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Unit 1 Reflection

More often than not, when teachers "reflect," they don't often see an honest picture. It has taken me literally years teaching to honestly reflect. There are always good things and strengths, and always things that could be better.

Positives so far in my first unit:
1. I've been using Kelly Gallagher's "Article of the Week" to make sure I teach nonfiction skills along with the short story unit. My kids have written a 1 page response for each article and have read about Tesla electric cars, Seamus Heaney, and how to improve their brains.

2. I tried a Socratic Seminar for the first time, and it ROCKED. The kids had rich conversations and a better  written response as a result.

3. We read The Scarlet Ibis, The Necklace, The Gift of the Magi, and will be finishing up The Red Headed League soon. We had some very rich conversations. I loved how mad some of my students were at the end of the Necklace.

4. I have developed an easily updated system for Bell Rin…

A Cautionary Computer Tale

I've been getting up early, getting to school around 6:30, and generally getting home around 6. Not particularly healthy, I know. Unfortunately, it's my computer who paid for it.


Inside the white square, above, is a tiny dent. Funny story. I had let my iPad charge last weekend and then carelessly laid it on top of some clothes I hadn't put up yet. I was up late the other night making notes for the next day; when I finally went to sleep, I laid my macbook gently on the floor next to my bed. In a hurry to find a shirt the next morning, my iPad fell from the chair and onto my macbook. I hurried to school without another thought. 
That afternoon, I opened my laptop to find this: 
I didn't know whether to throw up or cry. I did neither.

My nearest Apple store is more than a two hour drive; when I attempted to call Apple support (cue the internet laughter), I was prompted to cough up $20. Yeah. Right. I called a few other repair places and got estimates of at least $400 to…

Classroom Tour, 2013-2014!

When I think about starting my third year of teaching, all I can think about is the song above. Even though I'm moving from a small district to a large one and from elementary to high school, some things never change, including the facts of teaching in high poverty areas. Even though my new district is whiter and more affluent, it is still over 60% free and reduced lunch. In fact, some parts of setting up this year feel exactly like the first time I set up a classroom: not enough materials, not enough information about expectations, and equipment that just doesn't work. But, just like always, the bottom line is creating an environment and a curriculum for the kids. Here's my shot at creating the environment part. 

 One great thing about my current district is the availability of actual textbooks. I'll have a class set and see if I need to check out books to individual students for homework and make-ups.

 I was able to recycle both a parts of speech poster and a word c…

Alumni-hood

Yesterday was my last professional Saturday with Teach for America. An approximately 3 hour drive to Cleveland, MS, a panel discussion, a vision-setting session, an Arkansas-specific session, then I picked up my overly large certificate of completion, and that was that. Soon, I will have my 5 year teaching license and join the ranks of more than 20,000 alumni.

I guess after two years, I wanted some sort of final closure, like a graduation ceremony. However, the point of Teach for America isn't exactly to provide some sort of definitive closure or answer. In my experiences and current understanding, the problems in poor communities and in failing/struggling school districts are ever present, very complicated, and ultimately something to be fought against, not necessarily permanently fixed.

I'm caught up in a lot of emotion about my TFA experience. I feel like I've grown up a lot, establishing something of a more settled set of core beliefs and needs than I left college with…

"Modern" Family Housing

Modern American Housing (ABC news)

The above news article is just one moment in something I've been thinking about a lot since graduating college and moving into my own apartment. I'm currently renting a small two bedroom apartment alone. Things that have rocked....

I can spread out, put furniture wherever, decorate however, and do laundry whenever I want to. I can be weird at will.Don't want to eat? Who cares! So don't. Things that have sucked... Do want to eat? Too bad! Everything you bought is slowly rotting. Do want to eat? Well, if you make something, you know you are just going to watch it rot, right?Upset? Call mom. Talk for 2 hours.Still upset? Troll facebook. Feel more alone. Go back to above instruction. Repeat.Still hungry? Want company? TOO BAD. I really think I'm going to move back home, provided I can find a job. Yeah, it's not a totally perfect thing, but I think ultimately it will be a perfect temporary move. No, I don't know what I'm goin…

I believe.

Herman Melville "[contemplated] a godless universe" in his one-hit wonder of a novel, aka Moby Dick. While this was SHOCKING in the nineteenth century, it's now the norm. The moral universe that govern most books, movies, music, etc. doesn't just contemplated a godless universe-it assumes a godless universe is a fact.

I read "Game of Thrones" over Christmas break. As a lover of epics like Lord of the Rings and Narnia, I was shocked by the lack of a moral balace to "Game." I don't mind sex, violence, or whatever in my media.

But. I was deeply bothered by the moral universe behind "Game." "Bad" guys and "good" guys were much the the same, facing much the same fate in the end. There wasn't a rhyme or reason for it some much, either.

There hasn't been much in the way of rhyme or reason in my life as of late.

Okay, I guess this is what life is like post-college. Or, so I have heard. (Thanks, HBO & "Gir…