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  • Francis Pina

My Remote Control

I have not written a blog entry since late June and it bothers me. I have so much to write about, but I feel a linear play-by-play "catch-up" will not do (nor be interesting to read). I want this entry to capture my frustrations, creations, and imagination since I began this academic year and to close out 2020. Therefore I will organize this entry with the good ol' five-paragraph essay format, but with a twist. Jonathan Priester, a friend of mine from Boston University is really good, I mean really REALLY really good at crafting numbered lists of his reactions and his takes on events.

SIDEBAR: If you're a mutual friend, check-out his post about the Verzuz battle between Gucci and Jeezy. It's amazing! So is his take on the presidential election.

Imitation is supposed to be the sincerest form of flattery and I'm just soaking-in JP's creative juices [PAUSE]...... Clearly, I could have deleted the previous line, but I value authenticity and humor over professional decorum.


FRUSTRATIONS in 4


Trump ain't invent racism and Betsy Devos is the absolute 2nd worst behind Mitch McConnell. Granted, I respect Mitch's dedication to his party, but he's a pickled partisan skeety snollygoster! National politics aside, my frustrations stem from the local level.


4 - Mayor Martin Joseph Walsh and Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius suck (ahem) have a major growth area at providing transparency and authentic inclusivity in the process of safely reopening Boston Public Schools (BPS) and BPS families have suffered.


3 - Why did Boston, one of the wealthiest cities in the USA, allow its public schools to deteriorate, and more importantly, why did it take a pandemic to address the bare minimum of that deterioration?

3.3 - Where did Boston come-up with the money to finally do what was overdue?

3.2 - The deterioration occurred on former Boston Mayor Menino's watch.

3.2.1 - Menino did quite a bit for BPS, but school infrastructure was no one of them.

3.1 - The Boston Globe has also raised this issue; too bad they are late as well.


2 - Boston averages 48 inches of snow a year and 2.5 snow days a year (over the last 20 years). So, how in the wild duck did we not have a snow day plan in place?! Like, really?! Just leave it to principals to figure that out? Really?

2.4 - BPS hindered creativity by trying to go back to normal instead of forward and it's

only hurting the students at the end of the day.

2.3 - BPS needs to stop trying to pit families against teachers.

2.2 - All the Boston Teachers Union wants is to reopen safely, while our leadership

wanted to play-it day-by-day. Teachers can not plan nor teach effectively like that!

2.1 - I'm a Black male and BPS graduate who works for BPS. Our district would do itself

a favor reaching out and curating a list of other BPS graduates working in BPS to

consider pipeline building and financial supports to buy a house so we all stay in

BPS.


1 - Everything takes too much damn time and I do not know where all of it goes! Two hours just passed since you began reading this.


CREATIONS in 3


3 - I am proud of the work I did to create my Northeastern (NEU) Masters of Arts in Teaching course EDU Teaching Mathematics (that just rolled right off the tongue). I learned much from that experience and now have the opportunity to continue teaching the course in the future.

3.2 - I tried to teach my, mostly White, students the importance of being an active ally

for colleagues of color.

3.2.1 - It was challenging to navigate a professional and collegial relationship with

my students because they could be my coworkers in a year or two

3.1 - I think too many teachers of color are asked to speak about the relationship,

cultural, and racial aspects of teaching, and we do not get tagged to speak about

our craft. It is nice to be a role model, but I rather be known as a great teacher who

knew his shyt. NEU gives me that opportunity to demonstrate that.


2 - My friend Jesse and I create this little video together for the Boston University Speak for

Yourself (Speak) 15-year anniversary show! FYI: Let it load first or try to watch it on 540p.

1 - I also created the flyer for the show! Something I used to do when I was Co-President of Speak during my Senior year. I still have some design skills.


IMAGINATION in 2


I have been imagining what public school education would be like post-COVID-19. Imagining every student having a laptop, a secured hotspot, and student-centered educational experiences. Imagining each student to feel like school is being done for them instead of to them. Imagining that my district and state would capitalize on this opportunity of force innovation. Imagining that my state would interview and work with educators across the state to identify practices of anti-racist and abolitionist teaching. White children especially need to experience these practices with authenticity and vulnerability, because it disrupts the narrative that White is not a race and that they are the norm. I also imagine our federal government making it transparent and easier for teachers to apply for loan forgiveness. I have applied for my 5-year Teacher Loan Forgiveness (I'm in my 8th year now) and got denied three times! Nominated Education Secretary Miguel Cardona needs to make this an automatic thing. The federal government has all the necessary tax information to prove I taught for a title one public school as a mathematics teacher and President Elect Joe Biden needs to:


Another thing I have been imagining is how my teaching practice will continue to evolve. I have the privilege of being a Passion to Teach Innovator in Residence this year to continue my project-based learning (PBL) work. I'm in the middle of implementing my PBL project with my students and I can not wait to see what they create! In short, I asked my students this simple essential question: What problem do you care about and what is your potential solution to that problem? Our goal is to create infographics that represent their problem or topic and the research they conducted. The process has not been perfect, but to read what students are interested in and the facts they found has been insightful. Below are a few images that documented the process thus far, and the infographic I created!

Once we are done with creating and presenting our infographics, I will ask my students to present a potential solution to their problem using an art form of their choice (ie. poetry, drawing, collage, short story, rap, song, dance, etc.). It may now be the highest cognitive demand in regards to Algebra 2 content, but it is highly authentic and students need that right now alongside the Algebra 2 content I teach.


1 MORE THING


I like setting new year intentions instead of goals, as such, I want to share my intention for 2021. My intention for 2021 is to actively dive into my dreams! That may seem generic on the surface, but try to think about it this way: I'm not spending this year seeking the steps and goals to get to my dreams, but the direct steps and goals that are my dreams. For example, I'm not just saving money for a major purchase, I did that and now I can spend that money! 2021 will be the year that my wife and I become home-owners (big shout-out to LANDED for their ongoing support and expertise). 2021 will be the year I submit two out of the four required components to apply for National Board Teacher Certification. 2021 will be the year I definitively decide whether or not I will teach middle school (Charlestown will be expanding from 9-12 to 7-12 in SY21-22), which means, I will have to decide where I want to teach middle school. I look at my life in 4-year intervals because that has been my experience: 4 years of high school, 4 yours of college, 4 years of working and my master program before 'officially' teaching within BPS, 4 years at Codman Academy, and now this year is my 4th year at Charlestown. These next four years will be a fascinating chapter in my life. I will do a better job tracking my dreams this coming year and give you a heads up that I have a project in the works that I will reach out to PBS to support me with. Stay tuned for "The Oath: Exploring the Art of Teaching."


Until then,




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