As a college student, at twenty, I found myself under the tutelage of an educator of color for the first time ever. I did not learn from another one until I was thirty. During my tenure as an educator, I have served students as diverse as America itself. I scoured my memory. I can merely recall fewer than ten colleagues of color among the hundreds with whom I’ve worked. In March I traveled from rural Alaska to New York City to visit Heinemann Fellow Tiana Silvas and her colleagues at PS 59. I was looking for effective instructional strategies. At forty, nineteen years into my teaching career, I found what I hope all thoughtful, passionate educators, regardless of race or ethnicity, will someday find in order to better serve our students. I found community—just as I am.
For years before he retired, the teacher next door kept track of how many days were left until the end of the school year. He started at the first faculty meeting, joking “185 days to go!” to a roomful of smiling teachers, energized for a new year. By the time we got to February, March, April, teachers still smiled as he announced the number of days left, but their smiles were different, worn down. I’m just trying to make it, their smiles said. Only a few more weeks . . .
Although I understand the urge to count down the days, the end of the school year evokes different feelings for me—namely, panic with a healthy dose of guilt. When fourth marking period hits, I realize how much more there is still to do, how much content that may go uncovered. And then there is testing season in the way. Where did the time go? I wonder.
Have you read Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give? Read on to hear our initial thoughts. Then join us on Monday, May 1, at 8 p.m. EST when we’ll be hosting a Twitter chat using the hashtag #TeachHateUGive. Scroll to the bottom of this post to preview our discussion questions.
What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?
In 2009, I interviewed for the PA Writing and Literature Project (PAWLP) Summer Institute. During the interview, Deb Dinsmore, one of the institute facilitators, asked me something that I have never forgotten: