to get worse once I started delving into the real stuff I would hear some more dog whistles from this man throughout the session.
I did not hear another peep from the man until he asked me if race was subjective. I replied yes and explained how the actual meaning of being white has changed over the years. This led to a fantastic discussion about colorism. A gentlemen of Columbian descent explained how the lighter your skin the better you were treated in various racial groups. It was really cool for me to sit back and listen to people who have lived and traveled all over the world explain just how colorism works in other countries and communities.
The session finished really well and I feel like that the people in the room left with a couple of ways to incorporate social justice into their class.
I leave the conference with a renewed hope that teachers are always improving.
This weekend marked another funeral attendance of a relative that I needed to mark down in my journey through life book. I am fully an adult now and I don’t really like it. Funerals seem more often than weddings and births. Death is always lingering near us and funerals force the curtain that separates us to turn translucent. We can not hide behind food, exercise, alcohol, movies or any other distraction of choice at a funeral. Especially not a funeral where the body is absent of spirit and is displayed openly in a bed of cloth and wood. Death is literally staring us in the face.
I look around the room and remember for the billionth time just how fleeting life is. Cousins who were young now look old and the people who I thought were old as a young man now look ancient. This reaffirms to me again how I need to concentrate on the moment. I attempt to find joy and growth in whatever situation I am afforded.
During the sermon, the pastor spoke about a theme that keeps popping up across every spectrum of learning I am engaged in. In his eulogy, he spoke about how the basics of Christianity can be boiled down to one simple theme. Love. If you boil it all down to one simple idea it comes down to love. Now Uncle Tom, who was the deceased family member I spoke of above, was the epitome of love. You couldn’t be in his midst for more than two minutes before you felt the love emanating from his being. He made you feel welcome and was the kind of man that you wanted to be around. There are not many people in the world who radiate love.
It is with his death fresh in my mind that I write about two different acts of love that I would like bring to your awareness. The first act of love is the kind of selfless act that we do because we want to make life better for other people. This involves buying a gift for children that attend a school that can’t provide what they need. These students are not mine and the teacher is anonymously dispersing them out in their school district. A lot of teachers that read my blog are Physical Education and Health teachers. You will see listed balls and puzzles. We know that kids need to play and be physically active. Whatever your occupation these children need us to help provide them the opportunity to interact and love each other. Please help these children by clicking on this link and spreading your good fortune with others. When you click on the shipping address choose the gift registry address that is listed. It is a small gesture for us with a huge impact for them.
Once again Andy Milne (@carmelhealth) has created the #SlowChatGiftX. This is an international gift exchange with educators from all over the world! All you have to do is sign up here. Fill out the Google Form and you will be a part of the largest secret holiday gift exchange in the world! Love shows itself when we connect with other people. The very idea that we acknowledge each other’s existence when we enter the same time and space is a form of love. This idea that we can connect over a gift with someone from halfway across the United States or the world is fantastic. The coolest part of this besides giving someone something that can positively impact their world is that you have no idea where your gift is coming from. Go check out the hashtag from last year it is so cool to read through and see what thoughtful gifts people gave.
As election day approaches and we choose who to vote for remember the idea of love. Use your choice and voice to vote for the candidate that will work to create a more just society for everyone, even those that don’t look and act like us. Vote with love.