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Mar 30 2014

on re-hitting my stride

Spring has come and, with it, all the promise of finishing this year out strong. In a strange way, it feels like some things have already come to an end. We had our last district-wide 8th grade English day and, after hours of reflection and planning and best practices for next year, I walked into…

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Tomorrow is our first day back to school after Spring Break. There are a host of memorial activities scheduled for this week & this weekend; I headed back to school today to make some copies and was struck by how just being there reminded me of the overwhelming sadness we faced just two weeks ago.…

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A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about Impostor Syndrome that received lots of great comments and feedback (yes – I read every comment and really do think about what you all have to say). You asked solid questions and nudged me in just the right ways. Thank you all. I wanted to revisit this…

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Mar 12 2014

death hits home.

A student at my school passed away last night. It was unexpected – a tragic accident, horrendous in that other children saw it and tried to save his life – and yet it happened, and the dawn broke, and the sun rose and we all went to school. The day itself was agonizing. My students…

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I haven’t written on here in a while. That’s been on purpose. To be honest, I’ve been struggling. Not instruction-wise or evaluation-wise; more on that later. I’ve been struggling with anxiety and self-esteem issues. I’ve been struggling to believe I am actually good at this. And despite the fact that I’m on track to skip…

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Feb 10 2014

fear itself

As I watched one of the US Olympic figure skaters give her post-routine interview, her words struck me. “I used to be scared. But once I let go of that fear, I really fell in love with this sport.” I’m usually not one for over-analyzing already over-analyzed sport metaphors but something about that idea struck…

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Feb 07 2014

One Hundred Days

Yesterday marked a rather poetic benchmark in my first year. It was the 100th day of school, and also 100 days until the current seniors at my university will graduate. I remember this day a year ago – I hadn’t even interviewed at my current school district yet – and though it was only a…

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Jan 25 2014

How does grit predict teacher retention?

A few days ago, I had the privilege of hearing Angela Duckworth give an hourlong lecture as part of her visit to Houston. A full auditorium’s worth of people braved Snowpocalypse 2014  (yes, Northerners, feel free to judge away) to hear Duckworth’s presentation on the psychology of grit and self-control. Numerous school districts, newspapers, blogs, etc.…

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Jan 21 2014

life these days

Barely two weeks in, I can already tell that second semester is shaping up to be much more smooth than first semester. I debated whether or not to go away for MLK Weekend but decided to stay home and relax, a decision that was completely cemented by the absolutely wonderful weekend I had. It had…

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As many of you may have gathered from my previous, just-as-impassioned posts on the subject, I am very wary of (borderline dislike) guided notes. That’s a big statement, so I’ll qualify it. I’m wary of their overuse in my school and in the unique teaching situation I’m in. My eighth-graders, some of whom read at…

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Jan 09 2014

a change is gonna come.

A new semester. I stepped in my classroom on Tuesday for the first time in two weeks. I inhaled the Glade air freshener scent (“Aw MISS, why your room always be smellin’ like TREES?”) and breathed in the feeling of new.  This break was all that I needed and so much more, days spent in…

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Dec 26 2013

some thoughts as of late

1. I think I want to be a CMA at Houston Institute. Not now. Eventually. Can I do this even if I still struggle with the philosophy behind some parts of Institute? Can I do this at all? Things to consider. 2. If I want to survive this upcoming semester/be a real person I need…

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Dec 24 2013

snapshot of a non-teacher life

The air is sticky, with salt from the Gulf of Mexico and the slightest hint of the smell of raw fish. There’s a sea breeze today – the kind that nestles deep in your bones – and some stray palm fronds float down to settle alongside the road. I drive and drive and drive. Past…

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Dec 20 2013

the end of semester one.

With that, my last day as a teacher in 2013 is over. I’ve given kids holiday cards and cleaned my room and supervised the cleaning of lockers and been the loving & grateful recipient of so. many. Christmas. cookies. Today was, like many of the “last days” in my own high school, wonderful. Calm and…

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2.6. The average number of years a teacher spends at my school. Most teachers stay either two or three years, and the ones who stay longer tend to move into administrative positions. There are the rockstars of course – the ones who are there for six or eight or ten years. But the majority come…

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Dec 10 2013


I knew this time would come, and now that it’s here, I just feel a little resigned to the long grind that is burnout. I’ve been talking about this a lot lately. Emotional labor. Constant stress/anxiety. High stakes all the time. No excuses. Ed reform is notorious for producing “burnout factories” and I feel like…

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Dec 02 2013

on vulnerability.

C.S. Lewis says that to love at all is to be vulnerable, and though I certainly have felt that in areas of my before-I-was-a-teacher life, I never realized how much teaching and vulnerability are inextricably tied. It’s easy to look at this idea and think – breakups. Thanksgiving. Prayer. Religion. Best friends. But when I…

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Nov 27 2013

preserving the other parts, too

How do you make friends as a teacher? How do you hold onto friends you had before you were a teacher? How, for that matter, do you hold onto the parts of your non-teacher self? I won’t pretend to have all the answers (or even any of the answers, really) but I am someone who…

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Nov 22 2013

“Thank you for believing in me.”

I did it. I made it to Thanksgiving Break. I will not be back at school for nine days. As I packed up today, after the kids left, I couldn’t help but tear up in my empty classroom. I have grown so much. I have come so far. My world is so different now.  I…

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Nov 18 2013

the “Catch an Immigrant” game

Rarely do I post when I’m angry; this is an exception I’m willing to make. I’m sure many of you by now have heard of the deplorable, racist, bigoted “game” hosted by the Young Conservatives group at the University of Texas at Austin on Wednesday. Here’s a brief synopsis from the group themselves: “YCT will…

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I am a member of two worlds. The teacher world and the non-teacher world. In teacher world, for the most part, faith in students is taken for granted. I am told, student actions come from teacher actions. Student mindsets come from teacher mindsets. To what extent I truly, deeply believe this is for another post.…

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Nov 09 2013

November blues.

I’ll be honest – I’ve been really struggling, this first week of November. I think I am finally hitting Teacher October but just one month delayed. My kids came off a week of review and a week of testing so it’s been hard for everyone to get back into the swing of actual learning &…

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This was said by a student today, as we delved right into the heart of one of this unit’s Essential Questions. What does it mean to grow up? What happens if/when you realize your views are different from those of your parents? Can you grow and stay the same at the same time?  To start…

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Oct 28 2013


Knee-deep in a full week of testing, I am grateful that my kids finished their English exams today, meaning the pressure has been taken off (for the rest of this week at least). We got our preliminary scores back already. Both my co-planner and I beat the district average for the multiple choice section –…

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Oct 23 2013

the end of October is approaching…

…and with it, the lure of Thanksgiving and a respite from teacher life burns brighter. I’ve really been feeling October these past few days. not quite sure why. What set me over the edge tonight was an email full of action items and things that need to get done; of course, my progress on these…

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

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