My Wish for Public Educators in 2023: Let Us Teach!

Welcome to 2023 friends where public education seems to be a convenient tool in America’s hyper partisan politics battle. What was once a bipartisan effort of our democracy has now become overrun with a focus on opportunistic divisiveness. The assumed credibility of the latest disinformation posted to one’s preferred social media channel will have enormous consequences on the educational experience of the American children for generations to come.

Those consequences aren’t simply relegated to what children should and should not learn. There are even more important implications such as who will teach them and choose to be subjected to this type of infighting overshadowing their simple desire to make a difference in the lives of children. Who will lead the teachers, watching politicians at every level operate with an assumed distrust of the public education system and often those who lead it? How has this dark cloud of attack and distrust already impacted the public education profession? Could it be responsible for the extreme teacher shortage many states are experiencing? Might it be the reason that the number of students choosing to major in education at institutions of higher learning is starkly declining? Is anyone thinking of the impact of these things in the years to come? I know I am. I find myself gravely concerned about the future of public education more so than the present drama surrounding it.

I am of the belief that no other profession is as subjected to being used as a political pawn quite like ours. That’s because we are a universal experience for all people. All children must be taught, and whether that is done in a public system or a private system, it must happen. Children must learn and someone must teach them. However, just because schooling is a shared experience, doesn’t makes each of us equally equipped to determine how it should be done. Imagine everyone deciding they knew best how to provide medical care because of their experiences going to the doctor? I know. It’s laughable, and may seem like a bit of an extreme analogy but the concept is the same. What is different, in my opinion, is the level of respect for those who choose to teach and those who choose to provide medical care. Our work is equally important and we can be sure that a quality public education leads to a better quality of life.

If I had one wish for our profession for the new year it would be simple: Let us teach! Allow us to do the jobs we’ve been trained and credentialed to do. Stop draining our passion with the partisan hot topic of the quarter. Don’t make waves where there are none. Support and encourage us. Help us recruit the best and brightest to our profession. Provide adequate funding for this noble work. Partner with us so that together we can give our children what they deserve: the absolute best educational experience we can offer.

We didn’t get into this work because we wanted to battle political strategist who find our profession a convenient tool to accomplish larger partisan goals or personal political aspirations. It’s simple. We care about children, their future, and their education. We want to teach them, support them, and encourage them. We want them to become productive, contributing citizens who serve their communities. It’s really not that complicated. We just want to teach.

Until next time, be you, be true, be a hope builder!


On the Power of Persistence

In the middle of my workout yesterday, I had this thought pop into my mind: Persistence is the ability to stay with the pursuit of a goal without losing optimism and the belief that one can be successful. It requires endurance, resilience, discipline, and commitment. Learn how to persists no matter what, and you can accomplish anything.

I immediately had the urge to stop and write it down, but I didn’t need to interrupt my workout. As I continued to ponder this thought, I had so many life experiences cross my mind, particularly those where I could easily apply this concept: growing up in poverty, earning my college degrees, working as an educator, and losing weight and becoming more fit. It hit me that too often folks miscalculate what separates those who experience success and accomplish their goals versus those who do not. To me, it’s quite simple: they give up too soon. Staying with something, especially something that is challenging, is more difficult than it sounds. We’ve all heard it: Never give up. But I’m not so sure that’s the only reason for folks not making their dreams come true. Instead, I’m convinced that far too many of us are quick to give in, and by that I mean we give in to the opinions of others, the idea that because something has never happened, it can’t happen for us, to the ideas that others might have for our lives instead of our own, to temporary feelings of exhaustion, despair, and sadness. Giving in and giving up are not the same. Giving up requires a conscious willingness to acknowledge you no longer wish to pursue your goals. Giving in is more like a distraction. You allow other things to take precedent over what’s most important to you, you lose your way because you lose your focus, and before you know it, that thing you said you wanted is somewhere in the distant background.

Our attention is a masterful tool that can help us bring our desires to fruition. How we spend our time, what we choose to focus on and think about, who we select to spend time with and what we choose to spend energy on, are all very important predictors of our ability to persist. To live with intention is a goal I have for myself, one that I feel certain will require continuous work. Redirecting our attention to the things that matter to and for us as individuals can help us persist. For the past few years, I’ve practiced a 90 day social media detox, usually beginning in October and ending in December. I’ve done this for many reasons, but one that stands out to me is the amout of time I can easily spend engrossed in other people’s posts, comments, and likes, and how that time could be spent on the things that matter most to me, the goals I’ve set for myself, or the dreams I still want to make true.

It seems the older I get, the more important this becomes to me. I want to make sure I’m doing the things that matter the most, spending my time on and with the people who are important to my life, and on the things that bring me joy. I want to practice this kind of persistence because it can help me stay optimistic and productive. I can reduce the probability of regret and resentment, and most of all I can match my life with my intentions.

That’s the ultimate goal: to live with purpose on purpose and for a purpose that matters to me.

Y’all be easy,



Representation Matters:On the Loss of A Mentor

I remember the day I met Dr. Rose Wilder vividly. I was sitting in the State Superintendent’s Office for a meeting with her. We wanted to ask her if she would be interested in coming out of retirement and doing some work for us in places where we knew experience, wisdom, and help was needed. She had a poised demeanor, and a confident but comforting tone to her voice. She could hold a gaze and her smile made me smile too. As they chatted, I listened, and inserted myself in the conversation as invited. I recognized that she was the one we needed and I hoped she would say yes. I was thrilled when she agreed to serve as superintendent in one of the state’s take over districts.

Upon beginning our work there, I traveled to Williamsburg routinely to check in and on the progress of things we were working to rectify. It wasn’t long before I figured out I wasn’t the one doing the teaching. Instead, I was being educated by Dr. Rose H. Wilder. As the state superintendent’s liaison, I had responsibilities and tasks that I had to make sure were completed. Turns out Dr.Wilder didn’t need my help. She was wise, experienced, and had a heart for the work. She was led by the need to serve-not anything else. After a few months, I couldn’t soak up enough of her knowledge, her wisdom, her wit, or her leadership. Every time I was with her for a visit, I took notes-either mentally or physically, because I wanted to make sure I never forgot what she was teaching me.

To be clear, I’ve had other folks to invest in my growth and development-many of whom I have reported to and who evaluated me, but Dr. Wilder was different. When she told me she believed in me and my abilities, I believed her. When I looked at her and listened to her, I saw that I could do what she said I could do. I saw someone who looked like me, had battled the things that make my heart the heaviest, and she was victorious. She understood me. She didn’t need to be convinced that what I faced was my reality, and she had experiences that I could connect to and learn from.

I found myself routinely in awe of her. I remember visiting one time and as we chatted, I learned we were members of the same sorority (Delta Sigma Theta, Inc.). At some point in my asking her as many questions as I could fit in a single visit, she shared with me that she was the first African-American female superintendent in South Carolina, named in 1994, and the only one for seven years thereafter. I remember asking her how she felt about that and how she survived what had to come with that, and her responses will forever be something I treasure. She made it clear. The work we do is for children-not adults. Keep the students in focus and you will be able to do what needs to be done.

Each time I visited, we would share a meal. It was a standard part of our time together. In between the work, we ate, and I shared stories of my Momma and her rearing, my family, and my battles. She shared stories of her daughter, her grandson, and husband. She was proud of her family and I was proud of mine. We talked about being natural, our hair care, and how much she loved her sister locs. In her I could see what’s possible, and I knew I always had someone to call for guidance, direction, encouragement, support, and correction-without judgement. She never hesitated to set me straight if it was needed, but I always knew it was from a place of love, and I listened to her because of that.

Dr. Wilder transitioned to heaven on Tuesday morning. I sat quietly in my office and wept. I thought about how much I would miss her, how blessed I was to have had the opportunity to know her, and how very much I loved her and hoped she knew it. I told her often-over phone, email, and text, but there would be no more of those. Her race has been run, and very well so. Her legacy will remain in the many lives she touched, mine included, and I hope I will do her proud.

I was texting with my Momma once I learned of her death, and my mothers’s message gave me the comfort I needed. I share a portion of it here for your reading: “So sorry to hear that. God saw fit for her be in your life for a season. I know she did everything that God wanted her to do for you. You can take it from here. She gave you the foundation to get your start. She will be looking down on you and feeling very proud.” I can remember her always telling me that she would tell others to give her their hearts when they seemed to lose focus, get stuck in a rut of complaining , or get lost in the real reason we do what we do.

Dr. Wilder-My heart is yours. I promise to make you proud. Rest well and in eternal peace.

I absolutely love you.


The Secret to Success

I have high hopes that the title of this blog intrigued you enough to have you click on the post and read it. I hate to do this, but I need to confess something right now. If you decided to read this because you thought I might actually offer some philosophical wisdom that would blow your mind, you need to know this is not that blog. There really isn’t some magical secret to success. In fact, what I have to offer here is incredibly simple in logic, but challenging for so many to execute.

Success isn’t about personality, popularity, or your ability to “play the game.” It has nothing to do with being most liked, admired, or even dressing the part. It’s my opinion that too many folks have the wrong perception of leadership, attaching things like charisma, charm, and the ability to schmooze with the right folks to it. Leadership is not an act. It is who you are, what you believe and stand for, how you behave and treat others, and what you are not willing to accept. It’s about having a standard of expectation for yourself, no matter who your boss is, where you work, or what you do. It starts and ends with you.

Highly successful leaders get the simple things right and they do so consistently. Here’s my list of things that I believe make the biggest difference in how we succeed in anything we do, personally or professionally:

1. Work hard. Take pride in what you do because it is a reflection of you, your character, and your values. Be diligent, conscientious, and proactive. Most of all be consistent in your performance. Excellence isn’t a sometime thing.

2. Deliver high quality work. Never confuse getting something done with doing something well. Speed is not a factor in success unless you are on a track running a race in which you must sprint. In leadership, delivering quality work is far more important than showing that you can do something quickly. Every time you produce something, assess it for quality. Make sure the quality meets the standard of excellence that you want associated with your professional reputation.

3. Be consistent. When you work hard and deliver high quality work over and over again, you cement an expectation from others that you can be trusted to not only do the work, but to do it well. That’s what sets some people apart from others. While some individuals treat their work like a list of tasks to check off, others see quality as much more important than compliance. Doing it well, whatever it is, matters more to them than getting it done, and because of that they work to do their very best on a consistent basis.

4. Go above and beyond what is expected of you. Successful people don’t obsess over the minimum requirements for anything. They live their lives in a way that exceeding the baseline is their standard. They live and work above average, going beyond what is required of them because they value doing their best. Let me be clear. They do not benchmark their performance against others. They are only in competition with themselves. Their goal is to draw out the very best of themselves. Their only competition is the person looking back at them in the mirror!

5. They are positive. I’ve yet to meet a successful leader who complains about everything, or can turn a joyous occasion into a miserable one with negative energy and commentary. They understand that optimism is a key to being successful. They seek out joy and find the bright side even in a challenging situations. This isn’t because they are into toxic positivity. It’s because they know and understand that negativity-in attitude, mindset, energy, or behavior, has never resulted in something great and powerful happening for an organization. Grouchy and grumpy people don’t make anything better or anyone feel better. It’s really that simple.

So that’s it. That’s the secret in my opinion. As simple as those things sound, they are incredibly challenging to execute on a consistent basis. My challenge to you, and me, is to show up and nail 1-5 every day. If we can do that, success will meet us at the top of our potential! I’ll see you there!

Until next time-be you, be true, be a hope builder!


Just Keep Teaching!

Every year as a principal, I’d find myself emphasizing at this time of year one very important thing to staff: Don’t stop teaching. Maintain the structure and routine in your classroom. Children thrive when the instructional day remains consistent. In my annual reminder email I’d write something to this effect: “Dark rooms and movies, along with unstructured activities can lead to issues with discipline and detract from an opportunity to provide our students with high quality learning experiences until the very end.” And then, I’d walk the halls and visit the classrooms because that’s how important it was to me that instruction continued for our students. They had too much they needed to learn for us to waste a minute not giving them what they needed.

Now-don’t get me wrong. We held the annual field day, awards day program, and those other end of year events. However, we had a collective agreement that the ending of state testing did not signify the ending of instruction or learning. Learning for our students had no finish line.

The end of the school year, or anytime you have available for that matter, is a great time to capitalize on the opportunity to extend learning for those who have demonstrated mastery in a particular area, provide intervention and support for those who still demonstrate academic deficits, and position students to be as ready as possible for their next step in their academic journey.

I worry that the heavy emphasis on state testing being over-sends a signal to our students and perhaps to some educators, that the bell has rung on the instructional experiences we provide. Learning is a continuous process that has no ending. Let’s model that for our students whether testing had ended or not, because if we keep teaching they will keep learning!

Y’all be easy,


Connections and Common Ground: Moving Ahead With Purpose In A Divided World

Bridges are important to our world. They are often used as a way to allow people to travel from one place to another, to connect two geographic areas, especially when there is no natural path for that connection. Our bridges and roads are so important that they often make up a good portion of the work of state and federal legislatures, making sure their upkeep is maintained so that we are safe as citizens when we choose to drive our vehicles across them. They are often accompanied by warning signs, (Bridge ices before road. Weight limit: 2 tons.) and in spite of these safety precautions, the world’s transportation system would not be functional without the use of bridges. They are a critical part of our infrastructure.

Like the physical bridges in our world, we need people who can serve as bridge builders. The current climate of society pushes us constantly to choose a side, and treats the most complex issues as an either/or rather than a both/and. As I reflect on our society’s history and some of the most controversial issues of our time, I recognize the role of bridge builders in moving society forward. Voting Rights, Women’s Rights, Civil Rights, and desegregation would not have happened had there not been individuals who felt compelled to build a bridge between people who –thought-they were divided. I am convinced that to move forward in our state, and our country, we need more bridge builders.

Bridge builders help people find what we know we all have: common ground. We were each born, and we will each die. We all smile when we are happy, and we cry when we find ourselves sad. Caged between our ribs is our hearts, and water falls from our eyes when our souls are moved. When we work to find common ground before we work to find where we disagree, we can work together to better our organizations, our society, and more importantly ourselves. Our approach in challenging times is what moves us forward or keeps us stagnant. If we hope to move beyond a society where finding where we are oppositional leads our language, our love, and our lives, we need to adopt a perspective that focuses on finding common ground with others and nourishing our connections with other people as human beings.

If we’ve learned anything from the global pandemic, we know for certain that human beings need each other to thrive. We aren’t wired to be isolated from one another. We NEED connection. Our connections with each other have the power to make us better people who can love, live, and work together in productive ways, and we get to decide who it is we are willing to build connection with; That’s the power of the human condition. It is possible to connect with anyone, we just don’t always choose to do so.

And while I recognize that this is not new information, it certainly appears to be difficult for us to implement. In an age of social media “followers” and “friends,” bandwagon like appeal seems prevalent and our feeds are often echo chambers of people who think, look, love, and believe just like us. This makes it easy to get swept up into an us vs. them mentality, and when scrolling to pass the time becomes habitual, we may subconsciously find ourselves feeding our minds confirmation, rather than learning ways we can connect with others who are not just like us.

So if we are going to make it past this era of divisiveness, we are going to all need to be mindful of our work with others. Are you building bridges or fences in your conversations and interactions, whether they be public or private? Are you finding connections with others or oppositions? Are your words and actions helping to build the social infrastructure of our society, like the bridges in our world? Or are the things you do and say, online and in person, fueling divide and shining a light on differences?

I am convinced, because history tells us so, that there will be some special people who build the bridges we need to move forward. And those are the people who will be remembered in ways that add love and light to the world. I want to be one of those people, whose heart is full of love, that is demonstrated unconditionally, no matter what, because love has no side.

Y’all be easy,


Let’s Talk About Who’s Staying

Seems I read a headline daily about the surging teacher shortage, and stories abound of educators who are exiting the profession at all levels. I’ve always believed that people should follow their heart’s desire and nothing is more miserable than doing something that you do not desire to do any longer. I’m thankful for every educator who chose this noble profession, those who are leaving or have already left, and those of us who are choosing to stay.

This era of public education reminds me of two distinct periods during my career. I started teaching in the late 90’s. Openings were everywhere. I came home for Spring break as a senior in college and went back to school with a job secured. State standards were the hot topic, and hobby teaching was said to be no more. Technology was about to disrupt the way we communicated because email was going to change the way we worked and help us all be more efficient.

Fast forward to 2011, and in South Carolina our new State Superintendent, was Mick Zais (who went on to be Deputy Secretary of Education under Betsy Devos). Those years with Zais at the helm in South Carolina were difficult and challenging for public education. Schools and districts were rated with letter grades A-F, funding was pushed toward a massive school choice movement, and many did not think we’d survive his tenure, or No Child Left Behind, but we did.

And here we are now in 2022. Public education has endured a global pandemic, challenges to broadband access, increased mental health needs of all stakeholders, educators included, and a complete disruption to the way we live, work, play, and learn when it comes to technology. Add to it the polarizing debates of our time including CRT, book banning, and vaccinations, and you get what we have today: messiness. I completely get why some folks are choosing to walk away from the field. It’s hard. It’s stressful. It is more challenging than it’s ever been before. I understand. I really do, and I’m not judging anyone for doing what they feel is right for them.

But I can’t leave. My soul won’t let me. For me, the right thing is to stay, and to keep fighting for what I know is an essential cornerstone of democracy: public education. I might be wrong, but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that we’ll survive this era too, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some folks return because passion doesn’t lie and it doesn’t die. It may flicker, but that flame is always there.

The way I see, now more than ever, I have a chance to make a difference in the field that I love so much. My goal is to do just that in my work, my words, and with all I have the opportunity to interact with in this field. The time to make a difference isn’t when things are easy, but when they are hard, and that’s why I’m choosing to stay. I want to see what happens if I don’t give up and I know that our children need strong, positive, effective, and resilient educators, and I want to be one of them.

Before anyone accuses me of toxic positivity, allow me to make it clear: this work is hard. Everyday is not sunshine and rainbows. Some days are very stressful and some problems are taxing and challenging. I would never deny that. I’ve lived it as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. It’s not easy, and I’d never make any attempt to say otherwise.

Even so, I am staying. It’s MY civic duty. I owe the change in my life’s trajectory to public education. Growing up in poverty in a single parent household and in a housing project, I know first hand the power and influence of a good public education. My life is a living testimony to what a great public education can do and how it can change the future for generations to come with a single quality experience for one student. Thank God that my teachers stayed and didn’t give up on me or the field. I’m sure they had challenging times too. Without my education, I wouldn’t be where I am today, so my commitment is simply a return on investment.

For those who are leaving or have already left, thank you! Thank you for sharing your minds and hearts with our children, and making a difference where you were and with the children you served. You are truly appreciated, and I feel sure after 23 years in this field that you’ll see a return on your investment when the children whose lives you’ve touched are successful, productive, and contributing citizens of our society. I hope you’ll find a way to continue to support this great and noble profession. We are going to need your support and encouragement!

To those of us who are choosing to stay, I see you! Let’s stick together and do the work that we know makes a difference. No matter what happens in the future, let’s not forget that. I’ll see y’all on the battlefield. We’ve got work to do!

Y’all be easy,


Family Lessons: There’s A Message In The Mess.

I couldn’t bear to watch the confirmation hearings for Judge Jackson in their entirety. I wanted to, but my heart was troubled by each instance I saw of how she was treated, spoken to, and disrespected. Each day of the hearing, I’d try to watch some of the highlights and read a few articles about the day’s events to see what had transpired. I told myself that less was better to protect my mental and heart health. I needed to know what was happening but I didn’t have to know every detail. But the day that Senator Corey Booker spoke everything changed.

I called my Momma on my way home from work. We were having our usual small talk and mid week check-in conversation when she asked me if I had been keeping up with the hearing. I replied, “Somewhat. It’s just so hard to watch. I don’t know if I can take it.” That’s when Momma corrected me in a way that only she can do. She simply said, “If she can sit there and take it, we can watch it.” That hit me squarely in the heart and the gut. Momma was right. My secondary hurt was nothing compared to what Judge Jackson was enduring. From absolutely illogical and ridiculous questioning to stir the pot of divide to a complete disregard of her credentials and achievements, she was steadfast and unwavering. She responded with dignity, class, and the undeniable intellect that can never be taken away or denied, no matter how she’s treated. I was so moved and so proud of seeing someone who looks like me in that seat, and I especially loved what she said she tells young people: Persevere.

Her experience was a reminder to me, and I’m sure to many others as well. It reminded me that being first and breaking down centuries of denied opportunities is for specially chosen people. I believe that God carefully selects some of us to be publicly brave for a reason. It’s because while our accomplishments may be a part of our purpose, our purpose is so much greater than our accomplishments. What Judge Jackson has endured will pave the way a little smoother for the next candidate of color for the United States Supreme Court. How we treat each other should not rests on any affiliation other than the fact that we all belong to the human race. In the grand scheme of things, we don’t need any other knowledge of anyone to know how to treat and interact with them. Humanity is our shared experience, and that ought to be enough.

When the world feels messy, our purpose must remain clear. That’s the only way one can remain as steadfast Judge Jackson did throughout the hearing. Watching the hearings reminded me that we must not be moved by the evils of this world or some of the people in it. It is our duty to be led by our purpose, regardless of what we experience, and to remain steadfast in that sense we have that God has an intentional reason for our assignment here on earth. When we trust and focus on that, especially when we are exhausted by the actions of others who want to deny our achievements, overlook our accomplishments, and keep us in a position of inferiority, we can do what Judge Jackson said: persevere.

Momma made me realize that while I found much of the hearing to be a collective grieving experience for Black women, there was also collective joy, and the bad should never overshadow the good. I am so inspired by Judge Jackson and I know without a doubt that millions of us were watching her with the same sparkle in our eyes as her daughter in that now infamous photo taken during the hearing. We are proud. We are inspired, and we are hopeful.

Thank you Momma, and Thank you Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.

Y’all be easy,


About That TPT Tweet

So I tweeted this one day last week…

The next morning I woke up to quite a bit of activity to this tweet. Reactions ranged from overwhelming agreement to absolute dissent. Some people saw my tweet as me shaming and judging teachers in a negative light, and others informed me that I clearly was not connected to what teachers are experiencing right now. Luckily, I’ve got thick skin and a great sense of humor, and in spite of those who thought I was shaming and judging teachers, I’m still glad to have started a conversation we clearly need to have in the teaching community. Before I go on to give further explanation on my thoughts and opinions behind this tweet, let’s define curriculum for the purposes of our discussion. Here’s a definition I really like:

“Curriculum is a standards-based sequence of planned experiences where students practice and achieve proficiency in content and applied learning skills. Curriculum is the central guide for all educators as to what is essential for teaching and learning, so that every student has access to rigorous academic experiences. The structure, organization, and considerations in a curriculum are created in order to enhance student learning and facilitate instruction. Curriculum must include the necessary goals, methods, materials and assessments to effectively support instruction and learning.

Rhode Island Department of Education

You may have noticed some of the things I did NOT tweet: 1. TPT is bad. 2. Teachers should not use TPT. 3. Teachers need to create their own curriculum. 4. Teachers who use TPT should feel ashamed. 5. Teachers who use TPT are ineffective practitioners who do not vet the things they utilize to design learning experiences for their students. I felt the need to make sure I shared what wasn’t said to perhaps clear up some of what has been assumed. Now, here’s my view of TPT and the impact on our professional work, and yes-it’s my opinion, so it’s o.k. if you don’t agree with it. I just felt the need to expand on my thinking 8,000+ likes later.

TPT is dangerously convenient. Before you decide to blast my Twitter feed because you think I am being judgmental or shaming teachers (so not me) just hear me out for a minute. Like anything else that makes designing learning experiences for our students feel easy, supplemental resources from textbook publishers included, we have to be careful about what we use to teach students what they should know and be able to do and how we use what we’ve selected. As academic practitioners, we must be critical consumers of ALL curricular resources, and not be driven to rely on sources that are designed with convenience, rather than quality, in mind. While many educators may vet what they select, the source itself has no vetting mechanism, and that is something I find troublesome. While I imagine that to be true, that’s not the point I am making here. Collecting unvetted resources and then putting them out to be shared and utilized regardless of quality isn’t very responsible of the source. There is no repository of content for sell, regardless of quality or effectiveness, in any other professional sector. Lawyers don’t have a LPL website to purchase written briefs do they? Architects aren’t buying blueprints from one another on an APA site? And no-we are not lawyers or architects, but we are professionals and I don’t think expecting some system of vetting to improve quality and effectiveness is an unreasonable expectation. Now I get it- TPT is a brilliant brain child of someone who is an entrepreneurial genius. Clearly. Essentially, someone has monetized the most critical aspect of our work: selecting what and determining how we will teach students the content and skills they need to know for any specified course of study. While I know first hand what it is like to work in an under resourced school or school system, and how difficult it can be to find quality curricular materials, I still don’t believe the quality of curriculum should be compromised, and more importantly, I don’t hold schools and districts responsible for this. The problem is so much larger. I believe unequivocally that state and federal legislators and policy makers need to sufficiently fund schools and adequately compensate teachers. No educator deserves to have to piecemeal a curriculum and no student in our public education system in this country deserves a piecemeal learning experience. If the nation cares for its children the way it should and proclaims it does, we must invest in public education in the right ways that result in adequately compensated educators and properly served children. As a public educator, I exercise this belief every time I select a candidate for a local, state, or national office. That’s why I vote with public education, students and educators, in mind every time I step in a voting booth.

Secondly, TPT as it is structured currently, can be a deterrent to building collective efficacy. Professional collaboration around the design of teaching, learning, and assessment experiences is an effective practice for improving teacher practice and student learning. Entering the arena of selling your instructional materials that were specifically designed for your students to meet their specific needs might make an educator some much needed extra money, but it also might cause educators not to share the load with their colleagues. It forces a sort of “my stuff” mindset. Many folks commented in the response to my tweet how they have had their work or known someone who had had their work essentially “stolen” and posted to TPT without their permission. They were also lots of mentions of plagiarism as well. Now I am clear that TPT isn’t the only reason why collaboration around the work can be a challenge for many department and/or grade level teams. There are all kinds of factors that impact that: time to collaborate, ability to build strong professional relationships with colleagues, trust, etc. I know that is a multi-faceted challenge. I just don’t know that TPT helps that kind of challenge, and I believe that the power of our work is in our collective ability to do it together. I whole heartedly agree that teachers need time to work together, support to do so effectively, and high quality resources to impact student learning in positive ways. I recognize that these things aren’t always present for educators, with or without TPT in the mix, but they certainly should be whenever possible. Collective efficacy has been deemed one of the key elements in the public education space for improving teaching practices, assessment design, and student learning. I believe it to be a critical aspect of our work as educators.

I can only speak to my experiences, and I can say without a doubt that I’ve witnessed misuse of curricular resources, TPT and others alike, as I am sure many of us have. I think that misuse, however, is rooted in convenience and capitalizes on the nation’s failure to invest in public education and teachers they way it should. When we make our selections for curricular resources having prioritized convenience rather than quality and effectiveness, I find myself concerned. Our students deserve a well-designed and high-quality learning experience that meets their needs and helps them reach their full potential. As practitioners, it is our professional duty to ensure that we are critical consumers of any curricular materials or resources that we use to provide our students with learning experiences they need and deserve. I believe that is likely the intention that the majority of educators have, yet I also know that our intentions are not always aligned to what we execute in our daily practices. We must be intentional and deliberate in our work because the work we do matters that much.

Finally, I realize that most of the people who responded to my tweet, positively or in dissent, don’t know me. But for the people who do know me, I mean really know me, and have worked with me as a teacher, principal, state level education leader, & instructional leader in my current district, they know this about me: I would never shame teachers. I love this profession too much to do that, and it’s just not who I am at all. I’ve dedicated 23 years of my life to public education, and I plan to fulfill my mission to have a complete career in public education until I retire. If anyone who read that tweet or reads this blog feels judged or shamed, allow me to issue you an apology: I am sorry to have made you feel that way. It certainly was not my goal.

I believe in public education and am passionate about this work because of how public education changed my life. Perhaps that’s a story for another day, but know this: I’ll never stop pushing for excellence in all we do in our work. Our children deserve it.

Y’all be easy,


Family Lessons: Make Up Your Own Mind

There’s power in a made up mind. My Momma was sure to emphasize to us as young children that we were to think for ourselves. Momma used to tell us all the time, “You’ve got your own mind. Think for yourself.” She wanted to emphasize to us that our decisions ultimately should rest on what we believed in our hearts and minds, and encourage us to not to “go along to get along” or do or say what everybody else was doing and saying just because it seemed popular. As Momma would simply put it, “You ain’t everybody else, and I ain’t everybody else’s Momma. I’m yours.”

I didn’t quite understand that sentiment until I was much older, and even now it becomes more and more clear to me exactly what she was trying to communicate. I’ve interacted with countless folks who are victims to peer pressure, children and adults alike, making choices and adopting mindsets that belong to somebody else, so much so that when pressed with the question of why they believe what they say they believe or think what they say they think, they can’t articulate it. Momma’s rearing and words have given me a sense of security that I don’t think I could have ever developed on my own. I don’t mind being the odd man out or being thought of as different. I’m fact, I find it incredibly freeing to not be the victim of other people’s expectations, beliefs, and ideas of who it is I should be. It isn’t always easy to operate like this, but it’s far easier than the alternative-being someone I am not.

Mommas words, “You’ve got your own mind. Think for yourself,” have helped me to not succumb to the societal pressures of life or to make any attempt to be who others think I should be when their ideas are contrary to my own. Instead, I’ve been focused on being who I am, as authentically as I can, and continue to focus on this as life progresses. I’ve watched many of my adult friends fall victim to worrying about what others might think and making decisions in response to that false limitation rather than their real life. I see how much the need to belong can get conflated with wanting to fit in when people aren’t clear about who they are and what they believe. I’ve watched people try to feel internal gaping holes in their heart and soul with surface level friendships and doing things they really don’t want to do but feel like they need to do. I’ve watched people battle between public personas and private desires, living a life that they believe to be approved by others although they find themselves unhappy more times than not. Seems age does not make one immune to the peer pressures of life after all, despite often being articulated as teenage problem. Thinking for one’s self is a necessary prerequisite for living as one’s authentic self.

I didn’t always value Momma’s teachings as I was growing up, and I often wondered why she found it necessary to say the same things over and over and over again. I get it now. She wanted to make sure we heard it, processed it, and gathered meaning from it. There were so many times I am sure she found herself uncertain as to whether or not I was listening, but clearly, I took it all in, and am so grateful that I did.

In this season of my life, I am focused on living more authentically each and every day, aligning all that I say and do, with my heart and mind. I want to be sure that my thoughts are my own and my decisions are not driven by what others might think, but by MY purpose, even if others do not understand it. No matter what I experience, whether it be rejection. criticism, or affirmation, I hope I always remember what Momma said, “You’ve got your own mind. Think for yourself. You ain’t everybody else,” and my goal is to live, work, and love accordingly! I got my mind made up because that’s where the power is!

Y’all be easy!


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