Stir Up the World

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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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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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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Feb 06 2012

it’s not just me, is it?

Does anyone else have 1 class that is disproportionately difficult/loud/obnoxious/poorly behaved?

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Feb 05 2012

a day in the life, part 2

Second Semester Edition! 6:00 am — alarm goes off.  I open my eyes and wonder where on earth I am. I reach for my phone and try to unlock the stupid screen so the noise will stop. 6:01 am — finally succeed in pushing the right combination of buttons to unlock the screen and turn…

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Feb 04 2012

for Sunday nights

“That little bird has chosen his shelter. Above it are the stars and the deep heaven of worlds. Yet he is rocking himself to sleep without caring for tomorrow’s lodging, calmly clinging to his little twig, and leaving God to think for him.” – Martin Luther

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Feb 04 2012

calling all consequences!

I need more ideas for individual consequences that aren’t disruptive, don’t disrupt the flow of the class, and, most importantly, WORK! What do you do that works?

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I don’t know what my deal is.  I’ve been in a funk all week, and I’m trying to figure out why. I feel like I’m going through the same cycle of emotions that I went through first semester, and this is the equivalent of September.  I’m going through the whole I’m-jealous-of-every-single-person-on-my-facebook-newsfeed thing, and it’s easy…

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Jan 30 2012

a mirror

For the first time, I’ve begun to think of my job from my students’ perspective. This shift in perspective happened yesterday when I was working at school. It was Sunday morning, and the hallways were pitch black because there was nobody at school except for me. I know those hallways backwards and forwards, so I…

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Jan 27 2012

quotes for Friday

Because I’m in a quote-y mood. And yes, that is a word. “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.” -Victor Hugo “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” -e.e. Cummings “Courage doesn’t always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day…

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It’s time to actually write a substantial post, but I will share a quote that is going to become my mantra. “People constantly tell you to choose your battles in teaching. What they don’t tell you is that some of the battles not worth fighting are with yourself. Being harder on yourself is not the…

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Jan 23 2012

best thing ever

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I was just flipping though the Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano, and it talked about effective teachers having emotional objectivity. Marzano describes a teacher who has developed emotional objectivity as one who “implements and enforces rules and procedures, executes disciplinary actions, and (even) cultivates effective relationships with students without interpreting violations of…

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“God does not tell you what He is going to do; He reveals to you who He is.”  -Oswald Chambers I can’t accurately/objectively assess my life right now, and it’s bedtime, so I’m not going to write a long post, but I will share.  Today was the first day back, and it wasn’t really that…

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Jan 02 2012


I love this poem this time of year! “Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky, The flying cloud, the frosty light; The year is dying in the night; Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. Ring out the old, ring in the new, Ring, happy bells, across the snow: The year is going,…

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Well, here I stand, 4 days before the beginning of spring semester and recently returned from 9 glorious days in California.  The time with my family was glorious, as always, and I didn’t really do much. I had a head cold the entire time, so it was a nice excuse to lay around as much…

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rural Arkansas, eh?

Mississippi Delta
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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