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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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Nov 03 2010

Dream Deletion

Lately, I’ve been having the most exquisite dreams while sleeping. Ironically, they’re exquisite for reasons I can’t even describe.  More accurately, I can’t seem to remember anything specific about any of them. I just know that they are good. I know that they are good because I feel a moment of dread when my alarm…

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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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Oct 11 2010

What Does It Mean to Be an Expert?

My students and I recently finished a modified version of Kathleen Cushman’s “Practice Project.” The idea was to invest my students in the idea that practice–even if boring, difficult, or frustrating–matters if they want to become successful.  Students learned that experts don’t necessarily need to hold advanced degrees or have fancy titles.  Rather, experts needed…

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Oct 11 2010

Reaching A Milestone

Taking note of milestones is an integral part of any classroom. “This is the first time we’ve read silently during independent reading time for over 20 minutes!” “This is the first time I haven’t had to ring the respect bell at all this period.”  “We’ve just hit 10 books on our book tracker!” 100 is…

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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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For as far back as I can remember being a newspaper-reader, Randy Cohen’s “The Ethicist” column in the New York Times has been a favorite weekly read. In it, Mr. Cohen provides pointed, and sometimes-snarky, ethical advice to reader-provided moral problems.  I enjoy reading “The Ethicist.” Though I don’t think his moral philosophy is necessarily…

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Aug 29 2010

Overheard in a DCPS Classroom…

“Mr. K, what am I supposed to do?  There ain’t no more desks.” -Tardy student, observing that her tardiness led to the denial of an opportunity to find a good desk in the classroom. This first week has been somewhat of shock to my system–albeit a positive one. Having just finished a semester in which…

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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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“Teachers, when the tardy bell rings, close and lock your doors.  Do not let any students in after the bell.  All students in the hallway will be swept into ISS [in-school suspension].” -Administrator, outlining school’s new hall sweep plan and receiving thunderous applause from staff in return. The sound of these words were beautiful.  My…

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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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Aug 09 2010

New Beginnings

I realize that I’ve forgotten to answer a question that many readers may have been asking recently: where am I teaching this coming school year? I’m happy to report that I will, believe it or not, be returning to my old school. The explanation is complicated (I don’t even fully comprehend how it happened either),…

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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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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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I’m on a boat.  Well, not yet, but soon. For the next 10 days, I will be on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands, where I will be tracing the thought process that led Charles Darwin to his theory of evolution.  The islands have risen slowly, over time, out of the volcanic hot spot that…

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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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I can best describe the end of my school year as bittersweet.  I went into the last week or so knowing that I had been excessed and would no longer call my school home.  As a result–as with my last days in college–every moment felt like one of those “what-if-this-is-the-last-time?” moments.  I said goodbye to…

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My students recently criticized me en masse for doing too much.  I told them we’d have “work” to do every day until the end of school on the 22nd.  Today, I discovered that the first day of “doing too much” wasn’t really doing too much.  I will present a simple and effective poetry lesson that…

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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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I’m apparently doing too much these days.  My classroom is chugging along, despite the massive end-of-the-year truancy problem that our school must somehow cope with.  Yet, because I am administering a final exam that takes place over the course of three days, my students are easily irritable.  One recent comment annoyed them to no end.…

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

D.C. Region
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