Season 2 Ep 1 - (A)Broad in Education - MINI "I Retired My Teacher Voice"


[00:00:00] This is a broad and education of where I unpacked the international Suitcase by focusing on Ed pats and their experiences within education. I'm your host Tiffany Lachelle.

[00:00:29] Today's episode. I titled I retired my teacher voice and this is going to be it's going to be an interesting episode because I am in this now even as I think about how I want to organize my thoughts. It's really something that I am dealing with. So I'm just going to put it out there. I feel like I'm being a little vulnerable in this episode, which is good because I think it'll let you all know that my life is not perfect.

[00:01:01] So stop trying to act like it is. So I'm thinking about my teacher preparation program and I want to start there because before I actually ended up in the classroom. There are a couple of things that I experienced during my student teaching practicum teaching, you know, all of those different things that are embedded into a teacher prep program.

[00:01:24] And I remember this day. I was in a very I'm not going to say rural. It was actually Rockford, Illinois. So it's not necessarily rural but it's outside of the city. I would say kind of urban because it was a lot of black and brown kids, but the school that I was at it was predominantly white students.

[00:01:42] So I am preparing to do a lesson plan. And basically sometimes when I do the lesson my supervisor is there and sometimes when I do a lesson, she wasn't so in this particular instance she was there and I you know prep for the lesson plan. [00:02:00] I did the lesson plan, you know, I thought it went very well and basically after the lesson plan, you know, I am presented with a sheet of paper that gives me a lot of feedback on you know how to do something next time or you know something to think deeper about or suggestions for you know moving forward. And basically I knew I did  well. I knew I did well in this lesson. Teaching comes natural to me, but what I got on the feedback was something that I was not expecting. People have always commented on how I talk, right. I have a squeaky voice. I have a country voice. I have a mouse voice. You know, I've always been somehow not judged but acknowledged for my voice. And one of the things or at least in particular was she put on this form was you should articulate your words not gonna not wanna but going to want to. And as simple as that sounds it hit my soul . I have kind of put this under the table for years and although I've gotten rid of the experience, my entire teaching career has been based on that feedback. And I think about this because right now I'm teaching a course where I'm working with students who are preparing to go into teaching. And I decided to do these one-on-one conferences with the students just to kind of check in about how the course is going. You know, if there's anything that needs to be improved just these little you know, many one-on-one sessions to talk. And I was basically having a one-on-one with a particular student that I have interest in and I think that the student has an amazing story.

[00:03:57] There's a lot that she's going to contribute to [00:04:00] education. And somehow in the midst of the one-on-one my professor had came off and we were talking about our families, you know talking about who we are in these very homogeneous spaces and how we've been, you know, experienced discrimination or you know, just just basically having a real conversation and in the midst of our conversation she got very comfortable with me and she said yeah because you know, I actually told my friends about you, you know the first day of class when you started talking, I was like you said some word, you know. I don't even remember the word but you said every single syllable in that word. I mean I was dying. And this is what she's saying to me, right? I didn't say anything. I just smiled. It's one of those things where I have learned not to allow people to decide who I am.

[00:04:56] I show up. I show up as Tiffany. That's all I can be. But I recently watched this TED talk. Now. I'm not that. I'm not sure if her name is Dina or Dana. But, Dana Simmons did this TED talk about how students of color confront imposter syndrome. And basically in this TED Talk, she is telling a story about being from the Bronx and you know how she grew up in this very particular family. And then her mother enrolled her into a private school, which was outside of the Bronx. And she goes back and reflects on this experience that she has with a teacher.

[00:05:34] So she said she's in the hallway and she's approached by a teacher and the teacher comes to her and said the word is asking. Not axon, like you're running around with an axe. It's as-kiing and she's talking about this experience in this TED Talk. [00:06:00] And this is a this is an experience that I have experienced.

[00:06:06] So she continues to you know, kind of reflect and analyze the situation and she says, you know, I have eternal Imposter Syndrome. Either I've been invited because I'm a token which really isn't about me. It's about a box that someone needs to check off. Or I'm exceptional which means I've had to leave the people that I love behind, right? And she's talking about how she always has to police herself in certain spaces. Are my pants too tight?

[00:06:34] Should I wear my hair up? You know, should I speak up for myself? And in particular she says, should I speak up for myself or will the power of my words be reduced to she's angry?  So, I connect to all of this because I realized that my entire teaching career has been based on the feedback that I've received from my supervisor years ago.And I have policed and I have monitored my speech and it's one of those things where you know, I think about who I am as a teacher.

[00:07:09] Especially my experience being in the states and then my experience being, you know abroad. I feel like when I was in the states, I was basically asked that you know when I walk into the door. I need to turn who I am off and I need to turn on what has been conformed as normal, you know in the educational space on, right? So there was no way that I could be myself in that space.

[00:07:37] Now granted let's go back to the classroom. There were no black children in the class. Right? So I guess I was supposed to be a mirror of who they were. So turn off my country, you know, my unarticulated words, you know and talk to them how they talk. I have to be honest and say that, you know, I retired my teacher voice before the meeting that I had recently [00:08:00] and I mean it had nothing to do with her. But it definitely reminded me that, that is what I did. That's why I happened. That's why that's why it happened. That's why I decided to do it. It wasn't just masking my voice. It was masking so many other things as well. So I'm not saying that you know, I'm going into a professional space talking, you know the same way that I talk to my friends or the way that I talk to my family.

[00:08:24] That's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that I'm no longer  conforming. I show up as Tiffany Lachelle Smith. I'm a black woman from Alton Illinois. Yes. I'm country. I know but I'm not from the country. I graduated from a public school, you know, I grew up in a working-class family. But also I've traveled the world.

[00:00:16] I'm tolerant of everybody in almost everything. I have seven tattoos. Yes. I drink socially I curse but also I'm a teacher. A teacher who has a lot to contribute to education. So I think specifically after my eight years of teaching the role that I'm in now, I have the opportunity because I feel like a lot of teachers don't have this opportunity.

[00:00:41] I have the opportunity to be outside of the classroom, but still kind of managing people who are looking forward to going inside of the classroom. And I've decided that I am not going to allow these students to continue to reproduce what is wrong this bias, this discrimination, you know, this not thinking about what you're thinking about just going in and repeating what's happening.

[00:01:04] Like that's why we in some of the situations that were in now, you're not looking at kids as individuals. You're not looking at them from their backgrounds and who they are their culture. You don't see issues with teachers right teachers are right,  supervisors are right, you know, they have these years they have their their stamp to deem them in whatever role that they've gotten and I'm just like no. We have to start thinking about and problematize among a lot of [00:10:00] the things that we're seeing because it's not okay. So I think about DuBois and I said, you know, the veil has come off it has been lifted.

[00:00:22] I don't have an issue with education, but I do have a problem with some of the things that are happening in education, right? So, especially when I'm looking at these very segregated schools. Did Brown happen? I mean did did integration happen? I'm looking at these very black and brown spaces specifically with students that are still being educated by these very homogeneous white teachers. Who there's a there's a huge disconnect between who they are and who the teachers are and that's my issue.

[00:00:56] That's a big issue. So, basically what I want to do is connect it to a specific statistic so of the 50 million 50 million Elementary and secondary public school students in the u.s. African-American students account for nearly eight million. Okay, and of the 3.2 million Elementary and secondary Public School teachers there's about two hundred and fifteen thousand African American teachers. Okay, so there's a huge disconnect there already and they say Well, if you know, well, what was it if every black student accessed one black teacher during their entire K through 12 experience, you know, their whole educational experience will change or would have changed right?

[00:01:47] So they say students of color should have teachers of color. But then when you hear these notions about oh, there's a teacher shortage. Oh, we need to diversify our teaching staff,  right? When you hear things like that it makes you think that oh, we need to we need to convince more African-American.

[00:02:08] We need to convince more teachers of color to go into education [00:12:00] because when I'm thinking about a teacher shortage and a need to diversify its almost like the school's not the problem. The teachers are the problem and they're not choosing education. Well this specific statistic that I found and it basically says from 1987 to 2012 when the U.S. Education public education system was made up of 20% of minority teachers and which was the highest that it has been 20 percent minority teachers. Within that 20 percent. It says African-American teachers decreased from 7.5% to 6.5 percent. So that basically says that African American teachers are going into the system, but we're leaving as well. And that connects to,

[00:02:59] you know, when I hear these big things and I think about my own story. These numbers when you're looking at statistics, they only show you or at least when you're when you're listening to narratives as well. They only show you a small piece of the pictures. The numbers don't show you why people are leaving.

[00:03:15] It just shows you that they are leaving. They don't show you why there's a teacher shortage. It just says that there is a shortage right? So when you start to go in and collect these narratives and I bring it to my own experience I left. We know that teachers don't have large salaries. Yes, maybe people leave because of the salary.

[00:03:34] We know that you know, we are overworked underpaid. Yes, we know. But the thing is and especially with my own story. I didn't leave teaching. I left the American teaching system. I left this system right thinking about how I was policed about my voice how I couldn't show up as myself how I couldn't connect with a system like it was so many things that was happening that I was basically a foreigner in a space that I felt like I had been prepared to go into and I never had the experience.

[00:04:08] So so I'm saying that to think about you know, [00:14:00] what are the stories that are happening with these teachers that are leaving? It's not just pay. It couldn't just be pay because I still love kids. I mean at this point, I'm I'm teaching for tuition. Not for a salary. I don't have a salary but I'm still teaching us still have the passion but something is happening in US schools specifically to African-American teachers, and they are leaving. We are leaving.

[00:04:38] So what's happening? I basically I want to I want to hear from you all if you are a teacher who worked in the U.S system and decided to leave and you have an interesting story about your experience being in it. Tell us why reach out and tell us why because I'm very interested to hear about what is happening specifically to us.

[00:04:58] And especially when I connected to my own story. I just feel like, you know, it was a system that wasn't created for me. Thank you for checking in. I appreciate you all checking in as always and I look forward to hearing from you all in the next episode. If you enjoyed the show, Please Subscribe, wherever you get your podcast, let's keep the conversation going join us in the abroad and education private group on Facebook.

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