There’s an embarrassment of riches that comes with being a fan of ABC’s hit comedy Abbott Elementary. The show, which stars Quinta Brunson as Janine Teagues, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Barbara Howard, Tyler James Williams as Gregory Eddie, and Janelle James as Principal Ava Coleman, is about a group of mostly Black educators at a predominately Black elementary school in Philadelphia and has captured audiences for its tender, hilarious, and lighthearted depiction of what it's like to be a Black teacher to young Black students.
For many real-life Black educators watching the series, the show often reflects their real experiences dealing with the intersections of poverty and Blackness and all the other stuff that comes with teaching in America.
xoNecole reached out to several Black teachers to ask whether the beloved sitcom reflects what actually goes on in the classroom.
What are your thoughts on the show 'Abbott Elementary'?
Ms. Ora (1st Grade Teacher): I love Abbott Elementary! This is my first year as a teacher, but I worked in a D.C. middle school through City Year for the 2021-22 school year. There are a lot of little moments or little jokes that are made on the show that resonates with my experiences this year and last school year.
Mr. Wes (Middle School Teacher): I really enjoy the show, and you can really tell that they work closely with educators to make sure that they’re showing it in a truthful way. Even though it is a lighthearted show, some of the parts of it still trigger me in ways I don’t expect it to. Like the one teacher who’s teaching the combo 2nd and 3rd-grade class, the scenes of chaos in that class make me cringe like I’m watching a horror movie. I think Janine is also either an astonishingly talented teacher at her age or has the chillest second graders ever. I teach middle school, but from what I see/hear about from other teachers and my firsthand experience covering other classes, let’s just say I have a lot of questions (laughs).
What does the show get right about being a Black educator in a school located in a Black working-class neighborhood?
Ms. Ora: The students and the relationships the students have with the teachers are extremely accurate. It's hard to put into words what exactly is so distinct about it, but there is something different about how Black educators relate to their students who are Black (or of color) that the show is able to capture.
Ms. Destiny Stone-King (Middle School Teacher): It definitely highlights the joy of getting to relate to your students culturally and giving them that sense of security knowing that they have educators who look like them and have cultural similarities.
Which character do you most relate to?
Ms. Ora: I feel very much like a Janine. I'm new to education, I'm still learning, and sometimes I find myself wanting to fix more than I'm capable of fixing on my own. I also have my own Ms. Howard that I look up to at my school (who also happens to be a kindergarten teacher).
Mr. Wes: Definitely Gregory. I feel like I grew up in a strict, military household and I’ve learned how that type of instruction/behavior management does not always work and can sometimes even be counterproductive. I’ve learned how to let loose and embrace my ridiculous/fun side more and more. It took me a while to realize that the attitude and vibes I bring into the class affect how the students behave. Which seems obvious, but when you’re stressed out all the time because you didn’t have time to plan as much or you’re behind on grading, you’re not always thinking about how that affects your presence in the classroom. I see Gregory learning that, and that scene where he lets go and dances are one of my favorite moments in the whole show.
Anonymous(Pre-K & 4th Grade Teacher): This is a hard pick for me but I think I’m somewhere between Barbara and Janine. I have Barbara’s energy exactly where she and I are mostly calm and know what to expect from people, but I have a little bit of Janine’s optimism and desire to evoke change. Sometimes I think that Janine is doing too much and she does need to learn how to separate her identity from her job or else she’ll end up burnt out. But I’ve found a lot of older educators can be set in their way of doing things, like Barbara, and I don’t subscribe to that method either. If there is a problem, I like to explore solutions to the problem instead of accepting that some things just are the way that they are. So I want to change things within my power, but I’m not as unrealistic as Janine.
What made you want to get into education?
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Ms. Ora: Honestly, I'm not sure. I started my undergraduate degree with every intention of going into law or some form of international relations, but as I neared the end of my degree I found myself being interested in teaching ESL at some point in my life. Every time I thought about teaching, I got really excited--I loved the idea of teaching the fundamentals of language, which is what made me want to teach early elementary in particular.
Ms. Stone-King: It’s literally in my blood. My grandma, grandpa, and parents were all teachers. As an independent artist who is pursuing my career as a singer, songwriter, and recording artist, I like that I can mix my passion for music with education and still have time in the evenings and weekends to work on my craft. I also specifically wanted to teach in predominantly Black schools because I only had one music teacher who looked like me from elementary up to college, so I wanted to show students that they can do this too if they want.
Ms. Chelsea (Pre-K Teacher): My grandmother was a teacher. She was actually a principal for the school for the deaf and the blind in Jamaica. She was a big leader in being more welcoming and accepting of those with exceptionalities in Jamaica and even when she left, [she] carried on those values to raise me in the U.S. with my mom. She was also my Pre-K teacher when I was little which was fun. I also am an only child and always loved taking care of kids and playing with kids. When I was in high school, my neighbor’s kids would knock on my door after school for me to play with them and my mom would be like, “You know she’s 16, right?” but we all didn't care. I loved spending time with them! So I decided to go into education because I just felt happy when I was working with kids and watching them grow and learn something new.
What’s something you hope the show touches on?
Ms. Stone-King: I hope the show has an episode about the arts!
Mr. Wes: I really hope they get into teacher unions. I’m very pro-labor and pro-union, but many of these establishment unions in large cities have become closer to school districts than a united labor force; bureaucracy, power trips, and just general apathy are what I feel like I get sometimes from my union. At a higher level, there’s obviously the tension between districts and unions, but I think the real intrigue is going deeper into what actually goes on in teacher unions. If a teacher has a serious issue, how are they helping address it? Many unions do great work but I feel that others need to take a serious look in the mirror and assess how they are actually helping the educators that they represent.
Ms. Kaitlin (4th Grade Teacher): I understand Ava blackmailed her way into the principal role, but let’s talk about how Gregory, who I adore, anticipated becoming principal without ever having taught. Ava drives those teachers crazy, but what would drive a teacher even crazier is being led by someone who has never set foot in a classroom. Let’s bring that back up, please! I want to know why Gregory thought principal-ing was something in his near future.
What would you like fans of 'Abbott Elementary' to know about the realities of working as a Black educator that they might not glean from the show?
Ms. Stone-King: Teaching is already an emotional investment, but especially being a Black educator working with Black students, you feel a greater responsibility to protect them but also expose them to possibilities that they’ve been conditioned to stay away from because of the color of their skin.
Anonymous: People will expect you to volunteer your time because we work in a caring profession, and then they’ll make you feel bad for asking about pay. This means that they’ll expect you to work during your lunch, come in after school, stay after school, and work late nights for free and not even suggest payment for these services. For teachers especially, if you take the day off you have to leave lesson plans for the person covering your classroom. They will likely call you on your off day and think you’re in the wrong for not answering the phone (if you don’t).
People know exactly what children need to learn and yet you’ll still need to advocate for your children especially to receive those support. Smaller class sizes, flexible seating, and empirically-based curriculum/technology do not come cheap or easily. The episode where they had additional money in the budget and Janine wanted a computer for the students so they could have a comparable experience to the charter was very real, and then for that money to get snatched up to address the rat infestation was even more tragically accurate.
Some things in the show seem too terrible to be true. I want fans to know that they are based in reality.
What are ways for the public to support Black educators and their students?
Anonymous: Please fund your schools, and vote for people who will fund the schools adequately. The money is plentiful and the real issue is that they are using it for reactive services versus proactive (education). Be involved in your local school district (volunteer, show up to after-school functions, and be an active member of the school boards). I mean this, especially for Black people and people who are invested in issues that impact Black people. The best way to support Black educators and our students is to show up.
As I said earlier, everyone relies on schools for a number of resources: dental and vision exams, therapy (occupational, physical, and emotional), parenting support, and more. Doctors will write prescriptions to parents to bring their child to school for evaluations, versus using outside agencies/referrals to evaluate children due to financial restraints. This is the foundation of our society for many families and it needs money and support in order to help our neighborhood grow.
Ms. Kaitlin: To voice Janine, the best way to support Black educators is by building community with them. The first Black working-class school I had taught in was in Bowie, MD, and we thrived from a beautiful balance of parent, teacher, and faculty involvement. Parents regularly helped with school lunches and special event days, teachers collaborated often, and faculty gave us helpful feedback and resources. It was an idyllic school setting, and the students absolutely thrived there. Another way to support a Black educator is by giving them money.
Ms. Rhyanna Morgan (2nd Grade Teacher): VOLUNTEER!!! Many public schools are short staffed and we need people that look like us helping us. Students need to see adults pitching in to take care of schools and the people in them. Make your voices heard, know what is going on at your neighborhood school, keep tabs on the school boards of Black and Brown cities. These things keep the community involved and keep schools safe and keep children with the education they deserve.
What advice do you give to any Black person who might be inspired to become an educator because of 'Abbott Elementary'?
Anonymous: I would advise anyone inspired to become an educator because of Abbott Elementary to go work/volunteer in a public school so they can learn the profession before committing to it. Abbott isn’t lying about how much is required of teachers. Teachers aren’t just teaching math, but they are also teaching about social skills, managing emotions, and now they’re taking temperatures. I would also advise anyone who wants to work in education to spend some time working with children with disabilities at specialty schools and settings. I want anyone aspiring to be an educator to familiarize themselves with special education and the research pertaining to how it impacts Black and brown children differently than it does white children.
Ms. Kaitlin: Care for your Black students as the teachers of Abbott Elementary care for theirs. In predominantly Black working-class schools, often educators and faculty police their students instead of care for them. The reasons are many-fold, but I hope that they are unlearned swiftly. I radically (at least it felt radical in my D.C. school), refused to raise my voice at my students. I had come out of an abusive relationship and learned that yelling was not a natural form of communication. This was something I had translated to my co-teacher, but she was not on board with the practice, so much so that she, a fellow Black educator, claimed that these students were “from the gutter,” and thus deserved to be spoken that way. They were nine. I don’t know how you look at a nine-year-old child and see them that way, or speak to them with such animosity. The way the teachers of Abbott Elementary speak to and care for their students should be replicated in schools everywhere.
Ms. Chelsea: Do your research on the schools you want to work at, ask to come in and observe. See how you feel in the space. Don’t be quick to run from the job. (I say many times a day I’m going to quit but I’m not serious, haha, I love what I do even when it's hard.) Reach out to me if you want to observe or see what different classrooms look like. I’m happy to share. I’m big on diverse children’s literature and can share my recommendations, etc.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The Fall Equinox begins on September 23, 2023, and it’s time to embrace abundance, gain clarity, and know that you are worthy of your desires. The Fall Equinox marks the beginning of fall and the end of summer and is a turning point of the year, where things settle in and come to fruition. The energy that fall brings is one of harvest, but it is also one of release, letting go, and finding your ground. Coming from a summer of intensity, drama in love, and overall moving through a space of deep spiritual growth- now that fall is here, we are ready to decompress, dream, and enjoy that which we have created for ourselves.
What Is the Energy of the Fall Equinox 2023?
The energy this fall is opening up new doors of abundance and is a time of reaping your rewards in life. Fall begins at the same time as Libra Season, and a lot of these blessings have to do with love and the relationship developments that will be taking place over the next few months. With a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra occurring a few weeks after fall begins on October 14th, something enchanting is happening in romance right now. The scales are coming into balance, new beginnings are occurring, and clarity prevails.
Relationships over the next few months are about focusing on the gifts and gratitude you find in them and accepting where things need to change as well.
By the time winter begins, most of the planets that are currently in retrograde will be direct, and this signifies the change of pace that fall is bringing. This fall highlights Eclipse Season overall, and the Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th will be a time of creating boundaries, honoring your values and energy, and closing a chapter in your life that doesn’t align. Financial worlds are growing and finding new ground, but with Jupiter still in retrograde in Taurus until December 30th, patience is needed here.
Over the next few months, give yourself the space to gain some new perspectives, make room for love, and grow in abundance.
Your guidance this fall is to take those first steps toward the goals you have been pondering over this year. There is a Full Moon in your sign a week after fall begins, and you get the opportunity to enter this season with less baggage and more closure. You will possibly be starting a new position or working in a new field, and you need all the good energy to back you right now. Know that you can count on your skills and talents to move you further in life and that help will be there when you least expect it. This is a fall of abundance for you, Aries, claim it.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 29, Oct. 13, Nov. 13, Nov. 21
Patience, patience, patience, Taurus. You are creating something beautiful in the world right now, and the time it’s taken to get you here will all be worthwhile. Your guidance this fall is to nurture your world and your dreams and to bring more love and compassion to your life. You are preparing for a new reality but need some more time to dream it up and define that which you want for yourself and your future. The Full Lunar Eclipse happening this fall is occurring in your sign, and you are moving through some major closures in your life right now. This is a creative time for you, Taurus.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 28, Oct. 29, Nov. 6, Nov. 20
This fall is all about taking care of yourself and valuing your time and energy, Gemini. The way you see yourself and your life are coming up for review right now, and you are being urged to look at yourself in a better light. Your ruling planet, Mercury, goes retrograde for the last time this year on December 13th, just before fall ends, and this time is all about taking what you have learned and choosing better for yourself. You may be tested to be more confident or true to yourself right now and over the next few months, and it’s about owning your part in this life and standing up for what you want.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 21, Nov. 20, Dec. 12
This is an abundant fall for you, Cancer. You have worked diligently on claiming the opportunities and new doors that have been opening for you, and you are feeling free to be your successful self. You are encouraged in your independence right now, and you have proven to yourself just how talented you are and how much you have grown. No major aspects are happening in your sign this fall, giving you the space to breathe, create, and receive your rewards. Happiness fills your world, and even though you still feel like you are just getting started in a sense, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the gifts that are presenting themselves today.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 13, Oct. 15, Nov. 12, Nov. 13
This fall is a turning point for you in love, Leo. New developments are taking place in your relationships, and you are being received especially favorably. This is the time to open your heart to growth and new possibilities and to get creative with what you are looking for right now. The Last Quarter Moon happening in your sign on November 5th will be a turning point for you this fall. Your unique charm and charisma are enough, and you attract many to you through your natural energy and love for life. Your ship is coming in this fall, and your heart is fulfilled.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 1, Oct. 31, Nov. 5, Nov. 14
Virgo, this fall is a blessing for the heart space. You are feeling in tune emotionally, and there is positive energy coming your way and into your love life. You have spent a lot of this year healing, forgiving, and finding your voice, and over the next few months, you will be creating the spaces you have been looking to enter in your life. Venus enters your sign for a month on October 8th, and there are some pleasant surprises in store for you during this time. Fresh starts are coming in for you, and spiritually, you are awakening to the gifts within you and in your heart. Your beauty is showing, and love is coming in for you this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 25, Oct. 22, Nov. 5, Nov. 20
This fall is a new beginning for your financial world, Libra. Autumn begins the same day Libra Season does, and you have some extra motivation and energy within you right now. You are ready to put the action behind the intentions you have been setting for yourself financially, and this is a time of plans coming together and falling through to success. The more you stay focused and diligent, the more opportunities that can come for you right now. The first month of fall, the Sun is in your sign, and this is really the time to get things moving in your life, especially with a New Moon Eclipse in Libra on October 14th happening as well.
Your lucky days this fall are: Sep. 27, Oct. 14, Oct. 30, Nov. 20
It’s all about the vision for you right now, Scorpio. You are focused on the future, your path ahead, and manifesting your dreams, and there is something passionate about the next few months for you. You may be taking some risks this fall as you test the boundaries on how far you want to go with something and what worlds are opening up to you now. Mars is in your sign from October 12th until November 24th, and life is exciting for you right now. You have your eyes on the prize and are ready to move forward toward the things that are lighting you up right now.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 12, Oct. 13, Nov. 6, Nov. 13,
This fall is about taking a leap of faith, Sagittarius. Your guidance over the next few months is to do the things that you would do if you knew you would be supported in doing them. Less self-doubt is needed now, as you are walking on new ground. You are moving towards personal healing you have been wary of from the beginning, and you are ready to let go of some energy that has been holding you back. Trust that once you decide on something, the universe instantly begins to make it happen for you. Your season begins on November 22nd, and it’s time to put yourself first more. Have courage in yourself this fall.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 8, Nov. 22, Nov. 24, Dec. 12
This fall is all about clarity for you, Capricorn. You are a wise soul, and you are owning this energy about yourself right now. Over the next few months, you will be developing spiritually, helping those who need your sound advice, and evolving in life. You have found a new sense of enlightenment and are enjoying the clear perspective that has been gained. Mercury goes retrograde in your sign on December 13th, right before fall ends, and this is when you will be feeling more tested to take the lead in your life and use your voice. Overall, fall 2023 is your time to surrender to the good within you and in your life, Capricorn.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 10, Oct. 23, Nov. 4, Dec. 1
Things are moving fast for you this fall, Aquarius. This is a successful, harmonious, and passionate time for you, as many opportunities come your way at once. It will be hard to settle down with all the energy flowing through your life over the next few months, as you have so much to do and so many people to see. Overall, however, this is positive energy that you have been looking forward to in your life, and everything is coming together and moving forward where it was once stagnant. Fall is giving you the closure and the opportunity to reinvent yourself and start on new, solid ground in your life.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 30, Oct. 31, Nov. 20, Nov. 28
Your guidance for fall is to have balance in your life. There is a lot of new coming in for you, but you are also working on letting go of what has fallen. You have grown in many ways this year, and financially, you have seen growth as well but may be feeling the weight of responsibilities this has come with now. To move through this season with the most grace, give yourself more time to rest, to be, and allow things to fall into place on their own. Saturn has been retrograde in your sign since June and goes direct this fall on November 4th, Pisces. This is your opportunity to see things more clearly, protect your energy, and feel more in tune with your internal guidance system.
Your lucky days this fall are: Oct. 22, Nov. 4, Nov. 6, Dec. 12
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