Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Delta Blues

Waying the positives and negatives of the Delta (a la Winter Break ending in t minus three days).

1. Everyone waves at you when you drive!
2. Country music is kinda fun (shhh, don't tell anyone)
3. The weather
4. A less frantic lifestyle
5. Having to be much more self-sufficient
6. I don't spend as much money!

1. Isolation
2. Family and friends are far away
3. Lack of easily accessible anything (besides Walmarts...)

I'm sure many others. We'll see. I've got to start taking this list more seriously and make it more thoughtful. I've got a contract to sign or not sign within about two months!

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Breakup Breakdown

This is a great post by a another blogger, The Breakup Breakdown.

His cartoons and writing are too funny.

Trying to Stay Motivated

In the past week, I have accomplished the following;

1. 3 applications for summer positions
2. 1 application for a full time professional position
3. 1 (in progress) graduate program application
4. 2 graduate program applications semi-done
5. 1 unit plan done for the (dun dun dun) return to school next Monday

Pretty solid, right? I'm happy. Now I've got to finish those applications!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Look at the Treeeennddd!

Looks like I need to travel West. Try it out if you've never mapped it out, here.

The Reason for the Season

Today students were great, and I wasn't even at school. I received over ten text messages today from students saying a variety of messages that made me feel great. I also got some picture messages and Facebook messages. I am so thankful to have such happy and reflective students. Happy holidays everyone, sorry for the sporadic posts lately.

So Excited!

Starting a new hobby as soon as possible. And do you know what it is? Photography! Look at this ridiculously cool Christmas present. I am really excited, and hoping that I can take some classes either in Little Rock or in PCCUA in Stuttgart. Either way, I see lots of photography projects in the near future. Maybe some trips on my own...

Zebras Love Christmas, Too!

What a great photo. Thank you @nytimesphoto. Baby zebra enjoys his first snowfall and Christmas!

Ah, Professional World

Merry Christmas all of you lovely blogosphere readers! I hope everyone is having a lovely time with their families and happy happy holidays! This week my mom asked me if there was anything I needed. My answer: (ugh) professional clothes and tights. Horrifying. I wish I was still in college when I could just ask for cute, fun, overpriced but so trendy, clothes. Whyyyy have you plagued me professional world??

These are my attempts at still being trendy but being a frumpy old teacher. I'm thinking tucked into a pencil skirt with some black tights (patterned or regular) and some black leather boots. We'll see. The kids usually tell me when I have a style FAIL.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


I just shoveled for 90 minutes. Welcome home to Wisconsin, CBB.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Just knocked out 3/4 of my Christmas shopping list tonight! Ah, the magic of organization and effectiveness. Tomorrow I think I'll go see a movie and drink some warm coffee. It's going to be a walk to the mall....

Applied to three jobs today and had one interview. Felt good. Hopefully some of this work leads to my future this summer and beyond. I need a plan soon!

Ice Skating

As previously mentioned - I took some of my kids ice skating for the first time in their lives. TOO funny. Here are the one's that made it onto the ice!

My Student Performing for some TFAs!

Listen to the blues! Absolutely love it. And a huge success. :)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This might just be my favorite commercial ever. Love!

Great, great song too!

Some may think these people look like tools but I completely disagree(well, maybe not COMPLETELY disagree - that one hair cut is intense). A few reasons why I want this to be my life; the Woody (I've always wanted one!), the Argyle sweaters, that dog (SO CUTE), and those outfits (ughhh let me a be a success, so I can dress like that everyday). 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ACT Readiness

Kids are killing it on this ACT. Rock it my friends!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fight, Fight, Fight - Side note

Just a side note; I did have five players remain on the bench plus one manager. I don't want to make it seem like a brawl. The entire other team was involved, but not mine. We had maybe three involved, really only one that was majorly involved.

There are some positives I guess, that the team did not participate. However, I just still am floored. In the last four games we have had three fights. One in the stands, one with players and fans, and now one with two teams. What a waste of time. And how do we fix it when they are all "isolated" events?

Fight, Fight, Fight

Grabbed/tackled/forced/pushed/broke-up my first fight tonight. Well, kind of. I've been involved in a few break ups before, but tonight was the topper for sure. I just can't begin to tell you.

So, one of our players gets fouled? Maybe. Debateable. Well, she gets pissed and decides to cuss at the other girl who then pushes, we push back, and said girl from other team throws a killer punch into our players jawline. Then, all hell breaks lose. We had one dumb girl jump out of the stands, stupid stupid stupid. We had the other team's bench completely empty out. Stupid stupid stupid.

I am FLOORED by this "loyalty" students have to each other. Loyalty to my teams (which I only EVER witnessed two fights and it certainly wasn't punches, just some pushing) was holding your teammate back so that they calmed down. Here, loyalty is fighting right along side with them. What are you doing? Why are you going down with someone who is hot headed and out of control? When they were in the wrong, why are YOU taking up for them? I just don't understand.

So, in the end, we cleaned up some weave, I body wrapped a girl and lifted her up and out, yelled and kicked out almost 10 people from the game, and ejected 7 players. What a giant waste of time. Sometimes I wonder if I should have just been a teacher, and not a coach. My major drama and headaches come from that source. Yet, I do love coaching and having those relationships with the students. I don't know. Culture, culture, culture. How do you change culture?


Great mash-up, check it out.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Some highlights


Had such a great day yesterday. I laughed so much, probably the most I have in a few months. As I mentioned in a previous post I brought my students on a field trip of sorts this weekend. I had seven great students with me, and it was quite a solid experience. Some highlights:

1. Students spoke in front of about 75-100 2009-2010 TFA Corps Members and did a wonderful job
2. One student performed 3 "blues" songs for the crowd, and they erupted at the conclusion of each song. He really was spectacular.
3. Took the students "ice" skating (on fake ice) - a first for ALL of them. hahahaha IMAGINE
4. Seeing Santa walking down the street in downtown Helena, AR and the students calling him over to ask for their presents
5. Taking students to Mexican - another FIRST for them and them going crazy over guacamole, salsa, beans in their burritos, etc.
6. Telling the restaurant that it was one of the student's birthday (at that restaurant they give you a sombrero, sing, and put whip cream on your face from the desert you get)
7. Students then taking said desert and slamming me in the face with it
8. Taking them to the Helena Blues Heritage Center to see a little history
9. Student performing again at a restaurant later for more TFA
10. Driving 7 students home in a ghetto school car (doors don't open from the inside, apparently no shocks left, and steering about 6 inches off to the right) and them screaming every song
11. Students answering my phone at any point and freaking out many friends hahaha

One of the best days I have had in a long time. And, surprisingly, it was school related - something I try desperately to escape on the weekends. But then again, as time has passed I have clearly realized that students are not the problem at my school. They are in fact what keeps us going everyday.

Pictures to follow!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Giving Thanks

Just stole this from Abbie

Giving Thanks

This site allows you to choose a card and thank you message to send to a member of our Armed Forces currently serving in Iraq.

Three easy steps and Xerox will print the card and send it for you. A small price to pay to send holiday greetings to people who deserve them.

What a great idea!

Big Day

Today is our last ProSat (Professional Development one Saturday a month) for the Fall semester. At ProSat we always have an opener that performs or talks, etc. TFA tries to always have it be students so that we have a chance to see some of our Delta kids. it's my kids!! I am so excited!!!! (and a little nervous)

We are having two types of performers. First, we are having 6 students come and say a little speech about how Teach for America has impacted their lives in the classroom and out. And then second, we are having a boy come who is really talented at playing blues music and singing. It is going to be great!

I am going to post pictures afterward. Hopefully it goes well! :)


Swept in basketball last night, junior girls, senior girls, and senior boys! Killed it!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

New Love

Rough Draft Proposal

Hey everyone! Here is a rough draft of the letter I am going to be sending out for TFA. Email me what you think about it with suggestions, kudos, grammar/punctuation fixes, etc. Thanks!

p.s. I had to edit out my name and town name for some protection purposes.

Country roads, one gas station towns, class sizes less then 15, and business closing times around 5PM - are just a few of the shocks that came with moving to the Mississippi Delta. At first, the thought of surviving these types of road blocks were difficult to overcome, now it is just part of the day to day mix we each push through. My name is Caitlin Butler, and I am a 2009 Teach for America Corps Members, placed in [town], Arkansas and part of the Mississippi Delta Corps.

Perhaps the most eye opening part of this movement and experience is the student’s ability to push through adversity. Students reading at an average of 5 years behind their grade level are achieving every day in the classroom because of their personal motivation. What a powerful concept. Self respect and determination driving success, not money, not economical class, not privilege. Petrified of my End of Course English III exam scores, I felt like there was a mountain to climb to get to any level of measurable success. And yes, maybe I was right - there definitely was a mountain - but where I was wrong was what type of mountain. Students in my classroom these past two years have the desire inside of them to succeed. Now, it is simply putting the tools in their hands and empowering them.

Perhaps my largest success in the classroom each day has been investment. I have had the opportunity to have the best students in the Delta in my classroom each day. Because of this fact - I can’t stop loving them each day! We may disagree and get annoyed with each other, but these students have become my number one. As a result they are just as committed to the goals we have in the classroom as I am. Last year we had students answer every single open response and essay question, something that has not happened at [town] in 5 years. We went from 21% completion of open response questions to 100%. Students understood where they were going and how they needed to get there.

This impact has gone far beyond my classroom though. Now with seven Teach for America teachers at [town] High School we have seen the biggest math score gains in Southeastern Arkansas, an actual Spanish teacher instead of distance learning instructor, reaching the national standard of Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in middle school literacy, and the first Biology teacher in 5 years to last more then 1 year. All of these accomplishments are positive. All of these accomplishments are directly from Teach for America.

Please continue to support this movement in [town] and far beyond this. When I coach basketball in our district there are 5 Teach for America teachers involved out of 10 schools. Let’s grow this to each and every town. The students are responding, and so must we! Teach for America for the win!

Bah Bahhh

Yesterday was rough. I had to take a student to the hospital for the second day in a row. She is suffering from major dehydration and extreme fatigue. At basketball practice she collapsed and could not focus her eyes. She went completely cold and could not squeeze my finger or use her legs to walk to the car.

I thought maybe she was just dehydrated, so I had her sit for awhile at first (before the rest of that happened) and had her drink some water. She got progressively worse, until I thought it was dangerous to not take her to the hospital. I transported her there and then waited until her mom got there. Then the same thing happened the next day at the game (she did not play or participate, just sat on the bench).

Some of the things that have happened down here are things I never thought I would personally experience.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Burst out laughing

Just burst out laughing when these two photos came up. Try to find out why in both examples....


We have two and half weeks until Christmas break. The last week used to be considered "exam week," but is now under review for a different possibility. Frustrating, frustrating, frustrating.

In the past on the Friday right before break, the kids would come in and have 1 exam, leave at 1030, and teachers would follow soon after at 12. Now, we are to have a full day on both Thursday and Friday. That's lame, and tiresome. The newly proposed plan is to have a one hour study hall before each exam. What!? I foresee a few problems with that;

1. No one will study the night before
2. People will not want to study during their time in class, equaling pink slips/write-ups
3. Teachers will not fill up the entire hour (myself included), equaling pink slips/write-ups
4. Students will be given the answers immediately before taking the test, therefor not testing their knowledge, but instead their ability to remember something in a short period of time

Just a few. Sometimes I feel like there needs to be more communication and group brainstorming before these type of decisions are rolled out. Especially getting input from the teachers that actually TEACH and deal with the issues/kids in this context each day.

Monday, November 29, 2010

RIGHT Back into it

Here we are. Back in the Delta. Possibility of 5 basketball games this week. No planning done. None. One more time, none. Getting up at 430AM tomorrow morning to do some legitimate work.

Check ya later world. See you December 20th.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving family and friends! Many thanks for all of you and what you do for the world.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top 100 Books, How Many Have You Read?

Have you read more than 6 of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here. I'm going to bold the books I've read, italicize the ones I have tried to, and unsuccessfully, read.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Homemade Coffee Treats

Look at these cute little designs in the coffee from yesterday! Thanks @jacoffaro for joining me at Alterra.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Weird Contraption

Charlie St. Cloud

1. Zac Efron
2. Cheesy movies that make you cry
3. Zac Efron
1. Finish up resume
2. Pick out final graduate schools to apply to
3. Take the GRE and kick its ass
4. Finish up Unit Plan for the rest of the semester
5. Read a book
6. Sleep


The Most Intensely Horrible High School Girls' Hurdles Race You'll Ever See

Sunday, November 21, 2010


GD GRE tomorrow morning. Pray for me.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Big Goals for TGiving

1. Finish up resume
2. Pick out final graduate schools to apply to
3. Take the GRE and kick its ass
4. Finish up Unit Plan for the rest of the semester
5. Read a book
6. Sleep
7. Celebrate Ali and Brian's union! :)

Big push has been pushed!

The "big push" = the time between Labor day and Thanksgiving break. It's been conquered, and I feel great! What a huge relief to have lasted this long, and only one day taken off of school at this point.

Right now I am sitting at home, feet propped up, about to go to Harry Potter in a bit, and content with relaxation. My toes are a little cold, but that comes with the Northern territory I guess. I'll take it.

The week ended well, we are working on a new unit where students are working in groups on poetry and eventually creating a expository essay on them. Should be interesting to see their writing skills, and also their analysis of poetry. I like the unit, although I am not 100% confident in it, since it's really my first time teaching poetry. But.... I'm not going to think about that for a few more days.

Once I was home we went out to brunch at a nice little restaurant and then went to a Celtic fair in Wauwatosa at the Irish Heritage Center. Saw some old bosses, nuns, and family friends. Nice way to start out Thanksgiving break.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

My feet are sore.

Forgot what it feels like to wear heels two days in a row. And I've got two more days left of games. 1-1 so far, hope we start winning.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Basketball, Game 1

Well, Game 1 is in the books! And it goes down as a victory, perhaps the easiest one of my coaching career thus far. Congrats Lady Lions!

(The other team didn't show up. Thanks for the forfeit though!)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If, Made the List

Just reread the poem "If," deciding if I wanted to teach it in this unit. The answer is yes, absolutely. What a powerful poem for students to read! Take a look.

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Perspective Reflection

3 weeks until I am 75% complete with this experience in the Delta. I feel both motivated to continue to make a difference (hopefully) and motivated to leave. What an experience this place has been. Did I think I could survive in Arkansas? Of course. Did I think when I was graduating from Minnesota that I'd be teaching 10th & 11th graders, coaching 7-12, and leading adult learners in a few capacities, a few short years later? Absolutely not.

What has changed in the past 21 months? A lot. Adaptation. This skill is not one I thought I completely had. Going to school at Minnesota, I always wondered if it was a cop-out. Only 5 hours from home, still in the Midbest, still in an environment I had seen before.

Now, I know that is not true. Arkansas is clearly not an environment I have ever experienced. Either is the profession or assignments I have received in the past almost two years. I have proved I am capable of more than I thought I was. A great feeling, and hopefully something I will remember as I apply (and subsequently get rejected) from jobs and schools in the coming weeks.

Student Death

We have had the unfortunate experience that no teacher wants to experience; a student was killed on Friday night. A sophomore special education student was hit be a truck on the highway and later passed away. Ending a tumultuous day at the High School (see the previous post), this student was a great addition to the student body and a native of the small town I teach in.

We went to the hospital to support another corps member and the family who were already there. It was pretty terrible to experience that first hand, as different parts of the family arrived. The student was apparently walking on the highway with his two cousins, one of which was at the hospital too, and a truck came around the curve in the town hitting him straight on. It was about 7PM when the accident occurred, so darkness had set in and the lack of street lights in our small towns I am sure was a contributing factor.

Very sad news, and I am not sure how the school is going to handle the situation. Do we have a vigil? Do we meet as a school? These are the moments that truly put things into perspective.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Kanye West - Runaway (Full-length Clean)

New song of interest. Love the new album, even though I only have a clean version.


Anger, rage, uncontrollable emotions - these were not things I had truly experienced to the level that I have in the Delta. As I was driving home today from work, I was really shocked, and generally impressed that my parents were able to shield me from so many of these things while I was growing up.

Some of these students have no ability to look beyond what is right in front of them, lack the ability to talk things out, and generally escalate things beyond a necessary point. Where does this stem from? Is it nature or nurture? I just don't understand how you can have this "ride or die" mentality. Just because someone is your "cousin" or your "n," does that mean the expectation is you fight until you can't anymore?

I understand loyalty, I understand defending yourself - but I have never been in an environment where that automatically translates to physical intimidation or brutality. Where did this break down occur? Blahhh, these are the moments where I again just don't know how much of a direct impact I have as a single teacher. Students say "you're weak Ms. Butler if you wouldn't fight." I guess I must remain focused on what I can control inside my classroom, because some of the bigger cultural problems are not going to go away in two years. These are difficult lessons, with no end in site.

Fights, Insanity Ensues

Let me say this first, this fight comes from a different perspective. Having been here a year, I have had some experience with students at the high school, but nothing really prepares you for fights. Last year's big brawl was completely over my head, completely overwhelming, and completely shocking. This year, I was a little more prepared, kind of.

This morning we were loading our girls and boys onto the bus to go play basketball at the elementary. I see two students come out of the breakfast room cussing and dropping the n-word every other word. Throwing their arms up and obviously challenging each other to fight, they began to get a crowd. It was dispersed quickly by one of them being escorted away with teachers in toe. 

Well, then all hell broke out. They were brought to the office, and the one that ran off campus brought back a high school GRADUATE (yes, a grown man) back and his brothers. A boy stormed out of ALE, and the students in the office came outside - a huge fight ensued. State and local police came, arrested at least three people - including one in possession of cocaine, marijuana, and a concealed weapon. 

Then the following events happened; another fight between two girls over the same topic resulting in almost punches, an ALE student throwing a desk at the window, two students arguing and cussing at each other saying they had better watch their back tonight once it's dark outside in the hallway, the students in the original fight coming back to school at the end of the day to "take a walk around," special ed. student snapping and cussing out a teacher and fellow student about how his face was going to be unrecognizable if he didn't shut his mouth up. This is unfortunately not an exhaustive list 

And to top it off, the Principal and Dean of Students were not on campus at the end of this day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fort Andrew

This is what happens when you ditch us on a school night for your "other friends." Love, your roomies.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Smart People Sleep Late

via @GriffinPepper I found this article by StumbleUpon. I feel better about my previous post now, ahh it is because I am smart! I definitely buy into this study.

Smart People Sleep Late

Sleep Cycle

Why, after two years, can I still sleep for 13...14...15 hours and still feel sleepy? I thought I'd grow out of this after high school and college.


Today I realized there is only 5 more weeks until the first semester is over! Two more weeks until Thanksgiving, and three more after that before Christmas break. These kids have hopefully learned a few things, and there is not much time left to teach the rest.

I have my state exam in the first weeks of March, which means I only have about 12-13 more weeks of teaching/instructional time. It's an interesting perspective to have, as last year I had no ability to look past a week or two in advance. I feel good knowing now that I need to calendar out these things and have some planning skills.

Weirder yet though, is that after that test, and then one more quarter, I am done with my Teach for America commitment. In a few short weeks at Christmas break, I will be 75% done with my commitment to this program. That's a crazy thought. Now, back to work!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Delta Traveling


Grading can become one of the most overwhelming tasks of teaching. I try to give a quiz every day to assess where my students are in the class, and to give them an incentive to pay attention the day before/do their homework the night before. It has really started to work, but dang, I have SO MUCH to grade. This weekend I had a stack of papers (that I just finished) that was about 4 inches tall of single sheets. Yikes!

It took me about 2 hours to grade all of it, but I am still pretty happy I did it. I've seen a definite change from last year, where I would give an assessment at the end of a book and find out 1/2 never even read. Now I know exactly who doesn't read, and can individually "plan" with them aka tell them to freaking read.

Happy teaching! One of the only professions in the world that you always have more work to do at home and on the weekends.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Teacher Life Full Circle

On the phone with my friend named "Tom"

"Oh my gosh, this massive bottle of Germ-X is only $4.19"

"Tom's" hypochondriac teacher life, full circle

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010


Thank God.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Parent Teacher Conferences, the Result

HOLY MOLY. I HAD SO MANY PARENTS AT PARENT TEACHER CONFERENCES. In fact, I had every single one of my student's parents come except for SIX. SIX. SIX. SIX.

Let's do some quick math.
(Total # of parents) - (Total # of parents that didn't show up) = (Total # of parents that DID show up)
48 - 6 = 42 parents or sets of parents that came to see me this year
36 - 30 = 6 parents or sets of parents that came to see me LAST YEAR TOTAL (2 conference days)

42 > 6

SO GREAT! As I mentioned earlier this year, I made an incentive for the kids this year. If your parent comes you get a 100% on a quiz, if you come WITH your parents you get a second 100% on a quiz. Wow, did it work. I probably at 75% of conferences with the parent AND the kid. That was a great experience, to have them sitting there listening and having to fess up to their behavior and level of commitment. Positive movement forward friends! Happy, happy, happy!

Possible Puppy, Round II

Monday, October 25, 2010

More Homecoming Parade Pictures!

Parent Teacher Conferences

Parent teacher conferences tomorrow - we'll see how they go! Last year I had a grand total of 1 parent at the first conference and 5 and the second one. Soooo, this year's big goal? 10 parents. I am pumped to crush that goal! I've made a new incentive, if the students bring a parent they get a 100% on a quiz grade, and if they come with the parent to conference, they get a 100% on two quizzes.

I'll have to get back to you on that situation.

Quit Already?

Today was rough. Had basketball practice today, and two players quit the team. In the end at least one of the two girls is coming back tomorrow, but it is a frustrating road I'm fighting this early in the season.

One disagreed with some make-up workouts I was assigning, and decided basketball wasn't for her. The other was having personal problems with another player on the team. Both are great additions to the team for their personality and for their hard work. I am frustrated that a minor road bump can make them just leave that earlier. To me it says two things: lack of investment in the team and non commitment.


Sunday, October 24, 2010

EarlyTimes Visits the Delt

Thanks to Kearl for traveling all the way to the Delt from Dallas. You're the best!


Last week was homecoming, another exciting and interesting time for the high school. Our themes for the five days were: crazy hair day, decade day, jersey day, red and white day (school colors), and nerd day. Anyway, on Friday we also had all of the Homecoming festivities. We had a parade, an assembly, lots of pictures, etc. Here is some evidence.

Arkansas Moments, 2.0

The only place I've ever seen camo on a can. Life in Arkansas....

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Praxis II

Passed my final paper based test: Praxis II-Pedagogy! Now, all I need to do is pass my Praxis III Observation in the classroom! Now to pick my best class to show an observer!

Yayyyyy so relieved!! 5 year teaching license here I come! Now, a cold beer to celebrate!

DonorsChoose, Round II

Thank you to everyone who supported my DonorsChoose project online! I am now the proud owner of 50 copies of The Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, a book I think my kids will loveeee.

Thank you thank you!


So, my kiddies have been complaining about sprints at basketball a lot this week. I decided to give them a listen. They challenged that if I couldn't do it, then they shouldn't have to. Well, obviously I disagreed with that for a few reasons, including but not limited to: 1. I am old bones, 2. I've had 2 knee surgeries + broken bones, and 3. damn, man I am out of shape.

But then I decided in the spirit of competition, which I am definitely competitive, I said whatever I will still beat it. And..... I did! But wooooweeeee woke up this morning sore, and S-T-RUGGLIN down the stairs, bending those knees.

Hey at least those little mouths will be quiet for a few days. They did their work today! Love that I can still keep up, though I doubt it will be for long!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Driver's Seat

That advice I gave myself: It worked! Today I probably had the best day I have had the entire year.

Today I did four things:
1. Handed back my students their ACT, graded
2. Made them do a reflection on that ACT score compared to their first score
3. Conferenced with every student individually regarding their ACT score and their personal goals in the class
4. Talked with each student about their STAR reading score and how it has improved since the beginning of the year

Again, I already shared those results with you, but it was an amazing/awesome/learning/invigorating experience to really show the kids and give them concrete feedback on what their progress is. I had four students start crying because they thought they did really badly, but in fact all of them had gone up significantly. This was such a motivational tool for myself and for the students. It is clear the investment is high, something I am AMPED up about.

Thanks again for reading, and following me on this journey! :)

Things I am okay with...

...84 degrees driving home today from school (at 545 PM, October 18!!)
.... going for a 2 mile run, in 82 degree weather at 730PM

Can't say I miss Minnesota(49 degrees) or Milwaukee(48 degrees) right now!


My students told me I looked "clean" today. "We ain't messin with you dressed like that Coach B."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Countdown begins

Olympic games... 1 week.
Blasia (affectionately renamed Team Minnesota) to dominate once again.
Photographic evidence to follow.

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Progress! Progress!

Finally finished grading my 9 weeks exam and there are some GREAT results. You can really tell the kids are trying...

Reading levels:
Diagnostic exam: average 6.7 (this means 6th grade reading level, 7 months into the year)
9 Weeks exam: 8.04
Goal for the entire year: 8.6

Obviously, I did not make them grow that much in 9 weeks, but it most surely shows that they are more invested in the test and are working harder. Now, at the end of the next 9 weeks, we will really be able to see true growth. I am happy they are working!

ACT Reading scores:
Diagnostic exam: average 12.35
9 Weeks exam: 13.61
Goal for the entire year: 15. 35

This one doesn't look as great for a few reasons. First, a goal of a 15 is not so good nationally, but still it's 4 points growth on average and if they continue that trend....they could eventually get up to about a 20 in their senior year. Second, the growth wasn't AS big, but still significant in my opinion. I am satisfied with it.

Overall trends: Only 2 students went down in reading level from the last time. And only 3 students scored the same or lower on their ACT score! Good news for this 9 weeks!

Reaction to Previous Contemplations

After writing those previous two posts I have done some contemplation. I was looking over some old TFA stuff and realized that this all goes back to what I learned at Institute. I followed one of my roommates and put a sticky note on my desktop to remind me of this everyday.

The four pillars I must keep in mind everyday:
1. Asset based thinking
2. Suspend Judgement
3. Locus of control
4. Interpersonal awareness

All four of those things directly relate to what I have been grapling with. Control what I can right now and what is mine. Suspend judgement of what others are doing, and be aware of how people perceive you. And always remember, asset based thinking - do something about a problem, don't just talk about it!

Mental Shift

It's been an interesting last month in Teach for America. Last year this time I was struggling a lot, but still moving forward. I had a 2 day break the first week of November (where I went back to Minneapolis and had a great time). That break in the near future quickly pushed me through the month affectionately named "Sucktober" by fellow TFAs.

But while I was struggling last year I saw this great thing here in the Delta. This thing that I wanted to stay here for, and make sure kept going well. I loved my kids, my school, my staff - most everything. It was all still fresh, still fun, still new.

I am at a very different place now. I still feel blessed to be here, still feel great about my kids, and feel significantly better this year about my ability to make an impact. But there is this different feeling associated with being down here, in this town that is struggling, in this region that is struggling. I look at the progress my kids have made, and think to myself - some of this struggle that they put up with... what is it worth?

We don't push our students to get to the next level sometimes. We are happy with students going to the University of Arkansas, Little Rock, a school not even ranked in the top 100 schools in the nation. But then, I stop. If that's the place the kid will succeed then maybe that is where they need to go. But is it right to not push to see if perhaps something a little more difficult could work to? I just don't know how to handle these situations.

Perhaps my biggest problem with this is because now I have a very direct line to this problem. My babies, my first year of teaching kiddies, my favorites forever, are going to college next year.  Did I help prepare them? Maybe a little bit, but not enough. Do I think some of them will make it? Yes, I hope so. Will I think it will be a struggle if they want to make movement into a new place, a higher level place? Absolutely.

What do I do with that? It's depressing to me that after I leave I won't make that impact anymore. Or maybe that what impact I did have will not be there anymore. Quickly forgotten, quickly replaced. Or perhaps more depressing, that maybe I didn't even have a significant impact.


I had a little arrogance to me on Friday, and inside I do know it. I am having trouble with a specific person at my school that I think is hindering student achievement. Someone I have these beliefs about and can not seem to shake them. Well, in my head it came to a bad point on Friday when I was rude and short with them. I feel pretty bad about it.

I have done some reflection and these are a few conclusions I have come to:
1. When you already have an opinion that someone "sucks" or "is bad at their job" you really only look for the things that they do poorly at their job
2. Then when you see these things you jump on them, overreacting a lot
3. When I say "you do these things" I really mean I do. And I need to change that.

So now I have this situation that I need to rectify. A few things I have learned in the past that help me get through things:
1. Spend 5 minutes face time with the person you are having trouble with -everyday. Then you will get to know them and what makes the tick the way they do
2. Try to highlight the things you are doing in a frame that includes them - meaning, include the person in the idea to make them think that they should have some impact/investment
3. Apologize when you need to

I struggle with this a lot with this particular person. And sometimes I just want to write it off because most likely I will not be here next year or at least in this role. But then I think "CAITLIN STOP! You have got to get these kids through this year, and having everyone on your team can only enhance that." I know the second is correct. I should not write anyone off. I should try to work with everyone.

Blah, looks like I'll be doing steps 1-3 starting tomorrow. Sometimes I wish I didn't have a conscience or any awareness.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Great Connections

Met a lovely woman last night that owns the local jewelry shop. She was so interesting and loved the TFA mission. AND what a great surprise...her mom graduated from my high school in Milwaukee!! What a weird world!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Natural Disasters

Is this a baby tornado? We saw it coming home from Little Rock today! Another crazy Delta moment.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Post Office Visit

This was at the post office today. Look closely. DELTA. (It's a horse)


Had 4 nightmares in the last 2 days. I don't know why. One was about cockroaches, another about falling into a fire, another about a burglar, and the other I can't remember.

Why is this happening!? And why am I so sleepy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yesterday's Productivity - HIGH

Things accomplished yesterday:

1. Purchased my GRE admit slip
2. Purchased 2 GRE prep books
3. Purchased my flight home for Thanksgiving!
4. Answer 13458972 emails
5. Finished all work for my week for school
6. Went running
7. Still slept 9 hours
8. Requested materials from 3 graduate programs I am interested in
9. Requested a meeting/and received confirmation of an informational interview
10. Finished my Fall Course plan for ProSat this upcoming weekend for TFA

Solid! BOOM

9 Weeks, DONE

9 Weeks is coming to a close. Some highlights:

1. Growth in ALL students reading levels with the exception of 5 (so 30 out of 35!)
2. ACT tomorrow for more practice
3. 14 students successfully applying for Andrew and I's ACT Prep class (that they won't get credit for, but will hopefully improve their scores greatly!)
4. It's 80 degrees outside
5. Basketball season is BECAUSE I have a great assistant coach AND practice is 8th period so I get to go home before 7 PM

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Big Decisions

One looming questions: What am I doing next year?

I've had friends, teachers, the Principal, family - everyone! - ask. Well, I don't know. I've got to start making progress towards that goal ASAP though.

I do know one thing: I am signing up for the GRE again to try and improve my score. I did well the first time I took it, but I am hoping that I will be able to bring it up even more this time.

If you have any suggestions on what I should do with my life - get at me. ASAP

Clarendon health center gets $2.9 million grant

— Federal Health and Human Services Department officials say Mid-Delta Health Systems Inc. of Clarendon will get $2.9 million for upgrading and expanding its services.

Read the full article here.

Great news for us! Clarendon is moving in the right direction.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Happy Birthday, Tom!

Happy birthday to one of my favorite Minnesota grad turned TFA Delta friends!! :)


This week I started running on my lunch break. I have my craziest class right before lunch and I have been feeling burnt out after them each week. Well, I went running and after that I was reinvigorated and able to exercise out my issues I think!

+I spend my lunch doing something, instead of complaining/napping
+I get to run around town to see different houses/businesses
+Exercise is better than no exercise
+Productive way to spend my time

-I may have gotten the current cold I am nursing from running outside in cold weather
-Students who are skipping school drive by me multiple times honking (do I report them? IDK)

Check Bonus!

Today I found these three things either in my desk or in the mail:
1. Check from my old bank closing my account: $78.66
2. Rebate check from Citi Bank for spending enough money on my CC: $150
3. Check from Teach for America to attend the 20th Anniversary in Washington, DC: $330


Professional Development

Today I went to Little Rock for some Professional Development. Now, I know it's always good to get out of school once in awhile. It's a nice reprieve. But, yikes, I wish I could somehow preview what we are going to be learning. Because today I learned 1 thing that will help my kids on their End of Course exam.

Things I learned that I will not be sharing with my class:
1. The EOC is not really considered an End of Course exam. It's really a benchmark exam. Therefore they truly don't NEED to be invested, unless they want to help the school [and me]. (SHHHHH)
2. The test has 2 FAKE sections that do not count for anything.
3. There is about 2 percent of students who get "advanced proficient" on the exam.
4. The woman who designs the test and picks the passages is old and frumpy. Therefore material = not fun.

Ah well, at least I got to sleep in until 7:30 today!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Great Pick Me Up

A students wrote this in the yearbook. It made me feel great. Kind of hard to read. This is one of my seniors from last year, she played on the basketball team.

Her dedication in the yearbook reads "CHS as me! The past couple of years have been fun! I will miss playing basketball & my favorite coach, Coach Butler. I appreciate all the help & support. I have learned a lot from the teachers. I will miss CHS."

Yay!! Feels great to be loved every once in awhile. Especially when you teach moody teenagers!