This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
When I told friends, and few parents of my students I would be blogging for the Notebook, some wondered if it was too risky to make myself and my teaching practice so public. The act of sharing my words on the page or in this case in the blogosphere has it inherent risk. Some folks may reject my views or misinterpret intentions. But I am not afraid of going public. After all as a 6th grade teacher at the Beeber Middle School, who lives in the same community where I teach, I consider myself a “public” figure.
That is, public with a lower case “p”.
Don’t worry I do not plan to run for any “Public” office or to use this blog space as a political platform. I simply value the opportunity to share my challenges, perspectives and unique snapshots of my teaching practice and research. As a lower case “p”, “public figure” I bring in my perspective not only as a teacher, but also as practitioner-researcher and parent of charter school student.
My blog will cover an eclectic menu. I will muse about my passion for arts in education and how to engage students by using art in regular classrooms. I want to have some interesting discourse about charter schools. I hope to have my son Kagiso a student at Mastery Charter School to guest blog with me. That should be real fun! I will share my interest and frustrations in teaching global and social justice issues.
My years in Botswana as a Peace Corps Volunteer and my travels during a Fulbright sponsored Eurasian teacher exchange program give me a unique perspective. On some blog entries I may just need to vent about my day- to-day stories of being a public school teacher in the “No Child Left Behind” era. Or I may share stories about mentoring new teachers. I’ve worked with the Philadelphia Teaching Fellows, Teach for America, and I routinely have student teachers in my classroom. On some of my blogs I may be compelled to share my concerns about educating young African American males. Such as, why is it so hard to find fiction books that cater to young African American boys? Are book publishers ignoring this captive market? Maybe they think African American males don’t read a lot.
My current teacher-research is on using media literacy, hip-hop, and poetry to engage students. For poetry lovers, my next blog may cover my annual Poetry Café event that provides useful approaches for honoring young people’s voices. In future blogs I may highlight an exciting project where my students and I conducted inquiry on how social networks and media technologies promote and disrupt democratic practices. In other blogs I will cover my work of using hip hop to explore persuasive writing and formal academic research.
I am excited to share to make my teaching practice "public." And I promise I will not run for any public office, announce that I am changing political parties, or endorse any infomercial products.