This will be my last blog entry on wordpress and in the Pina’s Lens collection. I have not decided to stop writing, I decided to launch my own website this fall!
WHAT & WHY?
I started this blog back in January of 2013 while I was attending Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) for my Ed.M in Secondary Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction. Since then, I have taught for 4 consecutive years at Codman Academy Public Charter School, began to take care of and raise my little sister, proposed to my long-time girlfriend, our President went from Black and competent to an Electoral College voted egotistical selffish lying Businessman, and I became one hell of a math teacher!
I went from:
in the classroom (at least that’s what the 1st year felt like)
by implementing student-centered strategies that increase meaningful student engagement, using differentiation, and fostering a growth-mindset within my students… ALL WITH DATA TO PROVE IT!
This is why, I am starting my own website. I can post articles and updates about my ongoing research (identify and using the principles of videogame engagement in the classroom), my work with the “Better Math Teaching Network“, my poetry, and some of the best practices and teaching videos I have learned and or developed over my teaching career. I think this is a move in the right direction for my professional career, and what could be an effective attempt to merge my passions of poetry, teaching, and videogames.
I went through all my entries and had all the feelings. Feelings of embarrassment due to grammar and spelling errors in many entries (I’ll work on that more thoroughly in the future). Feelings of confusion as some entries really served no purpose (like my first entry). Feelings of amusement and admiration (can someone admire his or herself?) as quite a few entries were raw, reflective, honest, and attempted to be provocative.
This website will out-live me, but it doesn’t have to be my legacy. I could choose to delete, update, and or edit some of these entries, but I do not want to. Each entry represents a time-stamp in my life. However, there are a three entries that I feel represent my journey from January 2013 to July 2017, and I recommend you to read them on your own time.
This entry was written after my graduation from HGSE.
“…The cigar is about half-way done when I notice the duck walking along the dock. With one magical flap of her wings, the duck takes off down the river. I wonder what that duck was thinking? Could she be feeling the same way?
Words are so hard to find, yet each component of my lexicon is bursting from my mind. I do not share these words to seek any sympathy, but to subdue the headache that has been itching to come forth.
The sun is beginning to kiss the horizon, making it blush from surprised affection. I stare in awe…”
This entry was written as a response to a conversation I had with a friend.
“… I prefer to be called a Critical Theorist for two reasons: (1) The act of activating ‘outside-the-box-thinking’ and trying to connect events thru an analysis of cause and effect and benefits IS AN ACT OF CRITICAL THINKING! However, there are many people who do try to ‘connect-dots’ after conducting some research, and end up forming in-conclusive conclusions. Hence reason (2) The connotations of being called a Conspiracy Theorist is to be parallel to being crazy, over-reacting, and over imaginative… it becomes dismissive. To be dismissive of someone, no matter how “out-there” their views may be, is not a good thing; in fact their view should be analyzed and concluded to be wrong, right, or shades or truthfulness…”
This entry was apart of a series (three total) in which I was personally pursing and reflecting on the word “Nigger”, and how I use and hear it.
“…Over this series of blog entries I have explored my own experiences with listening, saying, reading, and discussing the N-Word. I have now read countless articles, watched a few hours of youtube clips, read responses and heated debates amongst my friends, and listened to some of my favorite musical artists.
Here is my conclusion for the N-Word, for now:
“I have decided to stop using any variation of the word nigger no matter the intent behind my use of the word” 2/13/2014 @ 12:58am…”
This entry is one of the most personal entries I ever wrote because it was a open letter reflection about my mother’s health and stepping-up to become my sister’s guardian.
“…Most of all, I appreciate you for reading this. The most common thing I am told, “if you need anything let me know.” But, the most common response I have, internally, is “well, what do I need?” Five dollar gift cards to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or a local grocery store would be extremely helpful. Continued request to hangout by my friends are very helpful. But, the most important request I have for anyone who is my family, friend, or just a reader, is a check-in. Call my up and see how I am doing. Send me a random letter. Send me a random facebook message of a funny story. Send me a random text. Send this blog to a mutual friend who you think should know about what I am going through…”
Aside from launching my website, I am also going to start teaching at a new school this fall. My decision to leave my current school is a personal and professional choice.
Personally, I look forward to working at a school where I feel my work with be valued and I will be valued beyond the relationships I build with my students. As a Black male math teacher, with a masters from HGSE, and experienced, I deserve to be treated and viewed as valued. I have constantly received the message that “I’m special” because of what I have been able to achieve; rather what I haven’t done: having multiple ‘baby mamas’, a criminal record, back credit, living with my parents, and a history of drug use and or dealing. To have constantly received that message over and over for years, it’s no wonder I struggle with the contradiction of wanting to be treated as “special”, yet wanting my accomplishments to be viewed as ‘normal’ for Black people. Therefore there should be no need to be treated “special!”
Did I just open this up?
Professionally, I will now have the chance to collaborate with other colleagues who are teaching the same content, and have a math instruction coach. Having coaching in my content has been a challenge. The primary (honestly the only) support for instruction I received was in my classroom management. That is not a bad thing, but when feedback becomes nitpicky than it is time to seek deeper feedback and support. I have received quite a bit of this from being apart of the “Better Math Teaching Network”. However, when it comes to black male teachers, we are celebrated for the relationships we build with students and pushed into positions (Dean of Students, Coaches, Principals, Dean of Discipline, etc.) that are in the service of ‘managing’ students, not teaching them. This is reflected in the broader picture of public education (no matter charter or traditional). I do not want that to be my narrative, I want to be known for my craft in the classroom. This is why I am pursuing National Board Certification and having a Student Teacher in the near future.
This transition, along with a few others, will keep pushing me towards greatness and fulfilling my pursuit of happiness. I thank you for reading this entry (and any of my previous entries) and (hopefully) looking forward to witnessing my journey this fall.
Best and with appreciation,
Francis Patrick Pina