Monday, March 7, 2016

"If you stare at a painting and don't see yourself there, paint your own portrait." GIANT STEPS TO CHANGE THE WORLD by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee

Are you on Twitter?  I have been tweeting for over a year, and I am stunned that such a massive social media forum could allow me to create real relationships with others. Last week, I tweeted this picture about reading with this caption:
   EVERY teacher is a reading teacher! Share your love of reading/knowledge!

A young lady answered my tweet with :  Feb 25
Would love to paint something like this for my classroom!
I wrote I think you should!!! A few days later, Tracey tweeted this statement and picture:  Feb 27 I want my future students to be able to see themselves in our classroom, so this is the first step

I was impressed!  A young lady was creating something beautiful for her students to view- and to see themselves in her paintings through her eyes.  I had to know more about this enthusiastic young teacher! So I wrote her a message on Twitter, and I made an interview time with her on Google hangouts.  (As I have mentioned before, writing opportunities present themselves to me, and I thought this interview would be a great one! I was right! )

Tracey-Ann Lafayette is in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. She is just 22 years old, and she loves teaching 3 days a week as part of her graduate program. Tracey’s parents are from Jamaica, where her mom was a special education teacher and other relatives were librarians and teachers, but for most of her life, Tracey thought she would be a pediatrician. An only child, Tracey did lots of arts and crafts during her alone time, and she decided to teach herself to paint, as a means of connecting with her future classroom students. Tracey told me that she thinks her students will be able to see and imagine themselves in her paintings, and she hopes her paintings will help them to see and imagine their goals and futures as well. I like that!  Tracey shared that she was positively influenced by a quote from the book Giant Steps to Change the World by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee: "If you stare at a painting and don't see yourself there, paint your own portrait." 

Our conversation was stimulating and informative. Tracey and another grad student work with 4th grade students using a Socratic seminar approach to learning, which she explained is a student-led discussion method approach to a book they are reading- Frindle- which leads to improved thinking, speaking, listening, and reading skills and also deepens thinking. She is impressed with the discussion level of the students, as well as their ability to stay on task, which is part of a self-assessment students complete. Tracey had several choices for her experience: robotics, working with homeless students, math interventions, differentiated instruction, and more. She is so happy she chose Socratic seminar, and from hearing Tracey speak, she is enjoying teaching and learning as much as her students.

Besides her involvement at her school, Tracey also helped to create a club at UCONN to support students of color within the School of Education. They have attended and presented at conferences, and have an invitation to present again this spring. Last year, they attended the25th Annual National Association for Multicultural Education Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, presenting "Organizing to Realize Aspirations: Creating a Pipeline for Students of Color in a Teacher Preparation Program." This session was multidimensional in the way that it was a panel style presentation that included student voices, advisors from the School of Education, a professor and an alum of the program. 

The conference Tracey will be attending this month is the New York Collective of Radical Educators conference and our session is called Leadership in Diversity: Finding our Voices. This presentation is going to be very student focused as we speak about what our club is, why it is important, and how similar organizations can be started at other universities. 

I am so happy I made a connection with this young educator, thanks to Twitter. Teaching is a difficult and demanding job, and enthusiasm and caring for students is what makes the job so worthwhile.  Tracy is currently interviewing in Connecticut, and I think she presents herself as a great teacher candidate.  I know that I would hire her! 

ADDENDUM- Tracey was hired as a teacher on Monday, March 7- the same day as this post!  Kudos to Tracey!! 

Please follow both of us on Twitter for more surprises and positive interactions! 
Tracey is  and I am n

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. This post was written with the permission of Tracey Lafayette. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER.  Many colleges have made the book required reading. 

Signed copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

Contact Dede if you would like her speak to your faculty or student teachers.

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Here is the link the my 15 second Grady Gets Glasses commercial!

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at .  The website IS UP AND RUNNING!!!.  Signed copies ARE available!  Coloring books and Grady plush toys are ordered! 

Please like Dede's new page -Grady Gets Glasses- for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

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1 comment:

  1. [ live long and prosper -Spok ]

    Greetings, earthling! Can't stay long, done gotta git, Paw ...yet, if I'm a sower, we plant the Seed; if I'm an artist, we write the Word:

    I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET any moe curly, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs when my beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girl passed-away at 17 (God calls U.S. home regardless).

    "Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness, as bright as stars for all eternity"
    -Daniel 12:3

    Here's what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you'
    -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

    Go git'm, girl. You're incredible.
    See you Upstairs...
    I won't be joining'm in da nasty Abyss where Isis lies