Month: December 2023

Dopemas Time is Here!

Gerardo and Kevin are here to accompany you through this holiday season! Whether you celebrate or not, we gotchu, and we hope to bring some affirmation and encouragement to you in these times that defy description.

As you know, Kevin has moved into school leadership, halfway through his first year as an assistant principal. He shares the highs, the lows, and reflects on being positioned to make a greater impact for the students in his community. Gerardo shares the hard-earned lessons of sixteen months as a central office manager, and shares the encouragement he has found in his work.

But ya boys haven’t forgotten what it’s like to be a classroom teacher. Teaching is our mother tongue, and no matter what other jobs we learn and become proficient, conversant, even fluent in, our hearts and minds will always be those of teachers. We hope we can encourage you to rest, reflect, and appreciate yourself.

Plus we share our holiday wish lists.

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“An Island Beyond Yourself” Adam Gacka and Nkanga Nsa Discuss TEACHER film

It is no secret that the teaching profession has become increasingly challenging, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of us who taught before and through the pandemic, it was never easy. Always challenging, always demanding, always underpaid. Kevin and I have both left classroom roles (although being an administrator is also difficult), and we are both still a little, what’s the word, surprised? When folx choose teaching in these times.

Filmmaker Adam Gacka, founder of Production House in Chicago, was hired to make a promotional video for the ambitious Chicago Teacher Residency and during the course of filming, got to know many of the teachers in the school. In particular, as he learned about Nkanga Nsa, a resident in the program, he felt that her story needed to be shared. So the result was Teacher, a film that would document her journey through her residency, as well as that of the community around her. As Adam boldly declares, saving our teachers will save our democracy.

Adam and Nkanga join us for an in-depth conversation on one teacher’s experience, the ongoing work to ensure that our American teaching corps better reflect children in most classrooms, and the ambitious dream to become “an island beyond oneself” in Nkanga’s words.

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122. Teaching Palestine as a Social Justice Movement with Abeer Shinnawi

For over two months, violence has raged on the Gaza Strip. Since the world snapped to attention on October 7, just under 20,000 Palestinians and 1300 Israelis (around 400 IDF soldiers) have died in the so-called “Israel-Hamas War” a carefully curated framing of the violence. This is an awful moment, and has led a number of experts to name the actions visited upon Palestinians as genocidal.

Kevin and Gerardo join the conversation. Perhaps later than some would hope. But we wanted to learn, listen, and elevate before seizing a social media moment.

Enter Abeer Shinnawi, our friend, a Palestinian teacher in the United States. Abeer calls upon us to teach the Palestinian struggle as a social justice/civil rights movement. She shares with us the privilege she has by living in the United States, but the pain she feels, as the Palestinian experience has been largely minimized, demonized, and erased. But in the midst of it all, she still believes that teachers can make a difference, to help students see that there is a civil rights imperative at work here.

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