Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Apr 04 2012

Behind every bully is a sad story

The day we returned from spring break, my juniors and I had a Class Meeting. We sat in a circle and I forced them to tell me their thoughts on TAKS, our class, whether they thought we were headed in the right direction, and what we could all do to get where we all want…

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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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Sep 02 2011


Whole Brain Teaching or no, it still sucks when you put off planning your lesson to morning and then oversleep. … or maybe this feeling has more to do with my poor 2nd period. My babies are poisoned and I just want to heal them magically and make them know they can do this. I…

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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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May 02 2011

Differentiation on a Stick

I was muy disappointed in myself on Sunday afternoon because I hadn’t done any unit planning, even though I’d had all these great intentions to have super-duper-differentiated layered curriculum for my last five weeks as the first installment of 2YTA. I’d spent all my work time on Saturday deciding what on earth to remediate post-TAKS,…

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Apr 28 2011

Is this Real Life?

It feels like a weekend, but I work tomorrow. These last couple days of working without teaching have made me wonder whether this is what it’s like to be a Normal Person with a Real Life—I wake up, go to work, then leave work at work before I come home and relax. Right now, my…

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Apr 27 2011

More Words Learned in Texas

Part of the weird TAKS schedule means that as we’re rotating through the freshman class, the math department gets to eat lunch in the classrooms with the kids. Today, the kids in room 603 and I had a discussion about slang and what words they say that I don’t know  (and also how long the…

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Apr 26 2011

The Real Pre-Sophomores

I’ve always been told that the sophomores at my school are the ‘problem children.’ The faculty tells me they’re the rowdiest, rudest, most boldly disrespectful… but I barely interact with any non-sophomores, so I have nothing to compare them to. Also, I worry that the few instances that do confirm that generalization only do so…

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Apr 26 2011

High Stakes

If I could have picked one day—one day out of the whole school year—to have my Brat be in a good mood, it would have been yesterday. I wanted to pull her aside and tell her how much she means to me, that she only missed it by six questions last year and I know…

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Apr 18 2011


I cry when I hold babies. Not every time–probably less than a quarter of the time–but enough to say babies make me cry. This tends to worry people (often new mothers, unfortunately), especially since I’ve never been able to place that feeling or accurately describe what it is that overwhelms me so much. I know…

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… and I LOVED every second of it! It’s Monday morning and I missed the early bus because I slept through my alarm–but I love teaching, stayed up late to do it well, wrote nine pages of certification papers before that, put Pokemon on my worksheets, and life is generally beautiful. (also, I wore two different…

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Apr 09 2011

Three stories about bribing kids

On Tuesday, I gave my fake ESL kid a King Size Reese’s and a pack of fruity Trident gum (I was really proud I knew it was his favorite) because he did such great work the day before. I’m almost afraid to say it—but I think he really is making a turnaround. (And guess what?…

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Apr 04 2011


Three important things: Today, my Fake ESL kid copied the notes AND did the examples and checks AND plotted points. I didn’t get nearly excited enough at the time, so I’m bringing him a candy bar tomorrow. I’ve decided that even if none of my other kids pass, I’ll be happy if I can just…

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Each, of course, followed by the obligatory “AAAAPRIL FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOLSS!!!” and class-wide “BAAAHAhahaaa!!”: 5. “I’m going to do all my work today.” 4. “I love  math.” 3. “Miss, you are SUCH a good teacher! You’re like the best teacher at this school!” 2. “Miss, you’re pretty.” 1. “Miss, you DON’T look like Snoop’s Mama.” … sigh.…

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Mar 26 2011

Pre-Sophomore Teacher

Yesterday, I made a shift. If you know high school freshmen, you know that there’s some point close to the end of the year when they stop being freshmen per se and become… “pre-sophomores.” (likewise, there’s a point closer to the beginning when they actually become high-school students instead of eighth-graders plopped into a high…

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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 23 2011

Dear Brat:

I am so impressed with you today. This morning started out rocky in tutoring, but even though you came late, yelled at me, and told me I was explaining everything wrong and that’s why you were NEVER  going to understand it, I could tell you were getting it. You tried so hard to leave, but…

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I still get to see some of my kids who were switched into resource, because they’re only pulled out of core classes (not Math Intervention). Webbie and my Bass Drummer are two who would be doing pretty well in regular geometry if they hadn’t been thrown under the bus. I showed them this site, and…

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I’ve always believed in rigor and Bloom’s and teaching higher-order thinking. Of course! Of course I want to teach my kids to think at a level higher than the state tests require. But today, the Mirror of Teaching revealed some assumptions I can’t wait to shed. . This particular Thursday morning, I was feeling guilty…

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Feb 07 2011


From the beginning of  the school year, Toothpik and my Fake ESL kid have been this blog’s examples of kids who don’t do anythingposter-children for the apathy that makes me grind my teeth at night. They’re the ones who leave class with nothing more or less than when they came in–handouts left untouched on the…

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Feb 03 2011

Three Quick Stories

#1: I can see my breath outside, but no one believes in insulation in Texas, apparently. It’s so cold in my apartment that this morning, rather than brave the cold for three more seconds to grab underwear from my drawer, I got dressed in my steamy bathroom and went without. #2: I’m pretty sure that, when…

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Jan 29 2011

Direct quotes from my Brat

I love this girl SO much. She’s really funny, and totally uninhibited. She asks the most random questions, and has been the author or some of the funniest things I’ve heard in the classroom. Part of her reminds me of me when I was in the fifth grade—obnoxious and proud of it, with a totally…

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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 07 2011

Take Away

This afternoon, I had two goals for my hungry student: 1) find missing lengths of right triangles and 2) find various areas of composite figures. We were working on the latter, and came across an interesting problem; instead of being given the triangle’s lengths, you were given other measurements that could lead you to deduce…

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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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