Drinking the Kool-Aid

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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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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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Dec 12 2011

A Note About Kool-Aid

At institute, I noticed that when those around me said things that went straight to my heart–something genuine or heartfelt about why they were in TFA, for instance, or impassioned words about Continuously Increasing Effectiveness or backwards planning–they immediately disclaimed themselves (or were labeled by others) as someone who had Drunk the Kool-Aid. Corps Members…

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Jun 12 2011

End To End

I wrote this slowly. Please read it slowly. It started in Portland, Oregon. I learned everything about everything, and loved everyone. I compressed my minutes and hours and learned how to do more than you think I can. It was enough that I had potential. It started in Spokane, Washington. I put more than what…

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Jun 07 2011

Naked Room

It took me the whole school year of arriving at either 7am or 8am to realize there’s a bus that will get me here right at 7:20. Now I’m sitting on one of my tables like I tell my Brat not to do, taking a look at things before I spend this hour organizing and…

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Jun 06 2011

Tuesday Eve

On Friday, I spoke to the 2011 San Antonio corps on a panel along with three other 2010 CMs. We were told to “tell the story of your first year of teaching. Go into detail about any challenges and how those challenges made you feel.” While I definitely meant to be frank and honest, I…

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May 06 2011

Ghosts of Myself

Every once in a while, I look at pieces of my everyday life and have to do a double-take. It might happen while I’m looking in my closet at the clothes I bought in Houston during Institute, or when I smell a bit of summer coming back, or when I’m running the same old route…

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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 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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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 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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Dec 16 2010

I want to study TFA.

I don’t know anything about the data out there that looks at corps member effectiveness, but because I’ve seen so little of it, my gut says that it’s pretty sparse. Why? TFA seems like a pretty hot topic. Only 20 years old, maybe, but controversial and growing fast. Where’s the robust body of research to…

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Nov 16 2010

Eating Soup with a Fork

I think about my Institute kids all the time. I did get a picture, and I got a list of email addresses. I even got to visit a couple of them in October. But I still feel like I abandoned them. It’s too easy to justify yourself out of feeling guilty and responsible–I only had…

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Nov 01 2010


My titles are just getting cleverer and cleverer. I know things are changing because even on days like today, when I wake up just the same way as I used to, hating everything and just looking for a way out (and not finding one), my thoughts still somehow morph into “don’t throw today away” and…

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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 30 2010

September the Last

Tomorrow is October. OCTOBER already. I’ve been living the same impossible week over and over and over again, and I just don’t see how it’s not still August 30. Time is passing. As I still struggle to get myself to work every morning and through every day, the clock is ticking and the achievement gap…

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Sep 18 2010

Concave Up

The night before the first day of school, I would describe myself as both insanely nervous and foolishly confident. I was unprepared, and I knew it. And I don’t just mean “unprepared” in the usual Institute-was-so-different-I-had-no-idea-it-was-this-hard kind of way. There was a little additional I-never-wrote-a-management-plan-or-a-unit-plan-or-even-a-first-day-lesson-plan (until Sunday night) going on, as well (for which I have…

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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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Sep 05 2010

… I miss Institute.

 I don’t get it. When is the point where I start feeling like this is possible? When do I start to realize that I CAN do this? I miss the clarity and straightforward simplicity of Institute. Everything started from scratch–it was just SWBAT and the mastery tracker. Everything else was execution, execution, execution. Which is…

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Jul 16 2010

Last Days in Houston

Thursday, July 15th: BIG TEST DAY! Somehow, I was able to keep all my kids in their seats to take the test. They all put their nose to the grindstone and hammered that baby out; it was about an hour of just sitting there doing math problems, and I was so proud. It was so…

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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 30 2010

Real Problems

Somehow, students who are hell-on-wheels during one period can be angelic and crazy-invested the next. It just shows you not to go by what you hear in advance. Somehow, sixth-graders can go from baby elementary-school babies to flat-out teenagers with teenager issues. One of my girls, sweet and round-faced and helpful, said to me in…

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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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