A Blog Covering D.C. Education [ABCDE]

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Nov 28 2010

Thank You and a Request

Two things:

Thank you, Teach For Us.

Will you donate to Teach For Us?


To the first, I have 10 reasons to thank Teach For Us:

(1) Thank you for helping me decide—by offering the honest, and at times raw, blogs that populate your site—to join Teach For America. Through spending hours clicking through blog posts, I gained a better sense of the challenges that lay ahead.  This “reconnaissance” helped confirm that I was making the right decision.

(2) Thank you for making me laugh. When I’m down, discouraged or distraught, I don’t have to go very far to find something to lift my spirits.

(3) Thank you for inspiring me to aim high and never give up. All it takes one story of a forever-changed student or a teacher triumph to set a new bar for what is possible.

(4) Thank you for providing a forum for candid, open storytelling. I’ve never felt any pressure to tell anything but the truth. I don’t think public education will get anywhere if we sugarcoat its problems. Teach For Us gives teachers a cozy place in the blogosphere to do this.

(5) Thank you for bringing the challenges of teaching forward in the mind of the public’s consciousness. The stories that you house have spread far and wide. More importantly, they have raised, slowly but surely, the awareness that people have about the problems of our public education system.  A research report is great and, at times, necessary, but nothing beats a true teacher narrative to spur people to care about an issue as important as education.

(6) Thank you for giving me opportunities I never expected I’d have. I never imagined that, in my first year of teaching, I’d be invited to participate in a panel on teaching.  The confidence that I’ve built gradually as a “teacher-blogger” will help me do things later on.

(7) Thank you for being a literacy coach. In the 100+ posts I’ve written since starting ABCDE one and a half years ago, I’ve written close to a hundred thousand words on education. The process of blogging has forced me do many things as a writer, to choose words carefully, clarify the messages I want to send, recognize the way the tone of a post can affect the reader’s interpretation. Also, in doing the background “research” that often supports what I write about, I’ve read countless articles, reports and studies (I have ~1,500 PDFs of these that I’ve saved in that time).  As Ernest Gaines once advised his aspiring writing students: “read, read, read, write, write, write.”

(8) Thank you for serving as a valuable hub for Teach For America teachers. Stepping back from my own classroom, what’s happening in classrooms across the country?  Is the difficulty I’m having teaching point of view confined to my classroom, or are there teachers in rural Texas with the same problem?  Teach For Us gives me the chance to “compare notes” across the continent.  I can then begin to detect patterns.  Thus, though there are already thousands of great teacher blogs out there, the “networked” nature of Teach For Us lends itself well to academic study about teacher training and how teachers fare in different environments (unsurprisingly, numerous Teach For Us bloggers have been asked to share their experiences for this very purpose).

(9) Thank you for making it easy to share teacher stories. It doesn’t take much time to get an account up and running.  The WordPress backbone and the great moderator support make blogging easy.

(10) Thank you for supporting TFA’s approach from another angle. Though much needs to be done in the classroom, there is also much that needs to be done out of the classroom.  Raising awareness–just as Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth did for climate change and Waiting For Superman appears to be doing for public education–is a key component to any successful movement.


But the post doesn’t stop here.  I’m asking that you donate to Teach For Us.

The reasons listed above show the multitude of ways that Teach For Us has benefited not only me but others as well. There’s demand for what Teach For Us provides. The site has grown at a tremendous rate in the past couple years.  More bloggers, more page views, more teacher stories. A better world.

This expansion, however, comes at a cost. Someone needs to pay to host the site. Someone needs to help bloggers with poor blog maintenance skills (i.e. me) troubleshoot problems. Someone needs to find ways to improve the site experience for everyone, updating the layout and creating unique features (e.g. the region- and content-based filters). Right now, we have one tireless founder/moderator managing the site on his own. Teach For Us, one must remember, is a 501(c)3 that doesn’t have any natural source of income (at least not yet).

Thus, in this season of giving, I ask you: “Will you donate to Teach For Us?” Teach For Us doesn’t expect large triple- or quadruple-digit donations (although, this is always nice).  Just as changing people’s minds about the intractability of public education takes as little as one inspiring student story, revolutionizing the way Teach For Us can make an impact on readers across the blogosphere can start with a modest donation.

Giving takes just a few clicks of your mouse. Find the “Donate Now” button on the main page or the PayPal “Give” button to the right.  The Teach For Us team and all the teacher-bloggers out there would greatly appreciate it if you could support Teach For Us.  Teach For Us is just over $2,500 from hitting its fundraising goal for calendar year 2010.

In the end, what is clear is that what started as an “experiment”—an opportunity for me to simultaneously try my hand at blogging and chronicle what I knew was about to be a rollercoaster ride as a teacher—morphed into something much more complex. And I love it.

Thank you, Teach For Us and thank you, dear reader.

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    Really, "A Blog Covering Dilemmas in Education": A (former) English teacher's reflections…

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