Monthly Archives: March 2016

Mindful Mondays: Mindfulness in Philly’s Classrooms

Below, you will find an introduction from TAG’s 2016 Mindfulness ItAG, Mindful Mondays. For more, check out their blog. You can also join them Mondays from 5-7pm at The Living Room Cafe (701 S 5th St.) through April 18. Find their full schedule below.


 

mindfulness itag 2

We are a group of current and former educators who have experienced the every day frustrations of teaching. We know how powerful and effective practicing mindfulness as a teacher is on decreasing disruptive behaviors, increasing student engagement, and tending to the socio-emotional health of our school communities .

Each Monday through the month of April we will be collaborating with experts in mindfulness who will share their resources, practices and inspiration with Philadelphia-based educators. We will learn how to be mindful and how to create a sustainable environments for our students in a way that uplifts the practice of teaching and learning.

Why not join the inquiry? We practice, chat, chew and unpack the complexities of engaging with this work in classroom spaces. Below find a listing of our driving questions for each session. Feel free to join us for any of them, no experience needed. Just an openness of heart and gratitude for the reflective practice.

Mindful Mondays, 5-7pm

Location: The Living Room Cafe, 701 S 5th St., Philadelphia, PA.

2/22: What is mindfulness and how is it practiced?

2/29: How do I teach and model mindfulness for my students?

3/7: How do students benefit from mindful practice? What structural changes happen in the brain after practicing mindfulness?

3/14: How do your students perceive things?  How does this affect their responses and behavior?

3/28: How can mindfulness positively impact student engagement with content? How do I incorporate the use of mindfulness in my approach while teaching content?

4/4: How can Mindfulness support teacher resilience in environments low on collaboration, modeling or support? How can mindfulness decrease stress reactivity in teachers?

4/11: Who is practicing mindfulness in their classrooms and what works for them?

4/18: Guest students and their experiences with mindfulness.

African-American History Collaborative ItAG Meeting Reflection

The African-American History Collaborative ItAG meets every other Thursday from 5-7pm at Central High School. For more and to join the conversation, check #AFAMtalk or email Yaasiyn Muhammad or Ismael Jiminez.

The following blog was written by an attendee of the ItAG, Shayla Amenra. Shayla is currently a masters student in curriculum development at Arcadia University, and small business owner at HAPPIMADE. Previously, she taught elementary and high school, and ran a mentoring program at Drexel. You can find this and more on her blog.


For the last couple of months I have found myself becoming more pessimistic regarding the state of our nation, african-americans, and education. As a masters student I am constantly ingratiated in the woes and perils facing the educational system; particularly urban schools. I also spend time discussing strategies on what we as educators can do in our little corners of the world to make it right. However, no matter how enthusiastic the conversation I am often left feeling discouraged and pessimistic. Needless to say I  needed to find somewhere to ‘vent’ my aggravation after I read the numbers of blacks in prison and continual police shootings. Not to mention the constant attack I see happening on Philadelphia schools, its’ students and teachers.
A few nights ago I attended the African-American Curriculum ITAG group meeting. If you are unfamiliar with ITAG/TAG Philly you can check out their site here. This group is taking a serious look at the  African-American History course with the goal of making it more accessible, providing certain standards of study, and empowering for students. Once complete, the group would like to submit their final curricula to the school district for approval to implemented city-wide.
This ITAG meeting was just that place for me to be. It was attended by mostly teachers, but there were others in attendance who are in the education world as well.  A few of the educators in attendance teach the African-American Studies course. One of these teachers mentioned that 65%(I think I might be low on this number) of Philadelphia teachers are white, and it’s student population is majority black. Given the numbers, a majority of the teachers of the African-American Studies course will be white. What are the implications? What will the experience be for black students receiving this information from White teachers? Will students of color feel safe exploring the historical context of racism and their relationship to Mayor Kenny’s continuation of ‘Stop and Frisk’ with white teachers? What about white students, how can they explore issues around whiteness and privilege, while understanding connections between this history, neighborhood empowerment and themselves? How would the white teacher talk about the brutal history of this country with their black students while acknowledging their role, passive or otherwise, in this system?What happens when they are called ‘cracker’ by a black student? Is it a teachable moment, or another disciplinary action? Can they move through history to current events helping to motivate action from these same students?
What about the power dynamics? During our discussions a black male teacher shared his story of being told his white students feel threatened by him. This teacher explained that he was doing the same things he had been doing with his black students, but for some reason with his white students he was threatening. Is it possible for this class to address these issues? If so, how, and can they be addressed the same if the teacher was white? In this case how can the teacher ‘teach’ when he first has to address the idea of him being the boogyman. How does a black educator effectively teach this course without being labeled a trouble maker, extreme, or inciting their students to hate all whites? How do they encourage unity and collective activism if they worry about job safety?
Even with a B.A. in African/African-American Studies I am constantly reminded that there is always more for me to learn. I am excited to be a part of this group. The idea of being able to use my field of study to work towards effective change in education helps my pessimism.  It helps as I continue to read about neoliberal policies, watch videos of schools being taken over, and how wonderful(not) TFA has been for African-American teachers. What this group proposes to do follows the districts  idea to, “create a culture that not only reinforces a desire to learn, achieve and grow, but reaffirms their existence in the world.”
Source:

2016 Education for Liberation Conference – Call for Workshops, Tables, Student Work, and Volunteers

tagphillyconf

At this year’s conference, we celebrate the vision, strength and resourcefulness of students, educators and community members exercising power and creativity in the face of abandonment and dispossession.  We stand firm in the conviction that the people and places in the Philadelphia school system are not disposable, but instead worth cultivating. Rather than disregard and erase our communities’ wisdom and knowledge, we strive to create a space that values this cultural wealth and uses it to ground our work for manifesting just communities and schools.  Drawing from the power within leads us towards limitless possibility and real transformation.

Saturday, April 30  •  9:30 — 4:00
Folk Arts and Cultural Treasures Charter School
1023 Callowhill St. 

 

Eventbrite - TAG's 7th Annual Education for Liberation Conference


Call for workshop proposals

We invite you to share a workshop with the social justice education community in Philadelphia.  We welcome workshops that are focused on political education  (e.g. intersectional analyses of how institutional oppression affects our students, our schools, ourselves as educators) and deeper understanding of the current context, curricular ideas, instructional strategies and teaching practice, presentations of community work and student-led presentations.  We particularly encourage student-facilitated workshops.  We will offer three tracks of workshops.

  • Restorative Justice and Healing Trauma

  • Teaching and Learning

  • Organizing for Just Communities and Schools

Submit a workshop proposal here.


Call for student work

Please share examples of your students’ amazing work!  Participate in the student work gallery that showcases students’ expressiveness and skill, and also provides models of what education for liberation looks like in action.  Examples include visual art, memoir, poetry, digital media, student-led presentations/exhibitions

Sign up to display student work here.


Call for tabling and lunch conversation facilitators

Do you have resources or curriculum to share?  We will provide a table for you to display your work and offer it to others.  We also invite you to sign up to host an informal lunch conversation around a theme of your choice.

Sign up to table or facilitate a lunch conversation here.


Volunteer!

We need your help to make the conference run smoothly. Consider volunteering to help us in a number of different ways.

Add your name to a volunteer list here.