Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jun 07 2011

Naked Room

It took me the whole school year of arriving at either 7am or 8am to realize there’s a bus that will get me here right at 7:20. Now I’m sitting on one of my tables like I tell my Brat not to do, taking a look at things before I spend this hour organizing and…

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Jun 06 2011

Tuesday Eve

On Friday, I spoke to the 2011 San Antonio corps on a panel along with three other 2010 CMs. We were told to “tell the story of your first year of teaching. Go into detail about any challenges and how those challenges made you feel.” While I definitely meant to be frank and honest, I…

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Jun 02 2011

Serving the Kool-Aid

I’m way, way, WAY too excited about all of you 2011 corps members. I mean, it was exciting when y’all started blogging, for a little bit–but to be honest, the TFUs environment was a little heavy on the praxis/anticipation/nervousness/moving posts for my liking. But NOW. Now, there are zillions of induction posts waiting to be…

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May 31 2011

Down the Hall

I’m so glad the 2011s are coming. I know that we’re not all going to fantastic and wonderful teachers, and I might even be surprised if half of us are—but I tell you what, that idealism everyone throws around about corps members might just be worth something. I don’t intend to vilify or put down…

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May 26 2011

Not what I imagined

Out of 61 faculty members who were at our staff meeting yesterday, 24 are black, 13 are Hispanic, and 23 are white. I’d loosely estimated that the majority of the faculty members at my school were black. Wrong. I read a comment by someone on something the recently that said “whenever you find yourself in…

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May 21 2011


White privilege. White anti-racist. White ally. White … hypocrisy. I feel uncomfortable, and as complainy and self-centered as this post is, I promise I’m glad of my discomfort. It’s not that I’m guilty for my whiteness—I don’t think. I think I feel… just pushed. I feel a healthy dose of fear and shame, I think.…

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May 16 2011

My Chance

My kid they call Dirty has been refusing to do any work for the past week or so, and I’ve been absolutely at a loss (as usual). I wrote him up one day for it, thinking maybe he just needed someone to coerce him into doing what’s best for himself… but it didn’t feel right…

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May 15 2011

Paris, Texas

I chaperoned our Senior/Junior Prom last night, which was an explosion of bejeweled butterflies, sparkly table-pieces, itty-bitty ignored pastries, uber-high-heeled (soon to be barefoot) young ladies, and flashily-suited gents. Overall, Prom was a much classier affair than Homecoming, and I was very, very impressed with the way everyone carried themselves. A couple thoughts: Upperclassmen are…

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May 14 2011

Climate Change

Looking at the next three weeks… and given the last two weeks… I just can’t help but write about the love I feel for my creatures. A huge, huge part of me learning to teach them well was learning them. I didn’t realize this until recently—when I ended some days looking back on how I…

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May 12 2011


Ugh. I’ve been writing a post in my head for the last couple of days about my wonderful kids are and how I’m realizing more and more every day that they can do absolutely anything, and that they want to. My DJ started staying in my class for 5th period (she’s in 3rd period) to…

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May 10 2011

Two or Three Biggest Lessons

Teach For America: “What are the two or three biggest lessons you’re taking away from your corps experience? These could be lessons about your students, yourself, the community where you work, the achievement gap (its causes, the most promising solutions, etc.), our schools and school system, education policy, Teach For America-specific lessons, or anything else–we’re…

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May 06 2011

Ghosts of Myself

Every once in a while, I look at pieces of my everyday life and have to do a double-take. It might happen while I’m looking in my closet at the clothes I bought in Houston during Institute, or when I smell a bit of summer coming back, or when I’m running the same old route…

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May 04 2011

Droop it like it’s hot

You know those Saturdays when you wake up later than you want to, vaguely intend to do something during the day, but end up wasting it all doing something pointless? When you feel sort of justified because it’s a Saturday, but you mostly feel guilty because of all the time you could have spent doing…

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May 03 2011

Teacher-Polishing Machine

Ever wonder whether you’ve done an adequate job of differentiating? Just count up how many kids pick that day to be a “I ain’t finda DO no work!” day. Unsure about whether you’ve inserted enough checks for understanding? Just look at the ratio of kids sleeping to kids working. Don’t bother asking your PD whether…

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May 02 2011

Differentiation on a Stick

I was muy disappointed in myself on Sunday afternoon because I hadn’t done any unit planning, even though I’d had all these great intentions to have super-duper-differentiated layered curriculum for my last five weeks as the first installment of 2YTA. I’d spent all my work time on Saturday deciding what on earth to remediate post-TAKS,…

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May 01 2011


Wendy Kopp is coming to San Antonio tomorrow. I was thumbing through the beginning of A Chance to Make History this morning and reading through the examples of stellar corps members, taking note of (and appreciating) the three examples of secondary CMs given right at the beginning of the first chapter. Since I started teaching,…

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… written illegally in a composition notebook hidden beneath my Hallway Relief schedule… tricky tricky… Should our ED be harder on us? What can I do to help fix things? What if my PD next year doesn’t inspire me like mine does? How much PR work does TFA SA need to do? What corps members are…

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Apr 27 2011

More Words Learned in Texas

Part of the weird TAKS schedule means that as we’re rotating through the freshman class, the math department gets to eat lunch in the classrooms with the kids. Today, the kids in room 603 and I had a discussion about slang and what words they say that I don’t know  (and also how long the…

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Apr 27 2011

In Your Dreams

My school’s freshmen are officially my favorite people on campus (don’t tell my babies). I had an amazing time today and yesterday, rotating through the entire freshman class and getting a sneak peek at next year’s student pop. However—for whatever reason this TAKS Blitz thing has been THE most exhausting experience ever. I got home…

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Apr 26 2011

The Real Pre-Sophomores

I’ve always been told that the sophomores at my school are the ‘problem children.’ The faculty tells me they’re the rowdiest, rudest, most boldly disrespectful… but I barely interact with any non-sophomores, so I have nothing to compare them to. Also, I worry that the few instances that do confirm that generalization only do so…

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Apr 26 2011

High Stakes

If I could have picked one day—one day out of the whole school year—to have my Brat be in a good mood, it would have been yesterday. I wanted to pull her aside and tell her how much she means to me, that she only missed it by six questions last year and I know…

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Apr 24 2011

But for the Forest

I really like the act of teaching. I love the call to analyze, improve, learn something, and improve faster. I love (and hate) that my to-do list is always bigger than me and I’ll never grow out of it. I love being the leader, the center of attention, the decision-maker. I love feeling a little…

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Apr 21 2011

Delicious Cold Turkey

I know that my Brat and I, on average, are on better terms than we were in the fall. I know she does more work than she used to and leaves class less often. And I know I’ve gotten a lot better at not triggering her. But I was talking today with a woman who…

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I’m feeling sick about these tests. Increasingly, my kids have been making mutterings and negative TAKS predictions during class—and I’m starting to feel like my pointing to tiny successes is making it worse, not better. As the test nears and they become more and more focused on it, I feel more and more like I’ve…

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Apr 19 2011

The Second-Year Teacher Act

So. My plan to Make It Happen wasn’t exactly the raving success I wanted it to be. I may have swung a little more toward the “play” side of the work-play spectrum than would have been necessary to make the changes I wanted to make. Maybe I was over-compensating since I finally found the ability…

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