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valencia_valencia valencia_valencia

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Valencia D. Clay  I teach.

http://valenciadclay.com/

6:31AM— On behalf of all 81 of my students: THANK YOU to my entire @instagram family. This platform has proven, once again, to be effective in healing our world, one post at a time. And this was not even preplanned!!! .
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When I shared my poster of writers of color, I did not expect to receive so many requests to purchase it. The Harlem-born hustler in me thought 🤑 “Hmm... selling merch could be easy student loan money!” But then 🤔 I thought of my students’ student loans! I am slave to my loans because I did not value reading when I was in middle and high school 😔🤕😫 I’m SICK every month when I have to pay the feds and salle mae! That’s why it is my life’s work to make sure the children that come after me are financially free! So instead of selling the posters for my own benefit, I asked you to barter for books, for my classroom! So they can learn the value of learning! 👩🏽‍🎓👨🏾‍🎓👩🏾‍💻👨🏾‍🎨👨🏾‍🚒👨🏿‍🔬👨🏽‍🍳👩🏽‍🔧👨🏾‍💼👷🏾‍♂️🕵🏽‍♀️
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You understand the urgency to eradicate the literacy deficit in our country and you acted on that! Sending books and kindles and supplies and even the money to purchase the shipping tubes and postage embodies the notion of compassion as activism! You, yes you, who took the time to contribute to the beauty that is in this video, you! YOU. ARE. LOVE! We thank you for everything!!

Check the link: https://tinyurl.com/yafy5pfg for this week’s calendar of events and tons of hyperlinks to curriculum spanning all grade levels and content areas!
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Tonight, we kick off at 4PM —Western High to engage in Auditing our current curriculum to demand Black History and Ethnic Studies courses!
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Tuesday— Lecture at Loyola on Confront Racism in Teacher Education.
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Wednesday— Protest for Justice for Tyrone West and all Victims of Police Brutality.
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Thursday— Panel Discussion: Black Teachers Matter and the Decline of Black Teachers in Baltimore City
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Friday— Youth-led Open Mic Night!
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Saturday— Closing Celebration Dinner with a focus on Uplifting Grassroots Organizations at Space 2640
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All of this is produced by the BMORE Caucus, Baltimore Algebra Project, and the hard working educators, students, and parents of Baltimore City Public Schools!
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Big homage to Philly and Seattle for pioneering the BLM Action Week just one year ago! We will carry the torch and light the flames of many more cities to come!!!

Thank you Adidas. Thank YOU.
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I’ve been complaining about this picture all day. How perfectly perfect my skin looks. How much I don’t feel like it looks like me, at all. How lost l appear. How shiny my weave is. How this is not my best angle. How I wished I could’ve chosen the picture you would display at @brooklynmuseum this month... this Black History Month, instead of realizing, it’s not even about the picture at all. It’s about the message that you are sending to the entire world: The contributions of POC in this country complete the core of the culture and must be acknowledged and celebrated everyday, not just in February.
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Instead of me feeling honored to be chosen by you and my peers, @micaiahcarter and @thecustomfamily, as a member of the next generation of community catalysts, I was upset about the picture that was chosen. Instead of feeling honored about adorning a wall, in the same gallery as greats like Muhammad Ali, I was annoyed about aesthetics. To focus on the negative is not me. But it was today, and I do not like it! It’s not cool. It’s ugly. Nothing is wrong with the picture. Something was wrong with my attitude. .
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Fact is: I do not teach to be recognized. I do not seek validation, outside of seeing my students exceed expectations and false limitations. But when I do receive love for my service with the youth, it is imperative that I do a better job of being grateful, no matter what. So again, thank you @adidasnyc for recognizing me— a teacher.
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This one is for us Black educators. That 18% of us, in this nation, who go hard, day in and day out, with no recognition, at all. I see you. I love you. And if I ever find myself blessed with an honor like this again, I will accept it for all of you. It’s not about me. Not today. Not ever. It’s about the work. And I won’t ever forget that again.

Today was my 23rd day waking up to spend the 1st 15 minutes of the day, writing a love list. Out of those 23 days, there was only 2 where I found myself, mentally, in a place that was too hard to write. So, instead of writing love lists on those days, @ashleyleewrites told me to write an “easy list” and focus on what’s easy, since everything felt so hard.
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The beauty of writing as a form of meditation every morning is that it helps me keep track of my moods, triggers, and reflect on how much the good really does outweigh the bad.
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January can be a very depressing month. February is even worse. Try writing a list of what you love every morning. Like the one below:
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I love standing in Penn Station watching these Black men rack up on money as they play these classical instruments.
I love how people look at them in awe because of how “hood” they appear...
I love how they are playing my favorite love songs.
I love how the birds flew up to me today.
I love how I could hear the call of my name in their feathers..
I love the promise of the sky..
I love how grey cement is..
I love how my boots look on top of the grey..
I love how my old BFs still love me...
I love how easy it is to talk to them about things..
I love how my relationships never end, they just evolve...
I love my sisters..
I love that we are having our coat drive this Friday..
I love that we love helping others..
I love my students and how they love me...
I love how my students work hard even when they are frustrated with how hard the work is...
I love how I can see God in their eyes...
I love how close I am to my aunt...
I love how she teaches me as she still learns, even at 70...
I love my nails and toes even though I could barely afford to get them done..
I love how I decided to treat myself...
I love how I am handling my “problems” by focusing on what I love instead of my “problems”..
I love knowing problems are only illusions.
I love knowing, the more I focus on what I love, the more love I will manifest..
I love the color white on my bed..
I love reading DMs from strangers who see themselves in me..
I love my personal journey..
I love being aware of my Light.
I love being.
I love.

10:52PM— Class trip to JAIL. A winter stroll to the new $35M juvenile prison! It’s only 12 minutes away from my classroom.
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As we walked, I listened to my students analyze and ask questions about their city that many adults have never even asked.
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How do we motivate our struggling readers? How do we raise literacy levels among our children’s systemically neglected minds? Teach them to think critically about what they look at every single day. Take them OUTSIDE. Then, bring them back into the classroom, put the books/articles/documentaries in front of them, and watch them WORK!
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This is a reading lesson, math, science, history, even PE! Let their environment be what they study, so that they learn what it takes to fix it.
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All power is in the hands of the children and THAT is why the education system was set up to fail them— if we educate and freely provide them with the tools to independently access any level of text, in order to further educate themselves long after they leave our care, we will all be free!
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Full Video in my IG LIVE. Once it expires, I will transfer it to ValenciasGarden.com (with annotations of the lesson plan and closed captions!) #readingisactivism #teachbeyondtheclassroom #revolutionary #reading #withaview #blacklivesmatter #somedaywellallbefree

I was just about to turn my phone off to start my nightly 2 hours of focus! I would’ve never seen his DM! I love this! Same kid who once said he hates reading (just yesterday! and begged to abandon “Divergent” for a graphic novel! I said, no!) is taking initiative to modify the text for himself. True growth. True love. #blackboysread ...and yes #hispanicpeopleareblack

Today, my students stayed an hour after school for our Lit Course for two reasons: 1) They want to be stronger readers. 2) They want to help others, who are watching them, become stronger readers. This exemplifies our class motto, #readingisactivism as action, not just a hashtag. We are working. These kids are WORKING to bring change to their community and the world. I am honored to be their teacher, humbled by their drive, empowered by their love, and grateful!!!
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When I watched it, I could see many places that I needed to be more explicit for other teachers to learn from.... I need to find the balance between running this course as a PD and authentically teaching. I was really nervous and tried to ignore the camera as much as possible! Sorry!! Please bare with me! It was my very first time doing this and I will keep getting better. Promise! Before I post the video on YouTube, I will insert clips of annotated narrations to explain what is happening, as well as closed captions so that you can hear everything!

I ain’t always been like this. Ain’t finish a full book ‘til I was like 27 and that took me like 6 months. My literary shift occurred a year after that, when I applied for a PhD program and I didn’t get beyond the interview process because they said I didn’t know enough theory. A former professor knew my abilities as an educator and vouched for me but they told her, “Practice and experience is not enough. She needs to know theory.” They believed I would not be able to handle a PhD program’s rigorous reading requirements. So my professor gave me my first copy of a bell hooks book, “Class Matters,” sent me Gloria Ladson-Billings’ articles, some Neil Postman, and even Vygotsky. I devoured the texts and wrote my heart out in reflections and critical analyses. She cried, real ugly emotional tears. She was so proud of me because she was so hurt that the PhD board did not believe in me the way she did. She said, “Valencia, this proves that you can do this.”
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Honestly, I knew I could do it. I knew what I was capable of... What I did not know was: “theory” was something that I had to know. No one had ever taught me about critical race theory before this experience and I knew, if I didn’t know about it, chances were, most of my peers did not know either. .
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Since then, all I do is read. I’ve spent the last 3-4 years eating every book I come across. And I share everything I read because I don’t want anyone to experience what I went through.
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When I was looking at the comments on my post with the authors, I noticed so many people felt bad about who they didn’t know. I hate that! Don’t down yourself.
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Reading is so intimate and personal. I truly believe that we read what we need in the season that we need it. For instance, a person may read Angela Davis or Baldwin in high school and it’s just another bit of information to them. While other people read it when they are in their late twenties and resonate with it so much that they find a new meaning in their purpose for living. Feel me? We read what we need, when we need it.
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No shame is welcome here. Strictly growth. All love and intellectual compassion.

Reading is activism.

Can you name these writers? Just made this poster for my classroom!! If you can name them all, I mail you one!

One of my students told me that my captions “be too long” and said she just reads the first 2 words and scrolls away! I told her, I don’t care if people read what I write or not, I don’t write for them, I write for me. Writing was my first form of therapy. But it’s not better than a therapist and I must say, I could not see myself without my Wednesday sessions. The craft of writing was and is still a healer but talking to someone (a Black woman from Newark who was bred at Morgan and Howard) who was born to listen (seriously, in the same way I know I was born to teach, I know my therapist was born to listen) has allowed me to bloom in ways that writing did not. She listens. And when I am done with my long stories and such, she asks me a question, which gets me to talk more, so that she can continue to listen. Her questions always guide me to reflect in ways that my introspective writing could not. My friends never experienced my struggles. My grandma and great aunts dont always know what to say, either. I used to feel so alone in my pain; like no one understands me, or like I was just annoying people with my problems. That anxiety caused me to be even more lost. It was not like that with my therapist. She gets it. And I never feel self-conscious when I open up to her. Our sessions empower me. I remember one session, I was in my bed because this was when I was living in Harlem and we would conduct our sessions virtually. I snot-cried so hard. I was so broken. That was one of the only sessions that I felt helpless even with her there. But that dark space is where I needed to be in that time. I needed to dwell in the dirt before I could grow toward the Light. Healing is not a word, it is a process. When I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, I thought I would have to live with it for the rest of my life. Doctors told me I had been suffering since I was 7 years old and wanted me to check myself into Sheppard Pratt for 2 weeks so they could treat my illness. I didn’t go. I was too afraid of losing myself. Instead, I went to therapy. Today, I am healed. Still have moments when my MDD is triggered but I have coping skills and most of all: I practice self-love.

There is nothing wrong with us. There is something wrong with thinking there is something wrong with us.
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Johns Hopkins University. 2010. I did not want to "sound dumb" in front of "them." No confidence in my ability to articulate myself. Inadvertent lessons learned by way of my grandma cursing me out one minute and answering a random phone call with her "high-class" tone the next, taught me that there was only one way to "sound" intelligent. So, before my very first graduate school presentation, I spent hours in the mirror, annunciating my words to mimic the intonation and cadences of "their" accents. Here I was, earning straight A's on every one of my written assignments, a well versed scholar, adept in my content but still, not enough. .
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Writing this to clarify the intended message of my last post. My students are EXPECTED TO SPEAK/WRITE STANDARD ENGLISH in my classroom, PERIOD. However, I do not want them to believe they are any less intelligent because of the way they NATURALLY speak. When they leave my care, the chances of them having teachers who are unfamiliar with our population is quite high. They are being taught not to allow their knowledge to be undervalued by anyone who may not take the time to understand our culture, and misjudge them based on stereotypes and homicide statistics.
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Most of my teachers, even those of color, taught us that our verbiage was "wrong." They were echoing what was taught to them, not knowing they were developing an implicit fear within us. My students will not silence or alter themselves because they don't "sound" right. They are learning how to speak Standard English, without losing their essence in the process. .
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My students published an anthology of 27 essays last year, all written in Standard English, with high-leveled vocabulary and critical concepts, complimented by hand-written journal entries of unfiltered poems and narratives. This was an intentional move to say: I recognize the brilliance in ALL of your work.
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For centuries, without question, we learned to CODE SWITCH/ASSIMILATE in certain settings, to be deemed acceptable. It's over for that. #smartnomatterhowispeak #somedaywellallbefree

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