A Tar Heel in Tulsa

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Mar 15 2013

More bright points (after a pretty crummy week)

It’s amazing how a few (or, let’s be honest, a LOT) of frustrating times can completely blot over the high points of a week. In an attempt to wipe off the grime from the last part of 3rd quarter: -Possibly the best teaching adventure ever happened yesterday. I remembered at the last minute, while eating…

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Feb 06 2013

Some bright points

One of the best decisions I’ve made recently is to record myself reading a lot of the little easy readers for our listening center. After listening to the libritos so many times, the kids are way more apt to pick them up and start reading them by themselves…. and more apt to pick up other…

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Jan 17 2013

Well, look at me!

After thinking that I might not post again this semester, here I am writing just a few days later. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what I have learned from the TFA experience. It’s a question that is going to come up in job/school interviews and casual conversations for the next several years, I…

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Jan 14 2013

No promises

I’m a bit embarrassed that my last post was after the first week of school in August.  At the same time, here I am after the first week of school in January, and I could stop after this and feel content with the symmetry.  That’s not the plan, but it’s an option. To sum up…

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Aug 26 2012

A new year, a new sense of balance

Hello!  It’s been a long time! My first week back at school is over and done with, and now it’s Sunday night. It was a tough week having to get used to planning again, being on my feet so long again, talking so much again, dealing with little kids who are still in summer mode…

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My kids are so freaking competitive.  One pre-k student said the pledge over the intercom the other day, and now I have two weeks’ worth of students waiting THEIR turn to do the pledge. (The scheduling process caused some tears). Now, after one student received so many extra star stamps for her chimpancé exposé, two…

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Yes, one of my English-speaking kindergarteners wrote this.  She had a lot to say about her picture (that was based on my original sentence, “A chimpanzee is playing with the frog.”), so I pushed her to keep writing about it.  I helped her translate her thoughts into Spanish, but then she sounded out the words…

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Feb 15 2012

A five-day weekend

After a snow day and two sick days, I’m going to work tomorrow for the first and only time this week (Friday is a professional day – no class!).  The time off has given me [way too much] time to think.  I had the same calming realization that I had last semester when I took…

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I would argue that the absolute last place on earth that a person would choose to be when sick would be a kindergarten classroom. Can I get an amen?  Miserable.  To wake up with a headache is to know that you will go home with a migraine.  I tried being straight with them:  “Chicos, chicas……

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Feb 02 2012

100 days in

“And, oh, I think we should point out that this is their 100th day of teaching!” After counting sets of 100 Apple Jacks all day and running around making pretty awful 100-themed decorations, I appreciated this split-second recognition by one of my classroom moms. Lord knows that had already crossed my mind a lot…earlier today,…

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Dec 17 2011


This week we learned words in English, Spanish, Ladino, Hebrew (Student: “like in Mulan!”), and Swahili. Hanukkah was probably the best thing I’ve ever taught. Maybe (just kidding, DEFINITELY) it was the chocolate gelt and playing with dreidels that won them over. Or the gel menorah that is currently living under the M on our…

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Dec 12 2011

almost the holidays

**So I think the independent problem-solving mini-lesson I taught my kids several months ago is working… Whenever students are tattling about something stupid (a hefty portion of my day), I just remind them to use our magic phrase: ¡¡No, no, por favor!!  And they say it, usually quite dramatically.  One student, upon realizing that I…

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Nov 25 2011

more cuentitos

I went a long time hoping beyond hope that my students would actually answer me in the morning when I asked them in Spanish how they were doing (in front of their parents).  There’s nothing better than getting a blank stare to the one question they surely-to-God knew by then…  “Just say “bien” pretty please!”…

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Nov 25 2011

Caballito Blanco

There are a lot of phrases commonly associated with one’s first year of teaching, and they are all true. I especially like the one about just keeping your head above water, because God knows that really is the main goal for the first semester (or longer? We’ll see). I had really hit a low point…

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Nov 24 2011

Starting up again

I’ve decided to actually start updating this blog again, now that I have my head just enough above water … So look out for updates/catch-up entries in the next few days!

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Jun 30 2011

Rollercoaster Physics (Institute)

To be completely honest, I came into institute feeling pretty confident. It would be hard, but I’d probably be all right. I wouldn’t be one of those people you hear about having breakdowns. Well. I haven’t had a breakdown, but I’ve definitely had some really rough days. Halfway through my first lesson all I wanted…

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Jun 08 2011

I should definitely be asleep.

It’s been a long day. A lot of sitting, a lot of listening, and a ton of socializing…it gets exhausting. I finally just stopped asking people where they were from/what their placement was/what college they went to and started asking about their favorite bands. It’s a refreshing change of pace after discussing TFA’s core values…

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Jun 02 2011

A word from the wise

On Tuesday, I visited my high school alma mater (go tigers!!) and got to observe some excellent teachers. Besides the advice I got from the teachers themselves, I had the chance to ask two classes of 9th graders for suggestions… -No busy work!! Especially the kind that is worth way too many points! -Don’t be…

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May 27 2011

Are you sure??

After observing a high school science class in Durham several weeks ago, one of the students walked over to where I was sitting. “Are you sure you want to teach?” she asked me. I assured her I did. “Hm,” she replied. I couldn’t tell if the look she was giving me was more puzzled or…

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