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Thursday, April 9, 2020

Teachers The Sun Will Come out Tomorrow

I imagine every teacher who had to move from teaching in their classrooms to online in less than a week in the nation is stressed out. I am one of them.


Yesterday, I was stressed with the amount of work it takes to make my online teaching work. I was worried that I might be expecting too much from the teachers in my Literacy Center.

What a difference a day makes, my rescue became my online meeting with my teachers last night in class. I love hearing everyone is safe and well.
I was impressed hearing my teachers describe the difference ways they are responding to my request that they make sincere efforts to reach out to our Literacy Center students. I insisted that any online tutoring require an adult family member in the room as well. I am always supervising our teachers as they work with children. This pandemic does not allow this. I am working on some ways that I might still supervise our sessions if this continues into the fall. They also need my feedback as well, luckily during the first 8 weeks, I have since completed all our informal and formal observations. I have since completed our post conferences as well. This is an essential component of the work we do in our Literacy Center. Teaching and learning are supervised by an expert in the field at CCSU. That's my role as our Literacy Center Director.

My teachers collaborated with each other, and parents to find the best ways to help their children with online learning. Some have made Zoom works some FaceTime, some indicated physical packets parents wanted packets, my teachers even delivered them rather than rely on the mail. Of course, they kept their distance, used gloves, sanitized their at home leaning packets, and told parents to do the same. Two parents are hospital workers and indicated they have too much on their plate at the moment going on, and one parent of a child on the spectrum said they would opt-out, (very understandable). So, 90% of our children are continuing to work in some learning format with our teachers. This is far better than I ever dreamed.

I AM GUIDED BY MY PROFESSIONAL STANDARDS: We shared where we are in our assignments, how Dr. Turner can help. We are currently meeting twice a week online. They voted to attend once as a whole group and save the other day for individual consultations. Consultations are important to me, this is a supervised practicum, and meeting individually to consult allows me to maintain a critical International Literacy Association professional standard for Supervised Reading Professional Practicums.

Teaching online is not the same; it takes a great deal of effort to make it work, but with dedicated, committed, and talented graduate teachers, it can be done.
I preferably rather be in our literacy Center teaching. I can't wait to return, but my teachers have rescued their captain. We are in this together, and together we shall sail our teaching and learning ship to port safely and well.

"You just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'll understand
We all need somebody to lean on
Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on" ~ Bill Withers 

Dr. Jesse P. Turner

CCSU Literacy Center Director If you want to listen to the tune I listened to on my walk this morning? Its Bill Withers "Lean On ME" cover by Play For Change >  <

Some day we will be together again. 

Monday, April 6, 2020

My Pedagogy of Love informs me this is not online teaching, this is teaching in a crisis

Dear Education Reformers, Data Crunchers, Policy Makers, Profiteers, and Standardized Dreams,

Yes, the learning is second to whatever small humanity we may bring to the lives of our students. This isn't teaching online, this is crisis teaching, and as in any crisis, our understanding matters more than the lessons we teach. This is not the new normal, this is temporary, reminding us that our classrooms are sacred places. What is taught doesn't always get learned, and what is learned doesn't is not necessarily taught. Decades from now, what remains will not be the facts and figures I taught, but some distant memories of the empathy and humanity I shared in this pandemic. Content always comes second to our understanding.

This is not some new normal. This is teachers doing our best to bring some humanity to teaching in this pandemic. The likes of which have not been seen in a hundred years.

I teach teachers.
I shall not dwell on the research.
I shall not cite endless facts and figures.
I shall not demand from them perfect papers and correct responses.
I shall lead with love, joy, and hope.

They shall know my biggest fear was not meeting the standard, but of losing them.
They shall know that the best any teacher can bring to his/her classroom is humanity.
They shall know that there is one pedagogy that rises above all others.
They know that a Pedagogy of Love is second to none, and
They shall say he loves us, enough to always lead with his humanity.

When this has passed, when our pain and grieving begins. I hope whatever small humanity I was able to bring my online teaching and learning heal hearts. That my teachers might remember my heartfelt empathy was my Strategic Learning Objective. In reality, it has always been humanity in the classroom matters more than the facts and figures we teach. I am not racing for some perfect test scores. I am reaching for hearts that matter.

When this pandemic comes to an end, and we piece up the pieces of this trauma teaching and learning time. I shall lead pick up the pieces, do my best to heal my students, family, friends, and myself. I will turn off my Smartphone, my tablet, and my laptop, and I shall put up the welcome home sign, embrace that most sacred space my classroom, and say I have missed you, come in, share, and let love shine brightly hear. If I become one of the ones that do not make it. May they remember that Dr. Turner loved them, cared for them, believed in them, and dreamed bigger things for them than perfect little boxes of ticky tacky?

Peace, love, joy, and endless hope,
Dr. Jesse P. Turner
Professor of Literacy, Elementary, and Early Childhood

"Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes all the same."

If you like to listen to the song that I listened to this morning on my walk alone. Its Malvina Reynolds "Little boxes" > <

Friday, April 3, 2020

Dear Lord, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others

Dear world, I have decided to let the things people might say during this pandemic without thinking pass. I will forgive the things said in jest, without empathy, and without seeing the bigger picture. I hope you will forgive me as well.

Like all of us, I mean well, but the likes of this pandemic crisis have not been seen in over a hundred years. Are we all not living in fear, living with stress, the anxiety of not knowing what the future brings us.

I spend much of my days trying not to think of the unimaginable. Anytime, I think about my daughter living in Queens, my Nephew's Wife a nurse living in Self-quarantine, and my family and friends living in NYC and New Jersey. The 0ver 500 NYPD and NYDF members tasing positive. I just push those thoughts out of my head. I know I shouldn't push these away, but if I dwell too long on them I will fall.

Please forgive me if to deal with this crisis I joke at the wrong time, say something brash at the wrong time, post something trivia, forget to feel you're stress as well. feel your pain, or forget to ask how are you doing.

Matthew 6:9-13 King James Version (KJV)
"After this manner, therefore, pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."

And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and
The power, and the glory, forever.

Dear Lord, give us compassion, love, and dignity, to speak lovingly to all,
Jesse The Walking Man Turner
If you like to listen to the song that I listened today to on my solitary walk its Bill Wither's Lean On Me". Mr. Withers whose music I have leaned decades went to glory today. Fare Thee Well sir, and thank you. > <

Justice shall have it's day Walk 4 Equity

Abraham Lincoln "“The path was worn and slippery. My foot slipped from under me, knocking the other out of the way, but I recovered and said to myself, "It's a slip and not a fall.” 

Today I was reminded by Ms. Rose Reyes (Willimantic teacher, mom, town council Women) that today April 3, 2020, was to have been our “Radical Educator Day of Action 4 Equity”. This initial date was not the date we chose randomly. It has purpose and significance. It was selected on February 15, 2020, by a group of radical educators and parents in New Haven at the People Get Ready Book store. Tomorrow April 4, is the 57th anniversary of his assignation of Dr. Martin Luther King. Moral Monday Connecticut always acts on this solemn anniversary. Today our plans had included a protest march to The State Capital to deliver a message to our state legislature. Our intentions were to hold a Good Shepard Public Education Report Card press conference, followed by Radical Educator Salon for Equity.

And just like everything else that the world had planned for today… we, too, had to postpone the “date” until further notice.

The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King took place at 6:01 p.m. on Thursday, April 4,1968 ~ in the middle of his life of action. Standing on a balcony outside his second-floor room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, he died a Radical King. His sacrifice demands of us a rejection of silence and apathy. His legacy demands we pick up his mantle of peaceful radical activism. We are motivated by the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King. We are vividly conscious of his legacy of Radical Actions for Justice.
Sadly we Connecticut Radical Educators, have had to postpone our launch date for equity in our public schools. We have not given up. Dr. King himself postponed a march for voting rights once in Selma, AL. The postponement does not equal non-action; it merely means Justice WILL have it's day.

Meanwhile, “the gap” in public schools is showing itself to be a bigger problem than we thought. We have learned the most significant obstacle when closing our schools in poor communities is figuring out how to feed our children.

We have work to do, and that day will come. Right now, though, it is time to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay home. In the meantime, teachers, students, and parents are doing their best to keep learning happening during this our new normal. It is far from perfect, it is leaving many of our children behind, teachers are stressed trying to deliver lessons with some hint of humanity.
This is not over,
This will pass, and
We shall rise.

If acting to demand legislative action (in CT, the wealthiest state) to provide all children an equitable and quality education makes us radical educators ~ then so be it. We will wear that title well. Trust me, we shall Walk 4 Equity soon.

Spread the word, we shall rise,
Dr. Jesse. P. Turner
Moral Monday Connecticut Ambassador
CCSU AAUP Chapter Secretary
CSU-AAUP Due Justice Liaison
Proud Connecticut Badass Teacher and Radical Educator
Uniting to Save Our School Connecticut Chapter Administrator

If you want to listen to the song that inspires me this living in a pandemic day...its Bill Withers "Lean On Me" He passed away today, and his music is playing all day in my home.