DC Chillin

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Just got back from the Reality Israel trip. For those who have not heard of it, TFA pays for 70+ corps members to travel to Israel for 12 days, hear from educators and leaders, and engage in discussions about education, leadership, and inequity. For free. Yes, you heard that right. All expenses paid. Perhaps I’ll…

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The first year teaching is brutal. For almost everyone. But I can’t shake the feeling that it shouldn’t be this hard. What do you wish someone would have told you or taught you how to do before your first year teaching? For me, 1) I wish someone would have demonstrated how to effectively use betterlesson.com…

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Dec 25 2011


This may not be a new thought, but it needs to be said.  Institute is a pile of garbage.  It serves one primary purpose, and there’s no close second–getting you used to be completely and utterly miserable. It certainly wasn’t for the students.  I was supposed to cram a year of algebra into about fifteen…

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Dec 25 2011

I’m glad I didn’t quit

Oh, I wanted to.  September sucked.  October sucked.  November sucked.  And when I say sucked, what I mean is every day was truly awful.  Not just kind of bad.  Truly awful.  The depression was overwhelming.  Just getting up in the morning was a struggle. Has it really gotten that much better?  I’m not sure….I think…

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Jun 21 2011

Question Before I Drink the Kool-Aid

So Induction starts Wednesday, and I’m excited to let the brainwashing begin. I’m two years out of college, so probably less likely than some to be susceptible, but then again I’m pretty susceptible to brainwashing in general if commercials are any indicator (KFC Double Down! I’m going to buy that tonight!) But here’s my question.…

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Jun 07 2011

Teacher Love

A few days ago, I got an email from Adam Geller, who is apparently the founder of Teach for Us. He directed me to Kerry Folan, who recently created a site called teacherlove.org for people to post stories about their favorite teachers. I was told I would have  $100 donated to me through Donors Choose…

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Jun 03 2011

Last Day at Haynes

From the card my kids gave me on the my last day: You are awesome, Mr. G! Thank you 4 being here. Sad to see you go but hope to see you again! PS You will be missed. I will miss you pleas [sic] come and visit us. We’ll miss you! Come back soon! Thanks…

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May 22 2011

AP for All

The Boston Charter School I worked at last year employed something called “AP for All”–in order to graduate, every student was required to take AP US History junior year and AP English senior year. Jay Matthews, the education reporter for the Washington Post, is also a huge believer in the importance of AP courses and…

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May 20 2011

One thing that worries me

A lot of incoming CMs starting blogs are over-the-top crazy enthusiastic about teaching.  Which is great. But I worry about the confidence that many of these newbies seem to have.  There’s this mentality along the lines that “the only reason my students haven’t achieved is because their previous teachers have held low expectations for them.…

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May 18 2011

For all the Spanish teachers out there

You are very brave. In my experience, it’s hard enough to manage behavior when the class is in English.  But in another language?  Doubly hard. So here’s a question I’m posing: is it possible to be an excellent Spanish teacher without being a little terrifying? As a student myself and as a school employee, I…

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May 12 2011

It’s never too late…

…to fix a broken relationship with a student.  That’s what I’ve come to believe.  But it requires a lot from a teacher.  Patience.  Persistence.   Willingness to start fresh.  Faith. I have one student that I work with that tested my belief in the nature of relationships.  In a moment of frustration, I snapped at…

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May 08 2011

Why is it so hard to find?

Since I moved back to DC, I have been very interested in DC’s charter movement.  Charters now educate something like 40% of the kids in DC, and new charters seem to be sprouting up every year. But if there’s a great resource for profiling and comparing DC’s charter schools, I haven’t found it.  Only through…

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May 07 2011

Is this a good thing?

There is a woman who is currently a New Leaders for New Schools Resident Principal at the charter school where I work.  Before becoming a resident principal, she was a music major in college and then taught elementary school in Hawaii for two years through TFA. She can’t be much older than 25, yet she…

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May 07 2011


TFA believes in data (as in “data-driven instruction”).  So does the charter school I currently work for.  Teachers give four interim assessments spread out over the year to prepare students for the DC-CAS.  They are supposed to track progress on certain objectives and develop reteaches and strategies/plans to address students who are not on track.…

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May 01 2011

SAT Prep for America

I’ve been teaching SAT part-time for Kaplan since September.  I have come to think that Kaplan sucks the big one.  More on that another time. But it got me thinking about the following questions: 1)  Is there any national SAT prep company that caters specifically to low-income students? 2) Are the SAT prep needs of…

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May 01 2011

Choices are hard….

I accepted my job with TFA the day it was offered.  I’d spent the past few months reading everything I could about education reform and teaching, while observing and practicing “teacher moves” as a teaching assistant that I would be able to perfect as a CM next year. Then, out of the blue, I got…

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Apr 12 2011

Read this article

This one, right here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/magazine/mag-10School-t.html. I feel like this article gave me a better idea of what working in a non-charter high-needs school will be like (if I get placed in a non-charter school). Two interesting mentions of TFA by the principal of 223. 1.  TFA first-year teachers are essentially worthless. 2.  The ideal teacher…

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Apr 10 2011

The Praxis and YouTube on a Sunday

Since I’ve been working as a teaching assistant in a sixth grade math classroom for the past year, I put down middle school math as one of the subjects I’d be willing to teach. At this point, I’m an expert percents, decimals, fractions, etc. So I was a little surprised when I realized that in…

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Apr 09 2011

My experience with DCPS

I attended DC Public Schools from kindergarten through twelfth grade, with the exception of ninth grade, when I thought I was too cool for school and went to a private school. I came back when I realized that the private school bubble was not for me. The schools I attended, located in upper NW DC,…

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Apr 08 2011

Two Years in the Making

I’m going to attempt to summarize my last two years in ten minutes and one paragraph. I applied to Teach for America as a naive college senior two years ago. Around the same time that I was accepted and assigned to teach middle school math in St. Louis, I was accepted into the MATCH Corps,…

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From DC public school student to teacher

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