A Tale of Two Back to School Nights

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Excitement and enthusiasm were in the air as teachers in my new high school in a middle class neighborhood prepared their classrooms by decorating their bulletin boards, displaying student work, and straightening desks. Welcome messages abounded, Remind.com messages were sent, and we opened our doors to meet the parents.
I have done these events for 24 years, four times a year at my former school in South Central L.A. But this year’s Back to School Night left me reflecting, and perhaps shedding a tear.
First, my new parents were fantastic. They were friendly, enthusiastic, and supportive of the new ideas I bring to the school. I knew in them I would have allies to incorporate my findings from my Fulbright exchange in Finland earlier this year. Parent after parent nodded their heads and strongly affirmed that break time was important to students, teachers, and workers in general. They were excited to hear about the summer travel programs I had prepared.
As I looked at their warm and s…

FULBRIGHT: It Was One Year Ago Today


In the midst of my 21st year of teaching, I get the email about applying for a Fulbright. It gave me pause.

When you have worked a career that involves so many moving pieces, it seems impossible to tear yourself away from your work. Who will take care of my Advanced Studies Program? How can I walk away from a school that faces dire challenges due to the surrounding poverty in the neighborhood? How could I afford this opportunity, if an unpaid leave of absence might be required?

Then I remembered that my students and families watch what teachers do, not what they say.

My whole career has been dedicated to affording the best educational practices to my students, regardless of their background. And when you think of the best, you think of Finland.

Maybe you've seen the Michael Moore video on Finnish education.



Maybe you've read Tim Walker's funny and informative posts on moving to Finland and learning about the schools and culture (my favorite was My Amathophobic Finnish Wife).

Or maybe you just know that your school and your district can be a place that people want to visit and learn from.

So I applied. And waited. And waited. AND waited.

I got it.




This blog will serve as a repository of my Finnish foray as well as the exporting of the vibrant community of South Central L.A. and Boyle Heights to other parts of the world.

Martha Infante
aka AvalonSensei



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