Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Mar 19 2013

Second-year success stories

March is a long and relentless month. I would say it’s kind of like October, the other dreaded month, but without even the prospect of the holidays around the corner. March is about when teachers start to believe, whether they verbalize it or not, that there is truly no rest for the weary. But it’s…

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Mar 06 2013

When salsa is like math

Last September, I joined Brown’s salsa club because I wanted something fun to do outside of teaching, and lessons were cheap and nearby. I improved a lot during the first semester, in large part due to my perfect attendance—lessons moved quickly, and I wouldn’t have been able to keep up otherwise. At the end of…

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Dec 20 2012

Skate shops and revelation

Today was the last school day of 2012. I do plan to reflect critically on the first semester sometime over the break, but for now I just want to record two stories from yesterday. ————— MS transferred to my school this year as a sophomore—though he’s supposed to be a junior—and I have him in…

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Last year, the last period of every other day was small, and the students were mature, self-motivated, academically successful 12th graders. (Yes, I got very lucky with that class.) This year, my last period of the day is still small, but that’s where the similarities end. The students should be in 11th grade, but most…

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One of the nice things about approaching the end of the year is having the chance to read students’ farewells in my yearbook, which I purchased on a whim a week ago. These brief but heartfelt messages have affirmed my effectiveness as a teacher far more than any student achievement data or teacher evaluation, and…

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Apr 30 2012

Laughter and stickiness

Two stories, both from my M-4 block today: ————— First, a story of laughter. During today’s intro to new material, R (the same R about whom I wrote a month ago) volunteered to read a word problem. The final sentence of the problem was, “Who was driving at a higher average speed?” Inexplicably, R read this…

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“Mister, you always wear Air Forces on casual Friday. You should get those new Jordans.” “Yeah? Do you think they’d go well with this outfit?” “Naww mister, you gotta dress more like a middle schooler.” ————— “Mister, you know that you’re the best from all my teachers?” “What do you mean?” “My other teachers, when…

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I haven’t posted any knockout success stories from the classroom in a while, so to make up for that, today I have two. Emerging from a January filled with extremely late nights, management woes, and stress over teacher evaluations (more on that in a future post), it’s encouraging to celebrate the evidence that I’m nevertheless…

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Overheard during Guided Practice R.: “I’m totally looking up Mr. K on Facebook.” I have started writing this entry five or six times since last Friday, only to be thwarted each time by a sudden onset of writer’s block or severe exhaustion. However, now that it’s been two weeks since my last post, I feel…

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Random comment during a lesson on procedures E.: “Mr. K, you look like you’re really really old. You look like you’re like, 24.” I’ve officially made it through the first week of the school year, and wow, what a week it was. Thanks to certain apocalyptic predictions about Hurricane Irene (I’m looking at you, weather.com),…

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Aug 22 2011

+s and Δs, part 2

Overheard during the all-corps kickoff BBQ M,TLD: “Yes, there was poop involved with my middle school.” Somehow, I’ve come down with a case of severe acute writer’s block. Fortunately, it’s been a quiet and relatively uneventful week, so I don’t have much to write about anyway, but those things that are worth mentioning will have…

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Jul 24 2011

Wings like eagles

Conversation while walking to the cafeteria M.: “I want to go to St. John’s or Harvard Law School.” Me: “Hmm, why Harvard?” M.: “Because the smartest people go to Harvard.” Me: “Did you know that Yale has the best law school in the country?” M.: “No, you’re just biased.” (Disclaimer: I admit that I am…

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Jul 02 2011

Ohh, we’re one-fifth there

Overheard in the suite common room CT Corps Member: “I’m scared about teaching fourth graders… I don’t even know what fourth graders look like.” Well, I’ve emerged from week one of five at NYC Institute, a little tired but for the most part no worse for wear. The “here are the minute-by-minute details of my…

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