valencia_valencia valencia_valencia

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Valencia De’La Clay  I teach.

I don’t have one vibe, one mood, or one look. Got too many voices in my head and monsters under my bed. I quiet them all by creating. Teaching, literally, keeps me sane. Perfect outlet for being my kind of crazy.

7:37— walking to school, first time in a while. been riding with my partner, kinda like how my grandfather used to drop me off to school everyday. spoiled.
but this walk, I embrace.
wind blowing on my scalp.
kids called my straight backs “gangsta” yesterday.
i love that sh’t. “Can we curse in our writing?” That’s always their favorite question. Of course you can, if you master your content vocabulary words ... there’s always an appropriate way to curse, timing gotta be right. same as this walk to school, and how I haven’t had a red light at any corner. no need to slow down or speed up, pacing is on point.
7:42: This playlist got me thinking: how can I incorporate 2 Chains and Drake in my lesson today? Two days ago, I came to school as Nikki Giovanni. I didn’t take enough time to memorize the piece so I read it from the paper... no bueno. I know better. I need to perform, in order to inspire these kids to perform. True teachers live their art.

When I was 14, it seemed like everyone living on Manhattan Ave was Blood. Us girls were considered Rubies. We had secret handshake greetings and substituted our c’s for b’s. So I know he knew exactly what he was throwing up but I also know he ain’t built for that life. If he was, he would not be sitting in front of the class, right next to the teacher, getting his work done. He is hungry for knowledge. But like me, when I was his age, pretending to be a Ruby, he is wearing a mask. Even if our kids are involved in street-life, that does not mean they want to be... what most, if not all, of them want is to be part of the genius gang! Don’t be fooled by behavior or appearance, flex your creative muscle and use it to keep them as engage as they are on the block, inside of your classroom. It’s not easy but it’s worth it when they grow up and become CEOs, instead of having to answer to CO’s... because it’s 2018 but the school to prison pipeline is still very real.

My sister gave me permission to strengthen the self-determination of my students by sharing one of the most delicate aspects of her life story.

Super grateful for the partnership between @intel and Smithsonian @americanart museum!!! This is a major move! Gives teachers the opportunity to bring our students to the museum, without having to go through the hassle of finding money in the school’s budget to cover a trip. Of course I love trips but I also love the convenience of having virtual access to the museum. By the way, the first #virtualreality exhibit available is, No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man. My facial expression says it all! Find the link in my bio to learn more. #ad

About last night... we were honored to celebrate the @calvinklein WOMEN fragrance launch at #nyfw !!! When Sallay and I walked into the room, I felt this familiar feeling of not belonging in the company of beautiful women with fancy, creative-career introductions that ended with, “...and I am an influencer.” Never heard anyone call themselves that before and it made me feel really small, to be honest. My natural response: I’m just a teacher... caught them off guard. I watched their cheery, almonds eyes wan with confusion... I knew they were thinking the same thing I was thinking: why me? What am I doing here? But I was wrong... “JUST a teacher?!” They echoed my sentence; no one was questioning my presence, they were questioning my choice of words. “You’re not just a teacher, you are the original influencer.” We exchanged final smiles when they walked away but I didn’t understand what they meant... I turned to Sallay and said, “What does that even mean?” “Babygirl...” (She always calls me that even though I am older...) “Teachers are the original influencers.” I had to laugh at how long it took me to get it! And although I’ll probably never call myself an “influencer” I am grateful for my sister/stylist, Sallay, and all of the amazing women I met last night, who won’t ever question how/why I am in a space, therefore, I won’t either! #IAMWOMEN @macys #ad

I haven’t been to therapy in weeks, for the first time in almost 4 years. I felt like I was becoming too dependent on her validation of my ideas and choices... that feeling was beginning to flood my friendships... I was not listening to my inner voice, anymore... I sought answers from everyone else. I’m not saying this is therapy’s fault, I am saying, even when you seek help, dont forget the power of your true self... I’ll be back in therapy next week, though. I am ready to be heard without needing acknowledgement. I know that I am loved and valued, no longer neglected and ignored. Being away from work this summer slowed me down enough to realize I am fully healed... but during the school year, it is imperative that I attend my weekly sessions, not only for my sanity but for the emotional safety of my classroom. My self care allows me to love my students, even on days when I don’t have energy to love. Sometimes their actions trigger memories of my childhood-trauma. I used to lash out, engage in power struggles. Now, I model self-control. I close my eyes and breathe. And when it’s too much for a deep exhale to cure, I fallback on a good cry — right in front them. Riding the fine line between being vulnerable and crossing boundaries. I show them who I am. And through my conversations in therapy, I figure out what it was that made me feel so bad— so unappreciated — so unloved by them. I learn, it is, in fact, never them. I self-reflect long enough to realize that it’s deeply rooted within me. Facing myself forces those roots to be pulled and decimated, allowing new seeds to flourish. The harmonious balance between therapy and meditating allows me to till the soil of my mind.

The truest reflection in this photo is her happiness. Our mothers are our first and greatest teachers but before she became a mama, Carissa was my best friend through thick and thin. Now, a little girl is about to call my sister mommy and I’m her Godmama. Dear Ellie, you won’t have to look for me because I’ll be right here. #IAMWOMEN @calvinklein @macys #ad

A composer is to music as a teacher is to ideas. Today, I set up the instruments for my classroom’s symphony!
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A year ago, my students and I had no books to start with. Today, we have 6 shelves full and fine-free public libraries!! What does that sound like to you? Sounds like Baltimore is the city that reads, to me!!!
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Song: Flight of the Bumblebee by Isaac Stern

I killed her. Slow and deliberate death. No gun. No knife. No poison. She’s dead. The voice of fear that tried to destroy any chances of me living out my ancestors’ wildest dreams. Killed her with creativity. Killed her by pushing through, even when she was in my mirror screaming, “You are never going to get it right! How dare you think you, alone, are enough?!” I silenced her with yoga poses and mindfulness. Then, I sliced her throat with my pen. I read my way out. Wrote my way up. Worked my way here. I am healed. I spent this summer celebrating the resurrection of my highest self and I had the audacity to tell my therapist, “I am not depressed, anymore.” From the depths of her ebony, she said, “You found the cure: listening to all the voices and knowing the difference between which ones are guiding/protecting you and which ones are projections of the wounded version of you.” I know who I am. Soft smile, cozy sweats. Content in my bliss. If I claim to be light, that’s what you should see, even when I am standing in front of you wallowing in agony—through that darkness, you will still see the light in me.

Notes on Enough: The length of time and the level of exposure we shared with the @flourishingblossoms during our trip to the Dominican Republic, last month, was certainly not enough to undo their childhood trauma, but it was enough for them to awaken their consciousness, reflect on the past, and talk about their experiences from an enlightened perspective. When you are starting the healing process, just being able to articulate your feelings is enough.

School Year 2018-19 Morning Routine: •
Gym: cardio •
Meditate: breathe and affirm

Laugh: mentally or out loud

Perform: now that I have a stage (see previous post) I am strengthening my craft. Teaching is a form of acting. For me, it’s all about the voice inflection and many accents. (This is how I co-create with all of the voices in my head...) I suck at accents, which makes my students laugh! So it works for us. The more I model and perform when I read, the more they strengthen their own fluency and stamina. This is not just fun, it’s educational!! High level of rigor and BRAVERY! Talk about building character in a kid! Reading out loud will do it!

Before I leave the house for work, I invite my inner-child to come out and play! This morning, I decided to channel my talented sister @yrsadaleyward ... her memoir is going to elevate my students’ writing, elegantly.

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