Teach Houston

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 28 2013

as the wheels come off the wagon…

The New York Times article of late had some good stuff to say about the “cult of youth” at many high-performing charter schools, and within TFA itself. I see it at my school all the time. It’s led to some interesting water-cooler-type conversations at my school and among my TFA friends (or just friends interested in ed reform/policy). I have more to say about it but it’s late, I get up at 5:15 these days, and I don’t really have the emotional capacity to think beyond one or two days ahead this week.

Things are kind of going downhill. The honeymoon period is over; my kids’ behavior has gotten radically worse even in just the span of a few days. Their exit ticket scores are rough. I gave all my students feedback surveys last week and they seem to enjoy my class in general. They like independent reading, free writing, and literary analysis. They say my class is a little boring but oh well, gotta lay the foundation and then things will pick up. We have our first small-group-discussion tomorrow. I had to spend almost half of yesterday establishing expectations for group discussions (complete with skits to model what I’m looking for). It’s worth it to me though.

We had a PD today about the rubric used to evaluate us. It’s full of domains and tiers and indicators and trends and averages and progressions and fear. They say it’s supposed to help us grow. I’m too overwhelmed to even think about that right now.


The seniors at my school organized a blood drive and I happily donated, though the nurse nicked my ulnar nerve with the needle and now my left arm is basically useless. It’s kind of numb and weirdly floppy/painful. I’m going to call the doctor tomorrow afternoon and I’m sure the stress of 5 hours of sleep per night, plus being “on” all day every day, isn’t making things better. At least my kids think it’s funny? I went to their volleyball game this afternoon and it was so good to see them in their “natural environment” (when they aren’t being forced to sit still and read literature written by old white British men). I want to challenge myself to go to as much out-of-school stuff as I can with them. I want to constantly remind myself they are people too – not just grades or test scores or indicators on a rubric.

The Jewish holidays are coming up and it feels like not being home for Christmas. I have to work and can’t go to synagogue in the morning. For whatever reason it’s made me weirdly weepy and nostalgic. I think it’s probably just a reaction to the stresses of being a new teacher that is weirdly manifesting itself in the form of this one issue.


I cried in my Grade Level Chair’s classroom today. I know things will get better eventually and that’s what I keep telling myself. my fellow teachers keep me whole. It’s funny…Institute, as awful as it was, prepared me so well in terms of teaching 30 students with lots of behavioral stuff going on. I can see how teachers with far different Institute experiences have already fared far differently. I guess that’s why I write, sort of, because I always want to look back and remember the way things were. and think about how things ended up. Trajectories are beautiful to see.

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    Journeys, challenges, & writings of a first-year teacher.

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