We had the good fortune of connecting with Lois Marshall Barker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lois, we’d love to hear more about your end-goal, professionally.
I have had many thoughts recently about how I want my professional life to take shape, as well as my personal life because there is some intersection. I want to end my career at a university working with aspiring teachers to facilitate their development as teachers whose pedagogy is founded on anti-racist and anti-bias principles. The career started in a classroom and will end in another.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My goals are to mobilize teacher learning via virtual coaching and professional development and to facilitate mindset shifts in how campus administrators and teachers approach literacy and English instruction, moving away from a traditional, standardized testing focus to a whole-child approach through the lens of anti-racism and multiculturalism. Read Tech Write provides onsite and virtual professional learning opportunities that are engaging, relevant, and supported by sound research. These sessions incorporate impactful strategies that build teacher capacity, support campus goals and ensure student success. Content is standards-aligned and models effective technology integration. Read Tech Write is approved by TEA to provide CPE credit to all professional development participants. Read Tech Write also designs and customizes curriculum created via the lenses of anti-racist pedagogy and a sound belief in cultural diversity and awareness. All curriculum adheres to state-mandated and assessed standards and research-based best practices. Read Tech Write offers free services to boost the love of reading via virtual book clubs and flash PD’s. Starting a business is extremely risky. It requires a great sense of vulnerability and confidence at the same time. Being shoved away and pulled back to circles of dominant voices truly made me question my level of expertise despite my education and success in the classroom and with the teachers I coach. I am constantly pouring into myself-constantly reading, experimenting, and now, strongly networking with like-minded educators. But that’s internal work. Three years later, the challenges for Read Tech Write are the same as when I first started- generating enough engagement to make build clientele which of course translates into profits. Although most of the work, RTW engages in is virtual, I would like to have face-to-face workshops for teachers. However, the pandemic has totally changed the education market. There was a saturation of consultants doing anti-racist and anti-bias after the loss of Black lives to police brutality last summer. There was a saturation of consultants offering services on distance learning and home school curriculum. Many consultants and larger organizations were offering free learning opportunities and as a small, newer business I could not compete. Hopefully, there is a shift in the market as schools reopen and the saturation in the market phases out.
I have recently published a book with my 11 yr old daughter, Ava. The book is a love project capturing my appreciation of my Caribbean culture, but wanting to package it in a way that parents in diaspora can use with their young ones. The book is called Ava’s Caribbean ABC. It can be purchased at https://litbark.square.site. It will be available on Amazon in print and ebook starting April 8th.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I enjoy water and food. Being from the Caribbean, I hard extremely hard to please when it comes to visiting beaches, but a trip to Corpus Christi or South Padre Island would definitely open the week’s visit- about a quick two-day trip. There are some great, diverse food stops in Houston, and it’s impossible to enjoy all of it in one week. We would definitely visit- Thai Lana and Kraftsmen Bakery in the Heights; Bombay Sweets in the Harwin/59 area- the Pani Puri and Masala Dosa are amazing! A trip to the Menil Collection with a stop at the Chocolate Bar is also happening. I guess one can’t come to Texas and not have BBQ and for that, there’s Rudy’s and Blood Bros. It would be ideal for this visit to be around either the Bayou Arts Festival or the Art Car Parade. Those two events bring me great joy.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are many people in my life who champion my goals and ambitions. Several college and high school friends, including colleagues that have now turned into family. All of these women have taught me the importance of knowing my worth, when to walk away, and when to say no. They have actively helped connect me with the right people who that my network could grow; so that I could have better professional avenues. When they read this, they will know who they are.
Michael Henry at Bayleaf Originals; www.bayleaforiginals.com.