Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Oct 22 2010

Week 9 // Don’t be Stupid

Sunday night: feel calm and confident about the weekend’s productivity and the upcoming week. Feel out of the rut, like things are different somehow. Monday night: come home from CM discussion meeting inexplicably sad. Tuesday night: come home from working at TFA office and fall asleep in roommate’s bed at 8pm, cry on the phone…

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Oct 19 2010

Some days you’re the hammer…

… and some days everything hurts. Some days you just feel bad, for no reason. There are some days that are awful because your thinking is screwy and you’re not looking at things with your Sense Of Possibility eyes–but so help me, there are some days where nothing should hurt, but everything hurts and you just…

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Oct 19 2010


You couldn’t have convinced me of it at the time, but in retrospect, I really was doing great at Institute. I tasted none of the depths of teaching psychosis that I’ve marinated in for 8 weeks. It hit me today during seventh period, while my class bombed their second round of FMAs: The Ms. Kool-Aid…

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Oct 15 2010

I’ll have you know

“Miss, I’ll have you know I learned something in this class, because I did not know how to do this last year.” … and I know she wasn’t just being nice, either, because I was “getting on her nerves” for all but those 6 seconds. !!! One kid. One kid learned one thing–THANK YOU!! Finally!…

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Oct 12 2010

Who I Am

Here’s the thing: I don’t want regrets. A year ago, the hardest thing I’d ever done was a summer rowing training program with LUC in Seattle. Somehow, I got in with the elites, and I had a coach who was pushing me harder than I ever thought someone outside my own head could push. I was…

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Oct 10 2010

Where I’m From

I am from Takis and TAKS and talking in class. I am from once-threatening ivy, heavy footsteps above my closet, and a mailbox that smells like cockroaches. I am from Tacos and Pep Rallies… in the morning. I am from counting our successes, long hugs in doorways, from Ms. Hargis and Magnolias. I am from…

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There I sat, trying to figure out how to make a 3 x 3 x 3 cube puzzle with five different pieces of no less than three and no more than six cubic units each, with no two pieces being the same shape. Naturally I wanted to be the first one to finish the task, and…

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Oct 05 2010

Just for the record

I hate this. I say so plainly, literally, with the least emotion possible and with no reaction-gauging or attention-seeking. Simply put, there are some things that I detest, and one of those things is my current existence. I don’t want to do what I’m doing. I don’t want to teach high school, I don’t want to…

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… This feeling I’m feeling? … it’s just nerves. Pure fourth-grade-piano-recital nerves, starting in the pit of my stomach. I don’t know what is going to happen. I’m relatively prepared, I think, to handle a game day and give a test… but I still don’t know what today is going to bring. I don’t know…

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Sep 30 2010

September the Last

Tomorrow is October. OCTOBER already. I’ve been living the same impossible week over and over and over again, and I just don’t see how it’s not still August 30. Time is passing. As I still struggle to get myself to work every morning and through every day, the clock is ticking and the achievement gap…

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Sep 28 2010

“Ah, miss, why you cryin’?”

“Ah, miss, why you cryin’?”   That’s my bass drummer. “Miss, you not crying because the sub, are you?” I’m not sure what that means. But the intercom was just beeping in at that point. “Did someone buzz from this room?” And my mentor teacher: “Yes, we need a substitute as soon as possible in room 407.”…

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Sep 26 2010

This is my life.

Hello. This is my life. Firstly, this is just two years of my life. I will continue to exist and continue to be my passionate, critical-thinking, problem-solving, proactive, goofy self after I’m done teaching, whether or not I make significant gains. Secondly, this is NOT just two years of my life!! This achievement gap is…

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Sep 20 2010

The Magic of Disney

Disney songs have always, always had a very special place in my heart. But I’ve never needed them like I need them now. I’m not sure if I’m a) forgetting how to deal with stress, b) developing an anxiety disorder, c) just not used to this kind of stress, or d) all of the above—but whether…

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Sep 19 2010

New Words Learned in Texas

Childish, adj:   Technically, I think this would be defined with its original meaning, “acting like a child.” But it’s used more like “stupid” or “dorky.” Messy, adj:  Mostly applied to females, and has nothing to dowith their appearance. A messy girl ‘has a big mouth’ or ‘likes to create drama.’  Nobody likes “messy girls.” Trifling, adj:…

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Sep 18 2010

Concave Up

The night before the first day of school, I would describe myself as both insanely nervous and foolishly confident. I was unprepared, and I knew it. And I don’t just mean “unprepared” in the usual Institute-was-so-different-I-had-no-idea-it-was-this-hard kind of way. There was a little additional I-never-wrote-a-management-plan-or-a-unit-plan-or-even-a-first-day-lesson-plan (until Sunday night) going on, as well (for which I have…

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Sep 09 2010

Teacher ADD

A moment ago: I was opening up my computer, putting water on the stove to boil for tea, and jotting down a list of exactly what HAS to be done in order for me to survive tomorrow. It occurred to me that I’d meant to make a sandwich. So I got out the bread and…

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Sep 09 2010

Balance This

So maybe I pulled all-nighters at Institute. Maybe I consistently spent eight hours a night working on one-hour lessons. Maybe I’m that slow-working obsessive-compulsive perfectionist who you never saw because I was, quite literally, working all the time. But at Institute, my lessons were aligned. They were thoughtful. They were structured. They had lots of built-in,…

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Sep 05 2010

… I miss Institute.

 I don’t get it. When is the point where I start feeling like this is possible? When do I start to realize that I CAN do this? I miss the clarity and straightforward simplicity of Institute. Everything started from scratch–it was just SWBAT and the mastery tracker. Everything else was execution, execution, execution. Which is…

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1st period was okay, I think. It may have been good, even; I don’t remember. 3rd period is usually really fun, and today they were just crazy and non-responsive and I went all angry-teacher on them, which didn’t work, of course. And then 5th period was the same (because it’s comprised basically of everyone in…

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Sep 01 2010

Wednesday Moment

“Miss?”    I went over and teacher-squatted next to my Converse Kid’s desk. “Yes?” “Miss… Miss, ah…” “What’s up?” “Miss, I’ve never said this to a teacher before, but…”  (and now I’m all ears, totally interested/concerned/curious/really perplexed) “… but, ah… ah… you’re the most beautiful teacher I’ve ever seen.” … “Thank you. That’s very nice of…

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Aug 27 2010


… is the way I would describe my first week. I’m not teaching the way I did at Institute, and I was no rock-star there, either. I’m not prepared–ever. I’m doing everything that pisses me off about teachers: making copies at 8:30 am, planning activity-driven lessons on the way to school, stretching out the warm-up…

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Aug 25 2010

Big Goals

There’s nothing quite like unveiling your Big Goal over a sea of absolutely unresponsive side-conversations in 8th period. It’s incredible how vulnerable that one lesson makes you. I have a very thick teacher skin that I’m proud of, but I wasn’t prepared for how much of my HEART was up there on the board being…

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Aug 23 2010

Day 1

I told myself that I was going to take a deep breath right before first period and say to myself “remember this moment. You’ll never be this inexperienced again.” … but I forgot. Probably because at that time I was still frantically trying to get the copier un-jammed—because the $40 I spent at Kinko’s at…

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