Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jan 21 2013

People Like Me Exist

My initial reaction to everything TFA was “it’s too good to be true.” Throughout the application process, induction, and institute, I remember consciously keeping an eye out for weaknesses in this organization that seemed to be such a perfect example of how to do a nonprofit right. Part of my incredulity came from the fact…

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Aug 05 2012

The Diversity Issue

In case you didn’t know, I was featured in the Fall 2011 One Day magazine (page 13, what!). I’m TFAmous, people. I never did read the rest of the magazine, though. Someone asked me recently whether I’d read “the Diversity Issue” of One Day, and I didn’t realize this was the very issue they were…

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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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… 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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A friend of mine told me about a recent date night, where he had a delicious two-hour long conversation about inequality, education, and economics.   After my initial enthusiastic remarks about how great it was he’d found someone who would engage in a conversation like this, I thought for a second and realized that the…

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May 15 2012


It’s blog season. New blogs and new bloggers popping up everywhere make me a little excited and a little… frustrated. I love the newness, love the enthusiasm, love the optimistic anticipation. Of course. But reading First Posts is a little uncomfortable for me, because I can remember so well when I felt the same way…

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Nov 29 2011

Me and/or TFA

Reflecting on who and what I am, evaluating myself, is one of my favorite pastimes—my other favorite is doing the same thing about TFA (Fellow Kool-aid Drinkers take note: This means I’ve learned how to tell the difference!)

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Nov 27 2011


what the hell am I doing within the existing system? Proving that I can do this job almost as well as all those education majors can? Sometimes it feels like that’s what we’re here for.

I want to work for change alongside TFA people. But I don’t know if I want to spend my energy plugging okay teachers into a system that chews them up and spits them out, hoping for the day when someone comes up with a better idea and there are enough alumni and other like-minded souls around to support it.

Not sure exactly how this relates to my sudden urge to deface public property with graphic messages about inequality in education. Maybe because I feel like that way I could at least point a bold finger at the problem, instead of working myself to the bone but missing the point?

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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 10 2011


I get a kick out of cryptic titles that make you think I’m talking about something else. San Antonio’s 2010 corps calls itself the “charter corps,” and it does not mean we teach in charter schools. We are charter in the sense that we are created. We’re talking about a charter as in a law…

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Jun 02 2011

Serving the Kool-Aid

I’m way, way, WAY too excited about all of you 2011 corps members. I mean, it was exciting when y’all started blogging, for a little bit–but to be honest, the TFUs environment was a little heavy on the praxis/anticipation/nervousness/moving posts for my liking. But NOW. Now, there are zillions of induction posts waiting to be…

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May 31 2011

Down the Hall

I’m so glad the 2011s are coming. I know that we’re not all going to fantastic and wonderful teachers, and I might even be surprised if half of us are—but I tell you what, that idealism everyone throws around about corps members might just be worth something. I don’t intend to vilify or put down…

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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 10 2011

Two or Three Biggest Lessons

Teach For America: “What are the two or three biggest lessons you’re taking away from your corps experience? These could be lessons about your students, yourself, the community where you work, the achievement gap (its causes, the most promising solutions, etc.), our schools and school system, education policy, Teach For America-specific lessons, or anything else–we’re…

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Apr 24 2011

But for the Forest

I really like the act of teaching. I love the call to analyze, improve, learn something, and improve faster. I love (and hate) that my to-do list is always bigger than me and I’ll never grow out of it. I love being the leader, the center of attention, the decision-maker. I love feeling a little…

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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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Apr 16 2011


Someone once told me that 44% of TFA men end up marrying TFA women. It seems like an absurd number, and I feel silly even letting myself wonder if it’s true. Who would have that information, anyway? I doubt “are you currently married/engaged to be married to a TFA alumnus?” is a question on any…

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Apr 14 2011

2011-2012 Starts Tomorrow.

It has actually already started. Tonight, there are 2011 San Antonio TFA corps members in town, to take their (first round of) certification tests (They’re badass, baller, and super-flexible, and they’ll take multiple tests so they can be ready to teach whatever our district needs them to teach). I’m going to meet them tomorrow. Is…

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Mar 19 2011

Then and Now

There was a time, not so long ago, when Teach For America was just a bookmark in Firefox and a non-profit I thought was too good to be true. While I certainly am the same person I was then (it was only two years ago), there are a couple things I’ve been noticing lately that…

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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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If so, I think I have. I don’t even know how to write about the Summit. Ever since Michael Johnston finished speaking, a weird feeling has been turning over and over in me. As I ate dinner at Union Station’s “America” Saturday night and walked the National Mall with a close friend, I kept trying…

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Feb 08 2011

A Series of Events

1) On January 20th, corps members got an email from Wendy introducing TFA’s five-year plan and her new book. 2) On Friday, I read One Day, All Children (snow days are good for that sort of thing). 3) Shortly thereafter, and multiple times since, I remembered that the TFA Summit is THIS WEEKEND!  In less…

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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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I will probably be adding to this list periodically, but I wanted to put the first draft up in case there are any fourth-deadline applicants or yet-to-confirm third-deadline peeps out there. – We are a BRAND NEW region. As part of the San Antonio corps, you will be instrumental in shaping what TFA looks like…

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Jan 04 2011

Making It Happen

I can’t even begin to figure out a way to tie this post together or make it interesting or profound, and so I’ve been putting off posting it. But I can’t leave it too long, or this blog wouldn’t be the honest chronicle I want it to be. So at the risk of not quite…

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