Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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Jan 22 2012

Calm and quiet

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel,…

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Taking a break from my usual blogging pattern of circumstance-reflection-revelation, here’s a humorous little list that most of you teachers out there should be able to relate to. You know you’re a teacher when… … you have to resist introducing yourself by your last name when meeting someone new. … your hands are perpetually covered…

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My younger brother recently asked me an intriguing question: “If you died right now—like, if you dropped dead in front of me—do you think you’d go to heaven?” I didn’t know if he was joking or serious (I can never really tell), so I took the safe way out: “Um, yeah. I’d like to think…

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Dec 25 2011

Reflections of a traveling teacher

It seems fitting—symmetric, at the very least—that I should be writing my last entry of 2011 the same way I wrote the first: in an airport terminal, waiting for my flight while reflecting on what lay before and what lies ahead. In the past four months, I have embarked on the toughest journey of my…

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Nov 25 2011

Give thanks in all circumstances

Fact #1: I’ve spent a majority of the past 72 hours sleeping like a baby. Fact #2: I had to take half days on Tuesday and Wednesday because of flu-like symptoms and a splitting headache that made it hard to even stand up straight. Fact #3: Yesterday was my fourth time spending Thanksgiving away from…

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Nov 12 2011

So You Think You Can Teach?

To say that Teach For America places a strong emphasis on planning would probably be an understatement. According to one of the six characteristics of TFA’s Teaching As Leadership framework, high effective teachers “plan purposefully.” (Without ascribing undue significance to the order of said characteristics, it’s interesting to note that “plan purposefully” comes before “execute…

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Student reactions upon seeing me in a V-neck and AF-1s on Casual Friday J.: “You mad fresh today, Mr. K.” N.: “Dangggg look at you with your Air Forces.” K.: “Hip-hop! Hip-hop!” D.: “Mister, you look like a middle schooler today.” L.: “Mr. K, you look so cute!” I mentioned in my last post that…

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Overheard during whiteboard time D.: *sigh* “This class gets more and more organized every day.” Let me be real for a moment. I mean really real, not kinda sorta real, like I usually am when an acquaintance asks how TFA is going to be polite. Teaching is hard. This past week has been hard. This…

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Oct 24 2011

Rekindled

Overheard during Independent Practice B. (to D.): “You’re ruining our lives and eating all our steak!” I may have to resort to blogging less regularly. It’s not a matter of not having enough free time (though heaven knows that’s true). Simply put, forcing myself to write every weekend isn’t always conducive to substantive, meaningful posts…

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Oct 08 2011

Counting it all joy

Overheard at the end of a block N.: “Ohmigoshhh I lost my exit slip!” An unintended consequence of blogging on weekends is that I’m usually writing when I’m physically and emotionally at my peak. I get to catch up (somewhat) on sleep, I can actually spend some time reading for pleasure and chatting with non-teacher…

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Oct 01 2011

October is here

Overheard while using my wireless clicker from inside my pocket D.: “How is he doing that?? It’s blowing my mind right now!” They say that October of the first year is supposed to be the hardest month of teaching. Before I started this job, and even a week into September, that made no sense to…

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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 transformations L.: “Mm mister, you smell good!” ————— Fact #1: I have now taught for almost three times as many hours as I taught at Institute. Fact #2: Preparing for two classes (or in teacher lingo, having “two preps”) is exhausting. Fact #3: High school seniors are still children.…

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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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Aug 14 2011

Turnarounds and divine education

Overheard during WaterFire, upon observing CMs with unlit torches Random person: “Well, if they can’t handle fire, they definitely can’t handle the students.” The past week has been fairly uneventful compared to Induction, Institute, and the first week of F8W, which affords the perfect opportunity to finally provide some context for my school and teaching…

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Overheard on the last day of summer school F.: “I like that vest, but it looks ugly on Mr. K.” Today marks exactly one week since the end of Institute. It’s hard to believe that just seven days ago, there was still very little on my mind except big goals, student investment, purposeful planning, effective…

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Jul 30 2011

Someday you will read this

Dear math superstars of room 313, Thank you for an amazing summer. Thank you for believing in me, in my collab, and most importantly, in yourselves. Thank you for showing up bright and early (most of the time) for summer school; for paying attention and wanting to learn, even when I failed to plan purposefully…

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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 18 2011

Hump week

Overheard in the dining hall CM: “I just want to go to bed and fall into a coma so I don’t have to go to school tomorrow.” The days are flying by now. I can hardly believe that just three weeks ago, I had never stepped foot in the classroom as a teacher, created a…

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Jul 09 2011

+s and Δs

Overheard during a CS session after the first day of teaching CM 1: “I’m not articulating myself very well right now, sorry.” CM 2: “I’m having a hard time understanding anything right now.” CM 1: “Well, this is a bad combination.” Week two of Institute–our first week of teaching–is officially over. Someone asked me to…

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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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Overheard at a bar Executive Director to a staff member: “Have we created TAL monsters?” That pretty much sums up the past week. In all seriousness though, Induction has been an amazing experience. From the moment we arrived and received our regional t-shirts (NYC Institute folks will see the glory of said t-shirts soon enough),…

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Jun 21 2011

Prologue

Greetings from LAX, where I’m currently waiting to board my red-eye flight to Providence, Rhode Island, to join my fellow 2011 Rhode Island CMs for our week-long Induction. [Update: I’m now at my hotel room and waiting for my luggage, which didn’t make the connection… Sadness.]  A little bit of background: in the style of…

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About this Blog

New city, same vision

Region
Rhode Island
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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