Stir Up the World

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

Archives › Year One

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 21 2012

last week of school

Today is Monday.  Our last day of school is Wednesday, but these last 3 days are kind of a joke — we just have final project presentations, and once those are over with, it’s just a matter of keeping them from climbing the walls. I’m working on packing up my classroom, because I don’t know…

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May 10 2012


In keeping with the tradition of giving an acronym to everything, TFA has given us EOY: End Of the Year. EOY has come.  The last day of school is 2 weeks from today.  There are so many emotions and thoughts swirling and twirling in my mind right now, and I’m completely baffled that the end…

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May 04 2012

are we done yet?

First of all, happy Star Wars day! May the 4th be with you! My kids are so done, and I’m running  out of ways to motivate them.  The 7th grade teachers are giving a cross-curricular semester project, and all of the kids just want to work.  What I’m doing in class is reviewing different topics…

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May 01 2012

May? May!

I can’t believe it’s May.  I can’t believe I’ve made it this far alive. The fact that there are only 15 more days of school left doesn’t make it any easier to come to school, though. Some anecdotes: I’ve started playing a “90′s pop” playlist on during class, and my kids won’t admit it, but they…

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Apr 26 2012


I’m going to be in charge of yearbook again next year, and my principal wants us to do a video yearbook. Does anyone have any experience with creating/producing video yearbooks?  Does anyone know where to find information about it?

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Apr 23 2012

time out

Are those rambunctious babies of yours getting you down?  Are you losing your voice just trying to talk over them?  Then look no further, because I have THE answer for you!  Just kidding.  I do, however, have something that happened to work for me last week, and I’m hoping will continue to work.  Maybe it’ll…

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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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Apr 19 2012

a “hot mess”

It’s the end of the year, and I feel my school slowly starting to unravel. The hallways are crawling with drama.  Drama everywhere.  My principal said he’s been up to his ears in drama every day.  I’m not sure whether all of the students are just sick of each other, or they’re just bored. Probably both.…

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Apr 16 2012

martial law

Two of my classes today were completely out of hand.  I didn’t see these classes all of last week because of Benchmarks, and I knew it’d be difficult to reign them in, but today was ridiculous. My plan for tomorrow is to put them under martial law, basically:  desks in rows and silently working on…

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Apr 12 2012

all the single ladies

Disclaimer: This post has very little to do with teaching.  My kids are fascinated with the fact that I’m single.  They absolutely cannot wrap their minds around the fact that I don’t have a husband/boyfriend.  It’s like I’m incomplete without one.  I mean, they are obsessed.  If we ever have a spare moment, they want…

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Apr 10 2012

home stretch

Usually when I go for a stretch of not writing on this blog, it’s because I have either not enough to say or too much to say. At this point, I’m not sure if I have nothing to say or everything to say, so I’ll try to fall somewhere in the middle. We have 31…

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Apr 02 2012

7. more. weeks.

I’m starting to have the sneaking suspicion that I haven’t taught my kids anything all year.

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At Institute last summer, during one of our Diversity & Inclusiveness sessions, we discussed the concept of there being one type of “good student.”  We were challenged to expand our definition of what a “good student” is.  The conclusion we were supposed to come to was that good students come in all different personalities, and…

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Mar 26 2012


I’d say the single most overwhelming part of my job is being a surrogate parent to a LOT of my kids.  Not that my kids’ parents don’t adore their kids and do everything they can for them; it’s just the amount of time I spend with these kids every single day. I can stand up…

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Mar 13 2012

burnout cycle

One of these days, when I’m feeling clever and coherent, I’ll write a full-on post about the cycle of burnout teachers go through.  Beginning about 3 weeks before each break, it begins, culminating in the week before the break. At this point, I’m sick of teaching.  Sick of my kids, sick of taking attendance, sick…

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Mar 08 2012

has anyone read this?

My spring course leaders recommended it, and it just came in the mail:     Has anyone read it?

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Mar 06 2012


Misconception #2,532 about teaching: teachers get summers off. We don’t — not really. I have a week of curriculum planning at the end of May, Pre-AP training/leadership the second and fourth weeks of July, and district professional development beginning in August. So I do get June off, but after that I’ll pretty much be working.…

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Feb 28 2012

the three-week mark

Just FYI, about three weeks before any school break, the kids get squirrily.  Or continue to be squirrely.  Or intensify in squirrely-ness.  They’re done, I’m done, we’re all done.  I have 12 more school days.

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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 21 2012

the dust has settled

Well, if I hadn’t already, I’ve officially gotten used to teaching.  Or maybe I’m just burned out.  I’m not sure.  The year is almost 3/4 over and it’s like I’ve run out of stress to put towards teaching.  I simply don’t have the capacity to be too stressed out about my job any more. What’s…

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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 10 2012


I’m tired of picking up after my students and maintaining the sharpened-pencil supply. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Feb 10 2012

like vs. love

When TFA made me an offer, it was the Mississippi Delta and secondary math.  That was my placement.  And, because I was so desperate to do TFA, I accepted math as my placement.  Honestly, I’ve been trying to make peace with that placement ever since. I am completely neutral about math.  I really don’t care…

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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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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