Teaching in the D

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jun 23 2012

Recruit, Rinse, Repeat

A friend of mine wrote a fabulous blog post about TFA’s attrition rate during Institute (currently 11%) and its root cause: recruitment (read it at: http://yoteach23.teachforus.org/2012/06/22/attrition-still-at-11-blame-recruitment-not-institute/). I couldn’t agree more with his sentiments, and I think TFA’s recruitment style has impacts far beyond Institute. For those not familiar, the recruitment process is something like the following:…

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May 19 2012

Why I Left Teach for America

As some of you know, I left Teach for America in December. It was a hard decision, and I’ve tried to write about it several times since then, but none of the posts was quite right. I think now I’ve got it close enough to make public. There’s something of a wall of silence around…

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Oct 27 2011

Being Alone

Last Saturday was the TFA Detroit Summit, which concluded our First Eight Weeks (this is both a unit of time and our first big PD period where we’re being monitored for growth). It was good to see everyone from the corps, since I mostly just see the few TFA teachers at my school and the…

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Oct 18 2011

Probably Not The Intended Effect

About two weeks into this year, I gave my students a survey, which asked them a variety of questions. Some of them were personal, like what they want to be when they grow up and what their favorite movie is, and others were about the class specifically (like what would make class better). I’ve always…

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Oct 15 2011

“Don’t You Love Us?”

If asked what TFA is like, almost every person doing it who I spoke to during my senior year (mostly alumni of UChicago and first year corps members) said “It’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done” and then said it was worth it. At the time I thought, “try having major personal commitments stretching across…

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Wow, I’m failing pretty badly at updating this blog. I understand now why people so rarely update their teachforus sites… teaching is a 26/7 job! Here’s a quick idea of my life: 6:00 – Wake up (if it’s a good, sleeping-in day) 6:30 – Get in my car, drive to school (oh how I miss…

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One of Teach for America’s biggest buzzwords (buzz phrases?) is “The Achievement Gap”. When we talk about the achievement gap, we mean the educational inequity (typically measured by test scores) between affluent, often white, students and their poorer, often minority, counterparts. This gap often represents several grade levels’ worth of knowledge. There are about a…

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Sep 03 2011

When is a Cucumber Not A Cucumber?

When the farmer’s market saleswoman tells you it’s a pickle! Today I ventured to Eastern Market, Detroit’s most famous farmer’s market (over 4000 people visit some Saturdays). Eastern Market, located right in downtown Detroit, is HUGE! It is literally city block after block of tables of everything imaginable – animal, vegetable, mineral, and more! People sell…

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Aug 31 2011

Conversations I Keep Having

Scholastic asked bloggers to discuss the question “why is teaching important?” Despite all the pushback TFA gets, I can safely say that everyone understands that teaching is important. No one has ever once looked down on me and said “but… why would you want to be a teacher?” For all the discussion of the lack…

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Wow! It has been a WHIRLWIND two weeks, so I’m sorry for keeping everyone out of the (rapidly spinning) loop. Since my last update I have: 1. Finished Institute. (Blog post coming about this soon, hopefully) 2. Missed my Institute students dreadfully! (As, evidently, did at least one of them, who emailed me to say…

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We knew this day was coming. The day when we would give our final exam (that would be Earth Science Regents Exam questions) and then have to grade them and see exactly how much our kids don’t know. We tried our best to make it easier on them. We divided the final exam into two…

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Jul 19 2011

It’s Called a Corps For A Reason

(Short post since I’m quite behind on work, but this post has been rattling around in my head for a while.) Some background for those of you unfamiliar with the placement process, before I move onto my weekend and a Big Thought: Here’s how TFA regional placement works: You apply. In the final application stage…

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Jul 12 2011

Frights and Forwards

Talk about a roller coaster week (and it’s only Tuesday!). I went into the classroom on Monday feeling pretty confident – I had made a connection with my kids on Friday and they had been relatively well-behaved for me. Surely they’d behave pretty well from now on. Apparently no one told the kids. From the…

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Jul 10 2011

A Tale of Two Classrooms (Institute)

Let’s take a brief journey back in time. It’s the first day of summer school, and there are two 8th grade earth science classrooms, sitting side by side. Both rooms are colorfully decorated and full of anxious teachers waiting to meet their students. Standing on tiptoes and bouncing back and forth, the new teachers wait…

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Jul 10 2011

Why is this HERE?

Once upon a time, there was a post here. It was a very angry post, spawned from some unfortunate things that happened to some friends of mine in the Detroit corps. Here are the relevant points: 1. This blog is on the teachforus website (as opposed to blogger or wordpress or whatnot) because I used…

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I really don’t have time to be writing this right now, but I need to take a moment and “reflect” (TFA speak for “think, typically out loud). I promise a longer post with pictures, thoughts, and more later. For those of you who haven’t heard the story yet, my classroom is a disaster. Instead of…

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Jul 03 2011

Adventures on 7th Ave (Non-TFA Life)

At Institute, the staff really stresses taking “personal time” (i.e., not working on Saturdays, having a “stop time” where you promise yourself to go to bed each night, etc). So far, the focus on it seems a little silly. After all, it’s just basic time management to know when you need to stop/break and we…

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Jun 30 2011

Planning Central (Institute)

So, today things finally got real(istic). We’re quickly learning which of the staff are awesome, helpful, or… well-intentioned. We had a great lesson planning workshop with an adorable and funny Curriculum Specialist (CS) who used clips from Miss Congeniality to demonstrate the principles of teaching. (For those of you familiar with the film, it was…

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Jun 27 2011

Welcome to New York! (Institute)

After a two-day road trip (with two fabulous Detroit corps members), I’ve made it to New York City for Institute!  We’re at St. John’s University, which has  a large, confusing, and generally beautiful campus. The facilities seem impressively new and well-maintained, except for the elevator (which rattles and trapped 14 corps members for over half…

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Jun 24 2011

Hello Detroit! (Induction)

Hello friends, family, future corps members, and whoever else has stumbled across this blog! Every time I told someone I was going to be doing Teach for America in Detroit after graduation, they always said “Be sure to blog or something so we know you’re alive!” So, I’m alive, and I’m blogging. This is the…

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One Girl's Teach for America Detroit Experience

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