By: Evan Taylor
“Here comes the troublemaker…”
“You are like a little Mandela…”
“You are too militant…”
“You definitely are a little edgy [in reference to my fashion]”
“Your teaching style is…unorthodox…”
“Is that a Hawaiian shirt you are wearing in December…”
“You are not raising hell, you are bringing Heaven to humanity…”
“Teachers can dress like that?…”
“Mr. Taylor…come see me in my office…”
“Mr. Taylor…please report to the office”
If there is one word that most people at my school would use to describe me it would probably be troublemaker.
Troublemaker is defined as “a person who habitually causes difficulty or problems, especially by inciting others to defy those in authority.”
And with a definition like that, how can I refuse such a title.
I definitely cause trouble and encourage my kids to think and see themselves more critically.
I bring forth blatantly the issues that no one wants to speak about or think about.
I push the boundaries.
I challenge authority
I transcend obstacles.
I think one day I will write a book about my first year teaching: Teacher Troublemaker.
It would be the story of a child who used to be bored in class, making turkey noises to bring excitement to a class void of imagination and fun. And that child became an adult who transcends typical ideology and has found himself teaching kids how to be kids in a world that never wants them to dream of Neverland. A child who was never told of the bigger dreams of life such as being an author, a cartoonist, a Legoland builder, but rather a doctor, lawyer or candlestick maker. Let alone encouraged to fly.
The book would be the story of a man-child, who everyday as a child was made fun of for his large ears, only to find as an adult that his large ears were reflective of his destiny to be Peter Pan, encouraging children to take flight with him through a world of self- and other-discovery.
A teacher who spent his first, second, third and every paycheck on either books or action figures, some for himself and some for his students. A man who grew up to fulfill promises he had made to himself as a child. This story is important because it is rare in this world that a Black boy dreaming gets to embody the fine lines of his childhood imagination. Especially in a country where Black children have their imaginations sold to the test or to a curriculum.
That will be some story…
One of a Black male teacher who wore a wooden Jesus piece and joggers to work
Of a teacher who fights for students’ civil right to a quality education.
A teacher who realized that every lesson and every minute of instruction time is a fight for his kids civil rights.
A teacher whose high energy (fueled by milk and cookies) fits in perfectly with the high energy of his students.
That will be some story…that is some story…
a story of a Black boy who grew into a Black man who helped raise Black boys
I suppose a story such as this should be written with ink while it still can
for far too many stories of Black bodies are written in red blood
far too many stories of Black bodies are not written
so many stories survived the Mid-Atlantic to be planted in American soil…
In Brazilian soil…in Haitian soil…in Barbadian coasts…
in cotton fields…in tobacco plants…in the beak of Jim Crow…
in the chastisement of capitalism…in the whiteout of literacy
this story is a story of ancestral calling
calling for you to write your own story
to read the story of the person sitting next to you
for reading and writing make us immortal…
they make dreams more visible…
they invite the world to be troublemakers with you…
because reading and writing is what troublemakers do…
reading, troublemaking and writing will connect…me to you
Yes, it’s alright to be a troublemaker
Sometimes trouble needs to be made
Evan Taylor is a second-year, third grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary school in Dolton, IL. He currently serves on the board of the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics as the Director-At-Large. He is pursuing his master’s degree in Instructional Leadership with a focus in Literacy, Language and Culture at the University of Illinois at Chicago.