The Lucy Ricardo Effect #edusnap16

As you may already know, we are releasing our first #EduMatch book in a few days. More about that later. The purpose of this post is to thank my fellow collaborators on this project, and many others. I know I have said time and again how excited and grateful I am. I never usually say why. 

Lucy Ricardo and I are kindred spirits. Since I was a kid, I have been coming up with crazy ideas. In first grade, it was the underground newsletter (yes, this was a thing). A few of my friends and I wrote articles, based on things that impacted our six-year-old lives (I can’t remember what, maybe cartoons, hula hoops, and Bobby Brown). This was inspired and encouraged by my parents, both writers themselves, among many other hats. My mom would let me use her computer to type everyone’s article; my dad would make copies for the whole class and the teacher. Cool News only had maybe two or three editions, but I remember how exciting it was to create something together. 

As I got older, I became more distracted by extracurricular activities, socializing, and the like. The next big Lucy Ricardo moment came in college. The summer of junior year, I was doing an internship at a nonprofit law organization that helped artists in my area. Being artistic myself, and considering a career in entertainment law, it was a great opportunity. One day, while filing papers, I came across a flyer for a workshop about starting a record label. My eyes lit up and it was on. 

I organized every musical friend I had, and Royal-T Records was officially born in October of 2002. Broke college kids, we had no money, but we were determined to make it work somehow. The research was the most fun. I read every book I could find about the music industry. I must have called every studio in DC, until I found one that charged $25 an hour. It was still a little pricey, but we gave it a shot. 

After a few sessions, we ended up bonding with the owners and built a partnership of sorts, and eventually recorded there for free. They mentored us, showed us how to work the equipment and told us what to buy to do it ourselves. As the years went by, we looked out for one another, wrote songs together, performed together, etc. The more we learned, we shared, and we grew together. This was yet another early lesson about the power of collaboration. (Alas, this came to an end, as I fell in and out of puppy love with one of the owners. There may or may not be some Alanis Morissette-ish songs I wrote about him floating around somewhere. C’est la vie.)

Anyway, the point of the story is that these are the times where I have truly felt alive. Coming together to create something is magical. This time is no different. 

I can easily remember a time in the past when I felt like a teacher outcast. Had I attempted to try anything outside of the ordinary, it quite possibly would have blown up in my face. The idea would have been ignored at best. Some of our colleagues face such toxicity constantly, and it really can kill your spirit. It almost did mine. I try to always remember this when encountering someone hesitant to sip the connection Kool-Aid. It can be very scary to take that first step, especially if you are afraid of consequences. 

I’ll admit that, even though everything has turned around (and more) beyond my wildest expectations, I still have that fear before trying anything. What if it blows up? What if people ignore me? Regarding the latter, many times people do ūüėā But I’ve learned that’s not the end of the world, and to try new ideas anyway. If it’s good, people may want to collaborate later. 

This book project in particular has been an absolute joy. I got to work with 19 other amazing people, learning this process together. It was a throwback to the newsletter in first grade, while uncovering the roadmap as we went along, much like the record label. These are some of the most brilliant, funny, open, kind-hearted, and passionate folks I have met. Before we began, I thought this would be hard…that nobody would want to do this…that if anybody did, I’d mess it all up and it would be like pulling teeth. Guess what? None of that happened! My co-authors are so amazing and have made this process super-easy. In fact, after such a positive first experience, we plan to expand in 2017!

All of that being said (in a very disorganized way…yes, I am laying on the couch. Yes I am on my WordPress app on my phone. No, I probably won’t polish this up later ūüė¨), I need to take a moment to thank those of you with whom I have had the pleasure of collaborating, especially in this educational space. It has meant the world to me. This goes out to all of the co-authors of the book, the entire #EduMatch crew, all of the co-organizers of any edcamp or conference planning team I’ve been on, my teammates at work, my other work families (MAFI, OHHS, and more), GEG DC Metro, anyone who has reached out to me to invite me to their table, anyone who ever believed in me (especially when it was cool not to), anyone who positively impacted me, and especially to Mom and Dad for showing me that anything is possible, and when it gets hard to keep fighting for it. 

That felt like the Grammy acceptance speech that never happened ūüėú

The Subtle Art…

I’m currently reading this great book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a ****. Since I tend to give way too many, wasting a lot of time worrying about stuff that doesn’t matter nearly as much as I think it does, this book is right on time. Yesterday when I was at an event, I took an introvert break. There was no cell reception, so I cracked open the Kindle app and continued to read where I left off. 

Excuse the potty language. Not my words. Also, while I’m asking for pardon, know that I am writing this from the gym, so the post won’t be polished. Very stream of consciousness. 

Anyway, I had been reflecting on this idea for a little while now. A few months ago, I had heard someone talk about how so many people are results-driven, when the process itself is often more meaningful. This has implications for education, for bettering ourselves, and for many of other things I care about. It just makes sense. 

Yesterday in a Voxer group, I was chatting with some friends about gatekeepers in our field, and how my early feelings of powerlessness drove my passion to be connected. When I discovered there was so much more out there, and that I didn’t need to wait to be spoonfed PD, that there were other millions of educators out there just like me, willing to connect and learn together around the clock…it was like a drug and I couldn’t get enough. 

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending a symposium at the White House. It was my first time there since a tour in 8th grade. My mind was blown when I saw my name tag:

#EduMatch!!! At the White House!!!

It was a little over two years ago when I was chatting on Voxer with my good friend Rafranz Davis on a Friday night. I remember saying something to the effect of, “you sound like my cousin. You guys should meet and talk gamification in math. Hey, wait a minute…” 

Those 30 seconds were the birth of EduMatch. I wrote about it at length in our upcoming book. More on that later. 

Anyway, people are usually surprised when they hear how long (or short, more accurately) #EduMatch has been around. It has grown exponentially and that is all thanks to everyone who joined the family. Everyone who comes in leaves a little piece of themselves, and what we have built together belongs to all of us. I didn’t mean for this to turn into an EduMatch commercial. Got carried away. Back to the point. 

“Who you are is what you’re willing to struggle for…the joy is in the climb itself.”

I was a very inquisitive kid, and read anything I could get my hands on…encyclopedias, magazines, dictionaries even. My parents encouraged this habit and would often lend me their books. I remember reading one of my dad’s books around the age of nine or ten, and coming to the realization that life has to be hard at times. If there is no challenge, it would get boring very quickly. We have to struggle…we have to work. That’s what makes success taste so sweet. You must have something to compare it to.

In another Voxer group, or maybe the same one…I can’t remember, we were talking about learning. I had an aha moment when I realized the things I was proudest of were the ones that I had to work for. I assume the same is true for many others. 

For example, I had a student once who was an amazing kid. Great sense of humor and leadership skills. He had some academic challenges at various points, but when he tackled something, that’s all he wanted to talk about. He was so excited every time we got to the unit with his favorite topic. The kid had a grasp on poetry! This was his thing. He had worked hard, and nailed it. 

But he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to learn more. The joy was in the climb. Standard eighth grade curriculum wasn’t enough for him. He put me to work (which I did happily), looking for high school level vocabulary and concepts so that he could be challenged in this area. 

There is so much more I’d love to say, but it’s almost time for work. I will add that this morning, I picked my struggle. It is cold as a mug, as we say in the DMV, and I’m sleepy after an exciting day yesterday. However, I am committed to the gym, so here I am. The joy is in the climb. Results are slow, and sometimes non-existent, but I love seeing the progress in personal records for lifting. I’m choosing not to focus on results, i.e. visible changes in my body.  If they come, they come. But I am enjoying the journey!

Playing Basketball 

Yesterday, I went to visit my former students and work family at the K-8 school where I had been for 7 or 8 years. Whenever I walk in those doors, it’s like going back home. This was the school I loved (and still do) for so long. Some of my coworkers are like brothers and sisters; the students feel more like nieces and nephews, having seen them grow in some cases from 3 feet to 6 feet. A lot of the parents also feel like family, especially those I have grown close to over the years. 

A few weeks ago, a former student reached out to me and said that the boys’ basketball team was doing very well this season. Two years ago, I helped establish the team. At the time, the county was bringing back the program after a hiatus. During the break, a lot had happened. We had split from the Montessori school and got our own building, so we were now two separate teams. In the French immersion school, the main sport among teachers was soccer. The kids needed a coach. 

Having played a little myself, I always participated in, and enjoyed, the staff vs. students games. One day after English class, a couple of eighth grade boys came up to me and asked me to coach them. 

I was a little thrown off at the prospect of coaching, especially with the limited experience I had as a player. On top of that, I was hesitant about coaching boys. I was never a boy. I don’t have sons. The boys assured me they had asked other teachers, and nobody else could, would, or knew how to do it. I followed up and confirmed this with our Athletic Director. I decided to try it. 

I was horrible. I had so much fun working with students outside of class, but I won’t lie. Coaching is totally different than teaching. While drills and practices were pretty cool, I had no clue what I was doing at game time. Often my anxiety would go through the roof. I won’t go into all the gory details, but let’s just say middle school basketball games are fun…when you’re winning. I did everything I could to make sure that players gave it their all and kept a positive attitude, win or lose. However, the pressure as a coach was intense. There were some parents who stepped up to lend their expertise, and for that I am very grateful. 

Still, it was very tough. The phrase “blood, sweat, and tears” is an understatement. Again, I won’t go into gory details, but if you’re thinking about coaching and really want to know, I’d be more than happy to tell you. Despite all of the hard times, and there were many, I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to work with these amazing young people and get to know them outside of the classroom. Would I do it again? Never as a head coach. Maybe as an assistant. For two year olds. Maybe. 

What I do love is being able to go back and watch these seeds sprout and blossom. Now, the sixth graders whom I coached two seasons ago are the leaders of the team. They have grown in height and maturity, and it made me so proud to see them do their thing last night.  Watching the girls’ game in particular moved me, because I remember how, every opportunity I had, I would go down to their PE class on my planning period and work with them. There were 2 or 3 who had experience, but most of them had never played on a team at that point. We practiced and scrimmaged all the time. Now those same girls are about to go to high school. Hopefully they continue playing there. 

Tl;dr: basketball is fun, unless you’re the coach and you don’t know what you’re doing. Even then, it’s sorta fun…

To Sir, With Love

In August 1999, I walked into Freshman Honors English class. My professor was truly a master at his craft, a gentleman from whom I had the pleasure of learning for two concurrent semesters. 

Professor Braithwaite wrote To Sir, With Love, which I read for the first time in his class at 18, and leaned upon many times years later, during my hardest days as an educator.  Although I was a Radio-TV-Film major while in his class, his stories about teaching inspired me, and no doubt influenced my decision to seek alternative certification soon after graduation. 

Professor Braithwaite allowed us to write about topics of our choice, and made learning fun. Looking back on papers from that class, I can see exactly how much I grew as a writer freshman year. 

He showed us the ropes of publishing, as he had our class make an anthology of our work. Everyone contributed a story, and at the end, we had built a strong community, and had assembled quite a collection. It is still sitting on my parents’ coffee table. I also remember his generosity, as he took the entire class out to lunch in DC to celebrate our achievement. 

Even more powerful, Professor Braithwaite shared his story. He was very transparent as he told us about the obstacles he faced as an educator, especially the racism directed towards him as a Black teacher in London in the 1940s. Hearing how he was able to achieve all he did, even when forced to navigate such a hostile climate, was inspiring. 

There are so many things that I can no longer remember, so it says a lot that my time with Professor Braithwaite is so vivid. Thanks to an amazing educator, and cheers to a life well-lived. 

Radio Silence Explained

My formal journey to become an educator began almost 13 years¬†ago.¬†A recent graduate of Howard University with a Bachelor’s degree in Radio-TV-Film, I had always worked with children. ¬†Toward the end of my program, I felt the strong itch to become a teacher…however, I had already completed the bulk of my major coursework.

One day, in grad school, I learned of an opportunity to receive alternate certification.  I applied and was accepted into the Transition to Teaching program.  After a summer of preparation, I was hired as a teacher in a nearby school district.  The learning curve was extremely steep, but I learned to survive (and later thrive) in this field through the School of Hard Knocks.  Pun intended, by the way.

It was through my early experiences that I gained perspective on the need for teachers to become “teacher leaders.” ¬†Everyone has something to offer, and everyone is an expert in something. ¬†It is up to us to decide whether we share our expertise with others, or take it to the grave and isolate¬†ourselves in solo silos.

Empathy and relationship building must also be at the core of everything we do in our profession, whether learners are our students or our peers.  After all, we are supposed to be models of life-long learning.

For years, I have been shouting from the rooftops on social media: empower, empower, empower. Share, share, share. Teacher leaders. Student voice.  Teacher voice.  Sharing is caring.

Yet, lately, I’ve been silent.

Rewind back to the 2014-2015 school year, also known as my last full year in the classroom. In SY 2014, I started off the school year attempting to blog, vlog, or vox-blog every single day.  I gave it the old college try, and my streak lasted roughly the first month of school.  Even after that I was over, I was still fairly consistent.

This past November (2015), I left the classroom for my current role, a central office technology role in my county.  It has been my dream to join this amazing team since I first was introduced to them in 2008.  I wanted to help teachers in my county the way my teammates helped me when I was in the classroom.  They showed me new ways to make things better for my students.  They helped me to find my strength and believe in myself, even when I was weighed down by the baggage and self-doubt of my early experiences.

Were it not for them, I would have never applied to present at a conference, or even known that conferences were things that I could go to. ¬†Were it not for them, I would have never known it was possible to¬†choose to learn what I wanted to know. ¬†Were it not for them, I wouldn’t have found out about social media as a way to communicate with other teachers around the world.

Were it not for them (and my last three principals), I honestly don’t know if I would have found my¬†niche, and I don’t know where I would be today.

I have been in this role now for nearly a year. ¬†I have learned so much, one would¬†think this would be the time when I had the most to blog about. ¬†However, oddly, I have been experiencing writer’s block. ¬†Not only that, but in the most exciting time of my life thus far (professionally and otherwise) I have been utilizing social media less in a “pro-senal” (professional-personal) manner…unless, of course, you count my Tweetjukebox posts, which cheerfully remind people at 3 a.m. “never to miss another EduMatch meeting,”as one of my buddies jokes.

To be fair, I have tried. ¬†I made a strong push to blog at the beginning of the school year, but didn’t get very far. ¬†I fear that, to an extent, I have adopted the #solosilo life, which I have actively opposed for so many years.

The more I try to get better, the worse I have become.  It has become difficult to find topics to blog about.  Today, out of the blue, the reason hit me.  The answer is a combination of different factors:

  • Similar to when I first started classroom teaching, I am still learning a new¬†role.
    • I am soaking in all of my new experiences and setting new goals, taking time to reflect. ¬†While¬†blogging is reflecting, I am still establishing my foundation…albeit a bit more privately¬†(for now).
  • When I was blogging regularly, it was from a classroom teacher’s perspective. ¬†However, now, my lens is shifting, which can take¬†time to adjust.
  • I have been very fortunate and blessed to have been recognized for doing what I love. ¬†I have worked very hard on branding myself, but I strongly believe that part of branding is amplifying the voices of others.
    • We are all doing this work together and good ideas need to go viral.
    • Lately, I have fallen in love with helping to¬†create opportunities for dialogue, and have invested as much energy as possible in making this happen. This will continue.
  • In the final year of my doctoral program, I need to balance my time more effectively.
    • I have set a visual reminder to myself every time I log onto Twitter that time is ticking, and I need to be smart. ¬†Obviously, I don’t listen very well (even to myself), as I still struggle with getting “Ph.inished.”
    • In a Voxer group that I’m in, we have been discussing this very concept, and someone made a great point that you’re never “too busy” to do anything, you just make time to do things that are important to you.
    • Priorities have shifted,¬†as I’ve grown more connected and become more involved in various projects. ¬†I need to move my dissertation even higher up on the list.
  • Once again, the connection aspect comes into play.
    • Despite what people may think, I am introverted by nature. ¬†Social media has given me a loud voice.
    • Through the years, I’ve gotten better at merging Sarah with Sarahdateechur, but I’m still a work in progress, and sometimes¬†backslide. ¬†Enough said…I won’t dwell on this ūüôā

That’s all I can think of for now, so I’m going to hit publish…I guess this is one of those posts where I¬†blog to understand and make sense of things. ¬†As always, I thank you for reading, and for all that you¬†bring. ¬†I am truly honored and blessed to connect with so many amazing educators. ¬†Thank you for inspiring me.

Game Plan SY 2016-2017

I used to write a lot about what I did in my classroom.  Now, at the beginning of another school year, I would like to establish a game plan to maximize my efficiency in this new role.  Yes, I have been here since November, but this is the first time the training wheels come off and I have a cluster of my very own.  I am determined to do my part in carrying out the vision of my phenomenal team.  My hope is to be able to help people in my district, as much as people in my team helped me when I was in the classroom.

Note: I rarely promote my blog posts, but please excuse me if I do promote the hell out of this one.  The goal is not to get clicks, but I would like help in refining these ideas to make them as airtight as possible before implementation.

I was speaking with a couple of coworkers a few days ago, with the conversation centering around workshops we plan to offer throughout the year. ¬†They shared some great information with me, regarding topics that tend to work best at given times during the year. ¬†Later that day, I met with a principal, who had an idea of some topics such as technology integration, parent communication, and others. ¬†She suggested that I chat with the school’s Technology Liaison to create a plan of action, after surveying the staff.

Over the past months, I had filled in for coworkers on leave, after coming into the position mid-year.  My teammates have been so welcoming and so supportive, that now I am armed with an arsenal of tools to help meet the needs of schools/teachers/students in our district.

I also posed the question on how to best approach the school year to my PLN in a couple of Voxer groups this morning. ¬†By the time I was done speaking with coworkers and virtual friends, I had a few takeaways. ¬†I cannot take credit for these ideas…they have all been¬†begged, borrowed, and/or stolen…but these are the best of the best:

  1. Create office hours one day a week, using Google Calendar appointment slots.  Anyone from the district can sign up for tech help with anything.  Appointments can be online or offline.
  2. Beta test (one school each) a few things that I’m curious about, such as:
    1. Classcraft for gamified professional learning (been gamifying for a while, but never tried that platform).
    2. Teacher Individual Exploration Plans (IEPs) a la Jennie Magiera.
  3. Increase teacher-leadership capacity by partnering with TLs and letting them take lead on workshops at their school level, encouraging them to connect within and outside of the district, as well as present at local/national/international conferences (if interested).
  4. Block off Fridays for Sarah 20% time/Moonshot Day (whenever possible).
  5. Use the power of extensions such as Training for Google Apps to maximize time and productivity.
  6. Continue pushing out content and opportunities via social media to interested parties in my district.
  7. Utilize Articulate (NOT FREE FYI) to create workshop materials which can be accessed asynchronously.

I am still working out the details, but these are some initial ideas.  I have my first appointment for office hours on August 29, and am enjoying planning the year and helping schools get set up.

I’m hitting publish now, even though this draft is extremely rough. ¬†To any new readers, I try to polish my work before putting it out there to the world, but time is of the essence. ¬†Please keep in mind, I will probably revise this multiple times before it is in its final form. ¬†The purpose is to keep these ideas fresh in my mind, while simultaneously getting as much perspective as I possibly can before taking action. ¬†Please leave a comment, Vox me, or Tweet me (@sarahdateechur). ¬†Thank you for reading!

The Power is Yours!

One of my favorite shows to watch as a kid was Captain Planet. ¬†If you’ve never seen it, let me break it down. ¬†There were five kids from different continents who each found a ring with a power over an environmental(ish) factor.

When the kids met up, they found that they could randomly point their rings somewhere and yell out a random word. ¬†Sing the song with me now. ¬†“Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, Heart!” Magically, this random blue guy with green hair would pop up and save the world against some random polluting bad guy. ¬†(Side note: there is a hilarious, although NSFW, parody on Funny or Die featuring Don Cheadle.) ¬†When he was done, he would randomly disappear back into the rings, while saying, “the power is yours!”

The power is yours.  Indeed.

I’m a huge conspiracy theorist, especially when it comes to cartoons. ¬†For example, I’m fully convinced that Pinky was the genius, and The Brain was insane, and that is a conversation that I’m prepared to have if we ever meet face-to-face. ¬†I digress.

Anyway, I think that what Captain Planet was trying to say to the kids, once you read between the lines, is that they didn’t really need him at all. ¬†They had the power to save the world, as do all of us, the kids watching at home. ¬†The kids who have now grown up. ¬†(Psssst…you and me.)

We are educators.  We not only have the power to change the world, we ARE changing the world, whether we realize it or not.  That being said, we tend to have a lot more power than we even realize.  It took me a while to grasp this, but in the age of social media, we can move mountains.

I don’t know how many educators are on Twitter. ¬†I’ve heard two million, six million, eight million, a few hundred thousand…it depends on who you ask. ¬†For the sake of argument, let’s lowball it and say half a million (totally inventing that number…I’m sure it’s way more than that).

Generally I don’t care about numbers of followers, because it’s honestly stupid. #sorrynotsorry. ¬†Twitter shouldn’t be a popularity contest; it should be about creating meaningful connections so that we get better as educators. ¬†However, today I will entertain the discussion, again, for the sake of argument. ¬†After all, if we are trying to move educational mountains, we cannot do it by ourselves…so the ideal would be to have a high number of high-quality connections (i.e. collaborators).

Let’s say you get¬†1% of all educators on Twitter on board with your idea. ¬†Even with my fictional lowballed numbers, that¬†is still 5,000 educators. ¬†Get 1/10 of that, and that is 500 people in your corner, helping you to move this mountain. ¬†Get it?

The power is yours.

Moment of honesty: I facepalm every time someone on Twitter asks me to start something brand new on their behalf.  No.

Don’t get me wrong, I love it when people ask me to be¬†involved in what they’re doing, ask me to amplify (as long as they are not spamming me), or even give feedback/suggest improvements to something that I’m doing. ¬†It frustrates me to no end though, whenever someone has a great idea and tries to hand it over¬†to me because they think I have some kind of power that they don’t. ¬†That’s ridiculous.


What is the difference between a teacher and a teacher leader? ¬†It’s not a title. ¬†Not some secret ceremony with your admin involving a sword and holy water. ¬†A teacher leader¬†does. ¬†That’s all. ¬†Be like Nike and just do it! ¬†If you see a need, and are smart enough to find¬†the solution, just do it. ¬†Don’t ask me (or anyone else for that matter), because all I will say is, “do it yourself…let me know if I can help.” ¬†Just save yourself the lecture ūüôā

Featured image source:

#PostYourDrafts: Bloggers’ Cafe

I wrote this post two years ago during¬†my first ISTE, but I never finished, so it was sitting in my drafts folder. ¬†I won’t finish it, but it was fun to go back and re-read it/re-live it, so I decided to post it. Here it is.

Hey guys, I’m at the Bloggers’ Cafe at ISTE so I might as well…blog…lol. ¬†It’s been a while. ¬†Hopefully I haven’t lost my mojo, but I feel like a total hypocrite for sitting here the past three days and not blogging at all.

These past three weeks have been intense, but amazing. ¬†Hey, I asked for it, so I can’t complain. ¬†I made a video about it here, but the quality sucks, so you may want to read this blog post about it instead.

Disclaimer: There is way too much awesomeness to cram into a regular blog post, so I’ll have to summarize. ¬†Think of everything I write as 100x more awesome, and you may start to understand the level of awesomeness.

Brief Summary

  • June 13: Last day of school with the kids. ¬†Lots of boo-hooing.
  • June 16: Last day with the teachers. ¬†Lots of celebrating.
  • June 17: Flew out to Austin for iPadpalooza.
    • Hung out with totally awesome members of my PLN (TAMOMPLN) face to face.
  • June 18: Presented at iPadpalooza.
    • Hung out with¬†TAMOMPLN.
    • Got on plane to Denver for InnEdCo.
    • Plane wouldn’t take off because it was too hot.
    • Missed shuttle to Copper Mountain.
    • Slept in airport.
  • June 19: ¬†Changed in bathroom. ¬†
    • Paid out the rear for private ride to Copper Mountain the next morning. ¬†
    • Arrived to presentation 15 min before it started.
    • Connected with people. ¬†
    • Hung out with¬†TAMOMPLN. ¬†Shout out to the crew for putting me on my first ever ski lift.
    • Took shuttle back to airport.
    • Caught plane to somewhere in Canada.
    • Went through customs.
    • Ran through the airport because I almost missed my connecting flight.
    • Found out the plane was late.
    • Flew to Kelowna and checked in without incident.
  • June 20: Presented at CanFlip.
    • Hung out with TAMOMPLN.
    • Rest of the day, no drama.

Time for Action

No, I do not watch the news.  Yes, I do have a reason.

I’ve never been a fan of the news media for the most part. ¬†When I was a kid, I instinctively questioned almost everything that¬†I read or saw. ¬†My parents, both publishers of community newsletters, taught me very early on that there was much more to the story¬†than what we learned in history class. ¬†I guess¬†I figured that¬†the news is just history being currently written, so ¬†why trust that¬†blindly?

In addition to the sheer bias (and not-so-subtle attempt at brainwashing) from many outlets, I have other reasons that I choose not to follow mainstream news.  For one, there is an emotional toll when people continue to be murdered, often for absolutely no reason other than being black in America.  However, we as citizens are often hard-pressed to receive a fair retelling of the facts.  False narratives generate more revenue for the news outlets, while simultaneously fueling stereotypes, creating negative and divisive public perceptions, and devaluing human lives.  Yellow journalism, indeed.

The past few weeks have been incredibly difficult, in light of all of the tragedies occurring around the world. ¬†For a while, it seemed like every day we would wake up to more bad news. ¬†I will not rehash old posts…if you feel so inclined, you can see what I have written¬†here, here, and here¬†in previous years¬†(tl;dr: it never stops). ¬†There is no¬†progress…each summer¬†brings¬†more of the same, without¬†repercussion. The list of those gone before their time, at the hands of those charged to protect and serve, grows ever longer.

One day, I woke up, and did not want to get out of bed. ¬†This was the morning that I learned of¬†the murder of Philando Castile. ¬†Heard, mind you…did not watch (nor did I watch that of Alton Sterling). ¬†Having heard¬†the circumstances, as well as the emotion in the voices of my friends on Voxer, I had no desire to confirm the horrible images that I had playing in my mind.

I laid there, and thought.  I was paralyzed under the cloak of depression, until I decided that the only thing that would get me out of bed would be to try to do something, somehow.  Although dialogue is important, action is even more critical.

A couple of years ago, we began to see the rise of the citizen journalist, as many people now own some kind of phone with video-recording capabilities, and regularly use social media. ¬†This has allowed us to see events unfolding first-hand, exposing the truth for what it is. ¬†I remember one of the first¬†times such a¬†sick feeling crept in, after I had seen a video of Michael Brown’s corpse laying in the street.

I wasn’t alone. ¬†As a result, a few friends and I had also tried to create a community action group through Facebook a couple of years ago. ¬†We stumbled upon local resources such as the Washington Peace Center,¬†and¬†attended some¬†community events. We had plans to do much more; however, it was hard to sustain over time. We simply lost momentum.

The morning July 7, emotions ran high on Voxer, as we comforted each other and tried to make sense of what happened.  We decided to create a new group that would brainstorm community action.  Currently, we are in the planning stages, trying to narrow a focus, but our planning document is here:

There are several members of this group, from different backgrounds, all with a different lens on the world; however, we do have a common goal.  We are all educators passionate about doing our part to contribute to a fairer and more just society.  The members of the group have shared amazing resources such as Join Campaign Zero and an ebook called You Have the Right by Laura Coates.  I look forward to exploring these resources in greater depth, in the coming weeks.

Although we may not always agree on all of the details, we can have dialogue in a respectful way to move forward towards our mission.  Healthy discourse paired with positive action will hopefully help us grow stronger as educators, and as human beings.  Soon, our group will branch out to involve other community members, but we will continue to keep our actions rooted in education, for future-oriented sustainability.

We are approaching the challenge using a design thinking model, a practice that I learned about this year.  (Source: IDEO Design Thinking Toolkit.)

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We discussed design thinking in the latest episode of #EduMatch Tweet & Talks.  The practice is based on brainstorming and iteration, with a focus on empathy.  Empathy is crucial to this project, as we are one community and have one goal: to do what we can to help build positive community relations.  Unity is our purpose.

I can no longer, in good conscience, sit back, twiddle my thumbs, and hope for a better tomorrow.  I challenge us all (especially myself) to keep the momentum going.  We can all do our part, whether it be through this project or something else.  We owe it to our students.


Hello, hello. ¬†This time it’s only been 24 days since my last post. ¬†#progress

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Yesterday, I decided that I needed to begin on a journey to get better. ¬†Not better as in “not sick,” but to become a better version of myself. ¬†My 35th birthday will be in less than two months, and while I am happy with my life in general, there is still lots of room for me to grow as a person. ¬†The last few months have been up and down, and after speaking with a couple of good friends, I realize that it’s probably because I have been holding a lot in.

I used to blog more consistently. ¬†It’s definitely a release, and a way to reflect upon experiences. ¬†It’s also good to be transparent. ¬†Of course, everything in life doesn’t have to be an open book; however, we grow together by sharing, for better or for worse. ¬†This has been forgotten, as I have started to feel like¬†less of a human being and more of a human brand. ¬†It ends today. ¬†I will attempt to blog more frequently and more authentically, having been inspired by many of my close friends.

Thank you to all who have shared your insight to the world¬†by hitting the publish button. ¬†I think that I’m ready to re-enter the land of the living. ¬†Save me a seat.