Earlier, I was talking to a fellow educator who wants to become an educational consultant. She wanted to pick my brain on the how, the what and the who of this educational consultant life.
She knows that I focus on race, gender, power and privilege and how it affects teaching and learning, but she, like most people, tend to think that I am a one trick pony.
It’s not on purpose.
Telling people they’re racist and getting paid to do it, is quite a career. But that’s not all that I do.
It’s not even what I’m best at.
I LOVE curriculum. I love planning it. I love executing it. I love co-creating it with other educators and parents.
I love the art and science, the magic of teaching. I’d like to think that in the midst of pointing out racism and bias and sexism and colorism, that I am also assisting teachers in decolonizing their minds, their curriculum and their pedagogy.
After all, that’s my constant practice. To get this little white man out of my head.
Last Week Saturday our Woke Cypha Crew came together to discuss one of my favorite things, assessments:
What are we asking students to do?
Why are we asking them to do it?
How are we asking them to show what they know/learned?
How does what they’re being asked to do reflect the current socio political context and prepare them for a 21st Century world?
I mean, this is school, right?
At least this should be what school is based on?
How does what I’m learning affect my life?
I was delivering PD at one of my favorite schools and we broached those questions I listed above and there was a table of math teachers in the back of the room. All Black women, young, brilliant and dope.
They were back there giving me the gassiest of gas faces. I couldn’t stop watching them, watch me. And I knew the were not feeling me AT ALL.
When the session was over, they called me over to them and was like, “how is this ish possible?”
I asked, “How is what possible?”
They explained that they work very hard on planning engaging lessons but the students don’t retain anything, they don’t like anything, they don’t question anything and that they the teachers were essentially feeling burned out and defeated.
I asked them a few questions;
Why do you teach the math you teach?
How does it relate to your life?
Who uses this kind of math?
Who invented this math?
Why is this math important to you (to them)?
They looked at me blankly. And the woman who I have known longer said, “I don’t know.”
I said, “Well, if you don’t know. Then how would the kids know? Why would they connect to this?”
She then said, “Well how do we fix this?”
I pulled the AP over and we’re working out a schedule for me to come work with them on CURRICULUM.
Now, listen, I suck am growing in my math abilities. I don’t know the answers to any of those questions I asked. But I do know there are answers. And for me that starts with the assessments.
Well, it actually starts with, who the hell uses this math in their daily lives and then it goes on to assessments.
At the end of each unit, what are we asking kids to do? And how does each unit build on the other? And most importantly how can what they’re learning be used for the betterment of Diasporic people.
Don’t play with me y’all. When it comes down to it our kids gotta be learning how to solve problems and they gotta first start with solving OUR problems.
I have dedicated this school year and probably the next couple of school years to the pursuit of figuring out what CRE and Math looks like in real authentic ways and how to engage STEM teachers and students in solving problems in our communities and innovating for our communities.
So come on y’all let’s get in formation.