Middle School Hero

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jul 25 2014

Why I Stayed

As Teach For America gains traction on college campuses and within the national media and as the education reform movement with which TFA aligns itself becomes more prevalent, an entire genre of op-eds has risen out of this surging popularity. The “Why I Quit TFA” blog post is a subject that myriad different former Corps…

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Jun 03 2014

The Final Day

In a little less than eight hours I will begin my last day of teaching at Roosevelt Middle School. In five days, I’ll attend a final even hosted by fellow Crops Members and at its conclusion I will get in my car and I will drive to Arkansas. Do not pass Go, do not collect…

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Mar 28 2014

Three Stories

1. I bought her a book. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, to be precise. An old favorite of mine from when I was in high school, when the world was bright and fresh and moved so, so fast and I could feel myself growing and stretching in new ways every second, every day. I…

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Mar 10 2014

Spring Break!

I haven’t written here in almost a month and I think that’s a testament to what’s been going on in my life. All in all, things are wild. Coaching soccer, grad school, preparing to say my goodbyes (to this city, these people, this school), training for the OKC marathon… things have been crazy and I’ve…

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After a first year where I felt like I only truly connected with a small handful of my students, I felt like I really developed strong relationships with my 8th graders last semester. While I didn’t reach every single student, I got very close to a significant number and I would say that almost all of…

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Feb 05 2014

Lying and Cheating

This year I have ranted and raved about how spectacular my kids are. They’ve been angels for me and as a result, my attitude towards teaching and students has completely shifted. I left last year thinking that there were some aspects simply outside of a teacher’s control, that some students just are simply not predisposed…

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Jan 30 2014


Fine, I’ll admit it: I love Lorde’s album Pure Heroine. I think it’s great and (just as importantly for me when I choose new music these days) I think it’s great for 7th graders to listen to as well. So it’s gotten a lot of airtime in P4 recently. I love a lot of the…

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Jan 23 2014


Today my student Regina walks into my class wearing fluorescent blue eye makeup and a mohawk that makes her look like a parrot. Today my student listens to screamo music and eyes me warily when I walk by, daring me not to understand. Today she says, “I’m happy because my friend feels a lot better…

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Jan 18 2014

Archetypes of Greatness

A couple of days ago I had a fantastic conversation with my MTLD. We were talking about myriad things: my plans for year three, the Sue Lehmann nomination I filled out for one of my fellow faculty members, and the intersection of work and play within TFA. Ultimately, I ended up expressing to him a…

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Jan 11 2014

The Newcomers Class

On Tuesday an office aid brought me a sub cover sheet with an interesting assignment on it. The teacher of the newcomer class would be gone for a meeting and needed someone to look over his class. The newcomer class is for students who have been in the United States for less than a year…

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Jan 07 2014

No, really- don’t get comfortable

At the onset of this school year, I wrote a post entitled “Don’t Ever Get Comfortable”. When I wrote it, I was still reeling from the news that I’d had my teaching placement switched and that I would be teaching at the remedial level. I was extremely frustrated and upset, but ultimately it ended up…

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Dec 13 2013

Lipstick and smiles

Ya’ll, teaching at a middle school is weird. I constantly think about how all of my friends chilling in Corporate America could never relate to what goes on here at RMS. Today, I was at scanning duty (which is a unique enough experience already) when I saw a girl coming up through the line. Even…

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Dec 12 2013

Creating readers

After we finished reading The Outsiders last week, one of my students looked up from the essay sitting in front of him to ask if he could borrow a copy of the book. He hadn’t missed any of the reading, so I didn’t understand why he’d want a copy of the book we’d just read.…

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Dec 05 2013

What teaching has done to me

More specifically, what teaching at a low-income school has done for me. Two things you should know about who I was in college. 1. I was a joyous person. Not to say that my life was gilded or that I didn’t work my tail off for things or that I was a golden child who…

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Oct 29 2013

What I see when I walk into other classes

Today, during my plan, I ducked into the computer lab to make some copies for the day. Normally the lab is empty, but because of construction there’s a class in there for the time being, so students were in class while I was making copies and I got a rare view into another classroom here…

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“I’m out of here.” And just like that, Steven* picked up his backpack, hopped out of his desk, and made his way to the door. I deftly interposed myself between him and the door before he could leave and gently asked if he’d like to talk about it. “Yeah, I guess so.” I shot out some…

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Oct 28 2013

Where did Fall Break go?

I’ve had the last two weeks off! Because we’re on a full year calendar, we are blessed with a two-week Fall Break during the dreaded month of October. This break couldn’t have come at a better time. As we near the end of October, students and teachers alike have been working hard for three months…

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Oct 09 2013


All the little things have been creeping up and it almost caused me to lose my cool today. We’re two days away from Fall Break the kids are ready for some time off. They haven’t had a long weekend since Labor Day and it shows. It’s nothing big- office referrals around the school are still…

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Sep 23 2013

A whole new world

This year, I’ve been much less prolific on this site. Even though I find myself with exponentially more free time than I had at this time last year, I come here less and less often. I’m just not driven by the near-manic desire to record and remember every single moment that happens. Because it’s not…

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Sep 17 2013

My big opportunity

This last weekend I flew to LA to film a minute-long video. It’s part of a contest hosted by a travel company called Jauntaroo and the winner gets to spend one year travelling abroad, blogging and taking photographs as the company’s Chief World Explorer. If I win this contest, I’ll take a year off before…

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Sep 12 2013

Crafting a persona

One of the pieces of advice that I remember hearing over and over at Institute was the need to develop my own personal teacher persona. “Don’t try to be someone else”, they would say. Just develop your own style and your own way of infusing the slew of information we picked up during Institute and…

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Aug 27 2013

Looking past the goal through The Process

Nick Saban is good at what he does. As the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide’s football team, Saban has won three national championships in the last four years. He’s won another championship at LSU and he has sent dozens of his players to the NFL. As this newest NCAA football season kicks off…

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Aug 21 2013

Reinventing the wheel

One of the frustrating things about teaching at the type of school that routinely requests more corps members is the astonishing lack of curriculum. My mom works in education as a special education teacher and is constantly baffled by how much lesson planning and curriculum design I do every week. Over the last year, I…

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Aug 19 2013

Breaking up with Sue Lehmann

Disclaimer: I feel like I by and large write two kinds of posts for this site. I write a lot of posts simply about what it’s like to teach at a Title I school because I think it’s important for people to know what things are truly like in the trenches. That being said, sometimes…

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Aug 14 2013

“The Dream is Now”

Many of my students are undocumented. This was true last year, when I taught in an English Language Learners classroom and it remains true today. Some reports that I have seen estimate that as much as 60% of RMS is comprised of students who are undocumented. Last year, as the year went on, I started…

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Chronicling teaching middle school English in OKC

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