May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. If you want to know a bit about the history of how this came to be, Mental Floss has a good summary in its article, “6 Facts about Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.” With recent events showing an escalation of violence against AAPI people in the United States, you may want to take a look at these resources from Learning for Justice to help you discuss both the past and the present with your students so we can combat racism and stereotypes that lead to the kind of hatred that some people use to justify these vile acts. For more ideas on how to end racism in our country, I invite you to follow my Anti-Racism Wakelet, to which I add a new educational resource each week.
This week I am offering some of my TPT resources for free in honor of all of the teachers out there who have been working so hard this year and every year. Check out Tuesday’s post and Wednesday’s, if you missed them, to see the links for S.C.A.M.P.E.R. creative thinking freebies I gave out. Today, I am making my Robot Camp packet – normally $10 – free for all. This is a 38 page packet with 10 “Missions” for robots who are learning how to be spies. With puzzles and programming challenges that were designed to use with the Dash robots from Wonder Workshop, the activities are open-ended enough that you can definitely modify them to use with other robots. You can see some examples of how I used the activities with a summer camp I did here. The students really loved when their robots “graduated” from Spy School!
As we continue Teacher Appreciation Week, I have made more products free on my TPT page. In addition to the packet I mentioned yesterday, you can now download Superhero S.C.A.M.P.E.R. and Back to School S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packets. Not familiar with S.C.A.M.P.E.R.? Learn a bit more here. I guarantee your elementary students will love it!
I am in the process of revising my TPT resources and providing them on this site for free – but it’s taking awhile. In the meantime, since it is Teacher Appreciation Week, I am offering my Summer Pool Party Packet for free. It includes a list of suggested “Brainshines” (instead of brainstorms), a writing page for thinking about life from the perspective of a pair of sunglasses, and a page each of S.C.A.M.P.E.R. ideas. (See this post if you are not familiar with S.C.A.M.P.E.R.) These are fun creative thinking activities to do, especially after state-wide testing or the last week of school!
They are the first responders: the ones who identify learning challenges, report signs of abuse, comfort and aid victims of real and imagined pain, laugh at corny jokes, and ooh and ahh over simple treasures like rocks discovered on the playground or stuffed toys hauled in for Show and Tell.
They are the during responders: the ones who gently guide you to seek order in chaos, learn from your mistakes, and embrace new adventures despite all that might be wrong in your world – and theirs.
They are the always responders: the ones who answer e-mails late at night and on weekends, show up for after-school activities to sit in the bleachers to cheer you on, attend graduations and lifetime celebrations because once you enter their hearts you never leave.
They are the best responders: the ones who give what each child needs, whenever they need it, for as long as they need it.
They are teachers. And during this Teacher Appreciation Week, 2021, the best way we can show our gratitude to them is to let them know that we will always take care of the people who have taken care of us. Stop giving them lip service and lukewarm cups of coffee. Give them better salaries, more staff members, more time to plan, and their choice of staff development. Pay and treat substitutes well so teachers can take time off to go to the doctor, appointments for their own children, or just deal with their own mental health. Stock their bathrooms with paper towels and toilet paper that’s softer than cardboard. Make sure their working environment is clean, safe, and has heat/ac as well as appropriate ventilation. Let them help choose how money for education should be spent and the policies that should be put in place. Stop treating them as disposable employees who should be grateful they have a job.
If this past year has shown us nothing else, it has shown us that we should be grateful for teachers, and our communities are completely broken without them. Thank teachers – but also ask them what they need. Give them mental and physical resources so they don’t have to deplete their own.
I didn’t watch the Academy Awards last weekend, but I remember scrolling through Twitter and suddenly seeing masses of Tweets about Tyler Perry. He was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award this year, and gave a short, but inspiring speech calling upon all of us to “refuse hate.” I watched the speech later on YouTube, and knew immediately that it should go on my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board. Not only does Perry refuse hate, but he dedicates his award to “anyone who wants to stand in the middle, no matter what’s around the walls because that’s where healing happens, that’s where conversation happens, that’s where change happens.” If you haven’t had a chance to see and listen to this speech, I encourage you take a moment to fit it into your day.
I will be adding this post to my Anti-Racism Wakelet, but I want to re-iterate Perry’s words because they are not just about racism. We must stop hating “the other” and stop pre-judging people based on the categories our brains find more comforting to assign.