Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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May 17 2012

No Clearer Mirror

On Wednesday, May 2nd, someone very important to me mentioned that I hate my job casually in conversation, as if this was a known and well-established piece of knowledge between us. I stopped her: “… Wait. I hate my job?” While I try not to make a habit of defining my reality based on what my…

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May 15 2012


It’s blog season. New blogs and new bloggers popping up everywhere make me a little excited and a little… frustrated. I love the newness, love the enthusiasm, love the optimistic anticipation. Of course. But reading First Posts is a little uncomfortable for me, because I can remember so well when I felt the same way…

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Problem-solving is essential. Engage your students in creative thinking. As teachers, we use extrinsic motivation for criterion checks, but be careful to stick with guidelines for high-stakes testing in heterogeneous groups. You are required to volunteer strategies so everyone is on the same page. I believe in data. Data, data, data. You need to know…

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Dec 05 2011


Yup, I work in that school. The one with the low scores, with the dropout rate and the attrition and the poverty… I work on that side of town. When people get killed nearby or when there’s a hit-and-run involving one of our kids, we’re in the news–but you’d be unlikely to hear that we’re…

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Oct 10 2011

Climbing in the polls

My principal is very quickly climbing in the polls inside my head. He’s been such a do-er this year, which I really admire, and his “moments of greatness” are becoming more and more frequent. Maybe “do-er” is what others would call “impulsive,” but I’m a fan. Today he suddenly decided, per the math department’s failure…

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It’s 364 days after my very first day as a real live professional, and I spent today in much the same way that I spent August 16th, 2010. Our principal started the day by making a harrowing speech about how we’re the worst of the worst. It was quite graphic. “There are five stages to…

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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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Feb 09 2011

What happened to teaching?

Today was going to be a great day. Laying The Foundations is a wonderful day of professional development—it’s the least relevant of any of them, but it’s FUN. We spend the entire day just doing math problems, with only  minimal discussion of “strategies” and “tricks” and blah blah ideal-classroom blah. For a day, I just…

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Dec 15 2010

Posting the Positives

One day, this blog will be full of exclamation points and happy stories about good teaching and respectful children, signaling its author’s total-180-teacher-transformation from incompetence to Best Practices Queen. Until that day comes, however, you’ll have to be satisfied with only sporadic attempts at a balanced perspective—even if it’s only in the hopes that I’m…

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Dec 14 2010

Ms. Childish

Monday should have been easy. I had a pretty fun lesson (by “fun,” I mean there was matching and scissors and glue and markers) for Intervention, and Geometry was supposed to just wrap up their benchmark. I did keep it together for all of first, third, and fifth periods—but I think the effort of not…

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Dec 07 2010

Squeezed Through the Cracks

I’m used to kids randomly appearing and disappearing from my class list. The front office sends out a weekly email with lists of the students who have enrolled/dropped out in the past week, and I usually get about one or two new students every two weeks. I’d say I lose about the same amount, whether…

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Dec 06 2010

My Wise Young Lesbian

I found out in a meeting on Thursday afternoon with my principal and assistant principal that my school has started “withdrawing” kids. “This is a learning institution. And if we’re not about learning, what are we doing? Kids with bad grades, attendance, behavior… they’re acting in a way that flies in the face of everything…

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Dec 03 2010


I am very lucky to have the principal and the administration I have (that’s sooo odd to say, after complaining about them for months). While I’ve officially decided that I really don’t care what they think of me as a teacher; as much as they fail in follow-through and are forced to operate in a…

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Aug 20 2010

Heard in SA

On last year’s standardized test data: “We need to focus on the students taking the TAKS-M test this year. Those are the ones who are really hurting the school.” On teaching the required first-week curriculum: “The district made this plan… but we’re doing only half of it. The kids won’t pay attention to it anyway.”…

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