“When a caterpillar bursts from its cocoon and discovers it has wings, it does not sit idly, hoping to one day turn back. It flies.” ~
Jane Goodall said: “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” A fellow academic at the end of the semester said he is extremely disappointed in his teachers' online lessons' quality. He said a majority of the lessons are uninspiring. I reminded him this is a pandemic crisis and then asked him about his lessons. Would he rate them as inspiring? I said my lessons are far from inspiring. At best, I am getting it done. He explained that he is getting it done. So, your lessons, my lessons, and most lessons being taught during this pandemic crisis are less inspiring and more about getting it done. I suggested that wasn't it really the same before COVID? I added how inspiring were lessons driven by testing and Common Core State Standards before the pandemic? Knowing he never ever challenged the negative influence of high-stakes testing and standards without equity. He has always been a status quo academic. He always ran to every policy workshop and never ever in the past 20-years questioned anything suggested. Our conversation ended with preach somewhere else, Jesse. I live in the real world. If there is one thing the real world does, my friend is leaving us uninspired. My inspiration comes from deciding not to merely teach the truth but to fight for it outside the schoolhouse world. How inspiring is it for poor children, their parents, and their teachers in knowing America spends less on their public education than the education of wealthy schools? Want inspired lessons, then give all public children all our children quality and equitable public education. Quality and equity are my cornerstones for inspiration in my book. Until then, the poor children and their teachers are on their own for inspiration. Inspiration in our public schools should not be something that children and teachers are on their own for. I do my best with my lessons, sometimes they get the job done, and sometimes they go beyond and may even inspire a few. Want inspiration in my lessons is often found when I share my battles outside the classroom for all children, all schools, and yes, all teachers. Inspiration requires teachers to fight the systemic and structural racism that supports this School to Prison Public School System. Inspiration requires more than teaching to get it done. Inspiration requires teachers to question injustice in the classroom, in the schoolhouse, and in the nation. Anything less is uninspiring, Dr. Jesse P. Turner Uniting to Save Our Schools
Time to say goodbye to Dr. Turner's 50th Literacy Practicum Teachers. 12 teachers providing 55,000 dollars worth of free tutoring to local school children. Our Literacy Center has provided over a million dollars of free services during my 20 years as our director. But, it is not about me, it is about these amazing teachers who come to study and earn their advanced graduate degree in Literacy. The journey usually takes about 2 years and requires dedication, deep study, and intense commitments from teachers with full-time teaching positions during the day. What can I say to them in their final class? That explains they inspired, they lifted our children, parents, Literacy Center, and their professor. They are our heroes, our COVID Warriors!
At the start of this course, I tell them I am their Captain. I am a good captain who brings all his passages to port safely. I ask them to trust me, to take me at my word, and then I do everything I can to bring home safely. I fill up a glass of water halfway. I ask what kind of Literacy Specialist do children most need? Half-Empty, or Half-Full ones? Everyone calls out Half-Full ones. I say they deserve more than Half-Full Literacy Specialists. Then I place the glass in a large glass bowl, pour in water until the glass overflows. I say children deserve Literacy Specialists who fill their own glasses. With each pour of water, I call out one of the 10 courses they take to earn their advanced degree in Literacy. Then I welcome these glass filling teachers to our Literacy Center Practicum.
For our last class, there is some course business, not much, and then there is my letter to these teachers we called our Literacy Clinicians and Reading Professionals.