Leaving my humanity at the door


I leave my humanity at the door of my place of employ upon entering, every day, and sometimes I forget to retrieve it when I leave.  It is an unspoken obligation, a requirement, if you will.  As a person of color (PoC) in a predominately-White work environment, I  feel that I cannot be the person I truly am, and want to be, for a whole host of reasons.  But, the Number One Reason is because I am, in fact, a person of color.  I am Black.

I often have to accommodate in ways that White people never even have to consider, because they suffer no fear of retribution for being who and what they are. They are simply allowed to be fully human.  I wonder what that’s like – to be and feel fully human, and to be allowed to be such – at work, out on the street, at a museum, buying a coffee…the list goes on and on.  To be too loud, too quiet, too sad, too angry, too smart, too dumb, too rich, too poor, too funny, too boring, too well-dressed, too poorly-dressed, too articulate, too inarticulate too rude, too polite –  are never based on their skin color. For me, on the other hand, to be merely human is constantly based on my skin color. Black people, and people of color in general, are rarely viewed on their basis of their humanity alone.  Rather, we are regularly and often viewed on the basis of our pathologies, and not at all as human beings.

I am a proud Black woman. I am also human.  But, in order to feel my full humanity, I sometimes feel as if I need to carry a Human Card.  If I had a Human Card, I could scan it the way I scan my security card.  This would be proof that I truly belong.  It would be my stamp of approval, my validation sticker, my ticket of admittance.

Perhaps, in the next life, I will be allowed to be both Black and Human, and not have to leave either at the door.

Target Practice


dartboard_colorOne probably would not think that a 20 year veteran of the teaching profession would still be struggling with lesson planning.  But, I am. Not so much the actual construction and delivery of the plan itself; I got that cold.  On the other hand, my  current struggle is the method of documenting what I do, and how I do it.

I have used:

•Plan books provided by the school

•Plan books purchased by me

Planbook software by Hellmansoft – which I used for several years, and which, for the most part, I liked.  However, with all of the updates, some coming on a weekly basis, the need to set it up anew each school year, the incompatibility of the scheduling/class options with those of my place of employ, and features that I neither needed nor used, it became an expense which, in the end, didn’t pay for itself.  In fact, several years after purchasing the online version for $30.00, I was unable to update it for whatever reason, which led me to having to purchase the software again – for $30.00 - as a Mac application.   Additionally, customer service was sometimes wanting, due to it being a one-man operation run and maintained by a classroom teacher, which didn’t always work for me when I had issues and questions I needed answered sooner rather than later.

• Spriral notebooks

• Loose-leaf lined paper in notebook binders with tabs

•On-line Word docs

•Google Docs -which can operate rather sluggishly, and go down unexpectedly

•Elaborate lesson plan templates

•Elaborate lesson plan templates for foreign language in particular

A combination of a spiral notebook and Post-It Notes – which, on its face, seemed like the way to go, but actually turned into a logistical nightmare for me in terms of daily management, having to re-construct the pages every week, and financial outlay in terms of Post-It Notes, which over time could become expensive.  Also, the Post-It Notes simply did not provide me with enough space for the sort of information I typically record.  What was I thinking?!?

So, I am now back to using Word Docs, and maintaining the lesson plans in folders for each class on my desktop.  I simply type the class, the date, and the communication and culture goals for the day. I make sure that I include at least one activity for each skill – listening, speaking, reading and writing – as well as grammar, which is not only explicitly presented, but which is also embedded in one or more of the aforementioned skills.  I also try to include some sort of culture reference related to the unit/theme being studied, as well as a warm-up and closure activity.  This is the sort of information that cannot be recorded on a Post-It Note.  I teach an 85-minute block two days per week, and a 70-minute block one day per week.  I don’t have to worry about customer service issues, replenishing Post-It Notes, or the system going down, since a Word doc can be constructed off-line.

So, for now, I am satisfied.  On the other hand, I am contemplating Evernote, and was intrigued by this teacher’s experiences.