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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

Archives › 2011 › September

Sep 27 2011

Give them chores

Let’s talk about the number of times I’ve had this exact talk with a parent: Me: “Your child needs to improve something. She/he is not turning in homework/getting good grades/staying for tutoring/whatever.” Parent: “What?! That is ridiculous. Child, you know you don’t have to do anything else at home. You don’t have to cook. You…

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Sep 23 2011

Not sure why that’s weird

Working with kids as they begin sixth grade is actually delightful sometimes. I’ve discovered that all I need to do is give them a big, warm smile and maybe a high-five. No matter how cool they are, how tough they are, or how angry at me they thought they were, they just can’t resist. These…

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Sep 22 2011

Spanish Speakers Not Welcome

My school has a very significant Spanish-speaking population. I don’t know the numbers (our school is so new I’m not sure the demographic data are available anywhere yet) but I do know it’s our majority group. I also know that a parent told me that in Mexico, they were used to having the door slammed…

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Sep 21 2011

Uphill both ways

In my first year, I remember regularly having my classroom compared to a teacher in a charter school. I taught in a school that had the worst discipline record in an already infamous district, and this other corps member taught in a charter that expelled kids for talking out in class too frequently. He was…

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Sep 16 2011

Jueves Lunch En Español

Transitioning to middle school, where everyone comes from all different backgrounds and schools all over the city, is a really rough change. All the kids feel like they have no friends and think that everyone else is in a Popular Group except for them. We especially have a problem with our group of white kids,…

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Sep 15 2011

Learning to teach…with me?

I am getting observed by someone studying to be a teacher. She’s a junior in college, so not yet doing her student teaching, but she needs to log a significant chunk of hours observing in a classroom this year. Somehow, the poor girl got stuck in my classroom. I’m not sure how it happened, except…

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Sep 14 2011

Skeletons in closets

Today I had a kid walk out of my classroom without permission. He was staying for a required tutoring session after school, and since parents had been notified we aren’t allowed to let the kids leave before the hour ends. This kid was fuming mad about the tutoring because he was missing football practice and…

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Sep 13 2011

I miss eighth graders

Seriously, if another kid cries I might have to punch someone in the face. On Friday, I had one class with THREE boys who were a complete mess. One was having serious enough family problems that he has every right to be upset and should be excused from this story, but the other two had…

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Sep 12 2011

Leaving the laboratory

This NYT article says that public schools in Houston are trying to replicate the best parts of the charter model in all schools. They even have control schools so they can see if it works. I LOVE THIS. That was the whole point of charters. Besides competition, they’re supposed to be laboratories so that the…

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Sep 10 2011

Manipulation

I was sitting with a bunch of TFA alums trying to give advice to a first year teacher. He’s having trouble with classroom management, specifically with one defiant boy who shuts down and gets even more defiant whenever the teacher tries to correct a behavior. As this is extraordinarily common Tough Guy behavior, all of…

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Sep 08 2011

Parenting 101

A mother has been working hard to set up a meeting with me, and our schedules finally worked so that she ended up in my classroom after school today. She sent her daughter away so we could speak privately, and then she started listing all the things her daughter is doing wrong. Hanging with a…

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Sep 05 2011

An Attack On Teachers

I love reading articles like this one: “In Honor of Teachers“. The stories are always touching, it’s nice to feel supported and appreciated, and it sure doesn’t hurt to hear that your profession is “infused with nobility.” But this article is one in a line of recent press that stands in blind support of teachers.…

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Sep 04 2011

Starting to come together

Everyone says that teaching really starts to fall into place your third year. First year, you’re just working to keep your head above water and survive. Second year, you’re surviving but you also have time to look around and notice all the things you should be doing but can’t quite handle yet. Third year, you’re…

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Sep 02 2011

Sixth grade boys still cry

There’s this boy in my homeroom who I absolutely adore. He’s built to play football, he’s confident and he’s funny. He wants to be an engineer. He’s also the sweetest child on the planet, always eager to volunteer for anything and does the right thing at all times. We have him sitting next to one…

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Sep 01 2011

OTOS Parents

Over the last two years, I could count on my fingers the number of times a parent initiated contact with me. Parents would show for conferences, and they’d indulge my phone calls home, but otherwise they were more than willing to leave me to my own devices. For better or for worse, I was in…

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