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!

Mind and Body Focus

Non-existent. Didn't get to bed until around 145AM last night because of my flight landing so late. I do NOT know how I stayed up all night talking on the phone to my boyfriend in high school. I guess that was the advantage of going to an all girls school where nobody cares what you look like. You can imagine what my students had to say about this look today.

Look at this picture. I look deadly.

Proof of Fun

Love Minneapolis, Love Good Friends

O-M-G this weekend was pretty perfect. Such great friends, such a relaxing atmosphere, such FUN TIMES. Love. Love. Love.

Some highlights:
1. Friday. All of it. Every moment.
2. Again purchasing tickets to a Gopher game and NOT LASTING a 1/2. So bored. Yet always go back?
3. Roaming with Abbs around the mall doing nothing. Per usual.
4. Lots of photos, of lots of things.
5. City life City life City life
6. Minneapolis city life
7. Reuniting with CRAZY coincidences!! Old roomies, old coworkers, old study abroad friends. Yay!
8. Being with some besties.

Thanks to EVERYONE who was a part of it!!!! I am coming back ASAP

Stole this

via Fun.Simple.Abbie.
Just a friendly reminder of our priorities this month! 

Things I Regret About This Weekend

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.

Friday, October 1, 2010


Some positives that have already happened this morning:
+ woke up at 730AM instead of 630AM
+ wore a cute NON TEACHER outfit
+ enjoying a warm medium skim chai and a blueberry scone
+ getting an aisle seat for both flights

Success! And it's not even 930AM.