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School Shopping.

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Is Teachers Pay Teachers “bad?” And why do I have an image of my #ProjectLIT progress? I’ll pull it all together, promise.

Yes, sometimes it is. It can be the junk food, candy display at the check-out counter, along with the pulp magazines and other impulse buys. Worksheets=bad. (Even when students beg for them: that’s a good sign you’re actually teaching.) Teaching authentically, making fresh, home-made lessons every day is tough; we can’t even write down all that we do because we’re busy doing it.

There was a time in your life when you had friends, enough time to read a book, and energy enough to stay awake past 7: 30 p.m. That time is not fall. In fall, we uncover the work of the rest of the year, we discover and ask questions we have little hope of answering.

Rademacher, Tom. It Won’t Be Easy: An Exceedingly Honest (and Slightly Unprofessional) Love Letter to Teaching (Kindle Locations 887-890). University of Minnesota Press. Kindle Edition.

Over the course of the summer, I’ve spent upwards of $700-$800 on teaching books, supplies, classroom necessities, trying to fund my ProjectLIT books for students,  buying at least one copy for myself of each of the books, etc. I spent almost $40 on To Kill A Mockingbird resources from Laura Randazzo on TpT.

Why? Why would I sully my teaching reputation by buying (*ew*) resources off of Teachers Pay Teachers?

Well, Laura Randazzo has pretty great stuff. And I’m out of time. I take her resources as just that: resources. I look them over, tweak them as needed to supplement my own. This is the first year I will be required to teach a prescripted curriculum. I have four modules with accompanying novels. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of them. I loved it as an adolescent, but also see that it has many issues I am very much looking forward to discussing with my 8th-grade students. Oh, and did I mention I’m going to a new district, new school, and new culture? I’m thinking about how to best navigate those conditions, too. Knowing who I am there is no way I will not be as prepared as possible, leaving room for the unknowns that will inevitably come up.

In order to best use my professional time so I can have the energy and will to do my best with this novel for students, I now have time to free up and look into #disruptingtexts 

This. Is. Really. Important.

Let me repeat: I now have the time and energy to delve deeper into what’s important:

Atticus has been and continues to be problematic and so many white people don’t want to admit it. His advocacy has limits. He’s not willing to question the very system that has allowed Tom to end up in this racist situation. In the face of pure racism and bigotry he doesn’t see the need to publicly disrupt the legal system. Yes, he defends Tom. Yes he questions Mayella. No, he doesn’t go beyond that. He doesn’t protest. He doesn’t say he’s going to take on the court system. He doesn’t say he’s going to make structural changes so this stops happening. He doesn’t use his privilege to bring about change. He lets Tom die. He is a part of the very system that let Tom die. I was encouraged by how many white folks in our chat mentioned it, though, so there’s hope in progress.

But there are many problematic and downright unethical sides to some materials posted on TpT: one of my favorite PLN colleagues, Cheryl Mizerny, had this happen to her: 

That is way not cool.

If you are a careful consumer, you can use TpT to your advantage as a resource, just as many of us use Twitter, Facebook groups, and teacher blogs as resources. Blaming TpT wholesale does a disservice; being nuanced about issues helps. Consider the bigger conversation about how we pull all of our resources together, how we can create our own curated content/playlists to better serve and support one another. Shaming teachers doesn’t work any better than shaming students.

I am getting stingy in my old age. I am trying to be careful about how I spend my professional money and time. If you want something from me, I’m here for you. But I’m not going to be lectured about my own time and money on what resources I find valuable. And which ones I don’t.

For what it’s worth, here are the teacher books I read recently:

These are amazing. Helpful. And I will definitely be using many of the ideas from these as resources.

I wish I had written this, but I am a woman, and probably couldn’t get away with all the cussing: (I am still pondering the question if women teachers can be funny, too.)

One of the most practical, well-written books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in a long time. Since I am required to teach whole-class novels, this is my just-in-time save:

Another godsend by Kelly Gallagher and Penny Kittle:

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And my big question to students this year will be about how lying affects us:

Oh, last thought: please do not think for one minute I am not conflicted about asking for DonorsChoose donations. Jeff Bezos gets richer. My friends and family roll their eyes at me. Everyone is charity-fatigued. I get it. I really do. But dangit, I really want to have ten copies of Dread Nation to teach to my 8th grade ELA/SS students! I mean REALLY!? Civil War…Zombies…Girl Hero Who KICKS IT! Friendship! Just buy my students a book or two.

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