I’ve spent the last six years using my background in science and learning from all the brilliant experiences I’ve had with my students. And now i’ve left the “old” style of teaching and have taken the plunge to create new ways to grow and nurture myself FOR my students. The real question is; how will I help other teachers ditch the old mindset, without rules or laws, completely from scratch? This podcast is here to give you the answer. Join me and follow along as I learn, apply, and share real tested classroom strategies to grow my abilities and strengths, using only today’s best practices. I Believe in the Power of Self Awareness & I Believe in You. My name is Juan Campos, and welcome to Seal It With A Smile: Self Driven Radio
Building Community: More WE Less ME
To say that quarantine has been difficult is truly an understatement; the fabric of our society has been stretched out to allow for social distancing, which just like a real fabric, if you were to stretch it out, it would become tense.
And that’s really been the color, the mood, the best way I could describe these last few months; tense. Tension from not knowing, tension from learning more, tension again from NOT knowing, then tension from learning and knowing more and more. And even during the lull of a peaceful afternoon or a quiet morning, you are not fully released of that tension. It’s always present
My science brain can’t help but think that mother nature is somehow after us; it wants us to stop messing with the climate. Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like the earth is saying; STOP MESSING WITH ME! Which I get! Its understandable! We have been toying with the earth too long, we invade spaces where humans do not normally live, and because we do not focus on preserving and instead we pillage, something is going to give!
Which brings me back to that tension. It’s a new kind of tension and stress. It’s a very unique form of tiredness. And of course it is, because in our lifetimes we have never seen this kind of outbreak and pandemic! We are not used to this! However a challenge is a challenge, and we face them daily. And for those of us who live in “1st world” countries, the idea of comfort is a fallacy
We are not guaranteed safety. We are not guaranteed security, we are not guaranteed comfort.
Amazon, online shopping, door dash, uber… all of these companies want to make us believe that its a guarantee; they create a false sense of security and expectation in the fact that things SHOULD be easier than they are. Just like in the shows we (used) to watch more regularly, and how the main characters just “naturally” have the stuff they have, and it all seems effortless. Yet you and I struggle economically, and we know families that are in much worse shape than us, and there are also families that we know are in a much better financial position than us. But the expectation, the assumption that “well you can get there on your own”, that YOU can achieve YOUR level of comfort and YOUR definition of success that’s within YOUR grasp is an illusion.
My car has been in the shop for 3 weeks now; i've had to uber to work (with my children) for two weeks, in the middle of a pandemic. Fortunately i'm only 5 minutes away, so the rides are short, and we sanitize after. In that time ive meet people from all over the world! Men and women who each have a unique story, some about job loss, some about supporting other family members, others who have lost their own businesses. During this carless time I’ve used grocery delivery, which is delivered by someone whom I don’t know, used uber eats, which is again delivered by someone I don’t know, and these were all prepared and picked by other people whom I don’t know. And those fruits and vegetables and meat were all produced and picked by people who work in fields and meat processing plants, whom I don’t know, and who statistically speaking are immigrants who work in difficult conditions and are underpaid.
My life, especially my life these past three weeks, has been reliant and has depended upon the work and sweat of others. Without the labor of others, there’s no way I could have facilitated and managed to just get to work and keep my job and put food on my table! Much less do anything outside of that! And now my safety and my health and the health and safety of my children is reliant upon the labor and purposeful intentions of others to wear masks and keep themselves sanitized and healthy! I need people!
Thank You For Breaking Destructive Cycles – Episode 058
Before ever stepping foot into a classroom, I went through what most teachers go through every year; summer professional development. Since this was my first year of teaching, I was shooed into a PD who's goal was to help me become more culturally sensitive. At the time, and as a Latino, I didn't feel this was quite necessary. After the few days of training, I did realize it was quite informative and insightful, and was better for it. The idea that "all kids are equal in my eyes" was broken down, because the reality of my students life was much different.
Then came our principals final speech before school started. There was the usual praise for former and current teachers, well wishes for the upcoming year, targets and data. And then his final words as the session was nearing it's end. He said "And thank you for helping us break poverty cycles".
All of a sudden, my brain wrinkled a bit; a new neural pathway formed in my mind. Why? Because at that moment, I did not "have a job"; I had a mission. But why was my mind so receptive to this idea? For this answer, we need a brief, but vital, history lesson.
In the middle of my hiring, I was working towards my goal of home ownership. Me being me, I also came upon some interesting information regarding the FHA: The Federal Housing Administration. The FHA was created in 1934 and has since processed 40 million mortgages. While this sounds like an amazing accomplishment, between 1934 and the 1960's, the majority of people who benefited from these mortgages were white. In fact, many of their policies were explicit in their verbiage, openly denying loans for Black American's and mostly anyone of color. This had two very purposeful and intended effects:
1) It created the racist practice of "Redlining", which was a way for several sections of a city to be segregated, as mortgage backers would not secure loans in certain areas, thus creating "white" communities and separate communities of color.
2) Because of this redlining practice, eventually white people began to leave the inner cities and move into the suburbs, where planned communities were being built, again using this redlining model, separating their neighborhoods from neighborhoods of black people and people of color. This meant that several sections of the inner city became concentrated with people of color where as the exterior regions of major cities started to become predominantly white.
Another layer of history which must be included in this discussion is the GI Bill. After World War II, there were few jobs waiting for the millions of American men & women as they were coming back from war. In order to avoid a surge in unemployment, the GI Bill was created to help funnel those veterans into 4 year institutions, so that those returning soldiers would be able to obtain degrees which will propel them into long term prosperity while at the same time not drowning the job market.
From an article on history.com:
By the time the original GI Bill ended in July 1956, nearly 8 million World War II veterans had received education or training, and 4.3 million home loans worth $33 billion had been handed out. But most black veterans had been left behind. As employment, college attendance and wealth surged for whites, disparities with their black counterparts not only continued, but widened. There was,a href="https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/40971835" target="_blank" rel="noopener n...
End Of The Year Speech – Episode 056
On my final exam, I usually have a written letter included in the final test. A little note to sum up the year. This year, for the class of 2020, I decided to not only give the final note, but to also say a few words. This year was incredibly important, not just to them, but to myself as well.
I will always learn more from them, then they will ever learn from me.
Below is the letter that I individually hand sign for each of my students.
Thank you class of 2020!
Your Presence Is Your Power and Your Purpose – Episode 057
This being teacher appreciation week, I wanted to not only wish all teachers a very HAPPY teacher appreciation week, but I also wanted to send you a message of hope and inspiration, as we are in the middle of our unprecedented time in quarantine, and for many like myself, heading into the last few weeks of the school year
Like so many of you, I have had to adjust to this new type of at home learning. While many people call it home learning, or at home learning, or even online learning, I feel that these phrases and descriptions do not totally embrace what this really is: pandemic learning. The entire educational system has been disrupted like never before, and to describe it as anything less than that is truly doing us all a disservice. For some reason in education there is this tendency to minimize the bad and overemphasize the good. During these times, it does us a disservice, as so many of our teachers and students face dire life threatening circumstances. If its okay with you, let's agree to call this what it really is; pandemic learning. Is that okay?
Now that we agree to describe this for what it really is; now what? We transitioned all of our curriculum to our online platforms, we have figured out more or less our zoom capabilities, we have tried and tried again to get our "teaching" practices online and have made assignments tailored to fit our new online mediums. But now what?
How do we continue on when kids don't show up? How do we press on when not all of our students are responding to our various cries and pleas for assistance? How do we deal with unexplained death, sudden job loss, and students lack of participation or increased depression?
And on the flip side; how do we deal with students who are thriving in this environment? Those students who no longer feel the societal pressures of conformity and are free to be themselves within the walls of their own personal spaces? Students who's anxiety and mental health issues are now expressed less, and who can now truly enjoy their education and learning, and who are possibly doing even better in this new framework?
The answer to each of these scenarios, or truly any of the situations that could be conceived underneath this new bell curve, is you. You are the answer to each of these situations, because YOU are the glue that is holding this all together. Let me explain.
As the teacher in the classroom, you are the direct contact between the curriculum and your students. Every assessment, every assignment is done THROUGH you. You are the ambassador of the curriculum and of the lesson as well as representing each of your students and making sure that the lesson connects with the students, and vice versa. You are on the front lines with respect to learning; the person on the ground that not only watches it happen, but makes it happen as well. And please do not downplay those teachable moments that were outside of the prescribed curriculum or lesson plan; those are probably the MOST important lessons of all. Those moments when you went off topic to correct a behavior or went off on a tangent from a student asking a questions; those are moments that turn into experiences. And those experiences are what makes learning and teaching so valuable, because those experiences are a direct result of you
And this is where you matter most
When your students used to walk into class, their enthusiasm and their desire to learn was directly connected to their relationship with you; because as the ambassador for the lesson plan and for them, your presence is what flavored each moment, and turned it into an experience. And it was the experience of YOU that made each class what it was. And this doesn't relate or correlate to "good days" and "bad days". Its difficult to quantify "good" and "bad". Because i'm sure on your worst days,
The most important lesson I learned from a brush with Ebola
This is my seventh year of teaching.
As I headed into my new teaching career back in 2013 (without any formal teaching experience) I was also in the midst of recovering from a job loss and recovering from a mistake I made in my marriage. Six years in therapy working on myself, my marriage, my parenting, all of it.
What I did have going for me, probably the main reason why I did get a teaching position aside from my BS in chemistry and my minor in psychology, was my 8 years in beekeeping. Not only was I a beekeeper, but I worked in a honeybee laboratory studying honey bees. In addition to that, I had spent the last two years teaching beekeeping classes for a honey company in the Dallas area. My classes were up to 30 students with an age range of 8 - 89.
Going into my new teaching career I was focus and committed. Not only was I going to be the best teacher I could be, I had to be the best in order to support my newly pregnant wife at the time as we were expecting our son.
I also had to be the best for my almost 200 other children.
Surviving the first year of teaching was exhausting; working a full time job, two part time jobs, children, and a new born. But I survived.
Then October 2014 came.
We had all heard about the Ebola patient being in Dallas, and we had all heard about the nurses. But what none of us in that auditorium that fall afternoon had expected to hear, was that there was a small remote possibility that one of our students family members might have come in close proximity to one of the nurses. The school superintendent that afternoon, in a dry monotone voice, went further to explain the entire school was to under go a top to bottom wipe down that night. He went further on to explain how this was occurring, not out of a necessity, but out of an abundance of caution.
The silence back in our teacher conference group was sobering, but not as sobering as the quiet drive home, where my emotions were running high. Here I was, yet again, in another situation where I had failed; I had possibly brought a deadly virus to my home, infecting my family, infecting my new born son. Right when my life started to gain a positive rhythm, right when my decisions were beginning to make sense, another obstacle in the road totally sabotaging life as I know it.
By the time my wife (now ex-wife) arrived home with the children, I had left all my clothes outside and wiped down almost all surfaces. Using every scientific understanding of contamination I could remember and reason, I cleaned my house from top to bottom, and explained to my wife the situation we were facing.
Her acceptance was reassuring and that evening continued as normal. That night, after putting my babies to sleep, I did all I could do at that moment; read.
I found all the scientific articles I could about the transmission of Ebola and created a powerpoint of the information. I even went into the biology of why hand washing was so effective, and stumbled upon Ignaz Semmelweis, the "savior of mothers". The doctor who figured out that hand washing between treating mothers in childbirth reduced the mortality rate and increased their survivability! Surprisingly (or not surprisingly) even with his data, no one believed him until decades later after his passing.
The next morning I arrived into my classroom armed with all of this information. The prevailing guidance from the top at the time was "keep things as normal as possible". The presentation stood ready; just in case. Then my first student walked in the door.
"Mr. Campos, Mr. Campos, we're all going to die! You're going to die, I'm going to die, my momma doesn't love me, she dropped me off at school!"
Every student after him came into my classroom, repeating the same woes, crying the same cry.
Through Your Eyes – Episode 054
My grandfather was a very big fan of JFK; he was well known and well loved in Latin America (my family is from Mexico) when he became president of the United States.
My mother was 12 years old when JFK was assassinated
While she doesn't exactly remember the details of the day as it happened, what she does remember is the solemn face on my grandfather as he heard the news. While she might not have understood what was going on, by the expression on her fathers face, she knew something terrible had happened.
As educators, and more importantly as the adults, we sometimes overlook or underestimate how our perceptions and our thoughts, language and actions guide and dictate how our students perceive what happens in the classroom.
If you are grumpy or have an attitude (because you got a flat tire, because you didn't get your coffee, etc.) and you walk into the classroom with that attitude, it will impact and shape the way your students perceive the lesson you are trying to teach that day.
Everything that happens in your classroom happens THROUGH your perspective, through your eyes.
Everything that happens in your classroom is filtered THROUGH YOU!
While its very easy to blame kids "attitudes" and their 'bad behavior" as something that is outside of our control, your response to that "attitude" and "behavior" is what sets the tone for your classroom. It is within your power to dictate and set the tone of your classroom.
It is within your grasp and to your benefit to create as positive of an environment as possible; otherwise your students will miss the opportunity to see the lessons and teachings you want them to learn because of a negative environment.
Promoting a positive learning environment creates a safe space for kids to take risks and try; it allows them the ability to open their eyes and see the world through your perspective.
This doesn't just happen; you have to be able to willing to be honest with yourself first. You have to admit to yourself why you feel good or why you feel bad. Sometimes, that means telling your students "Hey, today, I had a flat tire, and I spilled my coffee, and its not the best day"
And this is okay! And its going to be okay!
This is CRITICAL to creating a safe classroom environment; because if you are willing to be honest and upfront with your students, they will trust you. And if they see you as someone who is trust worthy, they will trust the lessons that you have to teach them.
They will trust you
And when you are positive, your kids will be positive
And if you are honest, your kids will be honest
And if you push yourself to be the best version of yourself you can be
So will they
Positivity is contagious; everyone, from your students to your coworkers, will feed off of your positive energy
And if you feel that anything is possible, then THROUGH YOUR EYES, they will also be able to see, that anything is possible for them
It is because of my mothers belief in me (since the day I was born) that I am able to do what I do.
And for that, I will always be grateful and thankful to my mother
Never failed to open up my mind
I used to be in a forensics class with Mr. Campos, and every now and then I look back and think about him and his podcast. Every podcast, whether it relates to my current life or situation, i can learn information that i could use someday and you just never know what knowledge can do for you. keep up the great content Mr. Campos :) although i never payed too much attention in class for forensics, the life lessons you taught are ever lasting.
Lots of good info, understands how hard teaching is and ways to make it better, looking forward to more insights!