Time For Some Action

”The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

During the past 14 months of the Covid Pandemic, the American Public Education system walked into the room of self-reflection, looked into the mirror and said, ¨Who am I?¨ and ¨How did I get here?¨Many educators, parents and most importantly, students (of all ages) — are now, more than ever, questioning norms that have ruled the educational setting for the last two centuries. What is right, what is wrong and what have we been doing for far too long? One thing that we can ALL agree on is that our approach to education must change.

When I think about the future of education, my mind immediately goes into game mode— so that I can help all children perform to their full potential. As a former coach, I understand that selecting the best players to start the game increases the chances for a positive outcome for the entire team. Choosing the right ¨starting five¨is so important as we attack education during the post pandemic era. I am ready to lead my team into the future so all children can reach their full potential. Meet my starting five —

(Chicago Bulls Theme Music)

And now for your “Equity Bulldogs”

Coming all the way from the beginning of time, using the smallest unit of sound, helping 95% of all students to become literate, strengthening the reading skills of students with dyslexia… number 44— The Science of Reading! (If we are truly serious about changing the narrative of illiteracy that has hinder the lives of many people, especially black and brown folk… SOR must be on the team)

Next up – Hailing from the heart and soul of each child, teaching children how to cope with the challenges of life, rooted in self-confidence, normalizing the mental health conversation… number 34— Social and Emotional Learning!  (Our children are facing more and more traumatic situations that are causing lasting effects up and through their adulthood. We have to intentionally implement SEL for all students to give them a strong foundation for life.)

Next – Standing tall against oppression, dismantling the ills that have haunted millions of people, speaking the truth to power, making sure all children have a fair opportunity to learn… number 1— Anti-Racist Learning Environment! (If we plan to eradicate the system that caused the unfair treatment of melanin people since 1619, all racist policies, laws and people must be removed from the education system)

Protecting the creativity of all children, stressing the importance of completion over correction, encouraging growth over grades, more concerned about mastery over mistakes… number 23— Project Based Learning! (We all know that the current 130 year old grading system is outdated and does not accurately show the results of learning. Educating children on the assembly line of learning is not what we need anymore. Let students work on projects that help them explore what life has to offer.)

Last but not least – The person in the middle that allows children to work in the environment that best suits them, the creator of in-person, virtual and hybrid, public, catholic or charter, from the land of whatever works best… number 3— Choice! (Education has changed. Children have evolved. Parents want input. The cookie cutter educational system is not allowing children to reach their full potential. Now is the time to allow families to find out what works best for their child(ren).)

And if we want to give our fans aka taxpayers, a chance to cheer for our students, we must develop a product that they can be proud of!

Now it’s time for tip off— Let’s get ready to rumbbbbbbbbbbble!

Racism: Charged with being Black

“We treat [racism] like a fad instead of a disease that eradicates millions of people.” – Chris Rock

Description: Black. Male. 6’0 foot. Hoodie. Khaki pants.  What was the first thing that came to your mind when you read that? Yea, I can probably guess exactly what you were thinking. What did he do? Who was he with?

Racism is the most infectious disease known to mankind. It’s all around us. No one is immune to it. People have died because of it. Society as a whole must dig up this infrastructure from the root. Otherwise, it will continue to grow, fester and hurt more people.

As an educator, I’ve always realized that my job is nothing short of a blessing. In this profession there are days of joy and some days of pain. For example, I attended a field trip this year with some my students and I was subject to this dialogue –

The adult at the site said, “Last call for food.” One of my students said to me, “Mr. Hadrick go get your plate.” As I walked to the front of the room, I noticed that the adult seemed nervous. When I got to the table, I reached over to grab a sandwich. The adult said, “This one is for the counselor.” I responded, “I am the counselor.” Stunned. Her look of frustration and disgust was so evident. In 2020, we are still dealing with this.

No matter how much “Higher Learning” I have achieved: Master’s Degree, TEDx Talk, Author, etc… I am still a black man.

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention..that description you read earlier… that was me.

Protecting Culture Through Literacy

“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.” – Frederick Douglass

This quote is so important to me. I can hear my mother’s voice when I read it. My mom was a an educator for over 30+ years in the public school system. She always stressed the importance of reading. Even to this day she continues to stress how strong literacy skills are important. A few times a week she reads with my son to make sure it’s engrained in him as well. He’s starting to enjoy books more and more to the point where he brought a book to the barbershop with him once.

The barbershop is an unique place that is sacred in the black and brown communities. The level of comfort that a person feels in that setting goes beyond the haircut. I’ve always admired how a barber is basically a “community counselor” for many people. Which leads me to my most recent project, a children’s picture book titled, “Cheesteaks and Clippers: The barbershop where you can learn about you, me and we!”

Cheesesteaks and Clippers is an endearing look at important life lessons learned during a visit to a beloved local barber shop. Told from the perspective of a young boy, the humorous story and engaging illustrations capture the warmth and friendship between multi-generations. Values of respect, service and social integrity are reinforced in a tale that resonates with people of all ages. Your turn is next! Welcome to Champions Barber Shop.

Pre-order from either Barnes and Noble or Amazon

This project hits the World Wide Web on May 28, 2020 (my son’s birthday)! With the help of my creation team, I tried to capture the lessons that many of us learn while in the barbershop. The barbershop is family. The barbershop grooms young men. The barbershop protects our culture.

I hope this book helps children to understand that we can learn great lessons from a book in the barbershop.

The Great Assist From An Educator

“Everything negative — pressure, challenges — is all an opportunity for me to rise.” – Kobe Bryant

As a school counselor, I am charged with the responsibility to fight for equity and social justice (https://excellenceinschoolcounseling.com/develop-a-cba/define-student-excellence-overview/relationships-overview/social-justice/). When I am faced with negative situations that could have a lasting impact on my students, I have to stand up and rise to protect their future. This is not an option but a must. I want my students to have an opportunity to pursue their dreams.

The late Kobe Bryant did everything to pursue his dreams in-spite of the people who did not believe in him. That is the same “Mamba Mentality” we must take as educators to help our students. There’s no excuse. Even if it takes the disruption of the current education system to help students succeed. Fighting for equity and fair educational opportunities is no easy task but someone has to take the chance. It’s all about taking risks and knowing that whatever happens, you’ll be ok. Just like Kobe, when he entered National Basketball Association at the young age of 17 years old, it was a risk.

If a student cannot read, it’s our duty to teach them how to read. If a student cannot add, it’s our duty to teach them how to add. When children struggle with anxiety, fear or depression, it’s our duty to protect their social and emotional well-being. If you ask a child, the famous question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and they say, “A professional athlete”, STOP and think before you judge their answer.

From what we all knew but witnessed this week, with the passing of Kobe Bryant, a professional athlete can have a bigger impact on this world than most could ever imagine. We should always fight for a kid’s dream and make them believe that anything is possible. Thank you to the educator who believed in Kobe.

My Philosophy of the 4 C’s

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein

Education in the 21st century has changed. No debate needed. Why some people cannot embrace the change, is very strange to me? It’s their choice but there’s a new voice – it’s called the 4 C’s (http://www.nea.org/tools/52217.htm).  As educational leaders, we must make sure that all students know how to use Critical Thinking skills, Communicate a message, be Creative and Collaborate with others. These four skills are just as important as Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division.

Critical Thinking – In today’s world we have access to an unlimited amount of knowledge. I’m not sure if you have ever heard of something called Google, but it’s pretty powerful! And because of it, we have to make sure students know how to use the information they find. It’s like having a GPS to travel and once you get to your destination not knowing what to do. It is our duty to teach students how to navigate in challenging times.

Communication – From hieroglyphics to gifs, communication methods have changed over time. But what is constant, is the need to use these methods of communication to deliver/receive a message. Social Media has allowed people to communicate in ways: Blogs, Videos, Posts, etc. like never before. Often we hear about the “negative” aspects of social media but we must teach students how to use it for the positive. When the right message is communicated through a social media platform, it can have a lasting effect on society.

Creativity – We have to give students a platform to “draw outside the lines.” Creativity is not found on an assembly line. It is found in places when people take risks and hope for the best. Students of today are exposed to much more than others of years past. They think differently. They respond differently. They interact differently. And when I say differently, I do not mean that in a negative way… I mean it in a way that can change society and life for the better. Educators cannot hold on to past methods of “This is the only way to get something done.” Let the students fly and watch how many positive changes happen right in front of your eyes.

Collaboration – Your network is no longer just in the Yellow Book. We are now in a Global Society that allows us to connect and work with others outside of our immediate boundaries. For example, students in the United States can now communicate directly with students in Ghana without picking up a phone or getting on a plane. These opportunities to collaborate with others have endless possibilities. The “Pen Pal” system of the past, is now social media of today. We must, and I say MUST, teach students at an early age how to work with others from around the globe. It’s in the palm of their hand and should be part of their curriculum.

The 4 C’s should be incorporated into all educator’s instructional practices. This makes learning more exciting and accepted by students of the 21st century. Give students a chance to explore the world through their eyes. And as the Hip Hop legend KRS-One once said, “Let’s begin.. what, where, why or when … Will all be explained…”