Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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I’ve done a fair bit of reading about racism, but until now the only connection to education has been that I occasionally post things here about what I read. Recently though, I read bell hooks’ “Teaching Community: A Pedogogy of Hope” (which was admittedly mostly about undergraduate and graduate students) and started Lisa Delpit’s “Other…

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May 10 2013

A Person, Living, in a Place

FINE, I guess I’ll have my fourth root beer float in two days. If I must. And while I drink it, I’ll think about how crazy it is that I’m actually, seriously considering teaching next year. How weird it is to realize that might be what I want to do. So weird, in fact, that…

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Apr 02 2013

Watching Myself Quit

Somehow, I made it through two years of teaching without quitting. But I think I just watched a version of my past self actually do it. By that I mean I identified strongly with the difficulties one of our after-school employees was having, but couldn’t keep her from quitting. (Not sure if I wanted to?)…

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Feb 25 2013

Someday, maybe

On January 26th, I was riding the bus home from a professional development workshop and I accidentally let my mind wander into the teaching world. Not thinking about teachers in general, or thinking about schools or districts, but actually imagining myself in front of a classroom.   Thing is, these imaginings were not accompanied by…

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Jan 21 2013

People Like Me Exist

My initial reaction to everything TFA was “it’s too good to be true.” Throughout the application process, induction, and institute, I remember consciously keeping an eye out for weaknesses in this organization that seemed to be such a perfect example of how to do a nonprofit right. Part of my incredulity came from the fact…

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Jan 14 2013

A Thing That Happened

Part of my new job is subbing every once in a while for the teachers of our after-school program, and today for the first time I subbed at a K-8 school on the side of town where I taught. I felt a filling bit of belonging, interacting with kids who could have been my students’…

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Jan 11 2013

Not Dead Yet

Yup, still kicking.   What I’m up to and how it’s going: I’m working as a supervisor for an after-school program in my very same district. It’s an amazing job that I love. It’s SUPER easy, but I’m still learning things about how to motivate people and help them help kids. Plus, I’m working with…

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Oct 17 2012

Oh hey, it’s October!

October 2011 was a gigantic improvement upon October 2010, and now it’s October 2012 and I live in a world completely unrecognizable from either. First year teachers, this is for you.

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Sep 14 2012

The Best Thing About Malcolm X

was that he changed his mind, completely, slowly, every time he was confronted with the knowledge that what he thought was the truth wasn’t.

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Sep 13 2012

The Cost of Racism

I’ve been a little blog-blocked lately, in part because I’m afraid of producing the exact same kind of entry I’m tired of reading. I’m tired of reading blather from bloggers who pretend to be rational and neutral but refuse to look at the whole story. Why didn’t I see any feminist posts praising Mitt Romney…

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Aug 19 2012

Thank-You Note

I have some informal skeletons of blog posts halfway planned out in my mind, but I’m postponing those after spending some time perusing the current TFUs buffet. I felt a little bad after writing the post before last. Maybe it’s obvious and maybe it’s not, but I’m in this weird place of trying to figure…

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Aug 10 2012

Freire and Hot Fries

My English teacher my junior year of high school told me it’s impossible to read without a pen in hand. I don’t have a pen–just a bag of hot fries. I do, however, have a blog…   Pedagogy of the Oppressed seemed very black and white. The whole world can be categorized and chunked up…

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Aug 10 2012

August Purples

As an optimist, I tend to find things to be happy about—especially in things that are too late to change. So maybe this lovely August feeling I have is part of that coping mechanism. BUT. That said. Can I just take a second and talk about how happy I am that I’m not writhing with…

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Aug 05 2012

The Diversity Issue

In case you didn’t know, I was featured in the Fall 2011 One Day magazine (page 13, what!). I’m TFAmous, people. I never did read the rest of the magazine, though. Someone asked me recently whether I’d read “the Diversity Issue” of One Day, and I didn’t realize this was the very issue they were…

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Aug 04 2012

Being White

As a white lady who has recently decided her life’s calling is racial justice work, I spend a lot of time thinking about how my knowledge of race issues, necessarily, comes second-hand. I spend a lot of time wondering whether I, as a white person, am the right sort of person to be inserting my…

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Even as I acknowledge (and complain about) all of TFA’s things that get under my skin and make me sound like yet another angry blogger, I still love Teach For America because of the people in it, and because of its neurotically mission-driven culture.   Teach For America is an organization full of people who,…

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I just wrote about the silliness of personifying TFA in order to complain about it. But for now, I’m talking outside the realm of my own personal TFA experience, and while I guess I could just email this straight to TFA’s Executive Vice President of People, Community, and Diversity (maybe I will), I still want to…

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“The issues of racism in education explained to me how I could get kicked out of school in the eighth grade. How it was that a bright Latina kid could sit in front of a guidance counselor, tell her that I wanted to be placed on a college track because I’m going to go to…

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Jul 09 2012

Practicing what I Preach

I’ve had a lot of opportunity to think about honesty lately, and to wonder why I’m so obsessed with it as of late.   I was reminded today of something I knew once and ignored: that it’s too easy to anthropomorphize Teach For America to get out of criticizing a real person or people. “TFA”…

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Jul 03 2012

Today, I’m tired of Messy.

For the last two years, it seems, I’ve been unable to think clearly unless I’m typing. If you don’t want to read my disillusioned processing, please don’t.   Actually, sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t just make my blog posts private until I figure these last two years out. (And stop talking, too, ha.) Everything…

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… My thoughts are still developing on this. Excuse the abrupt entry and consider it a follow-up from my last two posts.   I just don’t feel like it’s cool to recruit teachers by making them believe they’re going to change kids’ lives by being super-teachers, and then tell them they’re going to be super-teachers…

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… that I wasn’t going to change lives, I guess. But would I have believed that? No, they’d have to tell me a lot more. I guess I wish we would tell our people that walking into their classrooms as TFA corps members, instead of as teachers, will end in disaster. That incremental change exists,…

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Jun 22 2012

I’m not jaded.

I realized my blog is starting to be peppered with this rhetoric of the “broken TFA alum” who had a hard two years—disillusioned, jaded, broken, cynical, and sad. Truth: I’m not that. This took some realizing, though. It took me a minute to realize that the fact that I didn’t come out the ass-end of…

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Remember to love what you do. Your students will learn more if you’re fulfilled by teaching them than if you’re meticulous and thorough but not happy.

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A friend of mine told me about a recent date night, where he had a delicious two-hour long conversation about inequality, education, and economics.   After my initial enthusiastic remarks about how great it was he’d found someone who would engage in a conversation like this, I thought for a second and realized that the…

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“The minute you think of giving up, think of the reason you held on so long.” - John Maxwell


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