Episode 13: The Media and Free Speech

Check out my episode “Episode 13: The Media and Free Speech” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-13-The-Media-and-Free-Speech-e2h0n3

Episode 12: Violence is a Bitch Move

Check out my podcast, WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats, on Anchor! https://anchor.fm/withloverebel

Episode 11: Who to Hold Responsible

Check out my episode “Episode 11: Three Branches and Who to Hold Responsible” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-11-Three-Branches-and-Who-to-Hold-Responsible-e2e8sv

Tell People to Do Their Jobs

Check out my episode “Episode 10: Tell them to DO THEIR JOBS, Vote! ” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-10-Tell-them-to-DO-THEIR-JOBS–Vote-e2coks

Episode 9: The Judiciary and Why the GOP NEEDS to Step Up

Check out my episode “Episode 9: The GOP needs to DO BETTER on the Judiciary ” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-9-The-GOP-needs-to-DO-BETTER-on-the-Judiciary-e2bdn6

Episode 8: Rapists are Bitches and That’s Why You Shouldn’t Get Defeated by Brett Kavanaugh

Check out my episode “Episode 8: Rapists are Bitches and We are Stronger than This” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-8-Rapists-are-Bitches-and-We-are-Stronger-than-This-e2a824

If You Fail Kids, That’s on You. Here’s Some Ways to Prevent it

“Ms. Charles won’t let people fail.” As a teacher, I had a virtually unheard of pass rate and my sophomores were also doing research and reading primary source material daily,  and they also wrote daily. I worked at a comprehensive, large, integrated public school. About two thirds of my students are ELL and a little over that is poor.

My pass rate was called into question a number of times but years out, the results have come in and my grading practices were deemed fair and valid. My training dictated (I did my training at Summit Prep Academy, my pass rates were not unheard of there), that I wouldn’t allow a kid to fail. At a comprehensive public school where the fail rate was half, this was deemed incredibly suspicious. The truth of the matter is that my behavioral and academic standards are insanely high. My kids did more intellectually rigorous work in my class than most normal history courses, especially my non-AP course.

My AP seniors all squealed the about how hard I am and they all passed my class and most of them pass their released AP exams. Most of what I did might not be replicable. I have a B.A. from Stanford and an incredibly strong research background, I have SPED training and experience and I was a key activist for poor students undergrad and I have my masters from Stanford. I trained under crazy good teachers, and my training was at schools with similar standards and I have also worked in nearly every educational environment imaginable. I’m also a complete workaholic and have more in common with my worst off students than the majority of people in the classroom. My pace wasn’t sustainable in the long term because of my health, but I did learn some things along the way. There are some things I did that are immediately and easily replicable and would benefit the majority of students.

There are three foundational principles to this.

1) Don’t be a dick to kids

Adults aren’t as productive at work when they are stressed out, miserable, uncomfortable or depressed. Why we would expect children to perform under those conditions is beyond me. Make your room as comfortable as possible and the kids will do better. People are more motivated by love and community. We perform better for people who inspire us than we will for people we fear; kids are no different. Teachers are leaders, first and foremost. If your practices would make adults act out during Professional Development, don’t do it to kids.

2) From each according to their ability, to each according to the need

IEPs and 504s are legally binding documents so if you aren’t implementing those you are breaking the law. You have no right to an opinion about whether the kid needs it, ever. But there are lots of kids who fall into the cracks, and very few people have the temperament, ability and motivation to be successful in the industrial model of schooling. So all of my kids get all of the accommodations they need to be successful. I have high but realistic and individualized expectations for all of my students and I provide as much structure as they need to get there.

3) I take personal responsibility for each child’s success

The quote above is commonly said in my class. When they told me that most teachers were failing half their kids I wondered how they slept at night. Notice that I said “failing their kids” not “half the kids are failing.” My job is to train them to be productive members of society and to help them a achieve their fullest humanity. When they fail, I’ve failed them. My kids know this so well that when one of them says something about not doing an assignment the others say: ” dude, you know she’ll find you and make you do it.” Failure is not an option in my class. They don’t have the choice, I am an efficient and benevolent dictator.

So again, not everything I do is easy to do but a few are:

1) Don’t assign homework unless it’s for practice

Homework is unfair and unnecessary in the vast majority of cases. It’s ok to assign a little bit of reading and some math and science practice but it should be avoided. Some kids go home to moms and dads who do it for them and some of them don’t have a home. It doesn’t tell you anything about their learning because you have no idea how it got done. With homework, school, extracurricular and family commitments (some of my kids are working full time or raising their siblings) kids are pulling more than 8 hour days, and usually much more. That’s not right and it’s unhealthy and they aren’t gaining from it.

2) Accept late work

If you don’t accept late work you are grading them on organization, how good their home life is, and compliance. Most of my Hispanic kids won’t turn in work unless it perfect out of respect for the teacher, some of my kids don’t know how to keep track of their work because their home life is chaotic and some are just forgetful. It is a bald-face lie to say this is preparing them for the real world. Find me an educated adult who has never asked for an extension, forgotten paperwork or refused to do something they thought was stupid and I will find you a liar or someone who is really into compliance which is only good for bureaucrats. Fortunately most of our children will not grow up to be bureaucrats.

3) Allow the children the opportunity to revise

The goal is everyone getting mastery, yes? So some kids do that at different times, if you allow them to revise, it will encourage them to reflect and improve. It you make them feel terrible for not understanding at your preferred pace they will develop fear and poor self esteem. When you screw up at work, your boss tells you to do it over. They don’t say, you’ll never do this right and you should have done this earlier. If they do, they are a bad boss and most adults won’t succeed or tolerate that for long. BOTTOM LINE: Be the boss you’d want to have.

Don’t grade attendance, compliance, tardiness, the number of times they speak or neatness

Unless those are the content and skills that you are measuring in your area (which would be SPED, AVID, or advisory but not math, English or history) their grade should reflect mastery of the content or skills only. Does your boss micromanage you and tell you job is inadequate when it got the job done? As adults we know that would be bad management so you aren’t preparing them for anything valuable. Most kids have little to no control over attendance and tardiness because they are minors and also because they don’t have magical healing powers. Nine times out of ten they are out or late for reasons outside of their control and the tenth isn’t so egregious that you can’t deal with it individually.

There are a lot of things I do beyond this but these are the easiest and quickest to implement, it won’t guarantee every kid passes but a lot more will pass than if you are doing the opposite. As teachers we should be continuously reflecting and improving our practice to ensure that we don’t fail our kids because it is good teaching but also because it is the best way to teach personal responsibility.


Episode 7: Let’s not cut Each Other Off

Check out my episode “Episode 7: Self-Care Shouldn’t Alienate Anyone” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-7-Self-Care-Shouldnt-Alienate-Anyone-e28vkr

Self-care Shouldn’t be Cutting Us Off from Community

Does it sort of feel like everyone’s life is a bit of a mess right now?

That’s because life is messy.

We’ve reached this weird transitional stage where everyone’s life is both deadly serious and incredibly chaotic. It’s easy in the chaos to focus on ourselves and try to ignore everyone else and if I have to read one more self care article that suggests that I cut everyone out of my life that doesn’t have it together, I may… have an extremely unpleasant chat with everyone.

Just kidding, this is already that chat because I’ve had enough. I’m going to request that you stick it out because I think there’s actually a serious problem going on.

Has anyone else noticed that the elites’ solution to all of our problems seems to be to alienate us from each other?

First of all, if I cut everyone out of my life that’s ever had issues, I’d have no one left. Having issues and chaos in your life isn’t always just a result of bad choices. Millennials are having a tough time everywhere!

We need to start addressing social problems socially and collectively.

Most of my friends are talented and hard working and have good degrees. We are poor because it’s really hard not to be when we started out that way and our lives are chaos because we had chaotic families.

Everyone is doing the best they can. Sociopathic and psychopathic people are rare, so unless abuse is involved, you are just cutting people out for having challenging home lives.

It’s just an excuse to isolate us!

It’s starting to look to me like my friends with more stability are using the mantra of self care and “lacking bandwidth” as a way to escape the pain of others. You can do that if you like, but you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t give you gold stars in the process.

Much like unicorns, there is no magic and naps aren’t magic either

That’s not only unhealthy, it’s bad for society. We absolutely need community and the end result of this is that a *few* of us are forced to do emotional labor for the rest of the squad. And even my richer, more stable friends are asking me to do emotional labor. I never turn down being a good friend so I’m not sure why anyone is doing this to each other. It’s easy to discount the importance of community when you have the resources to do so.

I’m myself deep in a brutal mourning and re-orientation process, so this has been difficult. But what concerns me right now is how few people have been willing to just let me talk and let the rest of the community caregivers talk about what’s going on. The plan seems to be burying our heads in the sand while our friends fall apart.

Therapists aren’t actually an appropriate replacement for family and friends, y’all.

This isn’t really something we can afford to do. Self-care needs to enrich your ability to engage with the community and the world. The solution to community based problems, like death, domestic violence, sexual assault, drug addiction, and mental health is not to cut yourself off and wash your hands of it. I’ve been trying to keep everyone’s spirits up but these articles have gotten so ubiquitous and seem so destructive to the community that I had to say something.

Of course there are times to cut people out, like when they are abusive or ask you to engage in activities that are life ruining but we should try to be there for each other no matter what and those of you who seem to have it together should remember a few things

1) You didn’t always have it together and SOMEONE was there for you then

2) You have it together because you’ve been given some advantages others haven’t, be grateful for it

3) The more you have it together the more should be expected from you in terms of serving the community. Give back what you’ve been given where you can.

When listening to others, please stop making this about you. Just listen. Please just listen. Unless you are dealing with what I’m dealing with, the last thing I need right now is to be told this is normal. This isn’t normal and no, you don’t know and that’s ok. I don’t need advice I just need empathy and that’s really all you guys need to do for the rest of the people in your midst.

Be comfortable with being sad when I tell you what’s going on. I’ll do my best to cheer you up, I’ve been dancing through most of this and am trying to be as fun as possible but I’m also lying so no one will call me toxic because I’ve got a lot of deaths to get through and as a orphan I can’t really afford to be anymore isolated.

It’s putting a big, heavy extra burden on me to have to do that and it puts an even bigger burden on me when the same people turn around and tell me they can’t handle it because of “self-care” but still expect me to be their emotional support. I can do that work, I want to hear what’s up with you but it needs to be an even exchange and I can only lie for so long.

Lots of people are going through things right now, if you are fortunate to be one of the people that has it together then you don’t lack the bandwidth to help those who don’t. Get more bandwidth and please start listening to your community.

You need a community. Everyone needs a community. Community is the best solution to our mental health problems.

It’s called Durkheim. Check him out.

I love you all deeply. Please try to love me enough to be cool about this process.

And I still love getting sent distractions which I desperately need right now. So continue sending fun memes, keep telling me about cool shows, and special thanks to those who have been willing to just sit with me and watch cartoons and not expect me to perform.

Episode 6: Some thoughts on decreasing polarization

Check out my episode “Episode 6: How to Talk to Anyone ” from WithLoveFromRebelAllianceFiresideChats on Anchor: https://anchor.fm/withloverebel/episodes/Episode-6-How-to-Talk-to-Anyone-e274ra