Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Mar 26 2011

Pre-Sophomore Teacher

Yesterday, I made a shift. If you know high school freshmen, you know that there’s some point close to the end of the year when they stop being freshmen per se and become… “pre-sophomores.” (likewise, there’s a point closer to the beginning when they actually become high-school students instead of eighth-graders plopped into a high…

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Mar 22 2011

How can you teach and not write?

I’ve never done anything in my life as rich as teaching. I’ve never had so many interesting things begging me to spend time thinking about them. That’s got to be why teaching was what finally nudged me into writing. I’ve never had so much to say and so little space to say it! Phone conversations…

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Mar 19 2011

Then and Now

There was a time, not so long ago, when Teach For America was just a bookmark in Firefox and a non-profit I thought was too good to be true. While I certainly am the same person I was then (it was only two years ago), there are a couple things I’ve been noticing lately that…

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Mar 17 2011

Institute Time Capsule

I’m sitting in the West servery at Rice University—in the same spot I sat so many long, single-minded Institute afternoons. I’m watching college kids walk by in sweat pants with their breakfasts. Smelling the smell of this place makes my heart feel funny. This summer was such an experience, and my life since then has…

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Scene:  In a coffeeshop open late, Tired-But-Wired Teacher (T-B-W) sits at the table, hoping to plan a Friday-before-Spring-Break lesson that packs a punch. Already on her second cup of Texas Pecan, she’s finally caught up on emails, checked her facebook one last time, and said her last g-chat farewells. T-B-W (Out loud,  to self): “Aight. One…

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Mar 10 2011


Partly out of guilt from all of the mornings I spent in his classroom whining and complaining during the fall, I told my sort-of-mentor teacher next door that I’d co-sponsor the Robotics team with him this year. I warned him that I know absolutely nothing about robotics, to which he replied, “you’d be surprised how…

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Mar 07 2011

Forgetting the Noodles

It’s funny how my posts used to show a slightly inaccurate picture of my life by omitting positive parts, and now they’re showing a slightly inaccurate picture of my life because it seems I’ve the opposite problem. It’s a lot easier now to write about the amazing moments, and the not-as-amazing bits don’t flow quite…

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I’ve been wanting to write about TFA and mental health for a while, and have recently had the opportunity to voice the somewhat muddled feelings I have on the subject. I know many of you are starry-eyed and brand new, so this may be inappropriate so soon after you’ve clicked “accept”– but if that’s the…

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Feb 23 2011

Dear Brat:

I am so impressed with you today. This morning started out rocky in tutoring, but even though you came late, yelled at me, and told me I was explaining everything wrong and that’s why you were NEVER  going to understand it, I could tell you were getting it. You tried so hard to leave, but…

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I still get to see some of my kids who were switched into resource, because they’re only pulled out of core classes (not Math Intervention). Webbie and my Bass Drummer are two who would be doing pretty well in regular geometry if they hadn’t been thrown under the bus. I showed them this site, and…

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I’ve always believed in rigor and Bloom’s and teaching higher-order thinking. Of course! Of course I want to teach my kids to think at a level higher than the state tests require. But today, the Mirror of Teaching revealed some assumptions I can’t wait to shed. . This particular Thursday morning, I was feeling guilty…

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Feb 08 2011

A Series of Events

1) On January 20th, corps members got an email from Wendy introducing TFA’s five-year plan and her new book. 2) On Friday, I read One Day, All Children (snow days are good for that sort of thing). 3) Shortly thereafter, and multiple times since, I remembered that the TFA Summit is THIS WEEKEND!  In less…

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Feb 07 2011


From the beginning of  the school year, Toothpik and my Fake ESL kid have been this blog’s examples of kids who don’t do anythingposter-children for the apathy that makes me grind my teeth at night. They’re the ones who leave class with nothing more or less than when they came in–handouts left untouched on the…

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Feb 06 2011


I cried last night, for what I think was the first time in 2011. That means I didn’t shed a single tear in the entire month of January. Whoa. Compared to 2010, let me tell you. My life is unrecognizable. I cried because I watched the movie “Precious,” and could think about nothing but my…

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Feb 05 2011

Songs for your first semester

The Grooveshark playlist that got me and my roommate through weeknights lesson-planning in and out of tears at our kitchen table: 1. Yes We Can (Will I Am) 2. One Day (Matsiyahu) 3. Never Alone (Lady Antebellum) 4. Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey) 5. Keep on Runnin’ (Journey) 6. I Can Go the Distance (Disney–Hercules) 7.…

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Feb 04 2011

Guilt-Free Day

I never thought I’d be able to jump on the bandwagon and write a post about a Snow Day. But here we are, drinking hot cocoa at 2pm on a Friday afternoon, blogging about the <1mm dusting that everyone is calling “the storm.” The great thing about snow days: they’re absolutely guilt-free! Any work I…

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Feb 03 2011

Three Quick Stories

#1: I can see my breath outside, but no one believes in insulation in Texas, apparently. It’s so cold in my apartment that this morning, rather than brave the cold for three more seconds to grab underwear from my drawer, I got dressed in my steamy bathroom and went without. #2: I’m pretty sure that, when…

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I think I’ll let my two daily jot-it-down-after-school lists speak for themselves this fine Tuesday evening: Positives: – Reached almost all the parents I called – Saw my lovely PD at lunch, and totally went in to the afternoon feeling like a TAL teacher. – Very excited about DDM interview – Did lots of things…

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Jan 30 2011

Substitute Guilt

In the past week, I’ve taken more sick days than I took during the whole of first semester. It began Friday the 21st, with an even-higher-than-usual level of Friday Exhaustion and a tickle in my throat that told me I should stay in bed all day Saturday (too bad. CHAMPS training instead). Three sub days,…

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Jan 29 2011

Direct quotes from my Brat

I love this girl SO much. She’s really funny, and totally uninhibited. She asks the most random questions, and has been the author or some of the funniest things I’ve heard in the classroom. Part of her reminds me of me when I was in the fifth grade—obnoxious and proud of it, with a totally…

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Jan 23 2011

The Pull

Something big has happened. I said the words “I love teaching.” They just kind of came out of me.  I typed them in an email, actually. And while I’ve tried these words out in my head a couple of times over the past few weeks, they have (until yesterday) been less appropriate than “I’m happy”…

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I will probably be adding to this list periodically, but I wanted to put the first draft up in case there are any fourth-deadline applicants or yet-to-confirm third-deadline peeps out there. – We are a BRAND NEW region. As part of the San Antonio corps, you will be instrumental in shaping what TFA looks like…

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Jan 18 2011

Snapshot 1.18

Today’s lesson was not my best. It’s the first lesson in 2011 that has pretty much flopped, though, so I’m not too broken up about it. When my lessons flopped before, I could see it coming—I knew I’d planned it too hurriedly or carelessly, or I knew there was something involved that the kids wouldn’t…

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