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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jan 17 2011

On MLK and Mountaintops


“I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” These were Dr. Martin…

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I’ve only really gone off the negativity deep end once. It was over something as seemingly inconsequential as paper (email me if you don’t remember my password). In reality, though, paper management makes all the difference in a school. It’s one part of the hidden infrastructure that allows a school to serve its purpose of…

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A number of people are up in arms now that a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision–which determined that teachers working toward, but not yet at, full certification could not be considered “Highly Qualified” under NCLB rules–was, in essence, papered over by Congress after it inserted a provision in a resolution that rendered alternative-track teachers…

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What does a teacher do with winter break? In many jobs, a fortnight vacation is elusive. Teachers, then, might be “lucky.” But no matter how “lucky” it might be to have an extended break, the truth is that it is sorely needed. If anything, the break is a time for reflection. Though I’m surrounded, at…

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Dec 23 2010

Education’s David v. Goliath

If we want to create lasting student-centered reform, we should focus less on teacher contracts and more on state-level legislation—because that is where most of the “action” happens for schools. This is the general point that Emily Cohen and Kate Walsh of the National Council on Teacher Quality make in a recent Education Next article.…

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weighing evidence

One of a grand juror’s primary responsibilities is to evaluate the credibility of evidence presented by a prosecutor. Can one trust what the witness is saying? Were there any inconsistencies in the statement? Additionally, a grand juror must factor in the type of evidence involved: is it “direct” (e.g. eyewitness account or offender’s confession) or…

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Dec 06 2010

The Dominoes Fall in DC

It’s hard to feel much hope for school reform in DC after the triple whammy of forced departures: First, Mayor Adrian Fenty, perhaps the first to so faithfully link his political fortunes to the fate of education in DC. Second, DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee, perhaps the most hard-charging of school district leaders to walk the…

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Nov 23 2010

The Achievement Gap≠Resource Gap

Warning! What you’re about to read is counterintuitive. But here goes: our public education system does not need more money to close the achievement gap. In America, we already spend a boatload of money on education. Based on OECD data, we spend $11,301 per pupil annually in secondary education.  Let’s put that in perspective: This is…

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Nov 09 2010

An Experiment: Remote Teaching

One week from now, I will be returning from my first full day as a grand juror in the DC Superior Court. The back-story is interesting. I received a jury summons in late July for a 5+ week September/October term. Realizing that I had been summoned to a grand, and not a petite, jury, I…

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Nov 04 2010

On TFA’s International Impact

People may not agree on whether Teach For America is a positive or negative phenomenon in our education landscape. But no one can dispute that TFA makes an impact on US public education. I’ve described the breadth of TFA’s network and the depth with which it works to solve our nation’s education problem. I of…

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Oct 24 2010

My Best Decision?

Life is busy, as usual. But somehow–between lesson planning, problem solving and grading–I wrote a piece on my TFA experience in my college newspaper, the Yale Daily News.  Here it is.

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Oct 12 2010

While You Were Out…

while you were out

Taking a day off from work is supposed to be relaxing.  For teachers, however, a day off can create just as much stress as a day on. Why is this the case? Let me tell you. Teachers, as people who are, generally, worriers, find it unsettling to leave their students and their classrooms under the…

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Presumptive mayor-elect Gray and Chancellor Rhee both seem to be in lose-lose situations regarding education reform in DC. No matter what next steps each chooses in the coming weeks, each will be criticized harshly. Neither appears to want to make the first move. Doing so, presumably, would be a sign of weakness.  Jo-Ann Armao of…

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“Come ON, Mr. K!–you’ve got a room full of black kids begging you to read and you’re going to deny them?!” – Student, utterly amazed that teacher would cut off independent reading block at 30 minutes. My students clearly know about stereotypes. The implied stereotype that this student refers to is that black students don’t…

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Sep 04 2010

Pondering The Practice Process

One of the unforeseen positive outcomes of participating, as a “teacher-blogger,” in a recent Education Sector policy panel was that I met some amazing teacher-bloggers. Dina Strasser over at The Line always has insightful posts on various topics in education.  Recently, I read a guest post on her blog by Kathleen Cushman–whom Dina proclaims is…

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Aug 27 2010

First Day of School and Politics

The first day of school rolled around and, without much fanfare, everyone made it through alright. My own first few days were uneventful; I had a solid start and I’m ready to work for a new (and old) set of students.  But what was particularly interesting about this year was that many extra eyes–from around…

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TFA is a data-driven organization. We have mastery trackers, reading growth trackers, attendance trackers, behavior trackers–you name it.  If there’s a dimension to a child’s education that has yet to be quantified, I will bet that someone in TFA–whether a current CM or staff–is coming up with a decent, valid, aligned, efficient way to measure…

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Aug 13 2010

20 Anecdotes on Failure

What causes students to fail? I don’t mean “fail” as in “I am going to fail geometry class”; rather, I mean “fail” as in “you are a failure in life.”  (Or maybe, “fail” as in FAIL blog.) I was spurred to think about this after noticing a brilliant, concise post that offers 20 reasons for…

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Observers like to point out that TFA is a cult. We have bounteous acronyms that only we, as CMs, know. We all have identical–or, at the very least, extremely similar–views on the achievement gap.  We all go through the same indoctrination process, the same rites of passage.  We all have, as a result, similar teaching…

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welcome banner

I could tell that, as soon as he walked into the room, his real-life physical stature aligned extraordinarily well with his prominence in the Obama administration. His arrival, too, elicited a collective sigh of relief from the crowd crammed so tightly within the space that four sound-proofed walls had created. We really wanted to see…

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Jul 03 2010

On Teacher Buy-In and IMPACT

I’m going to attempt to weave my love of Post-It notes with my reaction to the Education Sector panel on “Finding the Link: Teacher Evaluation and Professional Development.” I’d like to focus on one aspect of this complex discussion: teacher buy-in.  Here goes… As a teacher, I see Post-It notes as my personal guardians. Filled…

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Jun 12 2010

A Premature Goodbye

One letter changed everything.  An Assistant Principal (AP) had entered my classroom with the letter and solemnly handed it to me.  At 3:15pm on Friday, I learned that I had been excessed by my school. The explanation from the administrator went like this (note: I am taking serious liberties in paraphrasing): “Our school enrollment numbers…

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The second of my five “core” classroom posters (how education pays; The 3 Rs: Be Responsible, Respectful, and Responsive; our class’ “Big Goal”; our motto, “Work Hard…Get Bright!”; and a guiding principle, “Don’t be afraid to take risks or make mistakes!”) had fallen off the wall when I entered the classroom yesterday morning.  Perhaps this…

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May 26 2010

On a Series of Unfortunate Events

I look forward to reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events this summer.  This is a book series that many of my students read and enjoy.  I think I will connect with the book too; I’ve recently experienced my own series of unfortunate events. O, hear, hear! Let me tell you a tale about…

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Apr 29 2010

A Runner-to-Runner Conversation

KN is a budding track and cross country star at my school.  Furthermore, she is one of the half dozen or so students whom I have had the pleasure of teaching since the beginning of the year (i.e. across both semesters).  Slender, petite and self-motivated, she exudes the vibe of a dedicated runner. That KN,…

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

D.C. Region
High School

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