Perry: What are you doing that keeps them engaged for the most part throughout the day? I can always go back. When I'm thinking about how I'm going to introduce a lesson, "What did Deandre say today? Oh, he said that he was going to his friend's house who has a very hyper dog and he's scared of dogs. All right. I'm going to try to figure out a way to incorporate that into compare and contrast. Compare two different types of dogs. Which one would you..." We're studying text structure or something like that.
And that way, there's an emotional connection to the content so that I
can drive home those standards that I need to be addressing. I mean,
it's a lot of that, because just trying to buy into the business as
usual, "I'm the teacher and you're the student, I'm going to show you,"
and they're going to turn off their screen. You're just looking at a
Noelle: I love that, Perry. I want to make sure I've
got this correct: Friday is Flex on Them. I'm coming in like, you can't
beat me at this.
Perry: Right. Right. I'm playing baseball now. I'm
practicing, and I was able to catch three fly balls the day during
practice. You're flexing on them. Who's next? That sort of thing. It's
just something that keeps them thinking about what's going on personal,
local, and immediate for them, and then I'm able to use that information
in ways to keep the learning progressing around those standards that I
need to be addressing as well.
Noelle: Community in a way that you're bringing that in that even though they have all been remote together, they are a community.
Perry: That is the bottom line. If you don't have a
community where they feel like they can open up their mic and have
conversations with one another, with me present or not, and in a healthy
and constructive way, then I'm not really doing much of anything
because that is really the point I believe of education, to begin with,
is for them to bring out themselves and for others to be able to do the
same. We have construction of new knowledge based off of all of that. I
don't want to present it as something that is like it's working like a
charm, but that is the goal.
Noelle: Yeah, we're always in the process and
getting better and showing up for students. For the students who came
back face-to-face, did you have any teacher nerves of that first time?
You've seen their faces. You've met them. They're online, and then
they're coming back, and now they have on a mask. Did you have any
moments of like, how am I going to remember who's who, some of those
favorites? Are you the teacher that looks in the eyes and knows
student's eyes, and it doesn't matter? You're going to know them.
Perry: Again, my situation is a little unique
because they're in a magnet program, so they're a cohort. They travel
through the grade levels together. I'm already having my eyes on them
when they're in kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third. So I
knew them for the most part. As they gravitate toward me, it's just
okay. That's one of the strengths of the program is that we're able to
build this community with one another. But at the same time, I didn't
know them as learners. I just knew them as people.
We would have conversations, but it wasn't in the structured way of a
classroom. And that's a little bit different. Seeing them on Zoom and
trying to get an assessment of their personality and socialization
practices when all you're doing is seeing their upper body was
difficult. I reached out to parents. Communication with parents has
doubled for me this year as in previous years. I'm meeting with parents a
lot more throughout the week than I did.
What I have noticed also, I know there's this stigma out there about
Black fathers and their lack of participation in the educational matters
of their child. But because of Zoom and the flexibility of online
learning, there's a lot more participation and engagement around there. I
think it's always been there, but they just participate differently.
Noelle: Right. Just the pandemic has had us all look
at our children differently and the things that they know. Perry, I
want to ask you, and I ask every teacher, I'm walking into class, I need
to be hype, I need to be ready, what walk-up song is playing as I'm
walking into class?
Perry: Oh, man. Let's see. It would probably be
something by Kendrick Lamar. That would be something that I think
inspires me. I also am a big fan of Lupe Fiasco, who's out of Chicago.
That would be some music that you would possibly hear. Let's see. Let's
see. There's just so much. Stevie Wonder all day long. If I had to
choose one, it would probably be Stevie Wonder.
Noelle: I am so glad, Perry, that you've been a guest on Teachers in America. Thank you. Thank you, Perry.
Perry: Let me just thank you for this opportunity as
well. My passion is connecting. I love connecting with people. It is my
hope that as a society, we continue to connect with one another in ways
that move beyond the superficial, but we're also respecting what one another
is bringing to the conversations. For me, that is what I strive to do
as a classroom teacher is to do more connecting through just active
listening. I really appreciate the time that you will have taken just to
get my thoughts and opinions about my practice.
If I said anything that might have been out of what people were
expecting, I am a work in progress, and I'm always trying to learn new
things to grow. I just want to leave it at that. Thank you.
Noelle: Well said. Thank you, Perry.
Hey friends, it is back to school season. As I think back and listen to Perry's episode again, I want to always remember and reflect on the importance of listening, having those qualities that we know are our strengths and using those to our advantage. So Perry was a DJ. He has a voice. He has an ability to hear those hooks and he knows how to grab the audience.
So let's think about that. How are we going to use our strengths as we go into the classroom? Let's, no matter what, get out there and make those relationships. And as Perry reminded us too, let's not always think about what might have not been great with our experience, but let's use that again to catapult us into a great experience with our students.
Let's reflect on the one teacher who did make a difference. And even though pedagogy and times may have changed, what can we take from our relationship that we had with that teacher to make us an even better teacher. So just like any great DJ, just like any great teacher, let's get back out there. Let's influence. Let's listen, and let's get our groove on. Until the next episode, your friend, Noelle.
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