Sunday, December 31, 2017

CREATIVITY: You Can’t Meet New Challenges with Old, Outdated, Obsolete Strategies!

Note - Today is Day 6 of Kwanzaa & I'm examining how each principle correlates with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Creativity (KUUMBA in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read & feel free to comment.

The education profession is one that is always changing and evolving…and some may argue, to a fault. When I entered the ranks of teaching in 1988, it was something entirely different by the time I reentered in 1992. By the time I became a school administrator in 1998, it had evolved even more so. Every 4 – 5 years after that, it evolved again and again. As I look back on education from my beginning to now, it has changed so drastically that what I was doing in my earlier years, I would consider obsolete today. With these constant changes in education, I had to change and evolve along with it if I was going to remain relevant and effective. How are you evolving? How are you adapting to change? How are you keeping up with the pace of change? Or have you remained set in your old ways?

There are so many perspectives as to why education changes so often and rapidly, and these perspectives are typically accompanied by discussions of whether or not the change is in the best interest of children and whether or not educators are a part of the decision-making process to bring about change. At the “end of the day” however, we can all conclude that change is inevitable.

Looking at change through a different lens, society changes at rapid rates too. Technology changes, the media changes, trends change, clothing changes, circumstances change, needs change, interests change, goals and aspirations change, government changes, life changes, people change, our children change, the world changes, EVERYTHING CHANGES! All of the aforementioned have direct implications with “classroom teacher success.” So the question becomes, have YOU changed? Again…have YOU changed? As great as you were in the classroom 5 to 10 years ago, you can’t continue your trajectory of greatness if you haven’t adapted to change. Because the world is constantly changing, your students are changing with it. How have you adapted to change?

I have old video footage of me as a young assistant principal and a principal. Every time I watch those old clips, I almost feel embarrassed to watch them because there is so little relevance in the message to contemporary times…but at THAT time, what I was articulating along with my actions was relevant. Over the years, I had to change, evolve, adapt and grow with the times.

My topic for this blog post is: CREATIVITY: You Can’t Meet New Challenges with Old, Outdated, Obsolete Strategies. I am saying here that toward adapting to change in the classroom, you must be able to evoke creativity, innovation and unconventional strategies to solve new problems. You must constantly reinvent yourself over time. As great as you were last year (or even last month), those strategies you employed may no longer work this year, as society has changed even in a year (or a month).

The number of children who enter schools who are living in poverty increases by the year. The challenges associated with poverty are real and they require the best version of yourself daily. Here, I’m not even talking about how you infuse professional development into your repertoire of strategies. No, I am talking about how you reach down within yourself to find new ways to solve new problems with students who have the greatest need. I am asserting here that all of us have untapped talent and potential lying dormant within that we’re not even aware of. In fact, we live our entire lives having only tapped into a small fraction of the greatness that lies within us. We must therefore on a very conscious and deliberate level seek to tap into ourselves….evoke creativity toward finding novel ways to be great in our classrooms. Our students require it from us daily – particularly those students who are most at-risk.

For the basketball fans out there, think about a 7-game playoff series. A given team had a strong regular season, they are the number one seed in their bracket and playing the lowest seed. They practiced for Game 1. They prepared for Game 1. They studied game film for Game 1. They subsequently go out onto the basketball court for Game 1 and get blown out of the arena. Even if you’re not a basketball fan, I think you can agree with me that the strategy that was executed for Game 1 can now be rendered old, outdated and obsolete! The coach (teacher) has to now look within for a whole new game plan based upon how the opponent performed in Game 1 toward being victorious in Game 2. It works the same way in the classroom…a continual renewal of ourselves…evoking creativity toward bringing the best version of ourselves to our classrooms daily.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

PURPOSE: You Will NEVER Reach “Peak Teaching Performance” Until You Have Firmly Grasped Your “WHY!”

Note - Today is Day 5 of Kwanzaa & I'm examining how each principle correlates with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Purpose (NIA in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read & feel free to comment.

"Purpose" (Nia) is my absolute favorite principle out of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. For anyone who knows of my work, you already know this….you know that at the heart of everything I present is “purpose” and “attitude.” For the past 48 hours, I was trying to come up with a good title for this blog post. I couldn’t come up with anything that I liked until I was driving with my wife in the car last night and it hit me! I said to my wife, “write this down before I lose it…You will NEVER reach peak teaching performance until you have firmly grasped your WHY!” Then I said, “BAM…That’s It! That will be my title for Nia!”

Now I know that this title is a rather bold assertion…I get it…it might even turn some folks off, but I stand behind it! Hey teacher out there reading this blog post, you will NEVER reach peak teaching performance until you have firmly grasped your WHY! What am I saying? It is a staple in my workshops with teachers to ask them the question, “WHY do you teach?” Typical responses include, “To make a difference in the lives of my students,” “To make a positive impact on the lives of my students,” “To give my students hope,” “To help my children to learn,” “To ensure that my students have opportunities as adults.” “To prepare my students for the real world.” I love these responses…I have no criticism of any of them, but I do question whether they are addressing the teachers’ “WHY.” For example, when a teacher states, “I teach to make a difference in the lives of my students,” my response is “Why does this matter?” In other words, I am challenging the teacher to dig deeper. The teacher’s response to my query is probably the road to his / her “why.”

Your “why” is your purpose. It is your reason for being…in this case, your reason for being in the classroom. It is very specific. It is very narrow. It is very focused. Once I explain it that way to my audiences, I give them time to reflect and to interact with one another. Resultantly, it is typical that their responses change to something much more focused. By the same token, it is also typical that many of the same teachers that responded initially no longer have a response. The reason is because what they thought was their purpose was actually only a strong desire...but it wasn’t their “why.” In searching for one’s “why,” sometimes you have to take out a shovel and dig deeper to find it. Until we do so, we are being driven by surface level desires. It is not uncommon for a teacher to say to me at this juncture of a presentation that, “I don’t think I know my WHY.

When I became a teacher in 1988, I was very clear on my “why.” Having been born an African American male and raised in an urban African American community in New Jersey, I knew first hand the challenges of this reality. I lived it. So as I walked through that front door at PS 221 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, NY for the first time, I had a firm grasp of my “why” from the outset which was to build men out of my boys. This did not imply that my girls were of less importance…nor did it imply that my curriculum and my other roles and responsibilities were of less significance, but because of the national crisis that we currently face with so many African American boys academically, I felt a need to zero in on them. They were why I woke up in the morning. They were my purpose…they were my “why.” Building these boys into positive, upstanding young men was what drove me daily. It was my passion…it was my purpose. This continued through my principalship and beyond. It woke me and it drove me. Hey teacher out there, what is your “why?” Why do you do this work? What keeps you up at night related to your work? What preoccupies your thinking? Whatever your answer is, it is probably your “why.”

The title of this blog post is You Will NEVER Reach Peak Teaching Performance Until You Have Firmly Grasped Your “WHY!” As I stated above, this title is a rather bold assertion because it essentially says that reaching peak teaching performance is contingent upon you identifying, walking in and firmly grasping your purpose. I am proclaiming boldly here that you MUST find your teaching purpose, and your teaching purpose must be much narrower than “making a difference and an impact.” Certainly, you will want to do both, but as they relate to your purpose, they are too broad. I put them both in the category of “noble desires.” Your purpose…your “why” is narrow, specific and to the point. It tugs away at you. It keeps you up at night. It occupies your thoughts. It drives what you say and what you do. It keeps you focused on the task at hand while simultaneously driving away and blocking out the distractions.

Think about it – there are people who have made extraordinary accomplishments in all walks of life. Some of these people are very well known and others are only known within their circles but have done extraordinary work nevertheless…they’re doing big things like teaching children to think critically and analytically for example. They are performing at peak levels. We can assume here that they are performing at peak levels in large part because within their work, they have identified their purpose for the work which drives them day in and day out. As you begin to mentally prepare for the resumption of school in January, be sure to have either identified your purpose for your work or start the process of identifying it so that you can ensure that you are reaching peak teaching performance daily which translates into your students achieving at the highest possible levels of accomplishment.

Friday, December 29, 2017

COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS: Don’t Forget to Teach Your Students the Invaluable Lessons of Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship!

Note - Today is Day 4 of Kwanzaa & I'm examining how each principle correlates with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Cooperative Economics (UJAMAA in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read & feel free to comment.

Just before Christmas, 2017, I posted on my Facebook page that I was going to launch my first ever blog page on December 26 to coincide with the start of the Kwanzaa season. In my post, I committed to writing a blog post for educators for each of the seven days of Kwanzaa and that each day would address the principle of the day relative to how it correlates with classroom teacher success. I knew that the principle that would give me the greatest challenge writing would be the one that I am addressing here – Cooperative Economics. For the past several days, I asked myself, “How will I make this principle work since it doesn’t have an obvious connection to classroom teaching success.” Then it hit me…Financial Literacy and Entrepreneurship. Many, and I mean MANY students graduate from high school having no understanding of money beyond spending it. I therefore decided that I would devote this blog post to the following three categories as it relates to the classroom teacher:

            • Money Management
            • Leveraging Money
            • Entrepreneurship

Money Management
Let me say first and foremost that as either an elementary or secondary school teacher, I understand that your plate is more than full with endless responsibilities that go well beyond the instructional side of your work. But as full as your plate may be, your students cannot afford to leave your classroom at the end of the school year without some level of understanding of how to manage money. Although you may be an elementary school teacher and money management may be a long way off for your students, you can still plant some seeds now. They have to know that money is not solely for spending. They need to know something about saving, budgeting and investing money. They need to understand how to maintain and balance a checkbook. These are simple yet important concepts you can address in an interdisciplinary format throughout the course of the school year. If we are truly preparing them for life after grade school, managing money has got to be a part of the conversation.

Leveraging Money
Again, the subject areas that we teach are simply not enough. I am known to say that “we teach children first and subject areas secondarily.” I consider that sequence to be a game-changer but so many of us continue to see ourselves as “the Math teacher, the  Science teacher or the English teacher.” I say no, we are teachers of children first! To that end, children need to know something about not only making and managing money but leveraging money as well. As I stated above, they need to understand that there is more to money than spending it. In this case, even at the elementary level, your students need to understand how money works…how “money makes money”…how money grows…how money works for you, even when you are asleep…how to leverage money through debt. I’m not saying that the discussion needs to be intense nor in depth, but I am saying that there is a need to incorporate the discussion into your lessons throughout the course of the school year.

It is my strong contention that the discussion of entrepreneurship is unavoidable at the school level. Your students need to understand that entrepreneurship is yet another means of earning a living and thereby another level of managing and leveraging money. In the two previous sections, I’m talking about your students managing their money after receiving it in a paycheck. In this section, I’m talking about your students independently (or in partnership) owning their own businesses. They would therefore need to know how to manage their money from a different vantage point relative to both, reinvesting their earnings back into their businesses and managing the money that is not reinvested. What’s key here is planting seeds of entrepreneurship and managing the money of a business while they are young.

So many children do not realize the “power” and potential they possess to do virtually anything they set their minds on achieving. In the world of work, the possibilities are endless, but they must prepare for it. Entrepreneurship on the other hand enables them to take full ownership and control of their own businesses. For those of you who teach in economically disadvantaged communities and service underserved students, this conversation is particularly vital. Underserved children in particular need deliberate exposure to all the options and possibilities that exist while they are still in school toward filling the void of what may be absent in their conversations at home. The seeds of business ownership must be planted now which include, in the spirit of today’s principle - Ujamaa, envisioning a future of collaborating with other members of their communities toward investing in their neighborhoods and building up their neighborhoods through the development of viable and much needed businesses and services. Obviously, they won’t all opt to become entrepreneurs but at least with the seeds that you plant, you are giving them something to think about and consider now, and possibly build upon through time.

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Note - As today is the 3rd day of Kwanzaa, I decided to look at each of the "7 Principles of Kwanzaa" and examine how each correlate with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Collective Work & Responsibility (UJIMA in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read and feel free to comment.

Somewhere in America, there’s a school where once the morning bell rings, students are in their assigned little worlds called classrooms along with their teachers ready to learn the day’s lessons. At the elementary level, they will spend the bulk of their entire day and year in that same little space preparing for a later time in their lives that is probably quite inconceivable in the present moment. At the secondary level, the students will travel from classroom to classroom but like the elementary classroom, they will be preparing for a later time in their lives that is quite inconceivable in the present moment.

At this same school, the teachers are working diligently every day to help the students turn their dreams into their reality. There’s one big problem in this school however….and when I say big, I mean major! In a previous blog post entitled, Unity in the School Community, I stated,

There's nothing like walking into a school where staff not only know one another, but they like one another, they appreciate one another, they care about one another, they respect one another, they collaborate with one another, they support one another, they learn with, from and for one another, and they're excited about what they do and who they do it for...the students. I call this a "BAM" learning environment. There is UNITY amongst the staff and the learning environment is therefore healthy, vibrant and optimistic. There's energy, excitement and enthusiasm for the work, the students and one another. It's an environment where the entire staff wants to be there daily...because they have a common purpose, mission and vision for their work...they are ONE...they are unified. UNITY abounds through the staff and the overall school community.”

In other words, I was talking about unity amongst staff…harmony amongst staff…a sense of family and community throughout the building. In this essay on Collective Work & Responsibility, I want to take it a step further. It is one thing to be in harmony with one another – that is a good thing. But it is an entirely different thing when that harmony has a purpose. What an advantage for children when the purpose of harmony amongst staff is effective collaboration between staff.

Going back to the school I referenced above, there was unity in the building. They got along well, but it stopped there. They spoke to one another, they had small-talk with one another, they ate lunch with one another, but they did not collaborate with one another professionally. The entire school suffers as a result because the staff is disconnected on a professional level.

Through my work, I have come to know that there are schools out there where collaboration amongst staff either doesn’t exist or it’s minimal at best. This is particularly troublesome because those same schools are comprised of so many brilliant, extraordinary educators, both veteran and new. When they hold all of their pedagogical knowledge within themselves, no one else on staff benefits from their presence. Each have their own unique experiences in the classroom and in their preparation. Each have something special and unique to share. For example, in any given school, there are staff members who are trying to resolve an issue, whether it be instructional-related, content-related, data-analysis-related, lesson planning-related, climate / culture-related, relationships-related, parental engagement-related, etc., but within that same school, there are staff members who resolved these issues years ago. The problem is that they are not talking to one another professionally. Since this sort of collaboration is not occurring, the staff cannot benefit from the presence of one another and in the end, children suffer…the school suffers due to a “disconnected staff” and the consequence is a “miserable school.”

As today is Day 3 of Kwanzaa, today’s principle of Collective Work & Responsibility is absolutely crucial. Teachers cannot confine themselves to their classrooms. They must work collectively and collaboratively with one another to reach common goals. The challenges that so many of our children face in their lives is quite overwhelming for them, which requires constant collaboration by staff. Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) must be standard practice in all schools. Optimal student performance across the building cannot occur when staff is not functioning as a team….as a cohesive unit. I happen to be an avid football fan for example. Not only do I watch the games through the lens of a fan, I also watch the games through the lens of an educator. I am watching the unity, harmony, interaction and collaboration between players on the field. That unity, harmony, interaction and collaboration on the field are crucial to being victorious. Well it works the same way in the school amongst staff. When the unity I discussed in a previous blog post along with harmony, interaction and collaboration between teachers is present, the effects of Collective Work & Responsibility are more than apparent in the school.

An Afterthought on Why I Didn't Reference the Role of School Administrators
After reading this blog post some have inquired on social media why I didn't reference the role of school administrators toward initiating the process of collaboration. The answer is simple....I deliberately left any mention of school administrators out because I am speaking directly to teachers and their roles. The unfortunate reality is that schools do in fact exist where staff collaboration does not exist BECAUSE it has not been initiated and led by the administration for whatever the reason. When this is the reality of a given school, it doesn't resultantly dismiss the need for collaboration between staff members....the need is still there. Teachers must therefore take the initiative despite the absence of leadership in this effort and begin the process nevertheless.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

SELF DETERMINATION: You Have Got to Want Success for Your Students BADLY!

Note - As today is the 2nd day of Kwanzaa, I decided to look at each of the "7 Principles of Kwanzaa" and examine how each correlate with CLASSROOM TEACHER SUCCESS. Today's principle is Self-Determination (KUJICHAGULIA in the East African language, Kiswahili). Take a read and feel free to comment.

Remember your first day, week, month, year as a rookie classroom teacher? Did it go according to plan? Was the experience all you expected it to be? Did you know right then and there that you made the right career choice? Or were there times that you wondered whether or not teaching was really for you?

I recall vividly my entire first year as a 6th grade classroom teacher in the city I was born and raised (East Orange, NJ) after substitute teaching the previous two years in Brooklyn, NY and East Orange. I have no problem admitting that my first year was a complete disaster! To say I was subpar would be an overstatement…I was that bad. I didn’t know what I was doing. I couldn’t make the sort of connections with my students that would make me successful as their teacher. I was not an education major in college so I had no pedagogical foundation. I can honestly say that the experience was one of my biggest defeats in life. At the end of the year, I left for summer break wondering if I’d ever return to teaching.

After being away from the school for a week, I convinced myself that I could in fact perform at a high level as a classroom teacher the next school year. I literally started preparing myself mentally every day throughout the entire summer, starting in that first week of summer break. I told myself that I could do it...I convinced myself that I could do it. I started writing mock lesson plans and literally practicing my teaching in my apartment. I was determined…I was hungry…I was driven…I was ON FIRE! I was NOT going to be defeated for a second year because I was convinced that if I’m defeated, the children are the losers. SELF-DETERMINATION governed my attitude for the entire summer of 1993. The children who were assigned to me were going to soar that next school year. I was going to be ready!

Well, to summarize the following school year, I have said for the past 23 years, the ’93-’94 school year was not only my best year of teaching but my best year in education which includes my fourteen years as a principal. Why? Because I was hungry…I was DETERMINED. I had experienced enough mediocrity. I was ready to be GREAT in the classroom…how about you?

As I type, today is December 27, 2017. How has the first half of the current school year gone for you? Has it been all that you anticipated it would be? Have you accomplished the things that you planned on accomplishing? Are your students achieving at the levels you expected? Are your students where you expect them to be socially under your guidance? Are your students dreaming BIG as a result of your presence? Are your students on the right trajectory toward maximizing their potential? Has the first half of the school year been fulfilling? Obviously of all the educators who will read this post, the responses will vary, but my point here is YOU…not your students. You have got to want success for your students badly. Let me say that again for the people in the back…YOU HAVE GOT TO WANT SUCCESS FOR YOUR STUDENTS BADLY! It’s extremely easy to point to the variables that we have zero influence and control over and proclaim that “if only this would change or if only that would change…” I certainly was guilty of that mindset my first year, but the summer of ‘93, I started looking at myself…I started looking at myself differently. I concluded that the variables outside of my classroom that were shaping my students lives, I could not influence nor control but I had maximum influence and control over MYSELF.

How determined are you to see your students succeed? How frequently do you engage in your own self-reflection and self-assessment of your attitude toward yourself as a classroom teacher, your attitude toward your students, and your attitude toward your practice as a classroom teacher? This is a vital component toward developing and enhancing your self-determination which is crucial. You have got to walk into your classroom every day with a deep level of determination to have your best day ever, every day. But key to reaching that level of determination is an ongoing examination of your own self-determination through the self-reflective, self-assessment process I stated above in order to make the required self-adjustments daily.

When you get back to school in January, ensure that it is evident within your attitude and evident within your actions that you want success for your students badly. Find ways to block out all of the distractions while eagerly approaching all of the challenges with a mindset of “I GOT THIS!” You must be determined. Self-determination is a vital ingredient toward accomplishing that objective.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017


Note - As today is the first day of Kwanzaa, I decided to look at each of the "7 Principles of Kwanzaa" and examine how each correlate with classroom teacher success. Today's principle is Unity (UMOJA in the East African language, Kiswahili). I will be posting a short essay each of the seven days of Kwanzaa. Take a read and feel free to comment.

Several years ago, I was invited to conduct a full day professional development workshop at a low performing school in a city located in the northeast region of the U.S. As always, I had done my homework on the school and the surrounding community so I knew what I was walking into. Achievement was low, student behavior and attendance was abysmal, staff turnover and attendance was alarming and there were three different principals over the past four years. When I arrived at the school, the tension in the air was "thick." You could feel it as you walked through the front door with the "coldness" of the security guards that greeted me. When I arrived at the main office, the experience was no different. The secretary that greeted me was both cranky and rude and resultantly, I felt uneasy about being in this school. Already, I couldn't help but think to myself, "How is it possible that this learning environment could produce any more than it is currently producing."

I was asked to sit in the main office and wait for the principal. I waited for what seemed to be an eternity. When the principal finally arrived, I was rushed to the auditorium to set up. I thought to myself, "Wow, we didn't even have an introductory conversation." As the staff was filing into the auditorium, I asked the principal to give me a quick summary of any final thoughts that he might want to share with me before we got started. His main focus was low student achievement and student apathy. I then went on and engaged in my "audience analysis" as I always do. The audience analysis is my way of looking at my audience, listening to my audience, gauging the emotions of my audience and analyzing my overall experience of being in the room with my audience. I consider my audience analysis to be crucial to the success of the workshop.

My computer was now set up and I was ready for a full day of professional development with the staff. My audience analysis however caused me to reach a very troubling conclusion about the staff before I even got started - this staff either didn't know one another or they didn't like one another. There was obvious tension in the room. No one sat together. It was a small staff of about 50 and they were scattered throughout the auditorium. One might say that the auditorium was toxic. It was clear to me that this was going to be a day very much different than the one I had planned.

I decided to open up with an icebreaker...something to get the staff to move closer to one another, talk to one another, and loosen up so that we could have a productive day....I didn't feel it worked though. I therefore asked the staff a question that I had never asked a staff before in my professional life - "Do you guys know one another?" The answer was a loud, resounding, emphatic "No!" In this small space were 50 unconnected, detached staff members. I immediately told the principal that I needed to switch gears....his staff didn't know one another! My focus for the next five hours was assisting them with getting to know one another.

I entitled this blog post, "UNITY in the School Community." My premise here is that children suffer enormously when unity amongst staff is lacking in their school as was the case in the aforementioned school. There's nothing like walking into a school where staff not only know one another, but they like one another, they appreciate one another, they care about one another, they respect one another, they collaborate with one another, they support one another, they learn with, from and for one another, and they're excited about what they do and who they do it for...the students. I call this a "BAM" learning environment. There is UNITY amongst the staff and the learning environment is therefore healthy, vibrant and optimistic. There's energy, excitement and enthusiasm for the work, the students and one another. It's an environment where the entire staff wants to be there daily...because they have a common purpose, mission and vision for their work...they are ONE...they are unified. UNITY abounds through the staff and the overall school community.

What about your school? Does unity abound in your school? Does staff know, like, appreciate, care for, respect, collaborate with, support, learn with, from and for one another? Is there a common purpose, mission and vision for the work? If not, why not? If you are the principal of the school, what role have you played toward forging unity (community) amongst your staff? These are important questions for any school staff to consider. I challenge each of you to do just that toward ensuring that UNITY is a mainstay in your respective schools.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Principal Kafele's List of Recommended Black Authored Books for Educators of Black Children

Educators are always looking for resources to enhance their practice in their respective roles in schools. Educators are also always looking for very specific information for very specific challenges. I am frequently asked by teachers of diverse racial / ethnic backgrounds for additional resources toward motivating, engaging and empowering the African American learners in their classroom who may be underperforming. I consequently developed the list of books and authors below over the years to meet that need. It is by no means a comprehensive list but it is more than a great start for any educator looking to take their African American students to much higher levels of achievement in a true equity-based learning environment. Take a look.

African History
  1. Black Man of the Nile – Yosef ben-Jochannan
  2. Introduction to African Civilizations – John G. Jackson
  3. The African Origins of Civilization – Cheik Anta Diop
  4. The Cultural Unity of Black Africa – Cheik Anta Diop
  5. Stolen Legacy – George G. M. James
  6. Destruction of Black Civilization – Chancellor Williams
  7. World’s Great Men of Color, Vols. I and II – J. A. Rogers
  8. Sex and Race, Vols. I-III – J. A. Rogers
  9. Nile Valley Contributions to Civilization – Anthony T. Browder
  10. Nile Valley Civilizations – Ivan Van Sertima

African American History
  1. Before the Mayflower – Lerone Bennett, Jr.
  2. From Slavery to Freedom – John Hope Franklin
  3. Notes For An African World Revolution – John Henrik Clarke
  4. African American History: A Journey to Liberation – Molefi K. Asante
  5. How Europe Underdeveloped Africa – Walter Rodney
  6. They Came Before Columbus – Ivan Van Sertima
  7. Blacks in Science – Ivan Van Sertima
  8. Black Inventors of America – McKinley Burt, Jr.
  9. Great Negroes: Past and Present – Russell Adams
  10. Introduction to Black Studies – Maulana Karenga
  11. What They Never Told You in History Class – Kush
  12. The Black Holocaust for Beginners – Sam Anderson
  13. Peculiar Institution – Kenneth Stampp
  14. Africa’s Gift to America – J. A. Rogers
  15. Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey – Amy Jacques Garvey
  16. Marcus Garvey, Hero – Tony Martin
  17. Marcus Garvey and the Vision of Africa – John Henrik Clarke
  18. Up From Slavery – Booker T. Washington
  19. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass
  20. Harriet Tubman – Ann Petry
  21. Autobiography of W. E. B. DuBois
  22. Autobiography of Malcolm X – Alex Haley
  23. Malcolm X Speaks – George Brietman
  24. Malcolm X, The Man and His Times – John Henrik Clarke
  25. King, A Biography – David Lewis

African American Education
  1. Miseducation of the Negro – Carter G. Woodson
  2. Afrocentricity – Molefi Kete Asante
  3. Black Students Guide to Positive Education – Zak Kondo
  4. Issues in African American Education – Walter Gill
  5. For the Children – Madeline Cartwright
  6. Africa Counts – Claudia Zaslavsky
  7. SBA: The Reawakening of the African Mind – Asa G. Hilliard III
  8. Maroons Within Us – Asa G. Hilliard III
  9. Young, Gifted and Black – Asa G. Hilliard III, Theresa Perry, Claude Steele
  10. Infusion of African and African American Content in the School Curriculum – Asa G. Hilliard III, Lucretia Payton-Stewart, Larry Obadele Williams
  11. The Failure of Public Education in the Black Community – Anyim Palmer
  12. How to Transform Your Inner City School and Raise Student Achievement - Shawn Hurt
  13. The Crisis and Challenge of Black Mis-Education in America – Gyasi A. Foluke
  14. African-Centered Schooling in Theory and Practice – Diane S. Pollard
  15. The Education of Black People – W.E.B. DuBois and Herbert Aptheker
  16. Going to School: the African American Experience – Kofi Lomotey
  17. Nationbuilding: Theory and practice in Afrikan-centered education – Kwame Agyei Akoto
  18. Too Much Schooling, Too Little Education – Mwalimu J. Shujaa
  19. Sailing Against the Wind: African Americans and Women in U.S. Education – Kofi Lometey
  20. Educating Our Black Children: New Directions and Radical Approaches – Richard Majors
  21. Unbank the Fire: Visions for the Education of African American Children – Janice E. Hale
  22. The White Architects of Black Education: Ideology and Power in America, 1865-1954 – William H. Watkins
  23. Improving Schools for African American Students: A Reader for Educational Leaders – Sheryl Denbo
  24. Yurugu: An African-Centered Critique of European Cultural Thought and Behavior – Marimba Ani
  25. African-Centered Pedagogy:Developing Schools of Achievement for African American Children – Peter C. Murrell, Jr.
  26. Reversing Underachievement Among Gifted Black Students – Donna Y. Ford
  27. Center Shift: An African-Centered Approach for the Multi-Cultural Curriculum – Joan D. Ratteray
  28. Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria – Beverly Daniel Tatum
  29. We Want To Do More Than  Survive - Bettina Love
  30. Learning to Survive: Black Youth Look for Education and Hope – Atron A. Gentry
  31. A Black Parent’s Handbook to Educating Your Children (Outside of the Classroom) – Baruti K. Kafele

Teaching African American Children
  1. A Handbook for Teachers of African American Children – Baruti K. Kafele
  2. A Talk With Jawanza – Jawanza Kunjufu
  3. Black Students/Middle Class Teachers – Jawanza Kunjufu
  4. Black Children – Janice Hale
  5. Learning While Black – Janice Hale
  6. Marva Collins Way – Marva Collins
  7. Ordinary Children/Extraordinary Teachers – Marva Collins
  8. I Choose To Stay – Salome Thomas-El
  9. Black Teachers on Teaching – Michele Foster
  10. From Rage to Hope: Strategies for Reclaiming Black and Hispanic Students – Crystal Kuykendall
  11. African-Centered Interdisciplinary Multi Level Hands-On Science – Bernida Thompson
  12. Positive Afrikan Images for Children (Social Studies Curriculum) – Red Sea Press
  13. African American Children: A Self-Empowering Approach to Modifying Behavior Problems and Preventing Academic Failure – Carolyn M. Tucker
  14. Heritage – Joyce Jarrett
  15. How to Teach Math to Black Students – Shahid Muhammad
  16. Motivating / Inspiring African American Children
  17. Awakening the Natural Genius of Black Children – Amos N. Wilson
  18. Developing Positive Self-Images and Discipline in Black Children – Jawanza Kunjufu
  19. To Be Popular or Smart: The Black Peer Group – Jawanza Kunjufu
  20. Motivating and Preparing Black Youth for Success – Jawanza Kunjufu
  21. Harvesting New Generations: The Positive Development of Black Youth – Useni E. Perkins
  22. Doing It My Way: Decision-Making for College Students – Matt Stevens
  23. Doing It My Way: A Decision-Making Workbook for Today’s Youth – Matt Stevens
  24. Other People’s Children: Cultural Conflicts in the Classroom – Lisa Delpit
  25. Culturally Responsive Teaching – Geneva Gay
  26. Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children – Gloria Ladson-Billings
  27. Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy - Gholdy Muhammad
  28. Do You Know Enough About Me to Teach Me? A Student's Perspective - Stephen G. Peters
  29. Overcoming the Achievement Gap Trap - Anthony Muhammad
  30. Honoring Ancestral Obligations - Chike Akua
  31. For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood...and the Rest of Y'all Too - Chris Emdin
  32. Recruiting and Retaining Culturally Different Students in Gifted Education - Donna Y. Ford
  33. Becoming the Educators They Need - Robert Jackson
  34. The Athletic Trap - Craig Boykin
  35. Even on  Your Worst Day You Can Be a Students Best Hope - Manuel Scott

Connecting With African American Males
  1. Motivating Black Males to Achieve in School and in Life – Baruti K. Kafele
  2. Countering the Conspiracy to Destroy Black Boys, Vols. I-IV – Jawanza Kunjufu
  3. Keeping Black Boys Out of Special Education – Jawanza Kunjufu
  4. Raising Black Boys – Jawanza Kunjufu
  5. State of Emergency: We Must Save African American Males – Jawanza Kunjufu
  6. Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap – Alfred W.Tatum
  7. Bringing the Black Boy to Manhood: The Hare Plan – Nathan and Julia Hare
  8. Educating African American Males: Detroit’s Malcolm X Academy Solution – Clifford Watson & Geneva Smitherman
  9. Educating African American Males: Voices From the Field – Edited by Olatokunbo S. Fashola
  10. Educating Black Males: Critical Lessons in Schooling, Community and Power – Ronnie Hopkins
  11. Coming of Age – Paul Hill
  12. A Dark Journey to a Light Future - Tommie Mabry
  13. The Diary of an Emotionally Constipated Man - William "Flip" Clay
  14. The Burning House - Desmond Williams
  15. African American Males in School and Society – Vernon C. Polite
  16. Practical Application of Social Learning Theories in Educating Young African American Males – George R. Taylor
  17. Curriculum Strategies: Social Skills Intervention for Young African Males – George R. Taylor
  18. Kill Them Before They Grow: The Misdiagnosis of African American Boys in America’s Classrooms – Michael Porter
  19. The Trouble with Black Boys – Pedro A. Noguera
  20. Wake Up Young Black Males – Steve Johnson
  21. “Yo, Little Brother…”: Basic Rules of Survival for Young African American Males – Anthony Davis & Jeffrey Jackson
  22. The Warrior Method – Raymond A. Winbush
  23. Bad Boys: Public Schools in the Making of Black Masculinity – Ann Arnett Ferguson
  24. Letters to a Young Brother – Hill Harper
  25. Beating the Odds: Raising Academically Successful African American Males – Hrabowski, III; Maton & Greif
  26. Young, Black and Male in America: An Endangered Species – Edited by Jewelle Taylor Gibbs
  27. The Estrangement of Black Male Youth From a Teacher’s Perspective – Jerald McNair
  28. Empowering African American Males – Michael Wynn
  29. Teaching, Parenting and Mentoring Successful Black Males – Michael Wynn
  30. African Centered Rites of Passage and Education – Lathardus Goggins II

  1. Developmental Psychology of the Black Child – Amos N. Wilson
  2. Chains and Images of Psychological Slavery – Na’im Akbar
  3. African-Centered Psychology: Cultural Focusing for Multi-Cultural Competence – Daudi Ajani Ya Azibo
  4. Post Traumatic Slavery Disorder – Omar Reid, Sekou Mims, Larry Higginbottom
  5. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome – Joy DeGruy Leary

Reflecting on 4 Years of the AP & New Principals Academy

  It’s practically surreal that a project I started on May 2, 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic is still going strong 4 years later and...