Break Every Yoke

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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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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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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Mar 04 2012

A quote for Sunday night

“By perseverance the snail reached the ark.” – Charles Spurgeon

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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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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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About this Blog

New city, same vision

Region
Rhode Island
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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