River Deep, Mountain High

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jul 15 2012

When You Fail To Plan…

“When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” While in college, I participated on a lot of student-run organizations from those dealing with leadership an public service to others focused on race and politics. I think it’s fair to state that I learned more from my experiences in these organizations than I gleaned from…

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“The preservation of a democratic civilization requires the wisdom of the serpent and the harmlessness of the dove. The children of light must be armed with the wisdom of the children of darkness but remain free from their malice.” -Reinhold Niebuhr I haven’t been blogging regularly recently because I am at the end of transitioning…

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It’s been a challenge finding time to blog as I make the transition from Mississippi to Massachusetts and attempt to settle in. I will catch up on my travels and new experiences soon, but in the meantime, I thought I’d share a post I wrote for the ServiceNation blog exactly one year ago. This post…

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Jun 20 2012

Salsa-Ed: Getting To Kids Early

Occasionally, I make random, off-the-wall connections between totally disparate things, Most recently, I found a strange parallel between salsa dance lessons and early childhood education. Yesterday, I had the chance to go to a Salsa lesson in Jackson with a few of my fellow interns. Now, I am a huge fan of Latin dance, mostly because…

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Jun 14 2012

SIGns of Change in the Mississippi Delta

I’ve had the opportunity to work at the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) for the past two weeks as part of LEE’s Summer Fellowship program. I sought out this summer position for a few reasons. I’ve always been a big picture thinker, and I was very interested in learning about the entire leadership structure affecting…

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Over the past two years, I’ve seen an increased fascination (fixation?) with the ever-evolving activities of Teach For America as a non-profit organization. TFA continues to be scrutinized routinely by people with a range of experiences, perspectives and loyalties. Fittingly, the reviews thus far have been mixed. What is most interesting to me is how…

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Jun 04 2012

Would Mitt Romney Fire His Students? (WWRD?)

We know what Donald Trump would do. There’s been a lot in the news lately about Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney’s plan for improving education in America. Interestingly, he hasn’t really claimed any credit, to my knowledge, for Massachusetts regularly ranking as one of the Top Five states on various measures on student achievement and…

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May 31 2012

Confidence Is Key

Perhaps the biggest challenge for incoming corps members to overcome is finding a balance between humility and self-confidence. Recognizing the limits of one’s teaching knowledge and knowing when to ask for help can make or break one’s first year. TFA recruits are generally good at what they do and have a more extensive history of…

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May 28 2012

Red Badge of Service

“He suddenly lost concern for himself, and forgot to look at a menacing fate. He became not a man but a member. He felt that something of which he was a part—a regiment, an army, a cause, or a country—was in a crisis. He was welded into a common personality which was dominated by a…

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May 26 2012

“I Won’t Let Them Ruin My Graduation”

[This is a backlogged post] My school had our Awards Day Program, which is an assembly to celebrate the successes of our students. Last year’s program was a terrible embarrassment for our school because two girls made the poor decision to fight in the middle of the program. Imagine 800 students packed in an auditorium;…

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May 22 2012

Paid My Dues

It’s official! I’ve paid my dues! No, this is not my obligatory end-of-the-year post… that comes later. I’m just excited that I finally paid off my Teach For America loan. Right on time too with two days of school left! In my opinion, the TFA criticism that irritates me most is the assumption that corps…

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May 20 2012

My Biggest Lessons from TFA

In the process of completing my end-of-the-year survey for Teach for America, I came across the following question and wanted to share my answer: “What are the two or three biggest lessons you’re taking away from your corps experience? These could be lessons about your students, yourself, the community where you work, the achievement gap…

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May 13 2012

Mother’s Love and Motivation

The past few days have been a whirlwind. After a three days of standing for four hours straight due to state testing, I was able to sit down and do some grading and TFA work on Friday at school while my kids entertained themselves by playing cooperative games or making Teacher Appreciation Week cards. It…

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May 10 2012

Testing 1, 2, 3!

Our state testing cycle, the MCT2 (Mississippi Curriculum Test 2nd Edition), is officially over! Not including the test for my class, the 60-question 8th grade science test taken last week, these three multiple-choice tests consisted of 43 language questions, 40 writing questions, and 60 math questions. Unsurprisingly, students struggle most with long reading passages; at…

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May 07 2012

The Wrong Race

It makes me so sick. To think no matter how quick. This race, we won’t win.   In my rest and relaxation following one of the last Monday’s of the school year, I sought to read some uplifting local news. I saw on Twitter a link to a track meet in Mississippi. As a former…

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May 06 2012

The Katch-22 of KIPP

Recently, a report came out claiming the KIPP charter network spends significantly more per pupil than comparable traditional district schools. The report is fairly straightforward but it’s conclusions highlight a disturbing paradox about the policy position a high-performing charter network such as  KIPP and Achievement First find themselves in: “These findings, coupled with evidence from…

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May 01 2012

This Is (Not) A Test!

Mariah Carey once sang, “if it’s over, please let me know” and I share her sentiments today. My 125 students took the 8th Grade Mississippi State Science today. It is a 60-question, multiple-choice exam consisting of questions from 30 objectives spanning Inquiry (Scientific Methods), Earth and Space Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Since this…

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Apr 29 2012

Not All Speed is [a] Movement…

“In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others” –Alexis de Tocqueville Originally, I was going to write about my final week of school before state testing begins, but I wanted to instead reflect on a great day…

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We all fail when we focus on blaming teachers on the one hand and blaming poor students and their families on the other. As reformers, “Rheeformers,” anti-reformers, unionists, etc continue to fight amongst ourselves, we neglect to answer one important question: who are we letting off the hook? The Law of the Excluded Middle states:…

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Apr 18 2012

“We Need To Get It Together”

Today involved some disturbing developments I can’t really write about; summary: a persistent trouble-maker who is a threat to the school community had to be handled by the authorities and, on the other hand, one of my mentees landed in trouble- again. It’s really sad when a kid is trying to do well and either…

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Apr 16 2012

A Teachable Moment

“The problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete”  http://on.ted.com/BEav (link to interesting TED Talk)   Last week, I had a few spare moments to work on culture-building with my homeroom, and I ended up having a very intriguing conversation with one of my boys. The boy, L, shared with…

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Apr 12 2012

Overcoming Inertia (“Teachality”)

Inertia: (n.) the tendency of an object to resist any change in its motion. Today was one of those days in which I feel so very fortunate to be teaching in my placement school. Those of us who have taught know that you have some rough days, but you also have that day where everything…

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Apr 11 2012

Unlocking Potential

In the interim before my next post, which is a response to Education Radio, I thought I’d share more uplifting news via TIME magazine. One of my life goals is to unlock the potential of those I encounter or work with; I felt this article written by Jon Schnur, co-founder of New Leaders and chairman…

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Apr 07 2012

Second-Hand Sagging

In the wake of the tragic Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman saga, there has been a lot of debate over the role Trayvon’s hoodie played in the shooting. Most notably, Geraldo Rivera called Trayvon a “gangsta wannabe” for wearing a hoodie (he later apologized only after acknowledging that it was raining; therefore, Trayvon had a “right” to…

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Apr 04 2012

Confidence and Competence

In my previous post, I wrote: “I hope my students recognize that I care about them despite, or perhaps due in part to my frustrations with the system. I’m angry because I can’t do more for them, not because I feel compelled to do more. In the grand scheme of things, I don’t care much…

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About this Blog

Remove Barriers, Raise the Bar

Region
Mississippi Delta
Grade
Middle School
Subject
Science

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