Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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Dec 14 2011

A Different Heartache

Last year, my heart ached for my students. I learned less about them as people than I did about them as souls, and I positively broke for them. I wept for the way failing hurt them and for how adeptly they had learned to mask it. I ripped myself to shreds over how FUCKING UNFAIR…

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Dec 06 2011

Flickering Convictions

Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing, wonder where my Old Self went. Other times, I feel so lucky to have found myself here, doing this. Sometimes I wonder where I’m going, wonder why I have no direction. Other times, it seems enough, and so obvious, that I’ll be fighting this fight for the rest of…

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Nov 30 2011

Talking the talk

I’ve tried just telling myself to stop being a baby and Just Do It and I’ve tried hating myself and I’ve tried making ridiculous minute-to-minute schedules and I’ve tried just going by to-do lists and gently coaxing myself with kind self-talk and I JUST. NEVER. GET THERE. I’m not depressed anymore and my kids kind…

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Ok miss, I’m not one to give excuses. But I do not know anything you teach me. It’s like asking a man who’s been blind since birth to describe the details of Africa’s horizon, or ask him what color shirt you are wearing. He will never answer because he is blind. Everything you talk of is…

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Nov 03 2011

Milking Students

One of the things I’ve really, REALLY improved at this year is grades/grading (I say that with the asterisk that being good at grades has meant being bad at failure rates). Last year, I gave way too much credit for completion and way too many “participation points,” and I came back strong this year by…

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Sep 21 2011

“You have a lot to do”

My Shell made a really heavily truthful comment to me yesterday. I, like the silly novice teacher I am, was lecturing the class because a student had said something about not trying on our last test. She said, “Miss, you gotta understand. All four years of high school. Our freshman year, we didn’t even have…

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Sep 07 2011

Leaving School at 9pm

… 9:15, actually, and loving it! Minus the backache, knee-ache, and foot-ache. Today was one of those days where technically you’re doing work, but you’re not doing anything that takes too much thought or has any roadblocks, so you stay fresh mentally. No Teaching Headache today. Love it. I wish this had been a long…

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Aug 20 2011

You knew me when

Why don’t we ever see any exemplars before they’re exemplary? I want to see Taylor Delhagen’s teacher face. I want to see Justin Meli address severe misbehavior in his room. I want to see exactly what Megan Brusseau did to invest her investment-proof kids and their parents. WHY can’t we ever see anyone on their…

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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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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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There are 14 teaching days left until testing, and I’m feeling a little queasy about fear and student achievement. From day one, I’ve genuinely wanted my students to do really well, and genuinely believed they can. But crunch time forces us to face reality, and the reality is: as good as my intentions have been,…

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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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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 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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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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Jan 13 2011

Looking Back and Moving Forward

Looking Back: Semester one: Done! I realized today that OPERATION: INSTITUTE officially ends today along with the second nine-week grading period. In reflection, though many of the specific items that were originally part of the endeavor never happened, I think the objective at the soul of the effort was met. Tier 1, Routine, has definitely…

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This is something my beloved CS said at least once a day at Institute. With mastery at 44% and my school demanding a list of “kids who count” (their term, not mine–i.e. kids who are within range of passing the TAKS), it couldn’t be clearer that my re-awakening has come just in time. I can…

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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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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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