Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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 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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The following is a post by the lovely leader of the Upper Math community on TFAnet, and my reply to it. I’m interested to see what non-math teachers have to say about it, and she just said so many things exactly the way I feel them that I decided her words belong in my blog.…

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Days like this make me wonder whether there’s not something else I could be doing that would be more effective and less like martyrdom. Wouldn’t I have a bigger, better effect on kids if I were a functional human being? Can’t we, as Teach For America, do anything else to make the first year easier?…

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Dec 01 2010

Blind Leading the Blind

I literally feel this job gripping me behind my sternum. For forty minutes or so after I’m done teaching, even if I’m not really mulling on anything, I feel this dull, sick weight that doesn’t sigh off. Maybe I’m just tired.       So you’d think I’d try harder to get more sleep. That’s just the…

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I can say it aloud now: things are getting better. Partly because of this, and partly because of meeting, matriculating, and constantly thinking about 2011 corps members (Hi!), I’ve finally been able to work out a clear way to express why I’m here. The Question is asked in a number of slightly different, very interesting ways:…

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Oct 30 2010

Out the Window

The other Geometry teacher at my school thought I was speaking figuratively. “Haha, yeah, my kids didn’t really like them either…” I knew this was going to be immensely satisfying. So I listened patiently: “…but I’m sure they’ll get used to them. I mean, of course you’ve got your SmartView up so you can teach them…

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Oct 27 2010

Dear Student:

 I have to say before I say anything else that I really, really do know you can do this. I know that if you were only given the chance, you could go for it and you would. You think you’re stupid, you think it’s your fault, you think you’re just not made for school. You…

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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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There I sat, trying to figure out how to make a 3 x 3 x 3 cube puzzle with five different pieces of no less than three and no more than six cubic units each, with no two pieces being the same shape. Naturally I wanted to be the first one to finish the task, and…

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Sep 28 2010

“Ah, miss, why you cryin’?”

“Ah, miss, why you cryin’?”   That’s my bass drummer. “Miss, you not crying because the sub, are you?” I’m not sure what that means. But the intercom was just beeping in at that point. “Did someone buzz from this room?” And my mentor teacher: “Yes, we need a substitute as soon as possible in room 407.”…

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Sep 20 2010

The Magic of Disney

Disney songs have always, always had a very special place in my heart. But I’ve never needed them like I need them now. I’m not sure if I’m a) forgetting how to deal with stress, b) developing an anxiety disorder, c) just not used to this kind of stress, or d) all of the above—but whether…

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Sep 09 2010

Balance This

So maybe I pulled all-nighters at Institute. Maybe I consistently spent eight hours a night working on one-hour lessons. Maybe I’m that slow-working obsessive-compulsive perfectionist who you never saw because I was, quite literally, working all the time. But at Institute, my lessons were aligned. They were thoughtful. They were structured. They had lots of built-in,…

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Jul 06 2010

Head –> Wall

Today felt like an exercise in futility. We had a three day weekend for the 4th of July. I spent hours this weekend trying to get ahead (read: catch up) with lesson planning. I planned and planned and planned when I should have been chatting up my lovely relatives. I spent hours grading assessments, grading…

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Jun 13 2010

Spurred ;)

I have yet to become disenchanted with Teach For America. Every encounter I’ve had, from recruiting meetings to reminder emails to my interview to this first day of indution, has been consistently, increasingly impressive. It’s been one growing pleasant surprise. Oh, it’s cool that they put so much energy into recruiting; they really do recruiting…

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