Noelle: If someone was illustrating you in teacher
life, [your] teacher persona, what colors are they going to have on the
palette? What sort of images or emojis? How are you going to be
illustrated on a page?
Qorsho: That's such a good question. I imagine calm
colors because I usually play very calming music, like classical music
in the background of my classroom. So maybe some blues, some yellows,
but also some powerful spots of maybe red to symbolize justice. Then I
would imagine that I would love for my students to be somehow
represented with their little bodies. I think in terms of where I would
be placed, I would rather be somewhere in between them. You know, I
don't want my students to ever think that there is a hierarchy in the
classroom, but they respect me. They care for me. They appreciate me.
They call me by my first name, but it's mutual, and it's mutual love and
respect. And when I do need a redirect plan, when I do need to check a
student, it's painless because they know that I'm coming from a place of
They know my intentions, and I remind myself that I don't want my
students to face the injustices that I faced. So I own my mistakes. I
apologize if I've been short with a student or if I was wrong. And
oftentimes, my former administrator would always tell me, "Qorsho, when I
walk into your classroom, I can barely find you. I have to move around,
and you're usually hunched on the floor or lying next to a student or
doing something." And I love that because while there are many moments
in the day that I do direct instruction, and I see the value in it,
facilitating and helping students problem solve and allowing them to
lead the learning has been something that I've continued to learn as a
Noelle: That's adorable. Your principal's like, "Where are you?"
Noelle: What do you think when you realize what your
students' fears are? Because we're always teaching and propelling for
them to be able to have the best possible life for themselves. Like
whatever they want is their optimum potential. That's what we strive
for. But I remember when my students would open up and share with me
their fears. There's sometimes a moment of like, "Well, how can I push
through that and not circumvent?" Do you ever hear [your fourth graders]
talk about their worries or their fears of the future?
Qorsho: Yeah. There are a few. I think, given the
times, one of the biggest fears is that we won't get out of this
pandemic. That COVID will continue to rage on. And because I think we've
normalized mask-wearing, and face shields, and the social distancing,
they've internalized that this is the new normal. And they're really
uncomfortable with it. I actually detest when people say that children
are resilient because, yeah, they can be, but they don't need to be.
This is a really challenging and trying time, and I think giving kids
the space to share their fears and simultaneously to share their hopes
is really important.
Living in Minnesota, with the uprising last year and George Floyd's
murder, very chronic fear is of police, of law enforcement. I have
students that are constantly asking questions about how police get away
with murder and why does this keep happening? That's a really big step
for children to take in schools and outside of schools, to be more aware
of how racism is pervasive in our society and what to do to combat it. I
think it's really important to have these conversations. I really love
this question because kids have fears, and it's not just telling them
that everything will be okay and being dismissive of it. You have to
give them this space to share and to validate their concerns as well.
Noelle: And to recognize this is not right.
Qorsho: Right. Exactly.
Noelle: I do not agree with this.
Noelle: I remember I've had these conversations with Tyrone Howard. We were raised in the generation where you were seen but not heard.
Noelle: Now raising a child of my own, who's Gen Z,
and her not afraid to say, "Mom, I think we shouldn't buy this. Look at
how much packaging. This is a lot of wasted packaging" or "Mom, we
definitely need to recycle." And I remember, last week, she was just
like, "We don't have anything to recycle. That's a little bit odd." And
she looks at me, and she says, "Mom, we have to do our part. I and my
friends and everyone, we deserve this and this." I know for a fact that
at 15, I would not have been asking and demanding and knowing how I
could figure this out myself. I came from the compliance, and to me,
this generation is like, "We're done with compliance."
Qorsho: Yes. Especially if it doesn't make sense. I
couldn't agree more. I think that's what I really love about the younger
generation. I feel like millennials are almost there, but we didn't
quite make it. But they're super-conscious, and they refuse to be
compliant if it doesn't make sense, if it's not just. They're also
really aware of their rights, which I love because children do have
rights, and oftentimes they aren't given those rights. They're not aware
of them. And I think about my students and how I want them to know
their power because they come into my classroom with that. I don't
empower them. They are innately powerful, but I also want them to do
something with that power. I want them to do something with that
conscious thinking and really be contributors to the world.
Noelle: As we begin to wrap up, what skill have you
gained since 2019...because you've had more time at home? Is there
anything you've learned to do?
Qorsho: I have become more of an avid cook. I didn't
like habitually cook. So, the pandemic, obviously with being more
restrictive and not being able to go to restaurants and grocery stores
as often as I would have liked to, I began to make things from scratch.
I've had my really bad failures, such as my banana bread that came out
as mush, and then I've had some really great successes. I made an Oreo
cheesecake that I took a million photos of because I just couldn't
believe that I was successful. I would definitely say cooking and baking
have been very calming for me.
Noelle: Awesome. You said you're near your mom. You took her to get her vaccination. So, did you share the cheesecake?
Qorsho: I did. I did not eat it all. I could've. It
was delicious. Maybe I should have, but no. I shared it with my family,
my sister, and my mom. I had them taste it first. It looked great, but
you know, things could be aesthetically pleasing and not taste
delicious, such as the banana bread. So I had them taste it first, and I
was like, "You know what? Y'all give it a shot." And they were like,
"This is delicious." And I was like, "Oh, let me give it a shot." And
they were right.