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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jul 31 2011

slightly less nutty

I finally finished cleaning out my classroom!  It is now completely clutter-free, and I can start to arrange and decorate to my heart’s content.  It’s SUCH a relief to have that done, because I feel like I can really get started now. I’m also feeling better about this fall.  The more prepared I become, the…

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Jul 30 2011


That’s the best word to describe me right now.  I got back from Math Pilot Orientation on Tuesday night, and since then I’ve been completely overwhelmed with all of the work I have to do.  I don’t have the energy to do a cohesive blog entry, so I’m going to do bullets. I’ve been spending…

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Jul 27 2011

poll: do you use SLANT?

TFA is big on Teach Like a Champion.  It’s a really good book, and I plan to implement some of its tenets in my own classroom. One of the most popular concepts in the book is using the acronym SLANT for active listening position: Sit up Listen Ask and answer questions Nod your head Track…

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Jul 26 2011


I just got back from Math Pilot Orientation, which I’ll write about when I have the energy.  But I do have quotes!  I love quotes, but I hate sappy cheesy quotes.  These are cheese-free. “While it is critical to understand the scope and magnitude of the crisis afflicting our nation’s children, it is important not…

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It’s been so reassuring in the last few weeks, especially when I think about the upcoming school year. I can do this, I think.  I just have to be prepared.

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Jul 22 2011

new in town

I’m finishing up my fourth whole day in my new house in Arkansas, and it’s been quite a week. I still vacillate between cautious excitement and overwhelming anxiety, and the lack of structure hasn’t helped.  Our whole summer was so hyperstructured that we didn’t have the chance to really feel too much, and that helped…

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Jul 17 2011


Institute is, as of Friday night, over.  There are so many things to say — I don’t even know where to start. First of all, what’s next?  I have Orientation from 12-7 today then 10-6 tomorrow.  It looks like it’ll be pretty pointless, but I keep telling myself that I’m getting grad school credit for…

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Jul 10 2011

blogging before lesson-planning

Before I buckle down and catch up on lesson-planning, I thought I should blog.  So.  Week 4 of Institute was awesome — I definitely had some rocky days, but my teaching is really improving.  As usual, the week just flew by, and by the time Friday night came, I felt like I had been hit…

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Jul 06 2011

student surveys

In an effort to post more during the week, I’ll post some of my students’ responses to the “classroom culture survey” that the powers that be had us give our kids this week. What has your teacher done to help you know how to behave? take me outside so I can calm down by giving…

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Jul 05 2011

a little Tuesday inspiration

We received a copy of this poem today.  It was written by Elizabeth Ficken, who’s a 2011 CM at the ∆ Institute this summer! You will not tell me That my beautiful black beaming children Will not read You will not tell me That my beautiful black beaming children Will not write You will not…

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Jul 04 2011

oh, the acronyms

As promised, here are some of the many TFA acronyms that have become a part of our insane lexicon here at Institute: TFA: Teach For America CM: Corps Member (me!) CMA: Corps Member Advisor PD: Program Director TAL: Teaching as Leadership (TFA’s book) TALON: Teaching as Leadership Online Network ODC: Observation Debrief Cycle (once a…

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Jul 04 2011

weekends at Institute

We all re-charge in different ways, I guess, and that’s never been as evident to me as it has been at Institute.  I’m always shocked at just how useless I’ve been on the weekends here, at least for the first 24 hours.  I guess the weeks are so intense that the best I can do…

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Jul 02 2011

Friday: update day, apparently!

Holy smokes what a week!  It just FLEW by, and before I knew it, it was Friday again. Let me just say, it was incredible.  I love being a teacher.  I’ve learned so much this week.  I adore my kids.  They’re “spirited”, to put it lightly, but I love them.  They’re just so funny, and…

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Jun 28 2011

seems appropriate.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who…

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While I acknowledge that I have been drinking a lot of Kool Aid recently, and will say that this Institute experience has been preparing me for teaching, I can’t help but think that TFA is not preparing me as well as it could be to be a teacher in the fall. 1. we get unlimited…

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Jun 25 2011

long-awaited update

Well, not really that long-awaited.  But an update nonetheless.  So I just finished my second week of Institute and my first week of teaching! It was quite the week.  I don’t even know where to start. Let’s talk about sleep deprivation.  I used to think that people who were sleep-deprived at Institute either procrastinated on…

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Jun 19 2011

the dawn of Ms. S

Today marks the beginning of Week 2 of Institute.  In other words, we’re 20% done with Institute, and if you include Induction, 1/3 of the way with our summer TFA training!  That’s great! This week was really long.  But it was good, at the same time.  I learned SO much about lesson planning, classroom management,…

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I’m telling myself right now that this’ll be a short post, but, knowing me, it probably won’t. In the tradition of TFA, today was an incredibly long day — probably the heaviest one we’ve had so far, too.  We had multiple intense, 2-hour-plus sessions on lesson planning, classroom management, and investing students.  Just when we…

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Jun 13 2011

acronym overload

TFA is good at scheduling looooong days.  But, all things considered, I think I held up pretty well.  Want to hear about my day?  Sure you do. I always enjoy reading about “a day in the life” – I think it’s the most telling.  So here’s mine, for today.  It’ll be different every day, and…

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Today was technically the first day of Institute, but all we had was registration and a BBQ for dinner, so it didn’t feel like Institute yet.  I’m sure that tomorrow that’ll change real quick.  It was nice to have a low-key weekend — I have a feeling that weekends are going to take on a…

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Jun 11 2011

Institute eve

Let’s talk about Induction first. Yesterday was the last day, and we had more sessions all day, then closing ceremonies (where we learned the Delta cheers!) and community dinners.  Our community dinner was absolutely incredible. It was at this gorgeous house with plenty of land, a wrap-around porch, a tree swing, and home-cooked food, so…

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Jun 09 2011

in the words of Demi Lovato…

“This is real, this is me, I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be now…” I like that song — don’t judge me :). Today was Day 3 of 4 in Induction, and it was just as packed and amazing as all of the days so far have been. We had our “Hiring Faire” today, and…

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Jun 08 2011

Induction? Yes Ma’am!

The one word I’d use to describe my TFA experience so far is “intense”.  We had a LONG day today, with sessions from 8:30-6:30 with a half hour break for lunch.  They were all interesting and mostly discussion-based, but after awhile, it gets to you.  And one thing I learned for tomorrow: when you have…

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Jun 08 2011


(I wrote this yesterday) Day one. What to say? I checked out of my hotel, drove over to Delta State, and after a few misdirections and completely illegal U-turns, I found the building we were supposed to check in at. I went in and there were stations set up, each with different folders or envelopes…

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Jun 06 2011


I’m sitting by myself in a hotel in Cleveland, Mississippi, trying my best to prepare for Induction tomorrow.  I know this is the last chance I’ll have to relax before the weight of the next two years settles itself on my shoulders, and I’m making the most of it.  I left California six days ago,…

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"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