The Urgency of Now

We are faced with many choices every day. The choices that matter most are the ones that help to make the world a better place and the ones that help to elevate our brothers and sisters.

Do not be fooled. Our lives and our needs are intricately connected that what we do on a personal level has the capacity to impact our entire world.

Now is the time to take action and to speak against all that is unjust and destroying our world. Let’s be encouraged by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who sacrificed his life for injustice, so we can live in more just world.

I am reminded of a quote I heard from watching the Green Book, a movie set in the 1960s about a genius African-American classical pianist who decides to leave the comfort of the North to go tour the segregated deep south.

GENIUS IS NOT ENOUGH,

IT TAKES COURAGE TO

CHANGE PEOPLE’S MINDS.

Green Book

Dr. Don Shirley, the main actor, was good enough to entertain White folks but could not have a meal with them, use the same hotel, or bathroom with them. It took courage for him to willingly put himself in dangerous situations in an effort to change how others perceive people of color.

How will you show courage today to ensure that your voice is heard? How are you stepping out of your comfort zone to combat injustice?

3 Ways to Help Teachers Flourish in the Classroom

Year after year, we see teachers striking around the country – West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona, Kentucky, and now Los Angeles, where tens of thousands walked out of the classroom to protest their large class sizes, low salaries, and lack of supporting staff. Right here in Florida, there continues to be a teacher shortage impacting the quality and effectiveness of education students are receiving in the classroom.

No one challenges the point that teachers should get paid more, but no one is willing to act to make it so, no one is willing to put the “money where the mouth is– not the national, state, and local representatives. Yet, we want all students to succeed, not one to be left behind. How can this be, when teachers themselves are constantly left behind with limited power to influence their own professional growth and economic security? What quality of education do you think students will get when teachers cannot pay the bills at home? When they have to work second jobs?

Image result for teacher protest

So, teachers leave the field and too many classrooms have to settle for what they can get, a body in the classroom with hardly any experience on the subject, classroom management, lesson planning, and how students learn. On the national level, schools have lost over 100,000 teachers and supporting personnel while the number of students increased by over one million. Despite the lack of adequate compensation for what they do, teachers leave the classroom for other compounding reasons such as lack of personal growth opportunities, collaboration with other teachers, and the stressful classroom environment.

Image result for teacher protest

For teachers to flourish in the classroom, these things have to be addressed:

  1. Treat them with dignity and show them respect – I do not know when the teaching profession gained the negative perception that it now has. Perhaps, it has to do with all the teacher strikes over the years or the recent public classroom videos on teacher and student conflicts. It might also be the myriad of school shootings that took the lives of many students, teachers, and staff. Why do people automatically feel sorry for and pity a person who is a teacher? “Bless your heart,” “You poor soul,” or “I would not want to be in your shoes.” These are some of the most common ways people respond to a teacher. To help teachers flourish in the classroom and in the teaching profession, they must be treated with dignity and respect. Their work is a worthy one and it should be treated as such.
  2. Give them opportunities to grow professionally – teacher growth and the education system seems to be a great paradox. The science, English, math, social study, music, art, business teacher should study at the highest level. Teachers should be experts in their fields and when they are compensated for their expertise, that would revolutionize the education system. The education system must encourage teachers to be experts in their respective fields to increase the quality of education that students are receiving. What we see in the classroom oftentimes, are teachers who do not study the subject they teach and may take years on their own, if they are motivated to be an effective teacher. To flourish, teachers must have opportunities not only to participate in formal education but also non-formal education such as teacher collaborations, workshops and subject-specific conferences.
  3. Provide them a positive work environment – a negative, stressful, and conflicting work environment are at the core of why teachers leave the classroom. Yes, teachers deserve to get paid as well any doctor, but the reason they leave the classroom is not usually about salary. They leave because students are disrespectful and the classroom is often a war zone that even the school administration does not have an answer for. They leave because they teach too many classes and must take work home daily if assignments are to be graded. They leave because teaching is a stressful job that affects one’s overall health and what happens at home after work. For teachers to flourish, schools must provide a positive environment that supports the work they are doing in the classroom

Paying teachers what they deserve would be a great start not only to keep the ones already in the classroom, but also to attract potentially great ones. There must also be opportunities for them to become better every day at what they do, alongside a positive work environment that supports them to help students succeed not only in the classroom, but also in their life experiences.

My Dream Woke Me Up at 2:40 a.m.

Do you find yourself tossing and turning in bed every morning or maybe be every night?

Image result for tossing and turning gif

It never fails. At certain hours of the morning, I would repeatedly move from side-to-side, on my stomach, and on my back, unable to find a comfortable sleeping position.

Then, I would get up, go to the bathroom, and take a sip of water, just to repeat the cycle. With this pattern, I wasted thousands of hours over the years.

We all have different sleeping habits. I prefer to go to sleep late and get up late. However, over the years, my work did not allow that. So, I go to bed around 10:00 p.m. and wake at at 5:00 a.m.

That is the time programmed into my cellphone. Because waking up early has been a pattern over the years, I no longer need my cellphone. That’s a great thing because I am following Mel Robbins’ advice to keep the cellphone out of my bedroom.

When I had the cellphone in my bedroom, I checked the time every five minutes. It did not make me get up and do something, instead, I became preoccupied with finding different thoughts that could potentially drive me to catch another 15, 30, 45, or even 60 minutes of sleep.

This year, I decided to do something different.

I get out of bed when I am awake. When the tossing and turning pattern starts, I know that it is time to get up and do something productive. This morning, the stove clock read 2:40 a.m.

I count this as a great gift of time. I can do my morning devotion, review my goals, listen to my morning affirmations, exercise, write a blog post, read a chapter of a book, an article, or a blog post. I can do a load of laundry, clean an area in the house, or cook a healthy breakfast for the husband and children.

Truth be told, there is always a task in my mind that I know I need to be doing at that time, but usually I feel too tired, lazy, or unmotivated to do it. So, I would lay there hoping for sleep to rescue me.

Not this morning!

My goals and dreams for this year kept flashing in my mind. It was like watching a video. I got excited.

Since I did not have my cellphone by my bed to deter me from leaving my bed because it was too early, I got up from my bed and proceeded to do the things that mentioned above. This post being a by product of that decision.

It feels so amazing. With this little tweak to my morning routine, I am sure that my life will be unrecognizable by this time next year.

What would your life be like if you decided to get out of bed when your body has had enough sleep for the night?

What task can you get done? What goals can you work on? What dreams can you conjure up? What life can you create?

When Will You Change?

It is beneficial to look at our lives from time to time and determine whether or not what we’ve been doingRaising Your Standards 1, the people we’ve shared our time with, and the results we’ve become accustomed to are the manifestations we really want in our lives.

If we don’t take time out for reflection, we will continue to repeat the same unproductive actions over and over again.

Reflection allows us to determine what is working and what is not. We can decide to discontinue certain behaviors knowing that we will continue to get the same result every time we utilize them.

You determine how:

  • use your resources

  • people treat you

  • your time is allocated

So, what you allow is what will continue. Make the changes today that will affect the results you get tomorrow.