Month: September 2021

Exit Interview 10. Ya Might Win Some with Michael Diaz-Rivera

Michael Diaz-Rivera was a brilliant and respected teacher with a reputation for empowering and inspiring his Black and Latinx students. He rose quickly to prominence for his unapologetic radical love for his community and our children. A frequent advocate and organizer for his professional association, school, and district, Michael was featured in local stories across the city for his tireless advocacy and sacrifice for his communities.

Things went south, as they often do for Black educators. His outspoken nature landed him under thee microscope and he found his former allies turning from him. He departed teaching this summer. The classic Lauryn Hill lyric “ya might win some, but ya just lost one” springs to mind.

Michael will be okay. Maybe even better. But will we?

101. Season 6 Premiere! Maintain and Sustain!

We. Are. Back. We follow the wildest school year on record with thee wildest return to school on record. Amid social unrest, some on silly ish like masks, some more insidious, like attacks on educators and communities of color, we’re back with students, masked and maintaining flexibility as we live and work on the knife’s edge.
Things are hard, y’all. And we got jokes.

Habitually Disruptive Episode 6: Humanizing with Luís J. Rodríguez

If you are a Latinx or Chicanx/Xicanx person, you probably remember the very moment you first read Luís J. Rodríguez’s Always Running, La Vida Loca: Gang Days in LA. For me, it was when I had just finished college and happened upon a copy at my school. I had just read Monster: The Autobiography of an LA Gang Member, written by Sanyika Shakur, and I was searching, unwittingly, for a way to humanize and process the environment that was my home for my entire childhood and adolescence. Always Running shook me to the core, and I remember thinking how fortunate I was to have stayed away from “that life” as a youth.

As I have grown as a writer and educator, I’ve learned the power of healing, storytelling, and bearing witness to the consequences of systemic racism and capitalism. Don Luís has long given me the words to explain the pain and sadness I feel to this day when I think of where I grew up.

I messaged him on Instagram, not expecting any kind of response, but there it was. Almost immediately this brilliant and humble veterano of movements and cells agreed to come on the show and gave me more time than I could have ever hoped for. I have reached out to other towering figures in the arts and scholarship, but Luis will stay with me a long time, because he was so ready to speak.

This elder is a gift. Please enjoy this charla.

Revolution Summer Mixtape Track 2: Kevin, Asia, and the Exit Interview

Just wanna tell you that the mixtape doesn’t have a specific order. Track 2, the one we did SECOND, is very meta and reflective.

In the winter of 2020, Asia approached us with an idea. Having been forced from her teaching position a few years before, Asia was keenly aware of the conditions faced by Black teachers in these schools. This has been the basis of some of her research around Dr. William Smith’s work on Racial Battle Fatigue, and she had decided that these stories MUST be told. Thus was born the wildly successful Exit Interview series.

We wanted to examine ways in which this work has impacted Kevin and Asia. How have these stories impacted them? Do you feel inspired? Upset? Disappointed? All of the above?

As we return to the classroom this fall, we know that there are fewer Black teachers for the reasons outlined in this series. Plus a fire Top Five.

05. Habitually Disruptive with Math Revolutionary Annie Fetter

When I first learned of the “I notice/I wonder” approach, I was not aware that the concept had really gained traction as a math practice in the work of Annie Fetter. Fetter, who trained to become a teacher but quickly became one of its most humanistic and revolutionary trainer-experts, had revealed that allowing students the space and freedom to simply describe what they see in a math lesson deepened their learning, made the work relevant, and yielded positive results. I always had a feeling about this; traditionally I used “notice and wonder” in my history classes, but far from the 10-15 minutes it was supposed to take while I took attendance, handed out graded work, and provided materials for the “real” lesson, 45 minutes would go by until I finally ended the discussion to get to the “real work.”

When Kevin and I interviewed LaChanda Garrison for the Too Dope Teachers and a Mic podcast, she shared Annie’s name to illustrate a humanizing and culturally responsive method for teaching math. I went to YouTube immediately and found a treasure trove of presentations, workshops, and articles. “What do you notice/what do you wonder” was the praxis I always wanted and never knew it.

A couple of Twitter and Zoom conversations later, here we are. Annie, brilliant, unique and determined, joins me for a conversation that will disrupt all your long-held assumptions about math instruction and schooling more generally. Do not miss this one!

Revolution Summer Mixtape Track 6: Author and Educator Jaer Armstead-Jones

Jaer Armstead-Jones is the definition of persistent. He has experienced life’s struggles and beauty alike. He has found healing through spirituality and creativity. And over the past few years, he has been writing tirelessly, consistently, and patiently to put a story into the universe. Drawing on experiences lived both by him and others, My Invisible Father asks important questions of fatherhood, masculinity, intersectionality, forgiveness, and healing.

We have the distinct honor and privilege to hear Jaer’s story and life path, as well as reflect on our own.

Plus a fire top five.

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