Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Oct 03 2014

Top 5

It has been a very long time since I last posted on this blog. Toward the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, my inactivity was mostly self-imposed — I had transitioned to a new college access role and was too busy to write anything substantive. (Though that’s hardly an excuse, since I’ve never been and likely never…

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Vacations are tricky things. The “freedom” they profess to offer is illusory: the more time I spend upfront with family, books, hobbies, or sleep (i.e. regaining normal functionality), the greater the anxiety to utilize the rest of the break getting caught up with (or ahead on) school work. The end of a vacation usually sneaks…

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Work Hard. Be Nice. brands itself as the story of “how two inspired teachers created the most promising schools in America.” Education-savvy readers will, of course, recognize the title as the trademark slogan of the Knowledge Is Power Program, better known as KIPP, which (according to Wikipedia) is the largest network of charter schools in the…

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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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Dec 12 2012

An early Christmas miracle

T was one of my top students last year, and I am currently his mentor for a senior research paper. I recently found out that he spent much of his childhood in a Nepalese refugee camp, where he had no formal education and worked in a rat-infested restaurant to support himself. The following interaction took…

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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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I have long been meaning to write about the difference between first and second year, but nothing I have written seems to do it justice. Even now, I have trouble describing it in anything but metaphor: night and day, storm and sunshine, even death and life. Yet I must try my best to assure any first-year teachers…

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Oct 04 2012

Discoveries

Today, I discovered: One of my Algebra 1 kids is a Billboard-ranked pop artist. Another one of my Algebra 1 kids was kicked off public transit this morning for “talking too loud.” According to an eyewitness, the lady who complained about him was talking just as loudly, if not louder. (Said kid was also not…

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Sep 11 2012

Second year gladness

There is no comparison between first and second year. Twelve months ago, I was enjoying teaching well enough but struggling mightily just to keep up with its day-to-day demands (the emotional and spiritual, in addition to the physical). This year, three weeks into the new semester, I feel like I have not only kept my…

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Aug 25 2012

Harmony

I begin my second year of teaching on Tuesday. From the outside, not much has improved since last year. I have no idea what my schedule will look like, since it has changed three times already; I am teaching subjects that I have never taught before to an age group I have never worked with…

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I sometimes inadvertently get lost in my own ideas and theories. I’ve learned to check this tendency in recent years, since it can happen at very inappropriate moments, such as in the middle of a conversation, or even while teaching. One setting where I give my thought processes free reign, however, is in the airport,…

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Jul 29 2012

Thoughts on identity

More often than not, this blog serves as a place to record and reflect on particularly notable events in my already eventful life as a teacher. It would seem appropriate, then, to write about my first experience on staff with NYC Institute, which just concluded yesterday. However, the past six weeks have been filled with…

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Jun 17 2012

Thus ends the infamous Year One

Overheard during an Operations session E: “When I’m stressed, I like to take a shower and then lie in my bed naked.” a couple minutes later… D: “When I’m stressed, I like to walk into E’s room.” ————— [Disclaimer: This is probably the longest and most scatter-brained post I've ever written. Consider yourself warned.] As…

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May 28 2012

Dear 2012 corps members,

I’m so glad that you’re joining the movement for educational equity. To tell you the truth, there’s a bit of an older-sibling syndrome within TFA, wherein previous corps years scoff at the apparent naivete of first-year CMs and grow somewhat envious of the attention that they receive. (I’m guilty of this myself.) Don’t let this…

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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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Two days ago, I wrote a draft of an entry that described, in excruciating detail, the many circumstances (both school- and non-school-related) that have made the past two weeks the most exhausting two weeks of my life. Around the same time, I also uncharacteristically updated my Facebook status with a sampling of those circumstances. Upon…

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Questions that I hate getting from students: “Can I go to the library to finish my homework for another class?” [Um, seriously? No.] “Why do we have to do math today? Can’t we just watch a movie?” [I’m so sorry that I’m making you do math in a math class. I must be a terrible…

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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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Apr 24 2012

April happenings

I’ve been woefully negligent in updating this blog recently, which is unfortunate, since the April has been one of the most eventful months this year. Even now, I don’t have time for a full-fledged post, but here’s a list of some of the highlights from the past few weeks. My Math Lab kids scored an…

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Mar 30 2012

The Danger of a Single Story

I’ve had Chimamanda Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” bookmarked for months now, but I finally got around to watching the 20-minute TED talk this past week. In it, Adichie describes her childhood in Nigeria, her college experience in the United States, and, as one might imagine from the title, the potency and potential…

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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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Overheard during a lesson on arithmetic sequences R: “Oh my gawddd, this stuff is so awesome.” There is a remarkable disconnect between how much stuff has been happening in my classroom, school, life, etc., and how little I feel like blogging about it. Maybe my desire to write is directly proportional to the amount of…

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Feb 29 2012

Are we the greater fools?

I’ve been reading a lot of interesting dialogue and debate regarding TFA and other “corporate” reform measures (not my favorite term, but unfortunately the most widely understood). It started back in January when an ed student and TFA naysayer posted a rather spiteful comment on Wess’s post “Bang for your buck”, and I ended up…

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And just like that, February break is over. Apparently, only Rhode Island has a week of vacation in the middle of February, which probably contributes to our relatively late ending date, but I’m not complaining—by the end of school last Friday, I barely had the energy and mental wherewithal to wish my kids (and secretly,…

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Feb 13 2012

Give grace to those who hear

I realize that it’s Monday, which means I’m breaking my firmly-established tradition of updating only on weekends, but this needs to be said. As a teacher, it is so easy to find things to complain about. The work day is too long. Lunch is too short. The copy machine never works. Certification coursework sucks. Administration…

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About this Blog

New city, same vision

Region
Rhode Island
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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