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Friday, October 25, 2019

I've been to the mountaintop teachers, trust me it is all we dreamed

My Thursday class is for certified Literacy Specialists who have already completed their masters. These specialists are completing an extremely rigorous program with demanding practicum assignments to become Literacy Consultants. Every assignment is authentic and happens in real-world time. You can't fake it.  It is a rigorous two-part course, requiring massive amounts of documentation and extensive reflections link to the International Literacy Association Standards for Advance Literacy Supervisors.

I teach part one, and my colleague Dr. Valerie teaches the other part. We work well together, and our students trust us. We love teaching this course.

Our specialists in the course are confident, able, and ready to learn. I teach the course in a workshop mold, there are mini-lessons, lots of conferring, and plenty of authentic of in class going on. It resembles more of a shared art studio, where everyone is painting and working together. It closely resembles Donal Graves's notion of his Writing Workshop atmosphere. At this point in the semester it is a genuine learning community. Some of the work is about planning the tasks because some of them will take more than one semester to actually implement. A great deal of it requires their district and school approval, and even then they need to fit on the district timeline not ours. So some students have to carry work over to the second course. We discuss all of this together, and we work it out together. My nickname is the captain because I begin every semester with the line I am like a good captain, I bring everyone home to port. No one is cast adrift on my watch. 

At the end of class, a few students stay after class a bit. Usually, students who have taken classes in our Department over the years. They began talking about faculty who retired or who passed away. Who is still here, and who is gone. It was all good stuff.

Then one looked at me, and ask when are you planning on retiring Dr. Turner. I said when I am no longer relevant. I know there that time will come, but I have this legacy mission going on in my mind. It is about being a voice of hope, a role model for advocacy and activism. These are tough times for teachers and children. I will not leave until victory is in sight. It is a sort of Dr. King thing going on with me. Dr. King said this on the night before he died:
“But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop … I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land”

So, we ended with Dr. Turner retires when teachers and children see the promised land of equity and justice in our public schools. If I die, before that day, know that I'll be there waiting for you. I won't fall, or tire, I am an old school teacher build to go the distance.

Then we walked out of the building together, knowing the mission is strong, and we all have a role in it,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner

If you like to hear the song that inspired my morning walk today...its Patty Griffin's "Up To The Mountain" 

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