Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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May 08 2012


I’m in this crazy land of leisure and not-knowing. Will I be able to continue my grad program if I’m not teaching next year? How long does a period of administrative leave usually last before a decision is made? Theoretically, how hard would it be to get a job if one were to get fired…

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Mar 07 2012

Writing about Not Writing

It’s been too long since I had the uncontrollable urge to blog. I don’t like it. It’s not as if there’s nothing going on. I could have written last week, for instance, about College Night and how we had a really good turnout but how it really wasn’t very good otherwise. That thing has been…

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I ran the ol’ Induction Route tonight, and found it less automatic than usual to put myself into the ol’ Induction Mindset. Those of you who’ve been reading for that long know it’s probably a good thing that I’m gaining some distance from those patterns of thought. It still makes me a bit nervous, though,…

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Feb 24 2012

Running on Empty Fills Me Up

Whew. I have a to-do list like a bucket with a leak in it, and a classroom like a game of whack-a-mole. I’m a grad student suddenly immersed in a hyper-speed introduction to things like ANOVA, MANCOVA, 42 U.P.C Section 1983 and San Antonio v. Rodriguez. I’m presenting research proposals to my classmates and and Positive Behavior…

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Last year, the failures were truth and i saw the “small successes” as just weak cop-out justifications. This year, I’ve learned the language of my students and this profession enough to listen to insults and feel for the smoky forms of people-change underneath. Today was the first day of the new semester–thus, the day reality…

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Sometimes I need to be a real writer. Journaling is honest, but it speaks to no one who’s alive yet; blogging is so nice because there’s so much affirmation. But all of my writing is just pages and pages of me wondering aloud whether I’m not just writing to repeat and make true the thoughts…

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Sigh. I dont know if I can do this for a third year. I woke up this morning with such a surge of energy and then my classes were shitty yet again, which I can’t complain about because I knew they were boring bad lessons, because I felt like a person this weekend. It’s only…

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Sometimes I love teaching. When I feel like I could be good at it. When I’m going crazy and not sleeping and not thinking about anything else.   Then I take some time to refuel, and then I take more time, and then I start to not want to start. Like REALLY not want to…

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Dec 12 2011


I’m not sure whether I need to write about “classroom management” or “anger management.” We’re giving an online pre-test to all math students today—something that’s made much easier by the 24 laptops that now live in every classroom (!). I hate HATE doing online stuff as a class. I don’t mind letting kids get on…

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Nov 16 2011

Yellow Brick Road

Don’t know if I’ve said this here yet, but I’m officially staying a third year at my school.

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… because there’s always this point where you sigh and say “But I guess it’s still way better than at this point last year.” I’m not improving fast enough. I want the high of getting better. I’ve reached an imaginary ceiling; some kind of optimum value in the relationship between how much I’m able/motivated/with-it enough…

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Nov 01 2011

October, Schmocktober

My first year, October lasted from August 23rd to December 29th. This year, October barely even existed.

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Oct 31 2011

Hermione as a Muggle… teacher

Somehow, it’s Sunday night again and I’m still up at midnight planning. Again. I have no idea what to do with seventh period tomorrow. And by “seventh period,” I don’t mean a particular group of kids–I mean that chunk of time. Ever since I started teaching the AP Calc kids, I have four preps and…

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My classroom clock is stuck on 12 noon (and 15 seconds). If it read the real time, I might have the chance to be upset that I’m just sitting down to start working at 8:36pm–but I’m going to pretend that I’m stuck in time too and steal this moment to reflect. Tonight was my second…

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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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Jun 07 2011


Today was an absolute pile. First period, my Sly kid threw my entire stack of perfect blue paper down the stairwell right after first period. It would have been some stupid mischevious end-of-year thing if it weren’t MY stack of nice paper that I’d set out for them. For some reason it really made me…

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May 21 2011


White privilege. White anti-racist. White ally. White … hypocrisy. I feel uncomfortable, and as complainy and self-centered as this post is, I promise I’m glad of my discomfort. It’s not that I’m guilty for my whiteness—I don’t think. I think I feel… just pushed. I feel a healthy dose of fear and shame, I think.…

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May 16 2011

My Chance

My kid they call Dirty has been refusing to do any work for the past week or so, and I’ve been absolutely at a loss (as usual). I wrote him up one day for it, thinking maybe he just needed someone to coerce him into doing what’s best for himself… but it didn’t feel right…

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Apr 12 2011

Back to Narcolepsy

Partly because of a newfound social life and partly because of a newfound motivation and inspiration for creating good lessons (and partly because of tests approaching and partly because of procrastination on certification requirements), I’ve slept less during these past two weeks than I have during any period since … Institute, probably. On one hand,…

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


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