The Nguzo Saba: Values we live by

It’s December yall!

And here at CREAD we will be focusing on the values that drive us to do this work all month.

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We know you have a pacing calendar, a looming state exam, some of the kids don’t read on grade level, some still haven’t grasped multiplying multi-digit numbers, your ELLs need support and you fear your IEP students are falling behind. And while ALL of that might be true, what is also true, is what Dr. Geneva Gay says about culturally responsive teaching:

Culturally responsive teaching: simultaneously develops, along with academic achievement, social consciousness and critique; cultural affirmation, competence, and exchange; . . . individual self-worth and abilities; and an ethic of caring. It uses [different] ways of knowing, understanding, and representing various ethnic and cultural groups in teaching academic subjects, processes, and skills. It cultivates cooperation, collaboration, reciprocity, and mutual responsibility for learning among students, and between students and teachers. It incorporates high-status, cultural knowledge about different ethnic groups in all subjects and skills taught…  Thus, [it] validates, facilitates, liberates, and empowers ethnically diverse students by … cultivating their cultural integrity, individual abilities, and academic success. 

A very different pedagogical paradigm is needed…one that teaches to and through their personal and cultural strengths, their intellectual capabilities, and their prior accomplishments. Culturally responsive teaching is this kind of paradigm…. they filter curriculum content and teaching strategies through their cultural frames of reference…  It is radical because it makes explicit the previously implicit role of culture in teaching and learning, and it insists that educational institutions accept the legitimacy and viability of ethnic group cultures in improving learning outcomes… The close interactions among ethnic identity, cultural background, and cognition are becoming increasingly apparent… It is these interactions… that give source and focus, power and direction to culturally responsive teaching.”

And in order for you (and us) to meet the state and administrative demands of working in a school we must be very clear about our values, because those values will guide us through the hard times ahead.

The Nguzo Saba, the seven principles centered in a communitarian African philosophy. Most of us (I hope), know it as the principles of Kwanzaa, a pan Africanist holiday created by professor Maulana Karenga, which emphasizes very specific principles that are important to the uplifting and strengthening of our communities and our classrooms.

  1. Unity,
  2. Self Determination,
  3. Collective Work and Responsibility,
  4. Cooperative Economics,
  5. Purpose,
  6. Creativity and
  7. Faith

As we go into the holiday season, we must recognize that for some students and adults this is the most wonderful time of the year and for others this is a very traumatic and triggering time of the year. Therefore, now more than ever is the time for us to reinvest in the strengthening of our classroom communities and in connecting with what we love about young people and having the honor of teaching them.

We also ask that you take the time to find your own joy with your colleagues and/or those who you love, who love you and keep you dedicated to doing this hard work of educating the next generation of world leaders.

And you know we got some ideas around how you do that:

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The CREAD “we gon’ be alright” educator as activist stay woke plan for demolishing white supremacy, patriarchy, and institutional racism in the pursuit for freedom and liberation for Diasporic people.  was created last year, the day after the presidential election results. The devastation was real therefore, we decided to make the resistance even realer and as we end one year and ready ourselves for the next we must have a plan and you will see that this plan starts from a place of self care.

  1. Feel,
  2. Educate ourselves,
  3. Build, Seek, Commit to community,
  4. Disciplined Action,
  5. Love,
  6. Unapologetic love of Black people

And within the vein of building, seeking and committing to community, I hope you will join me at the NYC Men Teach Quarterly Gathering where I will be leading a workshop titled, the Pedagogy of Care where we will be digging into our, We gon, be alright, educator as activist stay woke plan while building our CREAD community.

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Happy Friday everyone, from my crew to yours!

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1st row: EDunlevy, Floryter. 2nd row: The Radical Maestra, Urban Eve, KBrann. 3rd row: Only1Khalya, Nakeeba Roots, JayCali and holding us down in the back Abram Guerra.

C-R-E-A-D, that’s my team!


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