Drop the Takis: Food as Fuel

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The days can go by so slow, but the school years fly by! Can you believe we are passing through January already? As I sit here across from my three-year-old daughter, trying to readjust my seat six months pregnant, we are practicing for the millionth time how to write her name. If you are like me, your entire life revolves around serving people, sometimes without even realizing we are serving. As educators we are natural public servants...we can’t help but constantly proof-read people’s social media posts or calculate the tip percentage at happy hour mentally while our friends turn to their tip app on their smartphone. With our brains and our bodies always on the move, it gets exhausting. Not to mention the toll of our actual jobs of educating the youth of society to read, write, calculate, comprehend, engage, critically think, and become independent young adults in 45 minutes to turn it around for second period (regardless that 1st period totally bombed that quiz where you basically gave them the answers.) The moral of my story… we MUST take care of ourselves.  We are expert jugglers who balance home life to a professional life to a social life but while we teach and preach self-care to our colleagues and our students, can we say it to ourselves in the mirror?

Fitness and nutrition have been a part of my life since I was young; I literally grew up in a gym, but trust me when I say I have absolutely had the lunch consisting of three-day old tortilla chips and a warm Diet Coke from that useless, busted machine in the teacher’s lounge. I, like many of you, tutor before school, during my lunch block, after school and lesson plan during my planning so the idea of exercise or following a nutrition plan used to be a joke to me. It’s common for us to eat walking down the hallway to our next class or next mandatory meeting.

But I decided three years ago after having my daughter that my body deserved better. My body gets me up, walks me from A to B to C to D etc… and I treat it with poison; literally food that is banned in other countries.  Shame on me. So, I came up with a plan in 2016; For one month I would eat foods without labels, I would prepare them, and I would commit to moving my body more than my average 10,000 teaching steps a day. Within the first 10 days I noticed a difference in how I felt, and it immediately affected my profession; My patience was not as thin, and I was more committed to my students. I felt a sense of perseverance, so I expected it of them as well. I raised the bar for my babies because I felt better.  That year my passing percentage went from 83% to 88% in math with two sections of bilingual students, one dual language, and one general education. I never looked back after those 30 days of my nutrition experiment. I still eat on the go, but I eat whole foods from the Earth verses from a chemical plant or bag.

“That’s great Farmer Sally but I COULD NEVER DO THAT, #hotcheetos…”

I get it, I didn’t think I could either.  You know what else I didn’t think I could ever do? Maintain a healthy marriage through graduate school, keep my family in one piece while bringing home the hardships my students face daily, plan my dad’s funeral while also planning my wedding, teach math through being on medical bedrest in my pregnancy, and the list goes on. Somehow when I look back, eating some quinoa, beans, fresh veggies, with homemade peanut hot chili sauce didn’t seem so bad. Trust me when I say your pallet will change and you will quickly break the nasty habit of consuming over processed foods and drinks, developing a love for the beauty of flavors the world has provided us with.

So, for going on three years I have been running from our planning meetings to my lunch tutoring club eating fruit out of a Tupperware then stuffing my face with a veggie burrito going to carpool, all while downing 80 oz of water throughout my day and I can honestly say to you I have never felt better. I do not think I could do what I do everyday without the diet I have grown a custom to. At the end of the day, YOU are the most important person; your students get the reflection of how you feel… no matter how well you try and mask it. I challenge you moving into 2019 to change the way you look at food.  Food was and is designed to fuel us, keep us alive, keep our energy up, and this doesn’t mean you have to throw away flavor, happiness, and satisfaction.

I have attached a free meal plan below developed by myself and my husband (sport’s nutritionist/chemist) that is SIMPLE to prepare, CHEAP, and EASY to eat. Happy 2019 to all you beautiful educators!

6:30AM Wake up: 8 oz warm lemon water


8:30/9:00AM Breakfast/Meal 1:

  1. Dave’s Killer Bread with 8g sunflower butter

  2. Iced coconut milk with espresso and a tiny bit of almond vanilla creamer


12:30PM Lunch/Meal 2:

  1. Baked sweet potato or white potato with chives

  2. BIG BOWL of spring mix lettuce

  3. handful of snap peas

  4. shredded carrots -or- red pepper

  5. sliced radish  -or- a new veggie you may have never tried

  6. 1/2-3/4 cup some type of bean, chickpea, black, kidney, northern whatever

  7. 2 tablespoons of hemp seed

  8. lime juice (fresh is delicious)

  9. 1 whole mashed avocado (this with the lime acts as dressing and it is BOMB.com)

  10. sprinkle nutritional yeast


3:00PM Snack/Meal 3:

  1. handful of blackberries

  2. handful of raspberries

  3. 1 banana or apple

  4. sprinkle chia seed over the top

  5. Granola

6:00PM Dinner/Meal 4:

  1. Portabella mushroom marinated in liquid smoke, after 5 minutes or so put that baby in a panini press or over the stove

  2. water fry white onions and garlic

  3. salad or fries (you know I will do fries 99% of the time… bake them at 325, toss with pink salt, garlic, pepper, nutritional yeast and a touch of water- no oil, my skin is happy)

  4. Bun-it-up with the onion and garlic, add lettuce, tomato, mustard, whatever!

 

3 Ways to Make Cell Phones Work for You

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Have you ever had days when cellphones are just a huge distraction and it seems impossible for your students to get any work done? Students are constantly hiding their cellphones, and it seems like every time you turn around someone is distracted. It’s hard to micromanage, to give warnings, and to confiscate cell phones when you have about 50 minutes to teach your lesson.  Well, I don’t know about you, but I have a few of those days and I also have 3 tips to make cell phones work for you in your classroom.


Tip #1: Have the Right Mindset

I once had a math teacher who told me, “You have to memorize this because one day you won’t have a calculator everywhere you go”. Well, in today’s society I actually have my smartphone, which doubles as a calculator and many other things, in my pocket everywhere I go. Our world is constantly changing, and we must learn to adapt to become better teachers. Therefore, having the right mindset is the key to changing your viewpoint on new technology. Since we are living in the information age, there will always be new gadgets and gizmos everywhere you turn.  Instead of fighting it, you should learn to embrace it. You should think of cellphones as a new resource that students are bringing with them to school and almost every child in your class will have one. For the students who don’t, I always have an extra device for them to use. With the right mindset, you will find endless reasons to use cellphones in your class.

There are so many apps out there that you can use to enhance your teaching. However, do not get overwhelmed with these apps. Only use the ones that you feel comfortable with otherwise these apps become more of a distraction than a help. It is nearly impossible to keep up with all the new apps and that is why you should stick with what you know how to use and learn what you want to.  There are some apps that I use, and I will talk more about them in tip #3 below. By making cellphones your ally and not your enemy, they will start working for you and help you to become better teachers.


Tip #2: Have a place for ALL the Cell phones

I have two systems in place for all the cellphones. The first system is a charging station where I purchased a wall door hanging cell phone holder for 35 phones, a USB fast port charger for 20 chargers, and an extension cord for students to plug their phones in.  The charging station is on a first-come, first-serve basis and they have the beginning of class to plug in their phones. They can only take their phones out at the end of class. Two ways how this is helpful is firstly, their phones are away and are no longer a distraction when you are teaching. And secondly, their phones will be charged for when it’s time to use it for your class.

The second system I have is simply a basket in which all their cell phones go on testing days and days where I do not want them to use their phones at all. When they see the basket, they must put their phones in there and they cannot charge it.


Tip #3: Turn your classroom into a Project-Based learning environment

This is my first year teaching Statistics and I have had the joy of creating lessons for this new program at my school.  As I was creating my lessons, I wanted them to be engaging and relatable to my student’s lives. Luckily, statistics is a more applicable math course and I had such a great time planning for this course. Students in my math classes often ask me the question, “When will I use this?” and in my statistics class I usually respond, “Every day”.


What is project-based learning?

Project-based learning is the idea that you give students the opportunity to deepen their base knowledge through the active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.  This does not mean that the students are learning the foundations by themselves, you are still responsible for teaching the basic foundations of the topic that the project is based on. By using a project, the students will become experts on that topic and they will internalize their learning to be able to apply their knowledge cross-curriculum.


How did I start project-based learning?

I started all my project-based learning by asking myself this question, “How can my students use their cellphones to deepen their understanding of what I just taught them”? For example, for the first unit on characterizing variables, I had my students listen to a local podcast “Second Date Update” and determine whether the success rate was based on categorical or quantitative variables. For my second unit on analyzing statistics using different methods, my students researched two famous or infamous people and compared their stats to determine the better person based on their own criteria. For my unit on Normal Distribution, I told my students to go online-shopping at their favorite store and to analyze the prices at their store to determine what is normal and what is not. I also used my favorite app, Zillow, to have students look at real estate and analyze the area that they wanted to live in and create a normal distribution curve. I am only using apps that I use on a regular basis, and by doing so I’m sharing my knowledge with my students.


Is project-based planning easy to do?

Planning for project-based learning is a lot of work and it requires a lot of planning ahead of time. However, if you have the right mindset from the start, it will work for you. With every project that I give my students, I have a daily benchmark, so my students know what is expected of them. I let my students be in charge of their own learning, but I also provide students with guidance when they need it. When my students are researching on their cellphones and working hard, I can see that they are engaged and learning. I don’t have to worry about policing cell phone usage because they are researching information that they are excited about. The best part about project-based learning is being able to talk to your students and getting to know what they are interested in and what they are excited to learn. I also found out that when students are held to high expectations, they will meet it because they know that you care.

In summary, I hope these three tips help make cell phones work for you. I truly believe when your students oversee their own learning, they take pride in their work. They are excited to share what they have learned with you and with their peers. They internalize what they have learned, and they are able to teach others. My students always reference a topic that they have learned through the project that they had to produce. It brightens my day when my students tell me, “I finally understood the topic because we did this project” or “I had so much fun listening to that podcast”. I am proud to say that cellphones are a great resource in my classroom and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

 

Technology Teachers Need Now!

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It’s only November and you’re probably already trying to figure out if it is humanly possible to meet all the deadlines and where the next happy hour will be. Trust me, I understand! Although I cannot write those lesson plans for you, I would love to help by equipping you with some technology that will make your journey as an educator run a little smoother!

I believe it’s important that we as educators stay abreast to technology as it has the potential to increase our efficiency and provides unique avenues to connect with our scholars in the classroom. Here are three apps I feel could enhance your practice and lesson plan delivery. And for extra credit, they are all free!

1. Talking Points - Dallas ISD’s current student demographic is currently 70% Hispanic, 22% Black/African American, 5% White and 1.5% Asian. Depending on which part of Dallas you teach, there’s likely even more diversity. Diversity is beautiful, but it can lend itself to communication gaps. Thus, keeping our scholars’ families out the loop in regard to their child’s education. The Talking Points app is a great resource for bridging this gap and communicating effectively with families of all backgrounds.

Talking Point’s Stats:

•    Allows you to communicate in 20 different languages via text message

•    Parents are able to communicate back in English

•    Free version supports up to 150 students

2. Padlet – If you’re a secondary teacher like myself, then you know our students will have phones. (In fact, we are even seeing students at the primary level with cell phones now!) A phone is practically glued to their hands, so why not implement them in your practice? Padlet is a cool website where you can create a digital “parking lot” for students. My favorite part about Padlet is it amps up classroom discussion and gives equity of voice to all students.

Padlet’s Stats:

•    Students can respond to a posted question, quote, or anything you can imagine.

•    Operates similar to a Pinterest board or a Twitter feed

•    Great way to access prior knowledge or for student collaboration

3. Quizizz – With this app, the classic “pop quiz” has received a technological makeover! Quizizz is an awesome application that gamifies the education process without diluting the content. The best part about Quizizz is, you can do quiz students without piles of paper and it practically generates grades for you. Students will not need to make an account – all they need is a game code.

Quizizz’s Stats:

•    Created “quizzes” can be aligned to TEKS

•    Self-paced feature is great for differentiated instruction

•    Compatible with Google classroom and the Remind App


I hope the remainder of your school year proves to be one of the best years yet for you and your students! Take some time to check out these apps before the end of 2018 and let the Educator Collective know how it went!

_ _

Torrian in an 8th Grade Science and Physics teacher at Billy Earl Dade Middle School, in her 5th year as an educator.

 

Talking Politics in the Classroom

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I talk regularly with my colleagues about our role as teachers in civic duty or political engagement. There’s fear that teachers are not professional enough to handle the responsibility of engaging these topics in the classroom without personal bias or systemic indoctrination. I’m inclined to agree.

I see it as our responsibility to develop our students towards stronger critical thinking. And what that means practically depends on the culture of your student body and community. And then to challenge those starting point beliefs.

To develop critical thinking means to move students away from the acceptance of dogma as truth and towards participation in beliefs through commitment. The result is that students who leave discussion in opposition or in agreement will be more capable of living those beliefs. They aren’t just words spouted in response to situations, learned from parents and peers and role models; they are convictions that motivate actions consistent with the beliefs.

And thus, the role of teacher is to be interlocutor regardless of personal position. It does our students—and our society—no benefit to transition them from believing in one dogma to believing in another.

This is a tall task for passionate teachers. Those who have the boldness to be interested in engaging these topics are likely to believe strongly in their convictions. Trusting it is ok for students to think differently than that may feel like a loss in the classroom. What's a teacher to do?    

 

1. Find historic comparisons

A little separation from the present can give the opportunity to learn context for students, as well as see how our ideas change or return over time. If students want to discuss politics of the present about #MeToo or Trump, then I would take them to the 70s: Women's Liberation or Reagan's defeat of Carter. These conversations will still be passionate, but they can help with practice with the benefit of perspective.

2. Question like Socrates

I read a wonderful essay about the different roles Socrates played as teacher in Plato's writings. While all of them could be useful, one that seems particularly appropriate to this task is the analogy to a midwife. The midwife does not give birth, but has great skill in assisting the mother to do so. Similarly, the questioner may not know what the answer to a question is, nor are they looking for it from their own mind—they are skilled at drawing out the ideas of the student. Identify what goal is sought in discussion and allow that to be the focus; thus it will rarely be that students need to think a certain opinion or know what the teacher thinks for the goal to be accomplished.


The primary activity of the teacher in this role is as listener. It takes especially good listening to ask appropriate questions which lead students to question their own claims and justifications. Not because we wish for them to arrive at a certain idea—we want them to have this ability as they continue to think through ideas individually in their lives as citizens.

There’s a trade off for relationship development. Knowledge of one another is important for developing human relationships, so too much distance can cut against many of the goals in the classroom. As teachers, we need to be skilled questioners and listeners to draw out what our students know and think; we also need to share some of who we are so relationships can exist—each without ruining the other. This is an interesting balance I’m still trying to figure out.



Guest Post: Yuri Lewis

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Congrats! You survived the first few weeks of school!

If you’re like me, you prepared for weeks with many restless nights wondering if everything was perfect and ready for your new group of scholars. Doesn’t it feel great to start a new year with a clean slate of kiddos and minimal desk clutter? Now, you can execute all the new ideas and strategies you learned from your summer PDs, roll out those new lessons you read about, and finally carry out your plans to eat healthy and workout!...or at least that’s the plan! Much like New Years Resolutions, we all start the school year off with lofty goals and a plethora of new duties. If you haven’t by now, you will soon feel overwhelmed with the demands of our calling as a teacher. Many times, because we love what we do, we allow ourselves to take on too much, overcommit, or get carried away with responsibilities, only to get burnt out by October.

To keep this from happening, don’t forget to keep YOURSELF healthy. Refrain from allowing yourself to feel like you’re drowning in lesson plans, grading, and curriculum building. In order for us to be the “superhero teacher” our kiddos, parents, and colleagues need, we HAVE to take care of ourselves. As educators, we have bought into the lie that this makes us “selfish,” when in reality, taking care of you is the only way we will have the stamina to care for your students all year long.

You’ll inevitably have worries for your kiddos that you’ll take home with you, but don’t let these overtake you where your own personal needs become completely neglected. Schedule a mani-pedi, go on a dinner date, or make time to catch up with colleagues or old friends. It’s crucial for us to realize the most important tool for a student’s education is a healthy and happy teacher. This means when you finally have some down time, even during a school day, allow yourself to a moment to breathe. Take a stroll down the hall and check up on the first-year teacher, send a little wave and wink to the veteran. Don’t feel guilty to have lunch with your team and NOT talk about school. Build one another up and get to know one another on a personal level.

Our kiddos will get taken care of. There are many like-minded adults on your campus with the same goal of loving and caring for students... but the question is, who is going to take care of YOU? This year, keep in mind the best way to help our scholars is to practice self-care.

I wish you all a healthy year, filled with laughter, the joy of seeing your students’ “aha moments” and those “can you believe that just happened?” stories that make it all worth it!

 

Yuri Lewis - 8th Grade ELAR Teacher, TJ Rusk Middle School

Game Night / Event Recap

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TEC hosted its first Summer Social of 2018 at The Grove at Harwood in Uptown on Friday, June 22nd. Around 40 educators from 15 different schools braved the summer heat and came together for an evening of outdoor games and a well deserved evening of relaxation. TJ Rusk Middle School, Thomas Jefferson High School and Uplift Triumph were among the schools represented as coworkers and friends were able to catch up after their first few weeks of summer break. It was also exciting to see the TEC community continue to grow as our first educators from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD and Frisco ISD joined us at The Grove.

TEC’s social events serve as a great space to make connections with fellow teachers from across the metroplex and continue to grow your professional network. Whether you’re searching for a new job, wanting to discuss best practices, or simply looking for a place to unwind with friends and fellow teachers, we have you covered. We always want TEC to be a community that that you can depend on for resources and relationships as you grow in your careers as professional educators.

To that end, don’t forget to join us for our next Summer Social at Deep Ellum Brewing Co. on July 26th. We’ll have guided tours of the brewery, local craft beers on tap, and a happy hour in the taproom to close out the evening. You won’t want to miss it!

Dallas Summer Events Calendar - July 2018

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If you’re looking to make the most of your summer break and you find yourself in DFW, TEC has you covered.  Check out our Summer Event Calendar for fun, budget-friendly ways to take full advantage of your time off!

 

JULY 1

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CHRIS BROWN CONCERT

Location: Dos Equis Pavilion
Cost: 25+

 

JUNE 3

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ADDISON KABOOMTOWN

Location: Addison Circle
Cost: Free

 

JULY 4

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FAIR PARK FOURTH

Location: Fair Park
Cost: $0-10

 

JULY 5

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CONCERTS BY THE LAKE - "SOUTHERN RIDE"

Location: Harbor Ampitheater
Cost: Free

 

JULY 6

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SUNDOWN AT SEVEN

Location: Adolphus Hotel
Cost: Free

 

JULY 7

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FESTIVAL DE MARIACHI

Location: Traders Village
Cost: Free

 

JULY 11

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FREE SUMMER MOVIE SERIES: STAR WARS THE LAST JEDI

Location: Fair Park
Cost: Free

 

JULY 12

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OWL PROWL NIGHT HIKES

Location: Trinity River Audubon Center
Cost: $15

 

JULY 13

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ADDISON SUMMER SERIES: JIMMY BUFFET TRIBUTE

Location: Addison Circle Park
Cost: Free

 

JULY 14

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BASTILLE ON BISHOP

Location: Bishop Arts District
Cost: $25

 

JULY 15

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FIFA WORLD CUP WATCH PARTY

Location: Bomb Factory
Cost: Free

 

JULY 16

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THE SMASHING PUMPKINS IN CONCERT

Location: American Airlines Center
Cost: $34+

 

JULY 20

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NOTHIN BUT CHEDDAR CHEESE FESTIVAL

Location: Scardello Artisan Cheese (Oak Lawn)
Cost: $40

 

JULY 21

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MOON DAY 2018

Location: Frontiers Flight Museum
Cost: $7

 

JULY 22

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SHAWN MENDES CONCERT

Location: American Airlines Center
Cost: $29+

 

JULY 23

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TEXAS RANGERS VS OAKLAND A'S - DOLLAR DOG NIGHT

Location: Globe Life Park
Cost: $20+

 

JULY 26

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AFTER-HOURS COCKTAIL TOUR

Location: Samurai Collection
Cost: $18

 

JULY 27

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DAVE BARNES CONCERT

Location: Kessler Theatre
Cost: $22+

 

JULY 28

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TEXAS LATINO COMIC CON

Location: Latino Culture Center
Cost: Free

 

Advisory Board Announcement

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The Educator Collective Advisory Board is a council of educators that serves an integral leadership role within TEC. Members of the advisory board work with TEC staff to build programming, lead initiatives, and serve as the face of the organization on school campuses. The work of the advisory board in indispensable as the TEC community continues to grow and strengthen.

To that end, we are thrilled to add three capable and passionate teacher-leaders to the advisory board this summer.  

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Reanna Wilborn
Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy

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Paige Zumberge
Thomas Jefferson High School

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Jordan Murphy
Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy

We started the advisory board at the beginning of 2018, and, with the addition of Reanna, Jordan, and Paige now have seven committed board members (check out the “Our Team” page for a full list of board members). Our vision is to add 3-4 more educators to the advisory board in the upcoming school year. If you are interested in this unique leadership opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dallas Summer Events Calendar - June 2018

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If you’re looking to make the most of your summer break and you find yourself in DFW, TEC has you covered.  Check out our Summer Event Calendar for fun, budget-friendly ways to take full advantage of your time off!

 

JUNE 1

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SECOND ANNUAL SKIP DAY

Location: The Rustic
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 2

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THE POLYPHONIC SPREE

Location: Legacy Hall
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 3

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MIMOSA WALK

Location: Bishop Arts District
Cost: $20

 

JUNE 5

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MARIO KART TOURNAMENT

Location: Legacy Hall
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 6

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DOLLAR HOT DOG NIGHT - TEXAS RANGERS VS OAKLAND A'S

Location: Globe Life Park
Cost: Starting at $17

 

JUNE 7

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MOVIE NIGHT - LADY & THE TRAMP

Location: Mutt's Canine Cantina
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 8

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CONCERT - RAY LAMONTAGNE & NEKO CASE

Location: Toyota Music Factory
Cost: Starting at $30

 

JUNE 9

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FOR OAK CLIFF'S "DAY AT THE MOVIES"

Location: Texas Theatre
Cost: $25

 

JUNE 11

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TRIVIA NIGHT

Location: The Lot
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 12

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DALLAS SYMPHONY PARKS CONCERTS SERIES

Location: Paul Quinn College
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 14

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VIRTRUVIAN NIGHTS LIVE WITH EMERALD CITY BAND

Location: Virtruvian Park
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 15

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'TIL MIDNIGHT AT THE NASHER

Location: Nasher Sculpture Gardens
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 16

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FT WORTH MARGARITA FESTIVAL

Location: The Yard
Cost: $25

 

JUNE 16 & 17

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FATHER'S DAY BEER SAMPLING AND BRATS

Location: Dallas Arboretum
Cost: $15

 

JUNE 19

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JUNETEENTH FESTIVAL

Location: MLK Community Center
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 20

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THE LION KING

Location: Fair Park Music Hall
Cost: Starting at $38

 

JUNE 21

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DECKS IN THE PARK

Location: Klyde Warren Park
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 22

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2018 NHL DRAFT AND FAN FEST

Location: American Airlines Center
Cost: TBA

 

JUNE 24

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CRAWFISH FEST

Location: Bishop Arts District
Cost: TBA

 

JUNE 26

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CONCERT - PENTATONIX

Location: Starplex Pavilion
Cost: Starting at $25

 

JUNE 27

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"PULP FICTION" MOVIE

Location: Rooftop at the Granada Theatre
Cost: Free

 

JUNE 30

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OUTLAW MUSIC FESTIVAL (WILLIE NELSON, STURGILL SIMPSON, RYAN BINGHAM)

Location: Dos Equis Pavilion
Cost: Starting at $35

Five Great Ideas for Traveling Teachers!

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We are down to those final school days. 19 to be exact, not that we’re counting or anything. The last few before those glorious words “summer break” are a reality and days that aren’t chock full of instructing, grading, lesson planning, pencil sharpening, test writing, hall monitoring, lunch duty-ing (and so on) are the norm, for a couple of months at least. As an educator, vacations can seem daunting because it’s just one more thing to plan, one more thing that costs precious dollars, one more thing that must, of course, come to an end. But, also as an educator, vacations, self-care, a chance to unplug are so deserved and needed. So let’s find a way to make this more attainable and realistic, shall we?

Not all vacations mean traveling to the ends of the earth, spending oodles of dollars, or getting stressed over planning the details. Below are five travel ideas that I would consider doable, plannable, and bookable for an educator yet also exciting, somewhat exotic and definitely worth showcasing on social media (if it isn’t on Instagram, did it even happen?).
 

1) Marfa, Texas

El Cosmico, Marfa

El Cosmico, Marfa

Not only is Marfa one of the most Instagrammable places ever, it exists in our very own great state and is totally drivable! No, I-20 isn’t the most scenic going through the western part of Texas, but once you arrive in the charming village of Marfa, all thoughts of tumbleweeds and oil rigs will be a distant memory. Art, shopping, delicious meals and easy access to Big Bend National Park set this little desert town apart as an oasis worth visiting. If New Yorkers are coming down to experience it, you know it has to be something, right? Not to mention the variety boutique hotels - Hotel Saint George, Hotel Paisano, Thunderbird Hotel, or if you really save those pennies, El Cosmico - to name a few. And, of course, who wouldn’t want to catch those eerie Marfa Lights?!
 

2) San Juan, Puerto Rico

Sunshine, beach, colonial town and no need for a passport? Sign me up! Puerto Rico, despite the tragedy from Hurricane Maria, has recovered so nicely and is anxious for visitors, allowing for a very affordable beach vacay. Old San Juan, the oldest settlement on the island, is home to a ton of history, fabulous restaurants and super quaint lodging. All of this coupled with some really great beaches (Isla Verde, Dorado, Rio Grande) make for a wonderful getaway that doesn’t take hours or lots of $$$ to get to from Dallas. Some of my favorites for boutique lodging include El Convento (think old world charm meets contemporary elegance), Olive Boutique Hotel (definitely ideal for a romantic stay!), La Terraza de San Juan (happy hour on that rooftop terrace is a must), and The Gallery Inn (the ultimate bed & breakfast experience). There’s also quite the bar and casino scene, if that piques your interest!
 

3) Pacific Northwest

The Burrard Hotel, Vancouver

The Burrard Hotel, Vancouver

Summer time in Oregon, Washington and western Canada is tough to beat, especially when we are constantly waging war against the heat here in Texas. Cooler temps, gorgeous scenery, hiking, wine tasting, whale watching and just a general sense of the outdoors? How could anything be better?! With direct flights on a variety of airlines to Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, the PNW proves to be a perfect escape from the triple digits and insane A/C bills. Pick one and do a long weekend, or pick all three and turn it into a road trip marked by national park after national park, one insanely good cup of coffee after another, and a stamp on that passport upon entering Canada. Airbnbs and super cool boutique hotels (i.e. The Society Hotel in Portland, Hotel Five in Seattle, The Burrard in Vancouver) are not hard to come by in any of these spots, and neither is delicious food (Portland - Pine State Biscuits and Pok Pok, Seattle - Spinasse and Matt’s in the Market, Vancouver - Uva and Rodney’s Oyster House) and a variety of activities. Breakfast in PDX, morning photo op at Cannon Beach, an afternoon hike in Rainier National Park, and an evening spent at Pike Place Market equals the perfect PNW day in my book!
 

4) Contiki Tours

The mission statement of Contiki is to plan travel for the “young, wild and free” (AKA those who are between 18 and 35 years old) to places all over the world and within a moderate budget. The idea here is to bring people from a variety of backgrounds and homes together and introduce them to new places, new cultures, new ideas. Their philosophy is to change perspectives and open eyes to see what is out there and to do it with some new friends - and I LOVE this philosophy! They plan the nitty gritty of over 300 trips to six different continents all throughout the year, yet you get to make many of the decisions (transportation, activities, lodging, how you spend your time, etc.). Being able to filter trips by destination, length, cost, etc., there is something out there for everyone. The world is truly your oyster with Contiki!    
 

5) U by Uniworld

U by Uniworld

U by Uniworld

When you first hear the words “river cruise”, your mind probably automatically says “no thanks, that’s for people my parents’ age”. And that isn’t completely inaccurate. However, Uniworld, one of the leading river cruise companies, decided it was time to tap into the millennial generation and get us cruising in a way that still kept us feeling young and adventurous. Enter: U by Uniworld. Originally designed as river cruises for 21 to 45 year olds, U by Uniworld is the perfect way to experience some of the greatest gems of Europe with an all-inclusive part hotel/part yacht homebase. They max out at 120 guests per cruise, which offers a unique and intimate experience. Not to mention, these boats can squeeze into the tight river spaces that larger ships cannot, equating to a truly all encompassing experience. Money wise, this isn’t as budget-conscious as Contiki, but you are getting an all-inclusive five-star experience for a fraction of what it typically costs. Bon voyage, my friends!

If you found yourself saying “YES SIGN ME UP NOW” to any of these or want to know what else is out there (just the whole of our planet, really), shoot me a line (contact info below)! 

 
 
 
 
Hillary Taylor

Our guest blogger, Hillary Taylor, is a luxury travel designer and advisor based in Dallas. She is part of The Simple Sol team (www.thesimplesol.com) in Dallas, an affiliate of SmartFlyer (www.smartflyer.com, a leading agency of independent advisors) and a member of Virtuoso (www.virtuoso.com). She designs highly curated and personalized luxury travel experiences for clients of all kinds to places all over the world. Most recently she has traveled to Portugal and Morocco, and next up on the schedule is Northern California. Interested in learning more? Contact her at hillary@thesimplesol.com and follow along on Instagram (@the_foreignanddomestic).

 

Welcome Tessa Alexander to the TEC Staff!

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We at The Educator Collective are thrilled to announce the addition of the newest member of our staff! Tessa Alexander has been hired as TEC’s Director of Operations, effective April 1, 2018. Tessa brings a depth of experience in Dallas ISD schools to the table, having spent the past 5 years as the community liaison at Edward H. Cary Middle School. In addition to her on-the-ground work experience, Tessa is also equipped with the kind of passion, skill, and character that we believe will help make TEC a better resource for the educators it serves. On top of that she has a wonderful family - she is married to Kevin and in September they welcomed their baby girl, Lyla, into the world! We are honored and humbled to have Tessa on board!

At this point, however, we would be deeply remiss if we did not thank Kate Benson, our outgoing Director of Operations, for her leadership and hard work over the past year. Kate was our first ever hire, and any success TEC has experienced in this first year of existence is largely thanks to her effort and commitment. We will miss Kate dearly, but we’re also eager to see her thrive in the next phase of her journey as she heads off to grad school. Thank you, Kate, and best of luck!

Moving forward, Tessa will be the primary point of contact for all TEC members. Please do not hesitate to reach out to her directly (tessa@educatorcollective.org) with any questions, requests, suggestions, etc.  Our lines of communication are ALWAYS open. My hope is that you all will get to know Tessa in the months ahead so that she, and the rest of TEC, will know how we can serve you better. As an unofficial introduction, please read on for a letter from Tessa as she looks forward to beginning her time with TEC.

I could not be more excited to be working for the Educator Collective! This organization holds a special place in my heart as I had the privilege of partnering with Robert and Austin during their initial work in the founding stages of TEC. As a community liaison at Cary Middle School at the time, I felt so encouraged to have an organization that existed specifically to rally around and support our teachers.  

I have always frankly been intimidated by the classroom. I have been an ESL “teacher" twice a week to parents, a cooking club “teacher” in the after school program and a summer school Spanish “teacher” at a private school for 6 weeks. To put “teacher” on my resume though, would be unfair. I have not put in the extra hours that you have dedicated to lesson planning, copy making, attending your students’ band concerts and football games, staying late to tutor or making sure a student got home safely.  You are on the front lines doing the most important and most thankless job that exists. You deserve limitless zeros added to your paycheck, yet you do this work for next to nothing because you believe in the students that fill your desks each day.

I am thrilled to devote myself to finding ways for you to feel supported, rallied around, educated, and inspired. I have seen the hard work you put in firsthand and am excited to connect you to resources that will help you thrive, in turn equipping the next generation!

-Tessa

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Speaker Series with Taylor Toynes / Recap

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Taylor Toynes was born and raised in the 75216 “super block” in South Oak Cliff.  It’s his home, his neighborhood, and the community he has been called to serve. As a Victims Advocate in the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office, as a 4th grade teacher at W.W. Bushman Elementary School, and now as the founder and executive director of For Oak Cliff, Taylor has made an all-in commitment to empowering the people and places that make up the super block.

From GED classes, to civic engagement workshops, to a back to school festival in the summer, For Oak Cliff offers a holistic approach to community empowerment.  And while its scope is broad, For Oak Cliff’s impact is laser-focused. Taylor, and the men, women and children who work with him, have made the powerfully simple decision to take ownership of the community they call home.  The 75216 super block is that home and they are answering the call - a call common to all of us - to ensure its flourishing.

As TEC endeavors to explore the ways teachers can become advocates for their schools, students, and communities, there is perhaps no better example from which to learn than For Oak Cliff and Taylor Toynes.  We count ourselves lucky to have had Taylor join us as the lead presenter at our Spring Speaker Series event on Friday, February 23rd. After hearing from Mike Koprowski (founder and executive director, Opportunity Dallas) in October, we wrapped up the 2017-2018 Speaker Series cycle with a compelling message from one of our city’s bright, young servant-leaders.

We at TEC are inspired by the noble work Taylor is doing in south Dallas, and we are beyond grateful for the wisdom he was willing to share with our members, staff, and supporters at the Spring Speaker Series.  We are eager to see how our members apply his advice and encouragement as they work to become advocates for the communities and schools in which they live and work. If you are a TEC member and would like to find out more about opportunities for advocacy, please contact us.

Future Teachers Summit

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On Saturday, January 13th, TEC had the privilege of hosting two seminars at the TeachDFW Future Teachers Summit at the University of North Texas – Dallas.  The Summit provided prospective educators from across the metroplex with the opportunity to gather valuable information, resources, and relationships as they prepare to enter the profession.  TEC was honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with many other stellar organizations at this half-day event, as we introduced ourselves to an inspiring group of future educators.

Our host at the Future Teacher Summit, TeachDFW, is an organization committed to empowering leaders across Dallas-Fort Worth to enter the teaching field with confidence and complete preparation.  Beyond providing answers to key questions (e.g. how much does a teacher make?  where should I teach?), TeachDFW also connects future educators with stellar teacher prep programs, many of whom - Urban Teachers, Teach For America, and Dallas Teacher Residency, etc. - TEC is honored to count as valuable organizational partners.

At the Summit, TEC hosted two 45 minutes seminars.  Participants who attended the TEC seminars learned that “It Pays to Teach,” as our longtime friend and financial coach Robert Hunt discussed the in’s and out’s of teacher salaries and retirement savings plans.  From monthly budgeting to selecting the lowest cost retirement plan, Robert equipped his audiences with powerful resources that will help them make the most out of the compensation and benefits currently offered to entry-level teachers.

TEC always wants to be at the vanguard of individuals and organizations who are serious about educators becoming the best they can be.  We want to be a part of a collective effort to fully equip, encourage, and empower those who have been called to this noblest of professions.  To that end we are grateful that TeachDFW, who shares in this conviction, would allow us to be a part of such a meaningful and well-executed event.  More than anything we are grateful for the chance to get to know the men and women who attended The Summit as they prepare to embark on their careers as teachers.  Best of luck to each of you!

Advisory Board Announcement

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At TEC we want our members to play an integral role in leading the organization into the future.  We have a vision for a vibrant professional community this fiercely relevant and valuable to the teachers it serves, and we are convinced that this vision can only become a reality if that community is led by the teachers themselves.  

To that end we are excited to announce the formation of The Educator Collective Advisory Board, a council of educators that will serve as TEC’s core column of leadership. These educators will be an indispensable resource as we plan future programming and recruit members.  

We have started the Advisory Board with five committed TEC members, all noted below. However, our vision is to add more educators in the months and years ahead. If you are interested in this unique leadership opportunity, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

Join us in congratulating this year's appointees.

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Taylor Henry
Woodrow Wilson High School

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Joi Bowers
Billy Earl Dade Middle School

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Shafarion Romashyn
Dan D. Rogers Elementary School

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Erika Shisler
Thomas C. Marsh Preparatory Academy

TEC Workshops: Professional Development With Kindra Knight

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While we openly admit that The Educator Collective team isn’t equipped to provide professional development, we also aim to provide any support we can for our teachers. Our ultimate mission being to keep the most excellent teachers in the highest need classrooms, we want to make sure early career educators feel supported in every way we can. We already provide networking opportunities (social events for teachers and other professionals to share stories and knowledge and to relax and rejuvenate), personal development workshops, and connections to leadership opportunities.

As we move into a new year and a new semester with our educators, we’re branching out (and reaching out) into a new realm. We partnered with Teach For America Alumna Kindra Knight to facilitate some incredible professional development centered around pedagogy and practice in the classroom. Formerly a TFA Coach and Professional Learning Leader, Kindra is now a coach and adjunct professor with Urban Teachers and John’s Hopkins University. While her own teaching experience was in high school Biology, she’s coached teachers across all grade levels and subjects, and planned a session that can be applied anywhere--Beyond the Worksheet.

Thanks to everyone to came out--we hope you’ve already started using some of the great ways Kindra shared to practice new material and review old material with students. If you weren’t able to make it, I’ve shared below three of the practice methods we saw attendees getting most excited about:

1. Speed Dating, in which students are seated on opposite sides of desks in one long row. At the start of practice, each student in the row receives a different problem and then has X amount of minutes to become a expert on the type of problem or at the skill. After time is up, students switch problems with the student directly across from them, and begin attempting a new problem. If they get stuck, they have the expert in that problem sitting right across from them! Once students complete their new problem, all of the students on ONE side of the table stand and move one seat to the right, and switch with their new ”date”. This cycle continues until every student has tried every problem!

2. Expert Practice. Ever get new students added your class suddenly and not know for sure what they’ve mastered? This is a great opportunity to engage your old students while being sure your new students are all caught up. Divide your rosters ahead of time based on concept mastery, and determine which students will play the role of ‘teacher’ and which will be ‘students’ (you want to have an even number of each if possible). Build practice with chunks of notes and practice questions included for the teachers to use to “teach” their student and then go through practice with their student. After each “chunk” of material, do a quick practice game, like whiteboard, but only allow the “student” in each partner pair to answer. The better the “teacher” does as teaching, the more points they’ll get!

3. Would You Rather? Students get to form an opinion based on information they already know or have recently learned.

If there’s some aspect of instruction or planning you’d like some focused PD on from The Educator Collective, let us know by emailing kate@educatorcollective.org and she’ll find a facilitator with the expertise!

If you would like to reach out to Kindra Knight about doing PD at your campus or about working together one-on-one, you can email her at knight.kindra@gmail.com.