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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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May 27 2013

Are We Experiencing a Revolution?

The teacher prep landscape has been shifting recently. Jonathan Schorr views the changes as part of a revolution in teacher prep. The question is an interesting one: are we experiencing a revolution? In Schorr’s view, the answer is yes. He points out the many alternative teacher prep programs that now exist. While each may have…

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I’ve been away from this blog for a bit. I’m making that final push at the end of my first year of law school. Classes are over and my first exam begins within 48 hours. But I wanted to share something. As I was studying today, I received a phone call from BO. It was…

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Believe it or not, I’m still here and I still intend to keep this blog alive. I blame my first semester of law school for my lack of writing. Now that I’m on break, I finally have time to put away the massive casebooks and return to pleasure reading. Boy, did I miss that. Given…

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I received an email recently that looked a lot like spam. No subject line; a string of numbers followed by “@qq.com” as the sender’s address; poor sub-par writing mechanics. But thank goodness I looked more carefully–I was looking at an email from one of the students I worked with in China!: Im Polly,I hope that…

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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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In this series, I’ll be reflecting on my experience teaching and working with Chinese high school students, using the photos and videos I took to supplement my reflections. Today’s theme: libraries. ***** Members of our group’s construction team spent the week building, essentially from scratch, an English language library for the local high school where…

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Jul 10 2011

Institute, All Over Again

I feel like I’m at TFA Institute. The odd thing is that I’m actually in Xiuning County, Huangshan City, Anhui Province, China. It’s main drag looks like this: 7,000 miles from the nearest actual TFA Institute, I am waking up tomorrow and teaching new students. I am and have been preparing lesson plans, gathering supplies,…

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I love the freedom of summer. This summer feels particularly unique because I know that I will be going back to the classroom as a student, rather than a teacher, this fall. But I’ll still be in my role as a teacher for a bit. A text conversation between a student and me shows that…

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Two photos of my classroom, one taken… Before taking stuff down: and one taken… After taking stuff down (with the help of student labor): It’s been a great two years here in DCPS. Though there are things I will certainly not miss, there are many more things that I will miss. It’s over, folks. (Back…

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Teacher: “Good morning, [custodian's name]! Sorry to bother you, but I have a request. Is there any toilet paper? The staff bathroom is out.” Custodian: “You know what? We’re actually really low on toilet paper right now. Like really low.” (awkward pause) Teacher: “And…?” Custodian: “And… Uhh, okay, let me go check the first floor…

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Alumni Induction is a milestone for most CMs, symbolizing two years of hard work, much of it thankless, some of it agonizing, and all of it memorable, and ushering in the opportunities, whatever and wherever they may be, to once more branch out into the world and use the lessons of one’s TFA experience to…

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americanteacher5edited

“Why do we value people who can shoot a ball through a hoop, or hit a baseball with a bat, or kick a soccer ball, but we don’t value our classroom educators?” Education Secretary Duncan posed this question before a screening of American Teacher, a new documentary that attempts to present, to the public, the…

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May 23 2011

A Student Raps About His Teacher

One of my students is an aspiring rapper. He’s so serious about music that he doesn’t want to go to college; rather, he’d like to make mixtapes and hit the rap circuit pronto. Recently, this student told me he’d been working on a rap in my honor (it is titled my first name). I laughed…

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TFA is lucky to have the support of many individuals and organizations. Catherine and Wayne Reynolds, two wonderful philanthropists, happen to be major supporters of TFA here in DC. They sponsor me and my classroom. Anyways, I was recently asked to write a reflection on my two years as a Teach For America teacher here…

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Apr 11 2011

An Open Letter to DCPS…

Nearly 2 years on, IMPACT, DCPS’ pioneering teacher evaluation system, still has many kinks. Every day, I hear the draining talk of IMPACT this, IMPACT that: “My master educator just rated me ‘ineffective.’ Should I drink my sorrows away?” “Did I put a SMART objective on the board?” “I hope the master educator doesn’t come in during…

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Apr 06 2011

And I Thought TFA Was Selective…

Here’s DCPS hiring by the numbers (modeled off of The Quick and the Ed‘s “Quick Hits – By the Numbers”): 10,500 Number of applicants expected for SY 2011-2012 lead teaching positions. 400 Number of applicants projected to make it to the 4th stage of the application process (i.e. “live teaching audition”). 200 Number of applicants…

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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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Mar 21 2011

Spring and New Beginnings

Spring is a common literary motif. It’s supposed to symbolize new life and optimism. It is ironic, then, that the first thing that I saw when I opened my eyes this morning was a flash of lightning. The first thing I heard (after my alarm clock) was the deep rolling thunder, its timing staggered in…

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Mar 18 2011

On Exemplars as Tools

Exemplars are powerful teaching tools, I’ve discovered. An exemplar is basically an ideal model–an archetype?–of what students should aspire towards for any given assignment. If, for instance, students are writing a literary analysis paper, what might an “A” paper look like? How might it be structured? For an 8th grader, maybe something like this. Indeed,…

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Mar 13 2011

The Next “Survivor”?

SurvivorLogo

A fellow teacher forwarded me a hilarious email a few days ago. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s hilarious because it smacks so much of reality or because it is a vision of teaching taken to a parodied extreme: Next Season on “Survivor”… Have you heard about the next planned “Survivor” show? Three…

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Mar 11 2011

“I was walking down Georgia”

We’re currently reading literature from the Middle Ages as part of a unit on storytelling. The accompanying writing assignment is to write a modern-day ballad (a contemporary story that uses the format of a medieval ballad like “Lord Randall” or “Get Up and Bar the Door“). The 5 characteristics that we discussed are as follows:…

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Student 1: (frustratingly flops book on desk and gives evil eye to Students 2 and 3) “Excuse me!–I’m trying to read here. You’re being so VERBOSE!” Student 2: “Shut up. You’re not actually reading. Stop making such PRETENTIOUS comments!” Student 3: (long mumbling, incoherent ramble about how she is “guh” because of the intentional use…

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Feb 25 2011

On the Influence of Parents

Over the past few months, I’ve fleshed out my own theory about why invested parents matter to a student’s success. One common view is that parents matter insofar as they provide the guidance and nurturing outside of the school building. In other words, they play a role analogous to the teacher in the classroom. This…

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one day

The TFA 20th Anniversary Summit was mind-blowing, both in scale and inspiration. In terms of scale, I’ve been to numerous events at the convention center, but nowhere have I seen one that has sprawled across so much of the center’s space. In terms of inspiration, I expected big things and got much more than that.…

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Feb 04 2011

The Peculiarity of 12th Graders

For whatever reason, I keep moving up the grade-level ladder as each semester passes: Fall 2009: 2 periods of 10th grade and 1 period of 11th grade English Spring 2010: 1 period of 10th grade and 2 periods of 11th grade English Fall 2010: 2 periods of 11th grade English and 1 period of Journalism…

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About this Blog

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

Region
D.C. Region
Grade
High School
Subject
English

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