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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jun 08 2013

done and done.

I’ve been home in California for about a week now, eating frozen yogurt and watching movies like it’s my job. I’m officially a Teach For America alumna. By an act of Providence, I got a job teaching 7th grade math in a small town in Colorado. I’m really excited — it’s absolutely perfect. This last…

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May 27 2013

read this book immediately.

It’s called The Defining Decade by Meg Jay. It’s really helpful, especially for those of us who are just finishing TFA.   Oh yeah, I’m done with TFA, by the way, as of Friday afternoon. I can’t even write about it yet — too much to process. I’m packing up, and leaving Arkansas on Wednesday. Wow.

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May 14 2013

institute flashback

I was just looking through an old notebook of mine, and I came across this schedule I wrote out for myself: Daily Schedule 4:30 am get up/quiet time 5:30 breakfast 5:45 board bus 5:30 pm get back/gym/shower 6:30 dinner 7ish plan! BED BY 10:30  12:30

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May 09 2013

losing my grip

Transitions are rough, man. I’ve got 3 more weeks in Arkansas, and I feel like I’m slowly losing my mind. There are so many thoughts and feelings floating inside me and I can’t seem to identify all of them. Here are a few: -I feel like I’m losing my grip on my mind and my…

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Apr 16 2013

home stretch

I have five and a half weeks left of school, and six weeks left in Arkansas. Not much has changed since my last post. This year has been so very stable compared to last year — that’s why I haven’t posted a lot. I’m leaving. My town is polluted and I can’t afford to continue…

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Feb 16 2013

can I afford to be a teacher?

I’ve always wanted to be a teacher. Before I was in TFA, teaching was all I ever wanted to do. I absolutely love teaching. But as I look at my options for next year, I’m forced to think practically. Can I afford to continue teaching? Before I started teaching, I had no debt. I had…

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Dec 10 2012

hello again!

I’ve dropped off the planet. I’m sorry. This school year is going so remarkably well, and I make such a concentrated effort NOT to think about school outside of school, that I haven’t felt like blogging lately. Yes, second year is better. I really like my job now. I adore my kids. I’m looking at…

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Sep 23 2012

helpful for Sunday Syndrome

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense. This day is…

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Jul 21 2012

looking back & looking forward

Sorry to have fallen off the face of the planet, but I’ve been working at a summer camp on Catalina Island with no internet! It’s been wonderful, and this will be a short update, but looking back on last year, it was an incredible year. I miss my students every day, and though there were…

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May 31 2012

∆ institute advice

Since I apparently still have PTSD about this past year and can’t quite reflect on it yet, I’ll offer some advice about Institute, and specifically about the ∆ Institute. Other ∆ people, please add to this list if you want! make a motivational playlist on your ipod, and listen to it on the way to…

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First of all, good luck you guys! Here’s a little piece of advice that I wish someone had given me: If at all possible, take a trip between Institute and the beginning of school.  Whether it’s going home or just getting away for a few days, do something to get some perspective and feel like…

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Apr 23 2012

TFA’s myth of meritocracy

One of the biggest things TFA claims to fight against is the myth of meritocracy in the U.S.: the belief that anyone can be successful/climb the proverbial ladder if they only work hard enough, and that those who are not successful must be lazy and unmotivated.  This is a classist, very dangerous view, and TFA…

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Feb 22 2012

quote of the day

“Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire. Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off. Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his…

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Feb 22 2012

ghost town

I have Curriculum Development today at what was formerly the “black school” in my district. My school district was desegregated in 1968, and since then the building has not changed significantly. Every time I’m there, I get an eerie feeling, the same feeling I get when I’m visiting a ghost town. This building and its…

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Feb 13 2012

keep moving forward

overheard today, in the middle of a discussion about scatter plots: “Do moles have cancer?  Do they affect your life?” I don’t know why I found that funny, but suddenly everything my students said was hilarious.  Sometimes when I’m tired, I get really cranky or really loopy — either one, not both.  Today I was…

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Feb 09 2012


TFA has a few essential qualities that they look for in prospective CMs, and I memorized them when I was interviewing (yes, I did — see my “applying?” page for how ridiculously over-prepared I was for my interview).  I don’t remember them any more, but I think that TFA should definitely add resilience to its…

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Dec 17 2011

exit ticket

I only do exit tickets when I’m feeling really ambitious (read: almost never), but if TFA asked me to write an exit ticket showing what I’ve learned so far, this is what it would look like: You will spend money on your kids. This is a very expensive job.  I’ve bought everything from Twizzlers to…

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Nov 16 2011

residual TFA guilt

One of the things I dislike about TFA is that it ALWAYS makes you feel like you’re not good enough.  I know I still suck as a teacher in many ways, but I am making progress and my administration keeps telling me how great of a job I’m doing.  And every time I have an interaction…

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Nov 13 2011

my advice

If I could go back and give my pre-TFA self some advice, this is what it would be: 1. read as many teaching books as you can get your hands on 2. observe as many classrooms as you can, just to get the feel for what day-to-day life is like in the classroom 3. see…

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Nov 09 2011


One year ago today, I said yes.  To TFA, that is.  And what a year it has been.  I already wrote a post about November 9, 2010, but I’ll copy-paste it here: November 9th, 2010. I had it colored in in pink in my planner, and I had written DAY OF RECKONING in huge letters…

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I’ve felt so completely overwhelmed for the last few weeks that I’ve lost most of my ability to FEEL anything.  If I had stressed out over everything there is to stress out over, then my head would have exploded by now.  I simply don’t have the emotional capacity to feel any more stress.  It’s probably…

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Aug 08 2011

the kool-aid-free perspective

My friend that’s visiting me wrote a post for my blog, just to shed a more objective light on this whole TFA-in-the-school-year works. For the last five days I’ve been visiting Elsa and her roommate (also a TFA-er) in a small town in Arkansas. Being from California and never having been to the South, this has…

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If you could go back to a week before your first year of teaching, what would you be doing during that last week? What’s the baseline of stuff I should have done before school starts?

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Aug 07 2011

BOSU balls and mattresses

Moving across the country to a place you’ve never been before, starting a job you’ve never done before, and living in a community where you don’t know anybody is a bit like standing on a BOSU exercise ball.  Since the photo uploader thingy isn’t working, all I can do is describe what a BOSU ball…

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Jul 31 2011

sphere of influence, man.

I love my new town.  But I’ve definitely seen a lot of things that are deeply unsettling to me.  I have to realize, though, that: 1. I have absolutely no right to judge. 2. It’s not my job to change these people. My job is my classroom, and that’s what I can control.  I can…

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the title

"If one desires to 'stir up the world,' it is easy to be impatient with work for the sake of work. Yet no story's end can forsake its beginning and its middle." -Joshua Wolf Shank on Abraham Lincoln