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Graduation speech

Some of my friends and colleagues suggested I post the speech I made at graduation when I received my university's graduate teaching award. It was exciting that people really seemed to like it๐Ÿ˜Š.

Here it is:

William H. Riker University Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching Graduation, 2018
Thank you Dean Kearney, Provost Clark, and President Feldman. I am deeply honored to receive the William H. Riker Award for excellence in graduate teaching today. Thank you to Jeff Choppin, Raffaella Borasi, and Brian Brent for nominating me and for marshalling the case through the process. And I thank my students and colleagues who took the time to write letters. Most especially, thank you to all the students who have given me the gift of their trust.
I have had the privilege of working with students from preschool to doctoral study over the course of my career. I currently have the privilege of working with teenagers at East High School as part of our innovative Educational Partnership Organiza…
Recent posts

I shall not be broken

People who know me know that I am passionate about justice work in urban schools, that I am impatient with incompetence, that I do not play nice in the face of injustice, and that I am a terrible liar who has no poker face at all. What you see is what you get. I hate playing politics.  And I never give up.

I feel like I'm always in trouble, that people dismiss me.  I am full of contradictions. I try to live a life of love but I hate the evil in charge of the US government and the permission it gives to other evil to spread. I am angry all the time. The #metoo movement has touched deeply into my own history and brought out rage. I fight negativity daily.

I will not stand for sexism but am terrified when sexually harassed in the street. Yes, this still happens, even at my age. Recently a man passed me in the street while saying quite loudly, "I wish I could climb that." My heart racing, I did everything I could to get away as fast as I could. I am 6'3" and this s…

Refuse to cave

I know it has been a long time since I have posted and there is a lot to catch up on. But...I just had to post today about not being willing to cave. I refuse to acquiesce that students at East don't care about learning.

I have the privilege of co-teaching a high school class that students designed on Hip Hop. It is not a class using hip hop to teach a subject area; it is a class about hip hop. Students proposed it last year and it was accepted as a .5 credit elective. A group of 6 students came to a Young Writers' Camp I ran last August and framed out the curriculum, decided the assignments, and made assessments. It was a beautiful thing. As it turned out, only one of those curriculum writers ended up in the class (long story). We have 17 amazing students enrolled.

The class has only met 5 times, but I have been disappointed because it doesn't seem the kids are as excited about the class as I thought they would be. I rack my brain every night thinking about what we need …

Putting a stop to fascism

Many people have recently messaged me on Facebook saying they feel powerless to resist Trump. Some people have told me in person they cannot openly resist due to their jobs or their family situation. This got me thinking about putting together a list of a variety of ways to resist, both openly and clandestinely. The beginning of that work is below. It is by no means complete or as comprehensive as it could be. Please add ideas and resources yourselves. It’s basically in list form. I will continue to refine as you tell me more resources. I’m thinking this is one step in building a coalition of resistance. There are many groups and organizations that are doing this work, some who have been doing so for 50 years. Frankly, the Sioux Nation and other Native Americans has been doing it for hundreds of years. No need to start from scratch.

First, I need to clear up at least one of the many blatant lies the GOP has perpetrated to distract us from facts. There is already a law prohibiting the…

I will not be broken

In light of the terror of the US election and my recent attendance at a talk by my heroine Angela Davis, I have some things to say.

I will not go quietly into the night.

I will not acquiesce, reach across any aisle, or seek to "work together." I will obstruct, resist, and follow the people into the streets. I will stand alongside African Americans, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, Latinx, Black Lives Matter, and Standing Rock to fight oppression and hate. I will not seek to "reform" a system made only for white male property owners that is designed at its core to exclude me. I will not assimilate. I will not allow white men and women to "make American white again."

I will fight to eliminate the electoral college and to build a viable radical third party that is actively anti-racist, anti-mysogenist, anti-homophobic, and anti-xenophobic.

In the past day since the election, gay pride flags have been burned in Rochester, swastikas painted on walls, a hijab pul…

Last day!

I can't believe today was the last day of the EPO's first year!! Once my co-teaching got into a flow, time just raced by. Managing the data collection/analysis for the ethnography while teaching made my calendaring a unique experience. For reasons I still can't explain, the closer it got to June, the more intense everything became. There were field trips, parties, awards ceremonies, prom, and all sorts of senior events. With the warmer weather, family groups started meeting outside and playing a huge variety of outdoor games. And the varsity baseball team made the sectionals as the first RCSD team to go in 36 years!  The pace of the everyday left me breathless.

Overall, the critical literacy project went well. There is a lot to rethink for trying again next year. All of us felt like just as the students finally "got it," it was the last day of class. I wish we would have hit stride much earlier. Their projects ended up being very good. We put together a website …

Digging out of the rabbit hole

What a week. I needed the weekend and some good news to get my head together after this week. Co-teaching went very well, but larger issues at the school simultaneously broke my heart and pissed me off. 
For class, we have split things more clearly between working on Romeo and Juliet and the justice project. One of the teachers came up with a cool idea to have students text each other in the roles of Romeo and Juliet during the balcony scene, screen capture the exchanges, and send them to his cell phone. Today (a new week) we read the texts as the characters and everyone had a great time. They did a nice job of using poetic language and emojis to capture the nature and purpose of the balcony scene. 
The justice project work began with reviewing and discussing Rochester youth data (homicide as the #1 killer of youth and teen suicide as #3), followed by looking at websites where youth have done projects that are shared globally. We looked at Do Something, the Public Science Project, Youth…