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Jul 29 2011

Letting Go of a Friend

I met it on day one of Institute, when I was as eager as I’d ever be to tackle the achievement gap, even though I had no idea how I might do so. It stood by my side, always loyal, even during the hardest of times, times when I felt like giving up (there were…

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Mar 23 2011

On Doodling

I like doodling. It’s therapeutic. It’s fun. It’s a way to pass time. It’s creative. It’s helpful. When I doodle, I mainly draw geometrical shapes: ovals of all shapes and sizes; nested rectangles; all variety of triangles; my own made-up shapes. I confine myself to these basic figures because, let’s face it, I truly lack…

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Aug 03 2010

“Now is the Time”

Summer brings with it transitions of various kinds. First, a climatic transition, in which the lesson is learned that there is a direct correlation between clothes worn and sweat excreted.  Second, a mental transition, from a state of pure focus to one of less-than-pure-and-more-like-relaxed focus (“it’s summer-time!”).  Third, a physical transition, away from the spaces…

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Doug Lemov, managing director at the Uncommon Schools–which, along with KIPP and Achievement First, ranks among the highest-performing charter school networks in the country–came to our last Professional Development Saturday, where he led a 2-hour session focused on Strong Voice, one of the techniques that he has discovered great teachers use consistently in their classrooms…

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Aug 05 2009

“Where I’m From”

On the last day of summer school, I had my students write “Where I’m From” poems, which emulated George Ella Lyon’s.  Given that they were only an hour away from receiving their report cards and being done with summer school, my students, for the most part, had trouble focusing on the task.  But a few…

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Jul 29 2009

When Things Fall Apart

Today is the day we gave our final exams.  Today is also the day when things fell apart.  Of the six students that have made it to the end of summer school, three of them walked into class this morning not looking even remotely prepared to take the test. LA, who has been our hardest-working…

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Jul 26 2009

One Student’s Take on NCLB

On Friday, my teaching partner and I decided we needed to sit down and talk with one of our students.  JR got a 32% on his diagnostic and, since then, he has yet to pass a single daily assessment.  So, we asked him to stay after class and talk with us about his “progress”. I…

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The ‘achievement gap’ is the ‘literacy gap’ is the ‘word gap’. Our literacy special-ist has been emphasizing this over and over again throughout our weekly literacy sessions (Note: for some reason, the blog won’t let me put the letters ‘s-p-e-c-i-a-l-i-s-t’ together… so I’ve used “special-ist” instead).  We’ve been told that ‘every teacher must be a…

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“But miss, I’ve gotta answer this message–it’s from my parole officer!” -Defiant student, responding to teacher after being reprimanded for using his cell phone in class.

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Jul 16 2009

Cash For Kids?

I recently gave a lesson in which my students analyzed how an author uses context to support his/her position in a non-fiction text.  As a “Do Now!” warm-up exercise, I asked them to lay out their position on the statement, “we should give cash to students who perform well on exams.” While the whole cash-for-kids…

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“Oh yeah, I bought this over the weekend.  There’s no way I’m carrying around all this $h!t anymore.” -Corps Member at 5:58am, showing off his shiny new rolling suitcase, which carries class materials, papers and other (heavy) teacher paraphernalia.

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Jul 13 2009


Memories fade quickly.  My brain seems to have forgotten just how difficult last week was.  For if I truly remembered what it was like–and maybe my previous post serves as a reminder–I would have done more to get ahead and stay ahead this weekend. I didn’t get ahead.  I barely caught even. I chose to…

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Jul 10 2009

Iron Teacher

People here tell me they’re impressed that I’ve done an Ironman Triathlon. In response, I tell them I’m impressed that they’ve completed a week of Institute. (Although we’ve technically finished week two of Institute, this week was significant as the first week of actual teaching.  I took control of a classroom of a dozen high…

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*Sputter* *Cough* *Gasp* “Oh geez…” -Corps Member (who did not sleep the night before) at 7:49am, choking on water after falling asleep mid-sip.

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The first days of summer school prove just how important strong school administrators are.  Over the course of the week, I’ve already heard my fair share of administrative catastrophes.  If our goal for the summer is to take failing students and help them pass–i.e. to “close the achievement gap”–I don’t think some of the administrative…

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Jul 08 2009

A Day of Miracles

Today was a day filled with miracles: I wrote from ’1′ to ’1,000′ on both sides of a single sheet of paper (let’s just say I had to do something to stay awake during some of our CS/CMA sessions). WR came back today. WR read the letter I left him, smiled and thanked me for…

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I could sense it in the air of the classroom this morning–WR was not going to show up today.  WR struggled through both the diagnostic and pre-test assessments, getting less than 25% of the questions right.  Yesterday, he finished his test very early, probably because he couldn’t understand what he was asked to do.  Seeing…

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“I feel like I can vomit out my lesson plan and still have it be better than what I’m actually giving my CMA [Corps Member Advisor]!” – Distraught Corps Member, comparing, while walking to the Temple University dining hall at 5:38am, the theoretical ejected contents of her stomach to her similarly-theoretical lesson plan.

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Jul 02 2009

Meeting My Summer School Students

I’m teaching 9th-grade English at a school in North Philadelphia.  This, in itself, is exciting.  However, what is more exciting is that I met my summer school students today.  Well, I met them in person today.  I had already “met” them yesterday, when I graded their diagnostic assessments.  Upon meeting them, I realize that first…

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I don’t think anyone can deny that TFA is a well-oiled, lean organization.  Case in point: aside from the logistical mess of getting all 270 DC corps members to Gallaudet University for the closing session, the first week of Induction passed smoother than any scheduled week I’ve ever witnessed.  Directions were clear, Transition Team Leaders…

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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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