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Oct 31 2010

I’d love to work under Michelle Rhee

Wall Street Journal essay by Michelle Rhee and Adrian Fenty! READ THIS. While I know there are valid criticisms of Rhee and her approach, you have to respect her guts … and her logic. Teachers can be paid more if they do a good job. They can not receive raises if they don’t do a…

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Oct 28 2010

Watching brains work

Proportional reasoning is my personal focus for the year. It’s a major unifying trend throughout all of 8th grade math, but it’s extremely hard to teach. Last year I just forced the kids through cross-multiplying and solving for x. This year I’m trying to at least do a little better than that. We’re currently working…

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Oct 27 2010

I own 49 outfit bottoms.

This kid is still wearing the same pair of shorts from the day he was pantsed. That was three weeks ago. His fly is broken open and the shorts barely stay on. The kids don’t even mention it. If hearing that 96% of my school qualifies for free or reduced lunch doesn’t mean much to…

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Oct 27 2010

Pissing Match

Classic new teacher mistake: Getting into a pissing match with a middle school boy in front of an entire classroom. Never, ever, ever do this. Ever. Avoid at all costs. Because it will never be pretty and you will always always always lose. I made this mistake today. I haven’t made it in awhile, and…

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Oct 26 2010

I Blame Schools, Part 1

In a TFA training this weekend, we debated closing the achievement gap from a policy perspective. We read this article, which is amazing and worth reading, but if it’s too long for you I can summarize. It’s basically a discussion of whether we can close the achievement gap through good schools alone, or whether we…

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Oct 23 2010

Letter to a goo homy

When kids are rude to one another, sometimes the best consequence is making them write something nice to the person they just insulted. They absolutely hate doing it, the insulted kids love receiving it, and it provides endless entertainment for me. Here’s my current favorite example. I’m sure the boy’s remark wasn’t meant or taken…

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Oct 22 2010

Unlimited bathroom breaks day

I’m now part of the committee that writes math curriculum for the district. This means that today they put a sub in my classroom and I met with a group of other math teachers at the district office. We’re working on writing math problems that correctly address the state standard at the correct level of…

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Oct 21 2010

Stereotypical math teacher

I was at a training today where we were supposed to write a unit plan by first starting with the final outcome. This is pretty standard backward-planning good teacher practice, but the catch was that the outcome was required to be an interdisciplinary real-world activity that the kids could create and work with… not a…

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Oct 20 2010

My head falls backward, too

One of the kids in my advanced class today: “You know, you teach us so much every day I feel like my brain is full. I can tell because I go home and my head just sort of falls backward.” Then after school, this kid was keeping me company as I stood watch for fights…

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Oct 19 2010

My Workout Plan

I wasn’t feeling well today, and it surprised me how incapable it made me of teaching. It never struck me how much energy I use teaching until I couldn’t muster up that energy today. Managing kids requires a ton of moving around to be in ten places at once. Teaching requires strong voice to project…

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Oct 16 2010

Procedures Nightmares

This week has been October break, and I know this year is going pretty well because I’m not dreading going back to school on Monday. Unfortunately, I seem to have back-to-school nightmares regardless. This time, the nightmare wasn’t that my kids were misbehaving. It was that I hadn’t bothered to prepare anything for class, and…

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Oct 16 2010

Yay girls!

This article says that women and men are equally good at math. I know what you’re thinking… Great, but we knew that already. Then it explains that this is actually old news, “but word has been slow to reach teachers and parents.” Apparently we’re still not convinced that girls can be good at math, and…

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Oct 09 2010

Please stop bullying. Thanks.

Parent-teacher conferences just ended, and it’s noteworthy how many conversations I had with parents who are concerned about bullying. One kid is having trouble specifically in math and science, because he’s incredibly smart in those subjects and is getting teased for it. The other kids are having trouble all day, but parents who don’t speak…

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Oct 07 2010


YESSSS my favorite teaching blog is no longer private. Please go read this right now before she puts the password back: This is my day today (I am “Ivy”…and I teach in Dangerous Minds): And these are two of my favorite entries:

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Oct 07 2010

They won’t believe me

There is a really sweet boy in one of my classes who got a perfect 100% on his classwork for the quarter and regularly gets very high grades on quizzes. Sometimes he has the maturity level of a little kid, but he’s goofy and hilarious and means well. (He’s the kid who got on the…

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Oct 06 2010

When it rains, we scream about zombies

Everyone knows Arizona is the desert, which means it pretty much never rains. Unfortunately, that also means that when it does rain, the weather doesn’t mess around. Today the rain started while my kids were at lunch. I braved the storm to go pick them up from the cafeteria (in another building) and had just…

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Oct 05 2010


In the class they have before mine, one of my boys decided to rip down the pants of another boy. Not as a funny joke they were both in on, but to humiliate him. He tore the kid’s pants and made him cry. In class. Because he felt like it. On the long list of…

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Oct 04 2010

Hide your fourth graders

On Sundays, I spend all day waitressing. I know that’s complete insanity when I already can’t find enough hours to get everything done, but it actually perversely might be what’s keeping me sane. I’m more productive when I’m busier. The extra spending money keeps me from worrying about finances. And having a large group of…

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October 2010
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