Roberto Germán [00:00:01]:
Welcome to Our Classroom. In this space we talk about education which is inclusive of but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Roberto Germán and Our Classroom is official.
Roberto Germán [00:00:27]:
Hey, peace. Welcome back to Our Classroom. Roberto Germán here with you and I'm joined today by David Spellmon Jr. Behavior specialist in Charlotte, North Carolina. His main objectives are sending off infectious positive energy and meeting students where they are at to improve the academic and behavioral status. David specializes in creative, innovative ways to incorporate hip hop pedagogy. That's right. Social and emotional learning, service learning and cultural responsiveness to make an impact on his students.
Roberto Germán [00:01:09]:
He is the author of the book just like music. Yeah, folks. Social emotional learning inspired by hip hop. Hey, pay attention, take notes. It's going down today. Welcome, David.
David Spellmon [00:01:29]:
Man, it's a blessing. We got technical difficulties. Like you say, the enemy is working, but we still prevail. That's all it is.
Roberto Germán [00:01:37]:
That's right, man. It can't stop the shine. It can't stop the shine, man. First of all, salute to you for publishing this book. Came in a couple of days ago. So I've been digging in, flipping through and I appreciate the work and I just want to dig in, man. This book that you published, just like music, social emotional learning inspired by hip hop, you continually repeat the phrase, you have greatness inside of you. What is the importance of this phrase to you?
David Spellmon [00:02:11]:
So it's just that whole thing of affirmations. I constantly talk to my students about defining what an affirmation is for the people that may not know. It's a positive quote that you say to yourself. And if you're any kind of reading or research done on manifestation, there is power in your words. Therefore, if you're constantly telling yourself you have greatness inside of you, sooner or later you might believe it. Then going even further, if you believe you have greatness inside of you, imagine the way that you present out here to the world. Imagine the decisions that you make. So I need everybody, not just my students, but anybody who come across the book, to know you have greatness inside of you.
David Spellmon [00:02:51]:
But it's on you to cultivate it. It's on you to let the whole world see that and showcase it.
Roberto Germán [00:02:56]:
Facts. Facts. That's why we say peace, king, salute, king. Right? Some people don't understand that. Like are we kings of empires and this and that or whatever? Do we come from royalty? In sense, we're using that, right? We're using that understanding that we are kings, we are queens, we're shifting the mindset and helping people to receive and see themselves in a different light. That's why we say such affirmations as, you have greatness inside of you. Or when I'm doing writing workshops, I always say, your voice matters. Project your voice because your voice matters.
Roberto Germán [00:03:36]:
Want to hear what you really have to say. Everybody has to hear what you have to say. Your voice matters. That's right. Greatness is inside of you. I like that, man.
David Spellmon [00:03:44]:
I like that.
Roberto Germán [00:03:44]:
Salute. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind writing? Just like music? Social emotional learning inspired by hip hop. What motivated you to explore the intersection of hip hop and social emotional learning?
David Spellmon [00:04:05]:
Well, I know all the real hip hoppers, big up the teacher chaos one, they're going to understand the reference. But I always talk about the four elements. And once again, if you don't know, if you're unfamiliar to this thing we call hip hop, you got the MC, you got the DJ, you got graffiti, and you got breaking. But that less often talked about fifth element, knowledge. If you look at social and emotional learning, there's two core competencies. There's five in total, but two I want to focus on right now, the self management, the self awareness. Hip hop is social and emotional learning. If you understand how you relate to the emotions going on inside of you, and then you also know how you will relate to the world.
David Spellmon [00:04:51]:
That is, knowledge of self. Essentially, social and emotional learning is hip hop. So that was the easy mashup, but going even further with the title rest in peace, Marvin Gaye, of course, with the Eric Sermon flip. Just like music, that stuff is. We all come from that culture. Well, if you come from the know, that whole thing of if you know, you know. So hip hop has been embedded into certain people, certain populations of people. And if you're just a student of the game, you can hear how these lyrics can really touch on some higher level thinking skills.
David Spellmon [00:05:24]:
They can really touch on how to deal with conflict. Of course, hip hop ranges all topics. Nothing's off the table when it comes to hip hop. But of course, me being an educator, I got to find a way to take these lessons, these parables from these great street poets, and break it down for my students so they could use it in an academic sense.
Roberto Germán [00:05:43]:
Yeah, that's good stuff, man. Definitely responsive and relevant and sustaining. And as a call to action, what steps can individuals and institutions take to promote the integration of hip hop and social emotional learning on a broader scale? And what are the potential benefits of doing so for our communities and society as a whole.
David Spellmon [00:06:06]:
You hit it right on the head with your initial response. A lot of the schools, public k twelve, for example, it wasn't designed with us in mind going further. It was designed to create employees for the factories. School looks like when it started much in the early industrial revolution preach. But we have 21st going on 22nd generation kids. But what is their method, what is their culture? Especially if you're working in certain populations around this world, in this country, you're in front of a bunch of Black and Brown students. The old way, the old pedagogy, the old way of thinking does not speak to them. So you got to use something that they know.
David Spellmon [00:06:45]:
And it's kind of like the medicine and the candy for a young child or for maybe your pet. They're not going to take that medicine off top. You got to kind of finesse it in there. And that's exactly what I'm doing with integrating social and emotional learning, because those skills are necessary for anybody. It doesn't matter your race, your gender identity, your age. We all could benefit from goal setting. We all could benefit from dealing with conflict resolution. We all could benefit from.
David Spellmon [00:07:11]:
If I'm feeling down, how do I persevere? Because my life is not over just because I have a bump in the road. So I'm just using hip hop as the vehicle to touch on these very important skills.
Roberto Germán [00:07:22]:
Yeah, that's good stuff. That's good stuff. And we'll push it a little bit further. Get into the castle stuff right now. Name your top five mcs, dead or alive, and one song from each of them that aligns with one of the castle's five core competencies of self awareness, self management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.
David Spellmon [00:07:48]:
Now, when I seen this question, I was like, big up to you. This is probably the best question. Come on.
Roberto Germán [00:07:55]:
I'm going to receive that. I'm going to receive that. I'm not playing around here, man.
David Spellmon [00:08:00]:
Got to let them know. So, of course, it's in no particular order, but I would say it always changes. But the top five mcs for me would have to be, man, my boy fab. I'm a big fab fan. He's referenced in the book a few times. So big up Brooklyn, Jay Z, Brooklyn in the house. I got common shot down and then I got kids so big up the nine one four my people out of Yonkers. So when it comes to the actual song, but I think I did justice.
David Spellmon [00:08:37]:
So with Fab back in the day, he had a mixtape called Loso's Way, built off Carlito's way and the Loso's way freestyle. One of my top tracks. And with that track in particular, it touches on self awareness. Like, of course, with hip hop, we very braggadocious. It's about that self efficacy, that belief that we can accomplish any goal. And that's the thing, when we do well, we'll take these street concepts and make it fit in an academic sense. So that self efficacy, that braggadocious, that belief that I can eat anybody up on the mic, I can take over any place that I'm at. So going down, I'm going to go with Phife Dawg.
David Spellmon [00:09:14]:
Check the rhyme with that one, I would say self management. With that one, I would say self management. This one is actually.
Roberto Germán [00:09:22]:
Check the rhyme was probably like the first song that I truly, truly memorized. I'm like, intentionally check the rhymes. Going to be with me forever.
David Spellmon [00:09:33]:
Same tribe is my favorite rap group, for sure. Favorite hip hop group of all time. So with common. And like I said, this one is actually a chapter in the book for Chicago. So it's the album b, but it's the intro. That intro was so powerful, man. But that's also speaking on self awareness with Jay Z. So many tracks to choose from.
David Spellmon [00:09:54]:
But to me, this was one of his best bars in this track. But it's a you don't know remix with, you know when Jay Z touched.
Roberto Germán [00:10:03]:
It, like mop the mash out possible.
David Spellmon [00:10:06]:
Come on. Come on, man. And big up to them, they about to coming up Friday. They got to be featured on drink chance on Friday.
Roberto Germán [00:10:15]:
David Spellmon [00:10:16]:
But yeah, you don't know remix. And I would say that's more self awareness too, because Jay Z was talking his stuff on there. And then last but not least, we're going to go with Jada. And it's crazy. So this track, when I was coming know, we had Napster, we had wire, we were doing all that illegal stuff, getting accused. And this song always came out as like an unreleased freestyle. Come to find out, it was actually on the album, the original album, but it was called off of the love before off of the love. I think everybody know that iconic line.
David Spellmon [00:10:46]:
When you think of me, you think of a problem. Who, what, when, how you going to solve it? Automatic over J-I-Double S. That one right there. I would say that's responsible decision making because he was talking about slightly some conflicts and how to solve these issues and all that. So I just did a little crosswalk with that offer the love, Jada and responsible decision making.
Roberto Germán [00:11:08]:
Yeah, that's hard, man. I know this was a hard question because the artists that you mentioned have so many great songs. You could have gone in a number of different directions. But when you mentioned Jada, one song that comes to mind for me that connects with social awareness is the song why? Featuring know. Like, he just got that off, man. And it was Jada getting in a different know, getting in his socially conscious. Wow. Wow.
Roberto Germán [00:11:47]:
We could go down the line with all these cats, man. But that's an amazing list. That's an amazing lineup and great connections there with the five core competencies. So in your book, you designed lesson plans for select cities, mainly throughout the country, but also internationally. Can you elaborate on these lesson plans and their impact on students and educators? How can they be implemented effectively in different learning environments?
David Spellmon [00:12:22]:
All right, so let me give people the backstory, because a lot of people ask, why did you choose the cities? But after they read it, get to the song list in the back of the book. It's kind of like an album. Every chapter is a city, and the city comes from where the artist was originally from. Some of them may be where the video was shot. So it's like I'm really going deeper than the surface with it. So, for example, the first chapter is Philadelphia dreams and nightmares. And that one's just talking about goal. That we all know that famous line in the intro, but that I even do a crosswalk between that line and Stephen Covey.
David Spellmon [00:12:59]:
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. But just showing people that hip hop does belong in schools. Hip hop belongs in society. Because my whole mission is about destigmatizing hip hop for educational consumption. When the connotation is hip hop is so negative, all these things. But let me show you the train. Ear the train. I can show you how to take these lyrics and flip them to be used in the educational space.
David Spellmon [00:13:23]:
So with goal setting, like I said, nobody in this world can move without having a vision. Once you have that vision, you know the actions you must take to bring that goal to fruition. So anybody, not just in Philadelphia, not just in Harlem, not just in, you know, some places over Ibiza, Ecuador, you know what? Anybody. De lo mio, what's up, man? Anybody in this world can benefit from these skills. So if the kids or the young people or anybody that you're in front of, if they are more inclined to hip hop culture, this is just a way to make it make sense for them to make it hit them in the face. Like, man, I never looked at that song like this. That can help me with conflict resolution. Going back to fab, one of the lines that I used in the book is beef is only good when you're in the burger business.
David Spellmon [00:14:19]:
Let somebody marinate with that, man. Getting into conflicts is not going to lead to positive consequences. So, man, if I'm not the master grill at the cookout, let me leave that beef alone. But I'm just using hip hop as the vehicle to teach these important life lessons.
Roberto Germán [00:14:34]:
Right? Yeah, that's good right there, man. And if you got a more mature crowd and you really want to push it, then you could get into an analysis of what's beef. You could do the old version, you could do the newer version. There's a lot to pick apart there, man. But we don't want none of that smoke, man.
David Spellmon [00:14:52]:
We don't want smoke.
Roberto Germán [00:14:53]:
We here for conflict resolution, man. We're trying to steer you all in the right direction.
David Spellmon [00:14:58]:
Roberto Germán [00:15:00]:
This question has resurfaced in light of Jay Z's recent interview with Gail King. So I will ask you, you had to choose between 500,000 cash or lunch with Jay Z. Which would you choose?
David Spellmon [00:15:16]:
So, of course, when I seen this question, me and my shorty was talking about it, and she was like, baby, I'm going to take the money. And I'm like, well, let me show you my perspective. I could easily make that same 500,000 after speaking, having that lunch with Jay Z, based on what I'm doing. I referenced Brooklyn in the book three different times. I ain't say Marcy, but he's still Brooklyn. But at the same time with Roc Nation, I'm trying to get it to where rock nation has an educational arm. I know Def Jam has Def Jam Forward. Just imagine if I can get in the rooms with some of the people he knows with the work that I'm doing.
David Spellmon [00:15:52]:
500,000 is the bottom tier of what the impact I can make financially. But then really, with the youth, we can stop all these murder, senseless acts of violence. So, no, for me, on the path that I'm on, that lunch is much more fruitful than just $500 cash because somebody might trick off on it anyway. And it's really not that much money if you really want to think about it.
Roberto Germán [00:16:14]:
It's been so interesting to hear the different perspectives out there, to hear Jay Z respond to it, to hear Rick Ross respond to it, to hear Jim Jones, to hear all the different folks respond to this. It's amazing, like, the impact that not only Jay, but obviously hip hop in general, has had on the culture, man, you could just toss up a question like that to somebody like Jay got everybody a.
David Spellmon [00:16:44]:
On. Before we move forward, though, what would be your answer?
Roberto Germán [00:16:47]:
Oh, you're going to flip it on me. Oh, yeah, you're going to flip it. Well, I've gone back and forth on this, depending on the day that you catch me and what I got going on. But I would likely take the 500. I likely take the 500 because there are a number of things that I'm trying to accomplish, but it's outside of me. It has actually less to do with me and what I want to accomplish and more to do with how can I help the people around me experience financial freedom sooner than later? And coming up from the know, coming from Lawrence, Massachusetts, growing up with a lot of folks that some have made significant progress, others haven't, but a lot of people look at me as a role model. A lot of people want to know, what moves are you making? And we're doing well. All praise be to God.
Roberto Germán [00:18:00]:
Yes. But I'm always thinking about, like, how can I do better? How can we do better so that we can help those that are in serious need? As in, I'm not sure that they could really do not only what I'm doing, but I don't even know if they could do something else in different areas because they don't necessarily have the skills. They didn't receive the type of education that I received. They didn't have the opportunities that I had. And so even if they really tried, they just might not get there because they don't have the savvy, they don't have the skills. I'm just being real.
David Spellmon [00:18:42]:
Roberto Germán [00:18:42]:
And so I think about some of those individuals, individuals that are in proximity to me, whether they're family members or their friends or their neighbors, and I'm like, how can I help them get up from their situation? How can I help them? They're not even really in the race. You know what I'm saying? I'm not even talking about pushing them to get an advantage in the race. I'm trying to get them in the race, but first they got to get out of a situation. We got to get them debt free. So from my perspective, let me take the cash and see what I could do, even if it's whatever. 1234 family, can I use some of this to eliminate your school loans? Can I use some of this to eliminate your credit card debt? And then can we get you on a plan with my financial planner or somebody else that could bring some accountability, help steer you in the right directions that can potentially change your economic trajectory.
David Spellmon [00:19:51]:
I respect to that answer, though.
Roberto Germán [00:19:55]:
I appreciate you asking, man. Usually I don't get the questions flipped on me. Good thing I was ready.
David Spellmon [00:20:03]:
Stay ready. You don't have to get ready for what they call me.
Roberto Germán [00:20:05]:
You already know. If you had an opportunity to have lunch with anybody, who would it be and why? And obviously, I'm really directing the question under the umbrella of what we've been talking about in terms of hip hop and social emotional learning. So it could be artists, but it could be an influential educator that's also using hip hop to impact the learners.
David Spellmon [00:20:32]:
I'm going to say this person because a while ago somebody said that I reminded them of him and he's recently passed away. So he wasn't really a hip hop artist, more like an executive. But he, man, seeing that documentary The Black Godfather about Clarence Avant and how he was able to connect people, and I would say that does have ties to social and emotional learning relationship skills. I'm a connector. I call myself the positive plug. So I'm trying to find ways to collaborate, just how we got linked up. Opportunities like this happen to me all the time because I'm open and I seek that. Like, when you have good energy, you tend to find people who live on the same frequency.
David Spellmon [00:21:13]:
So I would know if I could, if we can go back in time, definitely I'll bring them back from the dead, man. I would love to have lunch and sit and chop it up with Clarence.
Roberto Germán [00:21:21]:
Yvonne, that's dope. I love asking this question because I never know what folks are going to say. Sometimes individuals mentioned like Angela Davis has been mentioned a few times, bell hooks. But sometimes, depending on the topic individual I have on it, they throw me with one that I'm like, yo, I didn't see that coming. That's great. That's awesome. My man. Where can folks cop this book? Where should they copy? Because we need them to grab a copy right now.
Roberto Germán [00:21:59]:
Just like music, social emotional learning inspired by hip hop, you're the lesson plans are laid out, people. No excuses. It's all laid out. You got to do is follow the script, read it over as suggested in your book. Read it over and apply it for yourself. Try it on for yourself before you go rolling it out to your learners. Right, your students, try it on for yourself. Read through the whole thing.
Roberto Germán [00:22:27]:
Get familiar lesson plans all throughout the book. Ready to go? Where can the supporters cop this?
David Spellmon [00:22:35]:
Of course, you go on to Amazon.com and type it in. Just like music social emotional learning inspired by hip hop. So what you have in your hand right there, Roberto, is like the teacher's guide, the textbook. There's also a student workbook you can also find on Amazon. And this is the thing. [email protected] anybody who purchases the book, I'll send you the teachers facilitation PowerPoint, because that just furthers the lesson or them receiving the lesson better. There's also a pacing guide, but definitely you can find the book on Amazon.com. You can definitely reach out to me once again.
David Spellmon [00:23:09]:
[email protected] on IG Mr. Happy so J-A-P-P-I got the spanish J man. I grew up with mi gente, man. It's a part of my culture. But then, of course, LinkedIn, David Spellmon is the government name. Reach out, man. Like they say, talk to me, I talk back.
Roberto Germán [00:23:28]:
David Spellmon, yo, go and get it. Cop it. Support the brother doing good things. Y'all already heard he giving out free resources over here. If you cop the book, he's going to give you a free resource to supplement the book and just help you be even further prepared to roll this out for your students. Listen, the students are already connected to the music and the culture, all right? And if they're not connected to the music and the culture, trust me, they're curious. All you got to do is look at the data. Who's buying all the music and who's supporting all the artists? All you got to do is look at the data, folks.
Roberto Germán [00:24:08]:
The movement is huge, and so we want to make sure that we're supporting individuals who are creating great resources for us as educators to implement immediately, to utilize with our students so we can more deeply engage them in learning. Right? This type of stuff excites our students. So even if you're not fully familiar, even if you might have some reservation, we want to push and challenge you all to be brave enough to try this on. And also, for the sake of your students, give them something that's going to pique their interest. Sometimes the students are acting out because they're bored. You notice as a behavioral specialist, sometimes they're acting out because they're bored. To some degree. That's on us.
Roberto Germán [00:25:08]:
We got to do the work to think about. All right? What are the strategies that I can employ to hook my students, to get them excited about learning? We want students that fall in love with learning. And certainly, as was mentioned by brother David Spellmon, this is one tool that can help you accomplish that. Hey, brother, what's the encouragement that you want to leave our people? What's the message of encouragement that you have for the people today, man?
David Spellmon [00:25:44]:
Like the research says, you got to hear something a bunch of times before it really manifests and it sets in. So the way we started off the interview, the way we're going to close it out, man, listen to me, hente, to the people that are listening, watching. You have greatness inside of you.
Roberto Germán [00:26:01]:
David Spellmon [00:26:01]:
But this is the trick, though. You got to find what your greatness is and cultivate it. Everybody greatness looks differently. Everybody has innate skills that are already there. You just kind of like a treasure hunter. You got to pull it out. You got to dig deep. And once you find that pearl, man, show it off to the world, and that's your greatness.
David Spellmon [00:26:22]:
We all have it, but it looks different for everybody. You just got to find yours.
Roberto Germán [00:26:28]:
Love it. Love the message. You got greatness inside of you. And I'll take a moment to plug real quick. Good Dad. Gang, shout out to Terminology. Started this brand. He's from Lawrence, Massachusetts, where I grew up.
Roberto Germán [00:26:42]:
So got to support the folks from back home doing good things. Individuals that have used rap music, have used hip hop, used the game in order to branch off and do some wonderful things, some different things. Affirming messages, right. Affirming fathers. And so, you know, look at what hip hop has done for us. The doors that has opened the opportunities that has presented us and the way that we're utilizing it to introduce others to opportunities. So I wish you the best, man. However, multicultural classroom can support you.
Roberto Germán [00:27:16]:
Let us know in terms of this particular platform, Our Classroom, man, love to have you back anytime to chop it up. We could really pick this thing apart. In terms of hip hop and sel, I think there's more for us to talk about and process as it relates to analyzing lyrics and how it does connect with Sel. And so let's keep the lines of conversation open.
David Spellmon [00:27:45]:
Oh, no doubt, man. If ever there's a workshop, any way we can collaborate, I'm always down for that. I always tell people, let's find a way to collaborate in real life. Like, interview is cool. The virtual stuff is amazing, but not real. Energy. Energy begins. Energy.
David Spellmon [00:28:01]:
Let's really impact the people in real life.
Roberto Germán [00:28:04]:
Facts, facts. Well, I appreciate you, brother.
David Spellmon [00:28:07]:
No doubt, man. I appreciate you allowing me on this platform, man. Love it. I listened to a couple of episodes when I first found out about it, and I'm like, man, how did I not know about this sooner? But I love what you're doing too, bro.
Roberto Germán [00:28:19]:
Roberto Germán [00:28:23]:
As always, your engagement in Our Classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show, and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race bias, education, and society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace and love from your host, Roberto Germán.