My first babies.
There’s no replacing you. You were the most rebellious kids I’ve ever met. And I mean that in the best way. To be rebellious takes comprehension, speaking and listening skills, critical thinking and the list goes on and on. Your sheer bravery and courage to speak out against the injustices taking place in our school inspired me.
Do you remember when we replaced our color chart with Class Dojo? Do you remember why? Well, we were forced as a school to utilize these oppressive systems. But, remember we said that it should be about the good things you do, how you turn around your day. We are more than our mistakes.
Do you remember the time the boys in our class got into a physical altercation on the playground? Now, do you remember what came afterwards? A white adult walked you in the building and told you to your face that this was not “the ghetto” and you were not stars on “Love and Hip Hop”. In this moment, I had to explain to you the racism embedded into this. This was the first time we talked about racism. I talked with him privately afterwards and he came and apologized to the entire class. This moment showed that the adults who shake our hands everyday still have self-important work to do. This is why it’s important to advocate for yourselves because every adult in a school building does not deserve your trust. Be weary. Ask questions.
Do you remember the day we ripped up our packets and vowed to never use them again? I got this idea from you all. After seeing you rebel against the packets all year, and you probably didn’t even know it, I vowed to never make you suffer through an I Do, We Do, You Do again. We ripped them. One page at a time. Screaming and yelling. We could care less if the administration walked in because we were choosing freedom. From there, we read books, watched videos, and learned about real problems. We were spending tons of time learning about the protests in Detroit. Teachers and students were taking a stand against deplorable school conditions. Your showed empathy and wrote letters to the Detroit Federation of Teachers. We also vowed to stop doing Reading Mastery. Y’all said it was repetitive and you weren’t learning. So we got rid of that. And boy did y’all really start learning after that. Rebellion have its perks.
Forgive me. Forgive me for not being as prepared as I needed to be. I knew that I wanted to give y’all autonomy and rigor and fun! Damn it, I tried my very best. I went home to read and reflect often. But I wished I knew more about teacher pedagogy back then. Nonetheless, 88% of you walked away reading on or above grade level. Every last one of you made at least two steps of growth. We had less fights as the year passed on. Color changes didn’t help us solve problems, restorative conversations certainly did.
I’m sorry I had to leave. Frankly, many of you followed me out of the door. Nonetheless, for that year we were a tribe.
Thank you Staffon, Adonis, Logan, Aniyah, A’Niyah, Heavyn, McKenzie, Aubrey, Malik, Logan, Tristian, Jeshaun, Cha’Maree, Cameron, Morgan, Sincere, Tyrone, Markell, Keith, Jewelia, Brandon, Keelan, Ziyon, Kamau for building me up to be the teacher and the man I am today. You are the most incredible human beings I’ve met. Despite the circumstances, you shine. Keep being rebellious; this is your mission. I am and will continue to be proud of you.
Thank you Mr. Digel for being my partner during this long year. I’ll never forget the day I talked you out of using a worksheet. Honestly, you kept pushing me to be great. I dreaded having a co-teacher my first year, but I lucked up having you as a partner. Griff, you my friend are one of the baddest elementary teachers D.C. has ever seen. The choices you made during this year showed your commitment to kids and to his profession. Thank you for staying in touch and becoming one of my closest friends here. Our talks about education and then some has helped to shape the man I am today. You are all around goals.