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Journey to Morocco: Part I

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Journey to Morocco: Part I

It seems fitting that this post should be written on my son's 5th birthday - a day celebrating growth and love. Those are the two words I would use to describe this journey so far. Growth, for me as a human. Love, for the love of the Moroccan people. There are three thoughts I'd like to share about this first week in Morocco.

Panel discussion at  ENS , where we learned about their teacher preparation program and shared our own experiences. These pre-service teachers can't wait to begin their careers!

Panel discussion at ENS, where we learned about their teacher preparation program and shared our own experiences. These pre-service teachers can't wait to begin their careers!

1. Teachers are Teachers. We were able to spend time in three different schools this week, two high schools and one teacher preparation university. First, the "teacher look" is universal, as we saw when teachers attempted to quiet their students as we entered the room. With 40+ students in one small room, I am in awe of the work they do. They are over worked and under paid, much like the vast majority of teachers in America. They are asked to achieve amazing results with very little. What's exciting is the next generation of teachers, full of enthusiasm and a love for the profession, ready to dive willingly into less than ideal conditions. We visited some of the top high schools in Rabat and Casablanca, and classrooms had no technology, no cooperative groups - just workbooks and notebooks. Which leads me to my next point...

Students at Lmssalla High School put together poster projects, one of which was a compare/contrast of American and Moroccan youth. Can't say they were wrong!

Students at Lmssalla High School put together poster projects, one of which was a compare/contrast of American and Moroccan youth. Can't say they were wrong!

2. Kids are kids. These kids are stellar. Most speak 4 languages fluently. They study advanced mathematics and sciences. They are children of faith. But at the end of the day, they are on Instagram and SnapChat, playing Fortnite and hanging out with friends. They are passionate about education and safety. One student expressed her sympathy for the Parkland shooting and another had strong views on changing textbooks to better reflect the lives of students. Most looked no different from my kids in California. Although, I did love this one display of how they viewed American youth. 

3. People are people. Although these people might be the best people. Their hospitality knows no bounds. I know without a doubt should I travel back to this country I would have a place to stay and people to look after me. Even though we are different in many ways, we share a common love of life and the human experience. To be welcomed into someone's home, to be fed and loved, is a joyous occasion. I can only imagine what visiting my host family in Fkih ben Salah will be like. 

Our host, Meriem Lahrizi, took us to her family's country home for a meal. Her father showed us how he makes tea. And then scared Maria half to death by pretending to drop her cup when he handed it to her. I laughed SO hard. 

Our host, Meriem Lahrizi, took us to her family's country home for a meal. Her father showed us how he makes tea. And then scared Maria half to death by pretending to drop her cup when he handed it to her. I laughed SO hard. 

And I am off! My travel partner, Maria Zavala and I leave shortly for the next leg of this amazing adventure. Until next time, enjoy some photos. Peace.

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Mrs. Stuart Goes to Washington: NCTE Kent B. Williamson Fellowship Week 1

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Mrs. Stuart Goes to Washington: NCTE Kent B. Williamson Fellowship Week 1

Greetings from Washington, D.C. I thought I would start by introducing myself. My name is Lauren Stuart and I teach 8th (and soon 6th) grade ELA for the Beverly Hills Unified School District. I am honored to be this year's National Council of Teachers of English Kent B. Williamson Fellow. What does that mean? As a way to honor Kent Williamson's dedication to teacher leadership, NCTE established this fellowship which allows a member to come to D.C and be immersed in education policy. Each week during my stay I will share my experiences with you. Also, you can follow along daily on Twitter @laurenpstuart.

The week began with a training from the McKeon Group on both education policy and NCTE’s priorities. I was reminded that the actual policymaking process is nothing like the textbook version. 

Remember this guy! Love him, but the process is not so simple. 

Remember this guy! Love him, but the process is not so simple. 

How it actually happens! 

How it actually happens! 

NCTE is asking Congress to support: ESSA’s Title 1, $190 million for LEARN, and student grant and loan programs, as well as protect Title II funds. If you would like to contact your representatives to discuss these priorities, let me know and I will help you make contact.

My second day brought me together with NCTE's esteemed Executive Director, Emily Kirkpatrick as we traveled together to sit in on the National Council for the Social Studies Summer Legislative Institute. We share the same concerns! Our colleagues have proven that social studies is relevant, needed and wanted by our students, and yet they must constantly convince decision makers to fund their programs. Participants visited their legislators, and most had positive responses. If you know a social studies teacher who would like to get involved, encourage them to join NCSS and attend their annual convention this year.

On Thursday I attended "School Vouchers and Segregation" at the American Federation of Teachers headquarters. The Center for American Progress released a paper on this topic, and brought together a panel to discuss. Congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA) opened the session by stating that research shows that vouchers negatively impact student achievement. He urged the government to support public schools and not divert funds to private schools.

Justin Reid from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities told the story of Prince Edward County, and how their students came to be a part of the class action lawsuit that became Brown v. Board of Ed. What I didn’t know, was that as a result of the verdict, the Board of Supervisors decided to shut down the school for five years instead of integrate. Kids went 5 years without an education. In addition, white students were given tuition grants to attend private schools, which led to segregated schools.

Also in attendance was Catherine Lhamon, the Chair of the Commission on Civil Rights. She called for a promise from the federal government to ensure simple justice, civil rights for all students.

People and Opportunities to Watch

This section will highlight people I met while in town, as well as opportunities I come across.

Jill Cullis, Bill of Rights Institute, Founders Fellowship

Jill is a fellow Hope Street Group alum hailing from Colorado Springs. She was in town for the Bill of Rights Institute, Founder’s Fellowship. “It was a week of incredibly rich discussion based upon primary source documents in history. I rarely get professional development that is content based so the week with the BRI was so valuable to improving my instruction in US History.”

Doug Hodum, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship

Doug is a science teacher from Maine who is here on a year long fellowship...

Luella Wagner

Luella is a fellow Californian, who was here for the NCSS SLI. I loved chatting with her about her interest in Native American studies, and being a studio teacher.

 

 

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