Back after Break

I can’t believe how ready I was to return to school.  To be back from break.  This year has been different.  I’m not as stressed as I would normally be.

I can’t believe how ready I was to return to school yesterday.  To be back from break.  I had a good two weeks off and of course I wouldn’t have minded a little more time off, but surprisingly I was really looking forward to returning to school.  I honestly don’t know when the last time I’ve felt this way about a holiday break ending.

This year has been different for me.  I’m not as stressed as I would normally be.  This school year is more relaxed, which is taking some getting used to. This is the first year that I’ve had this sense of freedom EVER in my career.  I’ve never not taught a state tested subject until this year, so I’m starting to feel as if I can be like famed singer Jill Scott and “live my life like its Golden”!


The pressure is gone.  This would normally be the time of year that I would be preparing my students for their test, with intensity.  Obviously preparation begins as soon as the first lesson is taught in August, but after Winter Break lessons are taught with even more rigor.

Yesterday, before I left to go home, I felt as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders.  For one thing, I was able to leave  work on time.  I’m normally not able to do that, so it felt odd.  Like there was something that I had forgotten to do.  There seems to always be something for me to do that didn’t get done during the day or something that urgently must be handled for the next day.  There’s always copies to run, power points to complete, parent calls to make, emails to catch up on, grading, or revising lessons.  I’m not used to this feeling of release; at least not in January. I normally tend to feel burden-less after my subject’s state test has been given, which is around April or May (school ends in late May).

Testing Season

There’s always this pressure for your students to do really well.  As if their scores are a reflection of the teachers ability to teach.  This can be a bit stressful since it’s as though many students seem to not really care about testing or classwork until it’s actually time for testing or report cards.  I’ve always been made to feel that the only way to prove I’m “doing my job” well, is if my students show that they are passing these mandated state tests.  A high passing rate means a teacher is fulfilling their job requirements of teaching! #sarcasm


If these tests were very necessary for student scholastic success, then why aren’t they required in private schools?  I’ve always gone above and beyond in making sure my students are prepared and ready, but the excess pressures that are added on to an already stressful job is unnecessary.  It begs you to ask the question, “What did I do in life to deserve this torturous hell on Earth”?

So again, yes.  Yes, Yes, Yes!!! I am glad to no longer be under the heal of oppression.  It’s actually helped me to look forward to coming in to work…on a Monday and after a two week break!


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Booger Eater

My eyes widened as he began to use his right pointer finger to dig in his left nostril for potential treasure. Big eyed, I frowned, shook my head, and silently cried out “No”!!!!

Today (May 15) is the final day of my students taking their 6th grade State Test. Woooo Whoooo!! I can just smell the intoxicating aroma of summer’s freedom blowing sweetly in the air.  I can hear the gentle tip toeing of summer coming closer and closer; but I digress.

This is THE State Test that is given, so ALL Educators are encouraged to actively monitor.  This means that all of our time is spent walking around the room in order to pay attention to whatever students are doing.  You should be able to see if students are sleeping, working, bubbling in their answers, talking, or just staring and doing nothing.  You are supposed to be aware of what these students are doing at all times, and be aware of when they need you.

Since I am actively monitoring, I see everything!  As I was walking around the room making sure these diligent 6th graders were working, I looked across the room and noticed one particular student. He was wiggling his nose and sniffling, so I was waiting for him to give me the signal of needing tissue.  Unfortunately, this child wasn’t interested in tissue.

My eyes widened as he began to use his right pointer finger to dig in his left nostril for potential treasure.   Behold!  He discovered a 14 Karat nugget of Gross.  In shock, I continued to watch as this boy placed his “bejeweled” finger inside of his lips and continued on as if he had done nothing out of the ordinary.  May I remind you that this is a 12 year old child of 6th grade; not a 5 year old in his Kindergarten class. 

Big eyed, I frowned, shook my head, and silently cried out “No” all while the child’s finger was moving to nose and then to mouth.  No one heard me… no one saw me… and no one would know my disgust for what I had just witnessed.   No one would know why my silent tears were falling.  I was the one that had to collect this child’s testing materials.  His test booklet, answer document, pencils, highlighters, and anything else .  I would have to touch these things after he completed his test.  Germ-X don’t fail me now!  Looking at the bright side of this situation, at least he didn’t place the booger underneath his desk.  


Onion Salad

They got the newest iPhone, but they smellin all wrong. Got them Beats and they bringin the heat. DE-O-DE-RANT needed here please!

Daily I am cursed with the sometimes fatal aroma of Onion Salad.  I didn’t even know Onion Salad was a real thing, until I saw it online.  I don’t understand it as a meal and I don’t understand why Johnnie, Jamal, Jasmine, and Johanna are still coming to my classroom smelling like it.  They come into the room and knock me out with their loud, intrusive, and unforgivable odor.  I black out for at least 30 seconds, I know I do.  It’s like my life, my feelings, and my nostrils aren’t important.  Am I supposed to just ignore and tolerate?  Not today Satan!  Not Ever!

No one wants to smell the onions permeating from beneath your child’s arm pits.  These kids are coming to school smelling like grown men that work outdoors in the heat.  They stopped smelling cute two years ago.  You know you smelled them when they walked past you this morning.  You know you noticed it.  That wasn’t you you were smelling (I hope), that was them…your baby.  Yes, they’re bodies are maturing now.

They got the newest iPhone, but they smellin all wrong.


Image result for iphone X

Got them Beats, and they bringin the heat.

Image result for Beats by Dre

They got on them Jordans, but smellin like Gorton’s.  Mother’s teach your daughters before someone embarrasses them.

Image result for gordmans fish sticks

Now, I do my best to explain to my students the importance of making sure that after they bathe with soap and hot or warm water, to dry off so that they mayest anoint their underarms with deodorant.  I believe it is selfish and rude of them to not do so.  They aren’t the only ones walking around the school.  Can I get an Amen?  Leave the body sprays and colognes alone, until you rub on that de-o-do-rant.  They need more than baby powder under them pits.

Why should I have to suffer every time they walk past me?  Come on parents! Teach your babies how to wash their clothes too, if you don’t have time to wash their clothing for them.  That same shirt or jacket or hoodie they were musty in, is still musty! 

Oh, you mad at me because I talked to your child about hygiene…who else is going to teach them?  Clearly you’re not.  I don’t want to hear about them being “bullied” and made fun of because other students are saying they smell bad.  Hey lady, hello sir, they do!

This is an easy fix.  They didn’t make themselves.  They didn’t ask to be here.  Help your baby…for everyone’s sake.  No more Onion Salad…I don’t want it and I didn’t order it!  Thanking You!


One Thing about Education

Yesterday was the first day back to school from Christmas Break. Thankfully it wasn’t too bad. The students, administration, and teachers were their normal selves…all of us trying to keep our energy up and our eyes open. Honestly, we really were happy to see each other.  Apart from missing the luxury of waking up late and going to bed even later, we knew that it was Duty along with a light dusting of love for our student’s learning, that brought us back. As I often try to explain to my students, life teaches us about having to work hard even when you want to be somewhere else.

Little life lessons like those help me to appreciate my job. Like every occupation, there’s the good and the bad. Teachers must deal with parents that refuse to believe their child is not perfect and does make mistakes. We deal with times of feeling like the school’s administration places unnecessary or even unrealistic pressures on us. These issues along with the painstaking task of having to remember what desk or supply to not touch because we just watched your 12 year old dig in their nose and/or butt are not the highlights of our years.

Of course, there are many positives in the line of education that make us educators appreciate this highly stressful job. The opportunity to mold young minds and the excitement of watching a student finally “get it”. Noticing the growth of a low reader from August through November and even watching a child’s confidence grow during the year are the highlights we want to focus on. Another great plus, I can not deny, is the amount of time off given for major holidays and for Summer Break. Keep in mind that this allotted time off depends on the state and the district you teach in. Many people jump to the chance of becoming an educator because of having the summer months off. *Please don’t go into education solely for this reason.*

The thing is though, teachers don’t receive the entire summer off. We have PD days, also known as “professional developments” which are meetings to help teachers prepare for the forthcoming year. These types of meetings are also scattered within the school year. They are required and promoted to encourage teachers to remember that they are lifelong learners. We are reminded that these courses are a gift that enables the teacher to become better at their craft for the benefit of the “chir-run”😑.

Like many other employees, I despise meetings. I endure them because, like everything else, they come with the job. Now a days in these meetings one is not able to just sit, listen, and take notes. We now must move around and talk to other people in order to get the blood flowing. To also practice the teaching strategy of “think, pair, and share” which means you discuss what the presenter has just talked about to another person. The introvert in me says, “Hated It”.

I am literally being forced to meet and speak to people about information that hasn’t even sunk in yet…stuff that makes me say, “Wait, What did they just say?” But it’s not to just anyone, it’s preferred that I speak to PEOPLE I DON’T KNOW! The horror of it all! This teaching style is not differentiated for my learning needs. I need some modifications. Someone is not adhering to my learning style as set aside in my ARD paper work. #teacherjargon

But despite the dread of having to step out of my comfort zone…despite having to share my summers with learning, planning, and the teacher-bullying from parents and students sporadically sprinkled throughout the year, seeing the sincere smiles of my students does help me to ease those irritations. Like myself, the students try to hide the happiness they have upon seeing me after such a long time away from each other. It’s cute. “Happy to see you too sugar foot, but wash your hands first before we high-five, handshake, or bump. I know where your hands have been.”

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A Type of Different Part 3: “my name”

In elementary, I decided at school that I would go by the name my family calls me…Becky.  This was the nickname I’m called because of my middle name.  This name assisted in me also being called “white” as well.  If you remember reading A Type of Different Pt.1″acting like a white girl”, I explain how I was told that I spoke and acted like a white girl.  Well, my name didn’t help at all.  It just added more fuel to my white flames.  When my family moved to another state, I decided to go by my birth name, Katherine.  This was to end any name confusion with my school records.  But, oh yeah, Katherine, like Becky, is a “white name” too.  It didn’t matter that I was named after my black grandmother. None of my names would ever be black enough. Not even my last name could alert anyone to my race.  It was “iffy”.  It was racially ambiguous; so I could be black or white or possibly Asian.

I noticed during this time that most of the names my black female classmates had seemed to rhyme… Felicia, Iesha, LaToya, LaTanya, LaTasha, Kendra, Valeria, Shayna, Shawna, LaQuander (with the silent r on the end, and pronounced la-quan-duh), Kenya, Nyeisha, Dametria, DeShaunte’(pronounced de-shawn-tay), Quanasier (pronounced quaw-nay-see-ir) etc.  None of my names could compete with the blackness in those strong African-esque names.  I can just smell the African Jollof being made when I say those names.  I can hear the lions roaring and the antelope running in fear across the African Savannah.  I can see the Meerkats, crying out the alarm that a cheetah is nearby.  I can see the eyes of a giraffe peeking through the tall trees…too much?  Okay, moving on…. I liked my name, but I would sometimes wonder why my mom just couldn’t name me something else.  A name like the many black girls I would encounter, that ended with an -uh or an -ay sound.  Again, I just wanted to blend in.  My name also made me a type of different.

By the time I was a junior year in high school, I didn’t care if I was teased for my name.  I had begun to find a strength in myself, and I was finally proud of wearing the name Katherine.  Sadly, my grandmother’s recent passing also caused me to no longer care if my name wasn’t racially appealing or expected, by the ignorant many.  One guy tried to tell me, that it was too white.  My response to him was, “…and Lewis is considered just a black name? Katherine will be fine.  If it’s too long for you to say, you can call me Kat”.  My grandmother was lovingly called Kat, by family, friends, and associates, and I didn’t mind being reminded of her in this way.  Once some friends heard my mom calling me Becky, and…let’s just say the rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot was brought up a lot.  There’s a lot of irony regarding me and his most popular song. #insidejokes  Most importantly, none of these classmates cared about my name.  They dug me for me.

In college, there were times when I told my name to some people, and I could see the look of surprise on their face.  I’ve only seen this with my vanilla brothers and sisters.  They try to hide it, but it’s always in their eyes….  I remember back in 2005 when I was student teaching. I decided to meet the teacher I would be mentored by early, so we could put face to name before our first day together.  I went to the school and introduced myself to her.  “Hi, I’m Katherine ________. Nice to meet you!”   Her eyes and her face gave it away.  She hesitantly responded back, with a polite hello and name introduction.  Inside I laughed at her shock of finding out that Katherine can be a black girl’s name too.

About a year later, I was working at a credit union.  One of the loan officers was named LaBlenda.  Every time she would assist someone, they would ask her if her parents made her name up.  She would politely say “yep” and proceed with asking the customer what they needed.  She was a white lady whose name wasn’t Sarah or Jennifer or any stereotypical “white name”.  She wasn’t supposed to have such a, let’s just say, “creative” name like LaBlenda.  That was for someone that looked more like me right?  One day, I jokingly told her, “The way society is, we should switch names”.  She laughed and told me how she always received stares when she would reveal her name. She told me how some would be bold enough to say, “Wow, your parents didn’t care about you when they named you did they”.  She would reply back saying, “Actually they did care and wanted to give me a name they knew no one else would ever have and would never be forgotten”.  Her name is one of the few names I remember from working there.

Now that I am married and use my husband’s surname, I still get those surprise looks.  People expect a 90 year old white lady to be smiling and shaking their hand, but nope.  It’s just me!  Bronze skinned with my kinky, curly, coily hair reaching high into the heavens.  My name is no longer racially ambiguous…It really doesn’t “match” the skin I’m in, but apparently it never did.  I will never hear my name in a song about all the pretty girls being invited to a party or in Mambo #5, because Katherine is also not a commonly popular name, but that’s okay.  I just add it to those songs on my own.  Like my name and my namesake, I’m classic and beautiful.  No matter anyone’s ignorant assumptions about what my name should be.  I am wonderfully, a type of different.

Oh yeah, Thank you Na-Na for forcing, I mean, strongly encouraging my mom to name me after you.  Thank you mom and dad for complying with it.  This has made me a type of different.

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Click below to Read Part 1:  A Type of Different “acting like a white girl”

Click below to Read Part 2: A Type of Different “black bitch”

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A Type of Different: Pt.2 “black bitch”

Catching the bus to and from school, was still new to me.  I can’t remember if the movie Forrest Gump had come out yet, but walking on the bus, I would always have the “You can’t sit here…this seat is taken” experience.  Where no one wants to make eye contact for fear you would try to sit next to them. 

Seventh Grade.  I was very insecure and surrounded by newness everywhere I looked. That summer, my family moved to Texas. I was coming to a new state which meant I would be new at school.  I would again learn that just being me, was still sometimes unacceptable.

The bell rang to announce the end of the school day.  I don’t know why, but I would always end up being one of the last people to get on the bus. Catching the bus to and from school, was still new to me.  I can’t remember if the movie Forrest Gump had come out yet, but walking on the bus, I would always have the “You can’t sit here…this seat is taken” experience.  Where no one wants to make eye contact for fear you would try to sit next to them.  Everyone wanted a window seat, and I preferred to not have to sit on the back of the bus.  The “bad kids” sat there.  I wanted as little attention as I could possibly have.

This was in the mid-nineties, so this was when a lot of kids were “goth/emo/grunge”.  You know, the skateboarders that wore all black everything, listening to Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers, while trying to prove that they “didn’t care” that no one understood why they wore black eyeliner.  I lived in a Dallas suburb, so  these kids were on the bus too.  They sat in the back with the “bad kids”.  They were unfamiliar to me, so I was uneasy about them.  These were the bullies I saw on Nickelodeon and on Saturday Morning shows.  They too were a type of different!

Anyway, this one particular day, I was stepping on to the bus, late, and no one was eager for me to sit next to them.  There was no eye-contact, just Forrest Gump bus seat disappointment.  I was now in the back and had to do the turn around to see if I missed a seat check.  By now the bus driver was yelling for me to find a seat so we could leave.  This meant frustrated student eyes glaring at me. Noticing all of my visible flaws.  I wasn’t going to go back up to the front, so I had to sit next to one of the skateboarder kids in the back.  He seemed safe enough.  I saw him every day on the bus and we had 7thgrade math together too.  I didn’t know his name, but I was familiar with him.  So I asked him if I could sit next to him.  He rolled his eyes, but as he was scooting over he mumbled to himself.  Now, I don’t know if he wanted me to hear what he said or if he was even aware that he didn’t mumble in a low enough voice, but ya girl heard him loud and clear.

Here’s what happened.  (Actions are included for better understanding)

Me: Can I sit here? (very nervous and embarrassed)

him: (looks toward the front to see if there is somewhere else I can go)

Me: There’s nowhere else for me to sit.

him: (rolls eyes and scoots over and mumbles) Black Bitch.

Me: (sitting down, looking over to him) What did you call me? Boy, don’t you ever call me that again!——–At this point, the little insecure Katherine was gone, and the “I ain’t playin wit’chu” Kat was here. Nahla had appeared.  While I was telling him not to ever call me that again, my right hand had raised up and slammed his face against the window and held it with assurance, force, and ferocity and held it there.

Katherine was no longer desiring invisibility, she would be heard by any means necessary!  When I gave my hand permission to release his face, he was a changed boy…physically and psychologically.  Physically he was changed because he now had a two-toned color face, white and red…peppermint boy! I believe he was changed psychologically because he never even made eye contact with me for the rest of the ride and did NOTHING to defend himself during or after the incident.  He no longer spoke with his friend that he had been talking to on the opposite side of the bus prior to me having to sit next to him.  Even when he got off at his stop.  I thought he would look my way while walking to his home and give some threat, but he didn’t.   We never had any other type of interaction with each other.  I want to believe that the next time he decided to utter distasteful words, to anyone, he would think twice about it.  We both had experienced a shock and awe moment.

He had truly hurt my feelings.  He didn’t just call me a bitch, but a BLACK bitch.  It was meant to be lower than a female dog. He was attempting to degrade me to the lowest low, all because I sat by him.  We had never had any interactions before.  This was the first time, we had even spoke to each other. I’m not so sure I would have reacted the same if he had left the Black part out.  That’s what caused me to snap!  In my mind, it was like he had just called me a nigger.  I had never been called such a thing before, at least not to my knowledge. I was a nice person…I wasn’t mean to people.  As I mentioned before, I was the type that tried to be invisible by staying to myself.  At that time, I spoke only when spoken to.  I was new to this school/state and I already didn’t feel like I was good enough.  I didn’t want to cause problems or be a part of any problems.

My reaction to him, was completely unexpected.  Unfortunately, I was one of those kids that allowed others to step on me. I had taken a lot of things from people growing up.  I would eventually get to the point where I would speak up for myself.  This was my first time doing this.  I was the person that was more concerned with not offending others, even if I was being offended….

This was now my second racial issue and again, someone had a problem with me being me.  This time, it was because of the Bronze skin I was in.  I never said anything to him about how he looked in his eyeliner or the fact he lived in an old dirty trailer park. I never laughed at him when he tripped over his extremely wide legged “JNCO” jeans walking on to the bus, or the dirty clothes that he wore to school.  I had plenty of opportunities to bring light to what was unavoidable.

Most times when people see others that are different than them, they judge, generalize, and make ignorant assumptions. He was different than anything I had been exposed to and I chose not to judge him for any of the things I noticed about him.  That just wasn’t enough to protect me.  My race was inferior to his, so my type of different was worse.  It was less than.  It was worth being judged and insulted.  I just needed a place to sit on the bus.

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A Type of Different Pt. 1 “acting like a white girl”

So yeah, I was different because I had been exposed and not exposed to many different things.  The lives of my classmates were different from mine, so we were all different from each other.  But why were my differences being called out?

I have been called many things growing up.  It was often due to the fact that I never quite fit in.  I always knew people in the “in-crowds”, but I was never fully, completely a part of said “in-crowd”. After a while I realized it was because I was a type of different.  I was first informed of this in elementary school.

Being an Army Brat, an Only Child, and living in a home with parents that were serious about including God in our home and individual lives, I didn’t always experience the same things that many people I knew seemed to have had.  Unfortunately, I didn’t live around cousins, grandparents, aunts, and uncles.  I wasn’t blessed with a sibling that continuously got on my nerves.  My parents didn’t allow me to listen to certain types of music, wear whatever I wanted, or go everywhere my friends may have been allowed to go.  As I mentioned before, my parents were serious about living a Christ-like life.  They didn’t drink, gossip, or cuss.  BET was only on, on Sunday mornings while getting ready for church because The Bobby Jones show would be on.  The Bobby Jones show featured many well known gospel acts, African American Christian Music artist, that appeared on the show to sing and minister.  If that wasn’t on, we’d be listening to the great Walter Hawkins or Commissioned or the Mississippi Mass Choir while getting ready for some good ole chuch (with the letter r purposely left out). The only non-gospel songs I knew were the ones I heard classmates sing “at the playground, ya know”….

By now, my family and I were living in the state of Oklahoma.  Having lived around so many different types of accents at a young age, I did notice that these Oklahomans had that Sooner/Cowboy sounding twang in the way they spoke.  I, on the other hand, didn’t have that twang. I didn’t speak with any particular accent where one could locate the region of the U.S. I was from.  I just spoke the way that I did, which was often times called “proper”.  At this time in my life, I knew more French than Spanish, and was still awaiting the day that I could return to my home in Belgium.

It was in the 6thgrade where I learned this way of speaking wasn’t always acceptable.  At least not for someone that looked like me.  “Valeria” felt the need to let me know that I didn’t sound like her or her friends. “Girl, you talk like a white girl”.   This must have been extremely important to her, since she shared this information with me on three different occasions. I responded by laughing it off because I didn’t know what she meant.  She was laughing while she told me, so ha ha right? One particular day, she added more by saying, “Girl, you talk and act like a white girl”.

How was I supposed to respond now?

I was confused.  How could I act like a race that I wasn’t?  We had white students in our class and we were all the same age.  Wouldn’t this mean that we all acted alike?  After some time of thinking this statement over, I soon began to realize that “Valeria” meant this to be an insult.  Being only 12, it took me awhile to realize this.  I was however, caught off guard.  I was obviously a little black girl, but now there was something else that made me different besides not being able to sing the radio songs at recess. There was something else that hindered me from fitting all the way in.  People were noticing it and it had nothing to do with me being an only child.

The skin I was in wasn’t even enough for me to be me.

Unlike my classmates, I had already lived in Europe and had walked Parisian streets that many of their parents had only read about or saw in movies.  I already knew what it was like to see the Windmills of The Netherlands and to say a prayer and light a candle in the Cathedral of Notre Dame.  I knew what it was to play in the heavy snowfall of Germany’s winters, while awaiting St. Nicholas.  Because of these differences, I tried to blend in.  I never asked a question about something I thought Americans were supposed to already know about; like hair weave, certain television shows, or anything that made me look stupid. I knew that there were some things I was just supposed to know.

So yeah, I was different because of what I had been exposed to.  The lives of my classmates were different from mine as well, so we were all different from each other.  But why was my type of different being called out?

Thank you for reading.  Part II will be coming soon.

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