Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Aug 24 2014

Sad day

I am having a sad day. I miss my friends. I miss my students and my basketball players. I miss knowing where everything is, and having people to call when I’m bored, and being able to hike at a moment’s notice. I miss the puppies flopping on the floor and licking my toes (even when…

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Jul 12 2014

Singing along to the radio

There is a big Native American basketball tournament in Phoenix every summer. This year we decided not to take our girls, because they weren’t all that interested, it seemed; this ended up being the right decision because we would have gotten eaten alive. But my co-coach and I still are here, bringing some of our…

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Jul 08 2014

Thoughts from my brain today

School has been over for a month. I’m leaving Gallup in another 3 weeks. But all my kids are still on my mind. Here’s the one I’m thinking about today. (Warning: it’s long.) Tyree has TLS. I made it up: Terrible Life Syndrome. That’s when everything just sucks so much, in all ways, that the…

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Feb 28 2014


Our vocab words this week: torment, deceive, replica, malicious, resent, motive, vicious, and pathetic. (I realize they’re a little grim…we’re reading Greek mythology and trickster stories so go figure.) Here were Kevin’s vocab sentences: When I try to talk to Sebastian he makes noises at me and torments me. Sometimes I deceive Josiah and I…

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Jan 26 2014


I haven’t been writing that much this year. The main reason is that I’ve been applying to medical schools, and the time commitment of writing all those applications, sending them in, following up, and interviewing at various places has been absolutely exhausting. I just haven’t had time. I’m not doing as good a job as…

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It occurs to me that I have no idea what the general public opinion is of Teach For America. On the one hand, all my parents’ friends really seem to like it, and most older folks I meet think it’s great. On the other hand, nearly every time I see TFA mentioned in an internet…

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Oct 15 2013

The world is silly.

My parents live in a fairly ritzy suburb of Boston, and they take their puppy every day to doggy day care in the city while they work. Perhaps a little fussy, but not outside the realm of possibility for a lot of people. It costs $28 a day to board your dog at this place.…

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Oct 13 2013

Not enough time…

He can multiply! Woohoo! “He” in this case is my used-to-be-lowest kiddo, who has some serious (and documented) short term memory issues. Math is a terror for this kid because he doesn’t have the memory to remember…anything. Including his facts. That means if he’s doing, say, multiplication, he starts, then has to pause and make…

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Sep 30 2013


This morning I got a surprise call from the office telling me my IEP was about to start and they had someone coming to cover my class. The IEP was for my most impaired kiddo, the one who reads at a kindergarten level and can just about add and subtract. Unfortunately, no one told me…

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Sep 26 2013


This year is kind of interesting because I think I have a larger group of truly gifted students than I have in past years. For instance, I have students who in one week have learned how to multiply two-digit numbers by two-digit numbers perfectly, using three different methods (which, if you don’t remember 4th grade,…

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Sep 21 2013

Last year’s scores!

So how’d it go? Well, it’s now Year 3 in my placement school, same grade, same classroom, but I’ll tell about that later. I want to just do a little review on last year, now that the almighty test scores are in. Those of you who’ve been with me for a while might remember that…

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Sep 21 2013

Cute kid

It has been SO LONG since I have written. And I don’t have that much time to write. So let me tell you a cute kid story. I’m walking my kiddos back from lunch recess through the outside shortcut and one of the cooks’ cars is back there. Someone very clever has written, “Blow me!”…

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I don’t know how I feel about charter schools, and I’m trying to give it some thought because many of the anti-TFA things I’ve read lately have criticized an over-emphasis on charter schools within the organization. Since I often think by writing, here’s my thinking. First of all, does TFA overdo it on the charter…

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Little known TFA factoid: each region is its own animal, more than you might expect. What do I mean by that? Well, first of all there are a lot of differences from region to region. Some regions have the hiring-TFAers-while-pink-slipping-others situation going on, and some (like mine) have 10% teaching vacancies all year, even with…

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This is a response to Didymath’s “#69: All Aboard the USS Test Scores Don’t Matter,” which he wrote in response to my last post…basically continuing the conversation. I think both of us are falling into the dangerous trap of arguing the extremes. In many ways, I agree with a lot of what Didymath is saying.…

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The education reform analyst and well-spoken blogger Gary Rubinstein just applauded a 2012 CM for saying that he cares more about kids’ appreciation of the material and attitude than their test scores. Great! There’s so much more to learning than test scores, and fostering a true love of learning is definitely one of my goals…

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Jun 14 2013

Why so silly, district?

Just a two second rant: we ended school on May 24th. As of today, June 14th, we still do not have an official calendar for next year, which means that WE STILL DON’T KNOW WHAT DAY WE GO BACK TO SCHOOL. We also don’t have a superintendent. These two things may be related. In contrast,…

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I had a student last year, one of my favorites, who did not speak to me until October. She really didn’t start talking to me regularly until January. This kid tested in the 0.5 percentile for oral language skills, which means if you put 200 kids in a room, she would be the worst of…

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May 26 2013


Year 2 is done. I’m “done” with TFA. It’s kind of a weird combination of things. On the one hand, the majority of my fellow 2011 CMs are leaving, and I am so sad to see them go. There are facebook statuses full of poignant lessons learned and updates on next steps and new jobs.…

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May 21 2013

Minor and Major Accomplishments

Almost every teacher I know (well, at least the ones who like children) have a “take home” club. These are the kids who you love so much you would take them home in a heartbeat. I had one last year, and I have another couple this year. Let me tell you about one of them.…

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Apr 30 2013

Books rule!

Here’s my favorite adorable kid thing that happened today. We are reading Holes as a class, and my kids LOVE IT. They keep taking it home to read ahead, and even though this is a book about a year above most of their reading levels, they are reading and comprehending it anyway through the sheer…

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Apr 29 2013

Missing Skills

Those of you who’ve been with me for a while may remember that my kids this year are an especially challenging bunch, with low attention spans and lower test scores. Today, 3 weeks from the end of their fourth grade year, we worked on the following concepts: story structure including conflict and climax, vocabulary words…

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Apr 24 2013

Tired but grateful…

It has been a REALLY long time since I’ve written, and I think it’s just because I am so incredibly busy and exhausted that I haven’t had the time. Rather than try to catch up on stuff since the last post, here are some little things that I am grateful for. The notes my kids…

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Mar 07 2013

Chicken noodle…

I was playing hangman with my kids in afterschool for a few minutes before the bus left. One of my kids chose, as her puzzle, “Ms. EMinNM love’s us!” and I thought it was so cute that I overlooked the improper apostrophe. My favorite was this one though. My puzzle was “Chicken Noodle Soup” and…

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Feb 26 2013

Books are Exciting!

Today we finished our read-aloud book that we’ve been reading for a few months now. It was fun, because the ending is very dramatic and involves a couple cliffhangers plus some false foreshadowing that our heroes lost the big game. But in the end they win, and it’s very exciting. My kids were too funny,…

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In which I muse about New Mexico, teaching, and life in general.

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