Hedreich Nichols

March 2021

Grandma’s Hands

Small Bites Friday Five 3-26-21 

20-30m – Spend 30 minutes disconnecting from school and doing something you love. Cliché but true, you cannot pour from an empty cup. (Scrolling in Pinterest or Teachers Pay Teachers for class deco or activities does not count.)

15-20m – Browse these parent SEL guides from Today and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to find something to watch or share with your parents. Summer is coming and they need PD too!

10-15m – It’s testing season and everyone will need to support one another. Choose some cool new SEL games and activities for your campus and classroom. Common Sense Media has curated a few, like Mix it Up Lunch day from Learning for Justice (Formerly Tolerance.org).

5-10m – Review some of the SEL stats collected by Casel. In particular I noticed, that if we are giving out number grades, we—teachers, schools—are currently failing.

0-5m – From what you learned by looking at the SEL data, choose one small great SEL thing to focus on. How about class routines?

When I was a little girl, I lived in a multi-generational household. Mommie, born in 1892 (or 1893, the census records in ‘Negro’ households weren’t too exact back then) and Gammy, born in 1920 or even my mom, born in 1944 had first hand experiences with Sundown towns and lynchings.

Of course when Gammy, the neighborhood grandma, talked about race, well, through the eyes of the 2021 cultural police, it was anything BUT politically correct. But in a world where she had seen Black men pulled from their homes and beaten or lynched for “mouthing off” or being “uppity” or even just trying to vote, her experiences with White people framed her view and gave her reason to have a deep and abiding mistrust of White people.

I now understand why my family was always turned out like it was church at PTA meetings. We were fighting to be the anti-stereotypes. Most people at that school had never seen Black people up close. They believed media stereotypes and Jim Crow propaganda that told them Black people were lazy, unkempt, uneducated and that we even shuffled when we walked and only talked in high-fives, soul-handshakes and slang.

Before there was ‘socio-emotional learning’, there was my grandma. She modeled humanity and kindness, baked cookies for class that no white children ever touched, volunteered and showed up to Every. Single. PTA meeting, paying her dues before she paid the light bill. I also heard my grandmother tell me to “get the White man’s hands out of my pocket” which meant to cut the lights out (‘turn the lights off’ if you are from north of the Mason Dixon). There were other colorful phrases heard now and then, because mostly, her world was segregated, until she took me to school. She also admonished me to watch my step because ‘that white boy’s parents did not want him liking me and I might wind up in an alley dead”. She had seen it happen with her college roommate. Still, at those PTA meetings, I saw her talk politely with him and his parents because my playground pal and I were, for a time, inseparable. She bought Valentine’s day cards and gift exchange presents and always had something special to do with me when she heard that it was so-and-so’s birthday party, so much so that I was way grown before I realized that I never went to their birthday parties and they’d never come to mine.

My grandma was the person who most modeled humanity for me. She knew the neighbors, sent care packages to me and my friends at college and remembered birthdays. She was the kind of person who would call people on the anniversaries of the deaths of those they loved, the kind of person who always sent enough 5AM-freshly-fried chicken for me to share on field trips.

What does all this have to do with SEL? Well, it hopefully reminds you that we are all human, fallible, on a journey. It lets you know to love the people who are still waving the “wrong” flags or touting the “wrong” ideologies. It reminds you to look for the kindnesses they do. Look for it in the parents of your students. Look for it in your students themselves. Look for it in yourself.

Want to be really good at SEL with your students? The one BEST thing you can do for #SELday is to love and accept yourself. Only then can you grow. Only then can you love and accept others.

Grandma’s Hands Read More »

If I Had A Hammer

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 3-19-21 

20-30m – Read this Bostonia article by Catherine Caldwell-Harris (@CathCHarris) on cross cultural psychology and respecting “the other side”. Dive into some of the hyperlinks, but more importantly, reflect on how you can make every disagreement as a chance to learn.

15-20m – Read this Best Life article from @SarahGCrow and write down at least 2 people or groups for each strategy you are going to implement. Yes, the people can be public people you have no valid reason for hating since you don’t know them.

10-15m – Compare and contrast this Chris Bodenner article on religion and AIDS in the 80s and these horrendous comments in the wake of the Orlando Club Pulse shooting with the subtle (and not so subtle) victim shaming of the 8 people gunned down in Atlanta spas. Think about your own reactions and how they too could be filled with more judgment than compassion. Then course correct.

5-10m – Review the media coverage on the Atlanta shooting from Fox, AP, OANN, CNN, and your local news outlet. Skim the articles or watch video and look for language that conveys bias. Need help? Here are questions from @fairmediawatch to challenge yourself.

0-5m – Read some of the comments to the above articles you found. Are we where you thought we were as a country? What things did you read that were surprising? What can you do in your corner of the world to help reduce the lack of humanity seen in some of those feeds?

I have been planning this episode for a few weeks. Big announcements, exciting changes. Talking about Spring Cue and my mic drop session following this episode. But all I can think about is the senseless loss of lives this week, the violence against the Asian community and how the response to yet another murder shadowed by racial motivations reflects the lack of regard for people who are a part non-white communities. It reminds me of what Fannie Lou Hamer said, that nobody is free until we are all free.

The fact is, our country has not provided equitable advantages for all communities and whether you want to call it racism, white supremacy, systemic inequity against BIPOC communities or something else, we have a problem. There are systems that are interwoven in the way we govern, educate, provide healthcare, accumulate wealth and even in the ways we love and hate. Those systems advantage some and disadvantage others. If ‘liberty and justice for all’ means all, if you are a patriot who believes in those words, then we need to recognize that we still have work to do, especially to make up for not giving people from non-white communities a level playing field for so long.

Today, I celebrate my 40th episode of SmallBites, I celebrate lives touched, minds changed, resolves strengthened. I celebrate the DMs and emails and even care packages I have gotten to say thank you, keep going. And as I celebrate the accomplishment, I stand, resolute to continue helping as many people as I can. Leave a review on Apple. Share an episode with your staff. Click a resource link, even through the exhaustion of teaching in a pandemic. Teach civil disagreement in your classrooms and on your campuses.

You are in the unique position to influence the next generation and that means you have the power to create change. You can ignore social issues because parents don’t understand the connection or you can talk about how social justice and SEL are inextricably linked and how they belong in every content on every grade level. You can educate your parents AND teach your students to be responsible citizens. I know I will. Because if ever one of my students is a victim of violence, if ever one of my students commits a hate crime, I want to know that I did my very best to teach them about social justice, about community beyond color and gender, about humanity over hate.

I do have a hammer and here’s to the next 40 episodes of #SmallBites.

If I Had A Hammer Read More »

Hair Love

Small Bites Friday Five Sheroes 3-12-21 

Lisa Jones, author of Bulletproof Diva, the most important book I read coming into womanhood. As the daughter of two writers, activist Amiri Baraka and “Semitic mother of African-American children”, Hettie Jones, Lisa is your go to if you want to know about color in America.

Susan L. Taylor, Essence magazine author, editor-in-chief emeritus and founder of the National CARES Mentoring Movement, was the face of op-eds, features and glossy magazines for Black women.

Sara Jordan Powell, a singer who I especially admired growing up. She sang with, and for, greats like Sally Martin, James Cleveland and even Ray Charles and Jimmy Carter. I loved her voice, but more importantly, the way she smiled and spoke to me when I was just a little girl.

Hedy Lamarr, an actress for whom I was named. She co-developed a secret radio signaling device important during the war– and to the development of today’s cell phones!

Barbara Jordan, congressional representative from Texas and a Black lawyer from an HBCU who broke down barriers and checked off a list of firsts too numerous to mention. My favorites? The woman has not one but 2 speeches in American Rhetoric’s Top 100 Speeches of the 20th Century. Mostly, though, she was a household name and resident hero where I grew up.

I remember the horrified look on my mom’s face when I told her I wanted to be white. I was 8 and I still remember the shift in the air in our yellow and orange kitchen. My momma, never at a loss for words, paused. Then she asked me why. “Because when I hang upside down on the bars I want my hair to swing too,” I informed her. The self-hatred she expected to hear about was really my desire to have what other kids had, to be what I saw around me. Hair that moved, straight hair, “good” hair…if you are Black, you have gone through all kinds of hair phases, most of them having to do with the unnecessary taming of kinks and curls into Eurocentric submission.

Even as we embrace what makes us beautiful–from the Black is Beautiful rallying cry of the 70s to the natural hairstyle trends of today, the standard of beauty that most of us have grown up with, until recently, is blonde/blue. Seeing Lupita, Viola and Michelle grace glossy covers regularly is new. Seeing models that have real bodies like in Dove campaigns is new. Embracing diversity is new. Showing it off?? Real new!

Looking at magazine covers and models for this post made me realize that we are seeing more diverse images. Beauty is being embraced in all forms, shades, colors, abilities and textures. Yes, there is still work to do to ensure that art imitates life. BUT with shorts like Hair Love and a growing number of people speaking up and speaking out, little girls who look like me have a better shot at embracing who they are, in all their natural beauty, naturally.

In honor of Women’s History Month, I celebrate all the regular women out there learning to love their thick thighs, flat chests, kinky kitchens and their ebony, brown, olive, beige or alabaster skin. Whether we are blonde/blue, brown/brown or something in between, the battle for self-acceptance knows no color lines; and if there is one thing we all need, it’s a little more self love.

Happy Women’s History month.

Hair Love Read More »

What I Like About You

Watch on YouTube or listen on Anchor, or wherever podcasts are heard.

Small Bites Friday Five 3-05-21 

20-30m – Read and internalize the outcomes of favoritism (including damage to your reputation) from this UCLA Psych Ed article based on work by Emily Cheng. The article cites studies going back to 1983. The phrase ‘bias in education’ may be new to some, but it is definitely not a new concept.

15-20m – Read this K-12 Dive synopsis and listen to Verna Myers’ Ted talk on mitigating implicit bias.

10-15m – Use this link to watch the #SmallBites Bias collection. If we reduce the big words to our own small actions, we will begin to see change for the better.

5-10m – Dig in to Jennifer Gonzales’ Single Point Rubric strategy. It will not only help you mitigate bias, it will also revolutionize the way you give feedback AND the time it takes to give valuable feedback.  

0-5m – Take this fun quiz to get a feel for the kinds of questions you can ask yourself and the kinds of preferences you should monitor yourself for.

And as promised, a name list randomizer from ClassTools.net,  so you can spin the wheel and randomly call on students.

You know that saying that you wear 20% of your clothing 80% of the time? I remember Oprah doing a whole show around it eons ago that I never hear because that statistic grabbed my attention and locked me in. As I thought about my favorite jeans, my favorite sweater, my favorite PJs with the holes that I just can’t let go of, I thought about why those things mean something.

Are they attached to a memory? Is it the way they feel? The way I feel when I am in them? Pretty much every experience and interaction connects itself to some feeling or preference we already have about something else. The color periwinkle reminds me of my favorite Easter dress ever. It was long and had puff sleeves and a sash. The question, ‘what is your favorite color?’ reminds me of my childhood bestie @Creoleladybug. It’s red and I have no idea why that question always remind me of us and our 5 year old selves. My student, the one talking about why we haven’t changed school since the industrial times so that it reflects the needs of modern society reminds me of who I want to be when I grow up. And the student who often quotes statistics and facts touted by less reliable media organizations without checking their validity reminds me of why I created #SmallBites. My conversations with each of them is valuable; they help me grow.

There is always a connection to something in us in every interaction and the more aware we are of those connections, the more we are empowered to mitigate the effects of unconscious bias in our relationships.

Trust me, you are playing favorites. But you are also, hopefully, actively aware of it and working to course correct. If you are not, consider this your wake-up call. We are all works in progress.

Use a randomizer. Use a single point rubric. All. The. Time. And the next time you eat a popsicle, pull out your favorite coffee mug or step into your favorite worn jeans, remember, there is always a reason you have your favorites. Just make sure those reasons don’t cloud your judgment and adversely impact your relationships.

What I Like About You Read More »