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Posts from the ‘Write6x6’ Category

27
Mar

Okay, All Your Students are Online. Now What?

I still chuckle when I think about every teacher I work with is now doing some form of remote or online teaching. I know it’s not a laughing matter, but I can’t help it. After spending four years as eCourses coordinator at the college, I know the reality of that statement. I’m sure everyone is doing their best. However, I can’t help but think about that select few who wanted to teach online because they thought it would be easy. Well, it’s not so easy after all, especially when you only get two weeks to do it.

It’s easy to post content (documents) online, and most LMS’s make it easy to record video and audio. But the hardest part is engaging students. How do you even know they are watching, listening or reading what you put online? I hope I’m not freaking people out, but trust me, they’re not watching, listening and reading all that stuff you just put in Canvas. They are just looking for the stuff the “counts.” I know I sound pessimistic, but I speak from experience. When I first started teaching online over 15 years ago, the first thing I noticed was that if there was no point value attached, it got ignored. That included textbook chapters, handouts, content pages in Canvas, and yes, even YouTube videos. I was shocked. They don’t like my videos? Did anyone even watch them?

I couldn’t really tell if students were engaging or not with my content, but they were missing huge gaps in knowledge that would have come from engaging with that content. I constantly found myself asking in my feedback, “Did you watch the video?” or “Did you read the handout?” It was definitely frustrating especially since I made a ton of videos. Once I got fed up with that I decided to change the design of my courses. I now have several different formats depending on the course. I made a couple of videos showing how I changed things up that you can watch below, but I’ll summarize here first.

For my ENH114 African American literature class where reading is crucial (Duh!), I changed the course so that every reading is an assignment. Yes, you read that right. Every single reading is an assignment. I call them lessons, and each lesson either has reading handouts, video or audio and then something for students to do. For example, in Lesson 1.1.1 Origins of African American Language, students watch a YouTube video and then write a summary about what they learned. Simple. I create this by using Assignments in Canvas, embed the video, write my instructions and then set the assignment to accept text and uploads for submission. The best part is I didn’t have to make the video. Thank you internet and YouTube.

Another example from the ENH114 class is a lecture I wanted students to read. Again, I made it a lesson: Lesson 1.2.1 Importance of Negro Spirituals that included a recording of me reading the lecture as well as the text of the lecture, and then asks students to answer a question about the content. I use rubrics so the students know what I’m looking for, and it makes it easier for me to grade. The idea that everything I want students to do is graded in some way can be daunting, but using rubrics makes quick work of it. I’ll demonstrate more ways that I engage students in this class in the video below.

For my freshman comp classes, I have a slightly different approach. Not everything I want for them to read and do is made into a lesson, but I do wish that would work. However, I do consistently make some of the content into lessons. You really need to have something for students to engage with on a weekly basis. If you don’t, students get in the habit of “skipping” weeks. Having assignments with weekly due dates draws them into the course. They don’t have to be much, just something that says, “Hey, remember you have this English class over here.” You can see more from these courses in the video below. You can find the YouTube Series I mention here: Crash Course Navigating Digital Information.

Lastly, I teach a hybrid (used to teach a hybrid) JRN203: Writing for Online Media course. Luckily for me, I design all my courses as online courses, so I only had to make a few adjustments in this course to transition to online. The biggest change was adding more online discussions. Oh, I know. That sounds so boring, especially since students hate online discussions. But these discussions are fun. I use FlipGrid. It’s a social learning platform that allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating a “web” of video discussion. They’re fun and students really like these discussions. Some are a little shy at first, but they quickly get over it. I got permission from my students to show a discussion they are working on currently in class. See below.

The reality of the situation is I didn’t create all of this in two weeks. These are things I’ve added as I’ve taught over the years. For many faculty out there now rushing to move content online, my best advice is to pick one thing you can add now to help engage students, and as the semester continues on, consider what else you might be able to add. You can’t do it all now, but just one thing might prove helpful.

Engaging Students in JRN203 with FlipGrid
ENH114 Course Using Canvas, Softchalk, and FlipGrid
ENG101 Composition Course Using Canvas,
McGraw-Hill Connect & YouTube
20
Mar

Where Do Great Ideas Go to Die?

People have great ideas all the time that they never share with others. They secretly harbor them in their heads. This is often where they die. We’re not always given a platform to share ideas, so that’s part of the reason. Another is we often feel our ideas might not be well received, so why bother. Or change is just hard for some and doing things the way we’ve always done them is commonplace. I tend to lean more on the side of people will listen if you bother to seek out the opportunity even if change never happens.

I have what I think is a good idea, and I’m going to share it with you. I don’t have any expectations for change, but at least my great idea is not going to die in my head. Also note, this post was conceived before our current situation with moving courses online. I started this while on Spring Break.

I’ve been teaching online for a long time – since 1998. I can see an inherent problem with how we offer online classes for our students. We open classes. Students rush to fill them, and all the online classes are full weeks before the semester begins. Sounds great, right? Well, it’s not. Not every student who signs up for an online class is prepared and ready for an online class. Many never make it past the first few days, finding it difficult to follow simple directions and get work completed. What do we do with these students? Some drop on their own, others stay and struggle for a while and eventually drop. The end game is that often after just one week a once full class is now left with multiple open spots. These are missed opportunities for students who were never given a chance to even register.

So here’s my idea. Open all online courses 3 days early and require students to complete an orientation. If students “No Show” or can’t complete simple to-do items, they are dropped as a “No Show” from the class. They were given an opportunity and failed. The student gets a full refund and there is now an open spot for another student to enroll. But we don’t allow late registration, so that doesn’t work. However, if we designated some courses as “rolling overload.” I made that term up. It means that faculty can designate the number of overload students permitted to enroll in their online courses. Presently faculty can teach an online course that doesn’t have the required max number of students (15) and are compensated from a rolling payscale, meaning I can teach ENH114 if I only have 10 students enrolled if I’m willing to be paid a certain percentage of the full load. That number used to be 2.04 load for 10 students. Five students would be 1.08 load. These are just examples at this point based on old numbers.

With this new plan, faculty could designate the number of overload students they are willing to teach, and the load for that class would increase by the number. Then after the three day period where students are given the orientation to complete, the actual course load is determined. Here’s the example: I teach ENG101 with a course load of 24 students. I designate 10 open spots for overload (2.04), so initially, my new full-time load is 15 + 2.04 = 17.04. After the three day orientation period, I only have 29 of the 34 students successfully make it through. My new load is 15+1.08 (5 extra students). We have technically helped 10 students. Five were shown they were not adequately prepared for an online class and were given a refund, and five more were given the opportunity to take a class that previously would have been full and closed. And I am compensated for the extra students in my class.

So let’s look at some real numbers, and I’ll show why I know this will work. For the last 5+ years, I’ve been keeping track of students enrolled during the first two weeks of my online classes. This semester I have 5 online classes. The two online 8-week ENG101 classes ended last week, and two new ENG102 online 8 week classes began this week. I already knew that at least 3 of the students enrolled in the ENG102 courses were not eligible to take the class, but I couldn’t drop them from the ENG102 because the semester wasn’t over yet for the ENG101. They hadn’t officially failed ENG101 yet, but trust me; they failed. So there were 3 wasted spots already. By the time all the official stuff happened, we are already in the no late registration stage. But let’s focus on the two ENG101 courses. I started with 48 students and I ended with 34. After the first week, I had a total of 43 students. So 5 enrollments were lost within the first 3 days. Most of the other 9 students were lost within the next two weeks.

Here’s the best part. I can predict after one week which students will not succeed in the online course. As they complete the 7 step orientation, I rank them in order of how quickly and successfully they complete the orientation. The names at the top completed it quickly with very little difficulty. Names toward the bottom are students who didn’t get started right away, required several emails to prod them, and didn’t complete things in a successful manner. The majority of the 9 students who dropped or were dropped after the first week were at the bottom of this list. Only 3 students in the top 32 have dropped or been dropped from the class, while the bottom 7 have either dropped or are failing the course.

Now let’s look at what is happening right this minute in my two ENG102 courses. The orientation was due last night. Both classes were full before we started. I add one off the waitlist and 2 students from my previous ENG101 that just ended, so I started with 51. One disappeared right when I opened the class on Wednesday of Spring Break. Poof. Vanished. Down to 50. Today a week later, three days into the 8-week session, I have 44 students. What happened to those 6 students? Two more dropped on their own. One said she had too much going on to handle a new class right now. Three were complete no-shows. I emailed daily and then called to no responses. They were dropped with a 43 (no-show) this morning. The last was a difficult decision but he was dropped with a 43 because he couldn’t figure out how to complete the orientation and never responded to any of my emails or texts offering help.

So even with all the intervention I still ended up for 4 open spots that didn’t get filled for this 8-week session. I bet there are a lot of students out there right now that wished they’d just signed up for an online class. But it’s too late now, as those 44 students are already deep into the course discussing personal freedoms and learning about writing arguments. Anyone who tried to join now would be too far behind for it to be a fair challenge. The system is just not designed well enough to give more students the opportunity to take online courses. Who knows if my idea would work. It’s certainly not without flaws. It’s just an idea, and now that it’s not dead in my head, I’m good with letting it go. Fly away idea. 🙂

And Write6x6 is a wrap. I hope you enjoyed my brain dumps over the past 6 weeks. I’ll try not to wait until next year to post again.

18
Mar

Remote Teaching: More Questions Answered

So I’ve gotten a few more questions from faculty about moving content online. The questions are good questions indicating that they have the right idea about adding audio and video. After posting on Instagram about using my iPad in some of my videos, Mary wanted to know if I could record live using Notability in a Google Hangout. I don’t usually do it that way, but I was curious too, so I tried it. Notability is a notetaking app on the iPad. It works like a digital whiteboard if you have an Apple pencil. I use it to show students how to correct errors in their papers. I’ll pull up a document that has sentences double spaced and use my pen to show how you can add a comma and conjunction to a run-on sentence and make it a compound sentence, for example. I usually just do these alone and record the screen using the built-in recording feature on the iPad. I can also do the same thing using Explain Everything Whiteboard, but that is not free ($25).

Anyway, this method of recording videos is perfect for the instructor who likes to write on the board while teaching. I don’t do that often, but when I do students like it. Here’s an example of How to Write a Basic Essay that I created in Explain Everything. Now back to Mary’s question. Yes, you can log into a Google Hangout Meet session on your iPad, start presenting, open the Notability app and start writing. As I tried this, I was also logged into the webinar on my desktop and could easily see what was going on on the iPad. I might have to try this in my next webinar class.

iPad and computer screen
Presenting from Explain Everything on the iPad in a Google Hangouts Meet session.

Another media question I got today was about recording audio in a Canvas quiz. Yes, you can do that. Canvas is good at giving the ability to record audio and video either from within Canvas or uploading it from your computer. Most already know you can record audio and video in assignments and pages, but even I didn’t know about adding it to quiz questions. So when you’re setting up your quiz and you add a question, just click the “record/upload media” button on the menu bar. You can record right there in Canvas or you can upload a file recorded earlier on your computer. This is a good solution for a class that is learning pronunciation or a foreign language.

The rest of the questions I got today were about the extended delay for beginning face to face and hybrid courses. I think the messaging just confused everyone who worked their butts off to be ready for next week and now we have to delay. It’s really not fair to those who are teaching 8-week courses that were to start this week. Essentially they are not only moving the content online but now they have to teach it in 5 weeks. That’s crazy. We don’t even teach 5 week online courses in the summer in our department. My advice was to just start now if you’re ready. Students will do what you tell them if you help them. I have two hybrid courses that didn’t skip a beat. We are moving on as planned. They’re showing up to webinars, submitting work, and asking good questions. We’re going to get through this and finish on time.

17
Mar

Remote Teaching. We Can All Learn Something New

This week many of my colleagues are frantically working to accommodate a district mandate to move to remote teaching. For many who have never taught online before, this is a daunting task. Even if they are not being asked to teach online per se, essentially a similar skill set is needed. The number one skill is being fearless. You can’t be afraid or nothing will go right and nothing will happen. You have to have a “F it” attitude and say I’m just going to try it. If it doesn’t work, oh well. At least I tried. Nine times out of 10 it will work well enough (not always perfectly).

I already teach mostly online, and my two hybrid courses are already designed to be taught completely online. So this transition is a simple process for me. But I feel for my colleagues and I’ve volunteered my expertise to help others. So far it’s been surprisingly quiet. I’ll go through a few of the questions I’ve received and my suggested solutions in my next few posts. Let’s start with this one.

I’m still learning new things during this process too. I got a question about how I teach my students to “do the stuff” online. It was a little vague, but I think I understood. The hardest part for me about teaching online is not being able to experience the course and materials the way my students might. I can’t see what they see, but I can show them the way I see it. So I make videos using the student view in Canvas and videos on my phone showing them the mobile version. I use either SnagIt or Camtasia to record my screen, and I show them how I want them to do something. Both are not free tools, but you can do the same thing with Screencast-o-matic, which is free. Snagit is $30 and Camtasia is $170, but GCC may have a few licenses available that you could use, and I hear TechSmith is making Snagit free to use through the end of June 2020 to any organization that needs it. Visit: https://discover.techsmith.com/remote-techsmith/

Clearly I take advantage of working from home by not getting all “dolled up.”

The reason I use Snagit and Camtasia over the free tools is the ease of saving and sharing. TechSmith Screencast® online hosting services allow you to share video, screen captures and multimedia content with others. They make it so simple to record and share. I made a video of how I use this service here.

Stay tuned for more questions I’ve gotten about teaching online or remotely in my next post.

26
Feb

A Blog Post About Nothing

I seriously can’t think of a damn thing to write about, so this is a blog post about nothing. This could be a sign of burn out or maybe I’ve lost my motivation. Motivation to write that is. I still want to live. 🙂 I’ve seemingly written about everything already over the past 20 years. That’s how long I’ve been blogging. My freshmancomp.com self-hosted blog was started in 2006 when I transferred over to GCC from SMCC, but I blogged on Blogger before that. It’s fun to go back and read what was so important to me back then in old posts. The very first post to this blog was about whiteboards in October of 2006, thirteen years ago. I wrote:

I’m teaching a developmental writing course here at GCC, and unfortunately I have no access to technology in the class itself besides my shiny white boards, overhead projector from 1950, and a vcr/dvd combo and television. This of course is no reflection on the college; it’s just a this is what’s left situation.

Ha! I remember this vividly. I was a temporary one-semester transfer, and I got stuck in a classroom in the CL building. I really didn’t know what to do with myself in that room. Luckily I was able to sneak over into HT1 often enough to salvage the semester.

As I reflect back and peruse other posts, one thing stands out about my posts. They are always about technology and teaching. In 2007 I blogged about using del.icio.us, Ning social network, Bedford Bibliographer and podcasting. Wow! Does anyone remember any of those things? Well, I guess podcasting is still around, but the rest are dead and gone. Good thing I’m not dead and gone although I do feel pretty old sometimes. Podcasting is still around, but the technology we used “back in the day” has definitely changed. Check this out.

I’ve been experimenting with flash players for my weekly podcasts in my freshman composition courses. This one from MyFlashFetish.com was pretty cool. I’ll paste the code into the course blog and see how students like it.

I wish I could say they liked it, but to be honest they probably couldn’t care less. Anyway, that website is certainly gone. I still podcast or create audio for my student, but today I use Soundcloud to host my podcasts. Anywho, I’ll end this rambling with a shoutout to two of my favorite podcasts on Soundcloud.

Shoutout to my girls in the CTLE – Two Profs in a Pod
This is my JRN203 Students’ Podcast: The Weekly Gauchos. Some are better than others.
New-season starts Friday.
18
Feb

Is There Value in Having Students Do Collaborative Group Projects?

Collaborative group projects in online and hybrid classes – Is there value in having students do them?

I go back and forth with whether I should dump it or keep it. Students hate it, but I think there is value, and it’s a lesson students need to experience. Things don’t always go the way they should, and students can learn a lot from having to deal with this adversity.

I’ve been using a group project in my ENG102 hybrid course for about two years now, and I think it teaches students a lot about collaborating, working in a team, and sharing in the learning process with others. In the video below, I’ll share my process with you, as well as a few tools in Canvas that you may or may not be familiar with: Collaborations, Groups, Perusall and NoodleTools. 

Purpose: The purpose of the project is to teach students the process of writing an argumentative research paper. In groups of four the work through the whole process in four weeks. The only thing they don’t do is the actual research. I provide that for them. Let’s take a look, and I’ll show the tools as they are integrated into the process. 

Collaborative Group Projects in Canvas
3
Feb

Is It Our Job to Teach Students Responsibility in College?

I spend a lot of time each semester revising and updating my syllabus. Some say “a syllabus functions as a contract between you and your students.” So I feel it’s best to have my policies in place and make them clear for students upfront, so there’s no misunderstanding down the road once we’ve started. Over the years I’ve developed a pretty generous late work policy to help alleviate much of the stress that comes along with the unexpected emergencies that pop up during a semester, yet I truly believe that part of what I’m teaching my students is responsibility and how to properly deal with such situations. Having a strict no late work policy only teaches students that life truly does suck sometimes, and there’s not much you can do about it. My motto for students is “no one late assignment is going to kill your grade.” So suck it up, deal with your emergency, get your late assignment in, and accept the responsibility for it all and the late penalty. Move on. Emergencies don’t happen weekly.

My late policy for assignments and essays is 10% off for each day it is late, up to a week late. After 5 days it’s just a straight 50% off. After a week, the assignment or essay can not be submitted for credit. This policy does not apply to discussions or peer-review assignments, as they both require students to engage with one another, and you can’t really do that after the discussion has ended, so no late work for those. I give students several reminders about this policy and missing work. The day after the assignment is due, the assignment is given a 0, and I send a notification to students reminding them that they missed an assignment and what the late policy is. I encourage them to submit the missing work right away. Let’s go! You got this.

Generally this process and policy work out well; however, there are times when it just doesn’t. If students don’t understand or value the importance of being on time or submitting work on time, they make little effort to do so, especially if there are no consequences. If an assignment deadline is merely a suggestion, very few will submit it at that time. I gave students an option once. They could submit their essay drafts by Thursday, and if they did so, I would provide full feedback on the draft with which they could then revise the draft and submit the final draft by Mondy night. If they didn’t want that option, the final draft was just due on Sunday night. No feedback. No extra day. I got two papers submitted on Thursday, two surprisingly submitted on Friday (wasn’t an option), 10 submitted on Sunday, one submitted late on Monday, and two not submitted at all. All 15 papers submitted could have benefited from another round of revision, but only two got that opportunity.

The only way I can see to teach students responsibility is to provide clear expectations and consequences, hold them accountable for those class policies, and reward and praise them when they are being responsible. In the scenario above, the two students who took advantage of the opportunity to revise with feedback obviously did well on their final essays. Students don’t get that option anymore; it’s all built into the process, like a forced acquiescence so to speak. If drafts are submitted, feedback is provided and time to revise and edit is given. If they are not, points are deducted, minimal feedback is provided, and there is less time to revise and edit. Essay grades clearly reflect which path is chosen and hopefully, students are learning what it takes to write good essays as well as how to be responsible for their part in the learning process.

3
Apr

Do You Ever Dream of Candy Coated Raindrops?


“My love, do you ever dream of
Candy coated raindrops?
You’re the same, my candy rain”

Soul for Real
Tweet from @937RhythmFM

Do you ever dream of candy coated raindrops? No? Well, me neither. However, when I think of dreams it always reminds me of that Soul for Real song from the 90’s, “Candy Rain.” I used to love that group. I loved them so much I named my online persona after them. For the longest time, I was soul4real on everything social media account available. I’ve cut back over the years, but my Twitter handle is still @soul4real. As a result, every time someone wants to share that they are listening to a song from this group, they always tweet it like the one to the right. I get a few tweets a week like this.

So I wrote all of that because for some strange reason I can’t think of anything I dream of. I’m sure that has everything to do with me being on sabbatical. Maybe I should dream of having another sabbatical, but I’d have to wait 7 years for that and I hope to be retired by then. And when I return in the fall, I’ll already be going through a bit of a job change, transitioning back to teaching composition full time. It’s been four years, so I don’t have the barely hidden disdain for grading hundreds of essays every 3 weeks in me. I’m actually looking forward to it. Hopefully that feeling will last a few semesters. I guess I could dream that my students will be the best students to ever take a freshman comp class at GCC, and we all enjoy every minute of our time together. A girl can dream, right?

In the mean time, while I get back to enjoying my sabbatical and trying to think of things to dream of, you should enjoy the soulful stylings of a great group – Soul for Real singing “Candy Rain.”

28
Mar

Pain & Suffering or Just Assessment & Evaluation?

That’s how many instructors and students feel about assessment and evaluation. It’s a lot of needless pain and suffering. It always seems so punitive to students who struggle. But assessment doesn’t have to be that way. Many instructors have found ways to teach and use assessments in a way that encourage students to do better the next time. The key is that there is a next time, and that can be the challenge.

In writing courses, instructors can get overloaded with grading. The more a student writes the better that writing becomes, but who has time to grade all that writing. Apparently writing instructors do. However, there are ways to break down the concepts and skills needed to write well and have students practice those concepts and skills without the need of instructor grading. For instance, much of the bad writing that I see, stems from poor sentence structure. Students love a good run-on sentence, with a few fragments thrown in for good measure. It drive me crazy. “Use a comma or a period somewhere, please,” I beg.

Lucky for us at GCC, we’ve found an adaptive learning tool to help us teach students the grammar and mechanics skills, including sentence structure that they struggle with. If you’re not familiar with adaptive learning, it “is an educational method which uses computer algorithms to orchestrate the interaction with the learner and deliver customized resources and learning activities to address the unique needs of each learner” (Wikipedia). The tool we adopted from McGraw-Hill is called Connect, which includes LearnSmart Achieve. LSA provides an adaptive learning system designed to identify students’ areas of weakness. It uses supplementary content, such as videos, interactive activities, additional readings, and even a time management feature, all intended to guide students through content and resources at an appropriate pace. You can see an example below.

The beauty of this type of tool is students are being assessed all through out the process, and the system is adapting to their needs. If they’re struggling with the content they get more resources and more practice. If a student clearly understands, they hit mastery sooner and complete the lesson. So instead of a lot of pain and suffering, students get what they need. Missing a question doesn’t seem like a punishment. It becomes and opportunity to learn why and try again until they get it right. And as an instructor, I don’t have to grade any of that work. That’s the real beauty. My assessment comes when they put those skills to the test on an essay assignment.

Unfortunately, we can’t eliminate all the pain and suffering. At some point students have to write an essay, and instructors have to grade it. Well, more like grade 100+ of them (24 students x 5 classes). And we assign 3-4 essays in each course, so it’s still a lot of grading. But I digress. Once a student submits a finished essay, eager with anticipation of a passing grade, it takes some time to get that feedback back to students. During that span (1-2 weeks on occasion), students forget all about that paper and the effort or lack of effort they put into it. And when the paper is return, the process often ends there. There’s no motivation to do better. We teach that writing is a process, yet we make the process end when we’re ready. I believe with a C paper and especially an F paper, the process is not over yet. The student needs to continue to work on that essay, not the next one, in order to improve his/her writing.

So my assessment technique involves giving students an opportunity of a rewrite. Yep, more pain essays for me to grade. But it works because students have to tell me what it is they did to improve the essay. What skills did they work on? What help did you seek? Did you work in LearnSmart Achieve? Did you visit the Writing Center? Did you schedule a conference with your instructor? So the process doesn’t have to end with an F paper crumpled and thrown in the trashcan as the student walks out the door (clearly that’s an old reference to times gone by). Writing is a process and the only way to get students to write better is to keep the process going for as long as they need.

Example of McGraw-Hill LearnSmart Achieve

13
Mar

My First Black Teacher

Do any of you remember your first black teacher? I’m guessing many can say they never had one. I can say that I only had two from elementary school all the way through grad school. If I lived my whole life in Arizona, that might be understandable given the 4% African American population in this state. But I started my education growing up in an all black neighborhood in Columbus, OH. I mean everybody was black. Except for the teachers. I didn’t think anything of it. Teachers were just white.

Then when I started junior high school, my mom thought it would be a great idea to bus me to an all white school. Guess what? There weren’t any black teachers there either. Two busloads of black kids shipped off to white suburbia to fend for ourselves. Little did I know that we were part of desegregation busing, the practice of assigning and transporting kids to schools so as to overcome the effects of residential segregation on local school demographics. All I knew was it sucked. I never felt like that was my school. We were just visitors.

In the fall of 1947, Seattle Public Schools hired its first two black teachers.
Thelma DeWitty reads to her second-grade students at Cooper Elementary School in 1950. (Josef Scaylea / The Seattle Times)

We moved to Arizona the following year, and I remember feeling relieved. In Central Phoenix I wasn’t the only minority. There were Mexican and Native American kids too. Brown people unite. But Phoenix had its own version of desegregation busing even though it probably wasn’t planned that way. I lived right across the street from North HS, but some how I found myself riding the city bus everyday to Central. My mom was crazy sneaky like that. There might have been black teachers at North, but I didn’t see a one at Central. They were all white, so clearly they were the better teachers.

When you grow up never seeing anyone who looks like you in roles of leadership and prestige, you start to believe you can never achieve that yourself. Thank goodness I NEVER wanted to be a teacher, so it never really bothered me until I left for college. After spending two years at Phoenix College, I went to a Historically Black College (HBC) in Texas. Woot woot! Certainly, there will black teachers there. Nope. Well, there were a few, but not teaching the courses I was taking. Except for my Spanish teacher. She was my first black teacher. I remember myself acknowledging that fact one day in class and thinking: my first black teacher and I can’t understand a word she’s saying. Haha!

Inclusivity

There is a point to all this reminiscing about my schooling. It reminds me that there are many individual students who find themselves in similar situations as I did growing up or even feeling marginalized. Even today we have students who are minorities, LGBTQ, physically or mentally disabled who show up in our classrooms wondering if they fit in. Many are the first in their families to go to college, so there’s no precedence. Many will look around the room and see very few faces like their own and wonder if they can do it. So for me, I feel as if I have to do more than just be their first black teacher. I have to try to be more inclusive with these students. Not because they feel they need it, but because I feel like every student should feel as if they are a part of their community and develop a sense of belonging and hopefully become better prepared for life because of that.