Monday, January 31, 2011


I feel pretty drained. I was thinking today about what it would be like to have a job that is 9-5. I strongly believe it would not be as emotionally draining as this experience is and will continue to be for the next few months. Not that it's not great to feel drained at the end of the day, like you gave what you had to give. It does feel great, but not today - when it was a TEST DAY and I still felt tired! Those are supposed to be the most relaxing of days.

It's a different kind of tired then I have ever felt. I think it would truly be difficult for anyone to really understand unless they have done this program. On top of the transition into a classroom (I use transition loosely, since there really wasn't any transition-just plop! you're here!) there is this new culture, new attitude, new place that you have to understand. And then, there's the 1,000 things you really should be doing (ie not this blog entry) that is always too long, and not going to end. This is an emotional drain, on a daily basis, that comes from the people you see and the students you fight for each day.

What's also interesting is the ease at which some people have decided to check out for the second semester. In a two year commitment, there is a temptation to be done with it after the first year and a half...especially if you know you're not coming back. With the lack of accountability in the school, no follow through on any discipline that is handed out, and the lack of motivation across the board - there is an easy route to laziness and irresponsibility. To fight that is good, and I hope I am, but man it can be tempting. I am glad I am still considering coming back next year, because that fact alone makes me commit to the kids and to my job a little bit more.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


My Delta family was spectacular these past few weeks. I am lucky lucky lucky to have these people around me. Now, time for sleep.

Friday, January 28, 2011


If you're looking for some cool mash-ups try DJ Earworm and Norwegian Recycling! (Acoustic Alchemy is my favorite!)

Mash-Ups/My Life

I am currently obsessed with mash-ups right now. I love me some mash-up. And tonight as I drove to Mississippi after my basketball game I was thinking that my life is pretty mashed up right now. Not a bad thing, but more a transition thing.

I finish my commitment to Teach for America in a few short months. And the next two months are sure to blow by with the end of basketball season, and my state exam in 5.5 weeks. After that... comes the mash up. I was reflecting tonight as I drove and listened to music (and looked for deer/cop-aroos) thinking that it is going to be beyond difficult to walk away from my students at the end of the year. There are so many that I am afraid will not apply for college next year or apply the knowledge we have learned regarding the ACT. There are so many that I am afraid may not even graduate college unless "exceptions" (which is the norm at my school) are made for them. I am nervous.

I feel torn between a responsibility to the kids and a desire to fulfill my happiness level that has been significantly lower the last two years. I am reminded of my high school rugby coach immediately. He always says "I am waiting for _____ to graduate before I move on to a different job." But every year that is usually some protege freshman or sophomore that happened to join rugby. I remember he said it about one of my classmates (and captain her senior year) but as she was on her way out, he immediately latched onto a newby, locking him in for another solid four years. Would this be me at Clarendon? This ultimately may be the reason I do walk away at the end of this year. For fear that if I don't do it now, how will I ever justify it a different year?

But, my current junior basketball players (a group of fantastic young ladies) have really had an impact on me, and I am sincerely concerned that they will not reach their top potential of a college unless someone (like me or my 2nd year roommate) pushes them.

Another iffy reason on my pros and cons list for leaving the Delta.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Student Goes to Jail

Article is here, obviously doesn't mention his name because he is a juvenile. Very unfortunate and really shaken up the school and kids.

State of the Union

I was not able to watch the State of the Union because of a basketball game last night, but I have been reading up on it today. I like that Obama talked quite a bit about education and gave some simple and aggressive facts to stir the pot. Hopefully this has an effect on education over the coming years.

This Wall Street Journal article has the speech rated at an A thus far, which I was surprised by. Obama has been receiving a lot of flak over the past year and I thought that would definitely transfer into some editorialized negativity the day after such an impactful speech.

I particularly enjoyed this section:
In South Korea, teachers are known as “nation builders.” Here in America, it’s time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math. 

Although I don't plan on being one of those 100,000 teachers, it's a great thing to hear that we are making a call to action. Loved this thought overall. Is it even possible to hire that many teachers? Yikes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wow, 400 Posts! - Epic

I know I've mentioned a few times that I am teaching multiple books right now, but I wanted to talk a little bit about how successful it has been (especially because of the previous post's negativity). Right now I am teaching two books, A Long Way Gone (by Ishmael Beah) and Tuesdays with Morrie (by Mitch Albom). It has been the most successful reading experience I have had in my two years as a teacher. I have by far had the most success mastering objectives and with reading quizzes.

I don't really understand if it's because they books are interesting to them, or if it's because I gave them a choice. I really only have two students that occasionally complain about the reading being boring or not wanting to do it. I have 10 students who've already completed the book. I have SO many students who do all of their reading for the reading quizzes every single night. WHAT A CHANGE. In fact, I only have two students who are behind in 1st period, 0 in 4th period, 1 in 5th period, and 2 in 7th. That is quite an amazing statistic, my friends. I can promise you that 80% of students were behind last year with Lord of the Flies.

I've decided that I think I will concurrently teach The Color Purple and The Great Gatsby too. This way they again have a choice and both are books that are generally liked. I am going to cross my fingers, because this has been too nice. We also are perfectly on target (even with 2 snow days, and one early release) to finish the book in 3.5 weeks.

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Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Students at ProSat!!

I LOVE MY KIDS!!!!!! This is the video of when they came and spoke to Teach for America teachers about the impact they can have. I love love love them!


Strength Finder

I found out what my "strengths" are based on this computer based Myers-Briggs esque test. I do not agree with them.

Here are my top attributes --

1. Includer
2. Context
3. Arranger
4. Achiever
5. Significance

What I learned: I like to include people. I like to think about history and give historical context before making decisions, and I want to be successful. Sweet, super helpful.

Also, I don't think my top attribute should be includer. I mean I like to have everyone involved, but I also really enjoy doing things efficiently and effectively--which often, to me, means doing it myself.

Go Pack Go


Friday, January 21, 2011


Had a fab weekend with the schlobs last weekend. Too lucky to have that one in my life... A little trip down memory lane. :)

Proof that I'm legit!


So, I recently went on a vent-a-rant. But, now that I am reflecting on it a bit, I realized maybe I am just lucky. I know a lot of people go through a range of emotions as they go through the TFA experience. It usually looks a little something like this:
1. Nervous
2. Pee your pants scared
3. Hungry
4. Tired
5. More Tired
6. Rejuvenated
7. Beat down
8. Get back up?

Well, maybe #8 is debatable. I was thinking about how I got through this cycle last year and this year. A few key things that have been superb about my life in the Delta include - being a coach (this is definitely numero uno), participating in a lot of school activities (seeing the kids, becoming a part of their lives), having small class sizes, loving every single student (with the exception of two-am I allowed to say that? haha), and a social staff/adult network.

Maybe some of these people I am having so much trouble with (the checked out and ineffective) do not have this network of support. For a moment I feel bad for them, and think that maybe I need to give them a break. BUT at the same time, when I review that list those are all things that I actively participate in. Maybe some of these people that are having such a hard time because they are not forcing themselves to become a part of the community. Embrace the community, embrace the kids.

Okay now really I am done. Goodnight!


What up Minnesota in Dallas/Austin? What up booski!

Vent Vent Vent Vent Vent

Do not proceed, just let me write to myself for this one, allright?

Man I am too frustrated right now. I feel like a lot of people are checking out on their responsibilities. For the last few weeks, talking to TFA people has been both draining and frustrating. Everyone, first years and second years, have been complaining about how they don't know how their going to finish, how they are going to survive, how this place can exist. I get it. It's a hard place to live in. Blah blah blah.

I am over it. I am over people checking out in any way. Not finishing commitments, not attending student events, not going to professional development to improve themselves, not doing ANYTHING.

I guess my bigger frustration all boils down to this: we signed up for this program. We signed up for this program for the kids. It doesn't matter if you had a bad day, get over it. They are kids. They are supposed to be frustrating and ill mannered and immature. That's the point. That's why we're here everyday. To teach them those skills and to teach them how to educate themselves. Why can't we remember that when we get frustrated?

Now, I know I sound like I am on my high horse. I get it, knock me down a few pegs, right? But here's my argument. Yah, I have bad days. Yah, sometimes I call in sick because I just can't do it that day. But you know the reason I get up the next day? Because I got 12 text messages from students asking me where I was. I got a facebook message. And when I came back, they all asked "where you be at yesterday," "why you not here teachin me Miss," and "you don't get to take days off with out my permission, Miss."

My point is this -- they notice. They care. They watch closely. They expect you to walk away and check out. That's why they push. But really, what they want to see is you push back. You to ask for accountability and set expectations. This is what we signed up for. And now, we must prove our worth.

Rant, rant, rant, rant. Do your job. Don't be pitiful.


Airline Crash??

Mike's plane almost crashed when I went to pick him up on Wednesday. Here is the article, here. Then, Mike decided he wanted to get interviewed, so he cheesed it up for a long time staring at the interviewer. Here's some evidence of his cheesing, too funny.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Dallas and Austin: 2011 version - SUCCESS.

Now, up at 4:45 to do (the only) work I will have done all weekend. HAPPY THREE DAY WEEKENDS.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ah, life in Arkansas

SOLID DAY Today. I accomplished SO MUCH. I ran many many many errands that were long overdue. It's been difficult to live in rural America the last two years. One situation that has been particularly ENRAGING -- trying to get contacts.

In this saga of a situation, I had my first appointment the first week of October. I found out I needed a new prescription and a new type of actual contact. I informed the receptionist that I would absolutely need to be back in before basketball season, because after that I was unavailable until February. Well, that didn't work. The eye doctor closes at 3:30, and is the ONLY eye doctor in town. I work 30 minutes away from Stuttgart (where the doctor is) and get out of work at 3:15. Do the math. I could literally never get to the doctor, whether I had basketball or not.

Ah, solution! The eye doctor comes to Clarendon every Tuesday. GREAT, I thought. Nope, the next available appointment (mind you, this is in October) ....was February. WTF. How is that EVEN POSSIBLE.

So, my new contacts come in. I say, I'll have my roommates go pick it up. No, they say. You have to come in to get them "fitted." WTF #2. What does that even mean. If they fit, I keep them. I can take care of that at home right? The answer is yes. I was rejected by that. As a result, today came and I still had not gotten my contacts fitted. Apparently the eye doctor got annoyed. I've received 6 mailings, numerous phone calls, and even one message via a coworker who is related to the doctor. Yet, through all of these messages (which I have responded to all of them) I was still not allowed to pick them up, send a roomie, come in for a "5 minute fitting" because I didn't have an appointment. Like, WHY ARE YOU SENDING ME STUFF WHEN YOU WONT LET ME COME IN.

Whatever. I had a snow day today and went in. And OF COURSE they were at lunch for an entire hour during the middle of the day. They had some woman working at the desk who wouldn't take my payment, wouldn't set an appointment up for me, wouldn't give me my contacts that were at the office. So annoying. So I just walked out and took a break for myself. Came back, got the contacts, asked them to mail me a copy of my prescription, and a copy of my itemized receipt. I am never going back. Ever.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Adult Snow Fights

This is what happens when adults have snow fights.

Snow Day!

Interesting signage here. Not sure they got it quite right.

Remembering the Past Year

Last year I made a list of the top 100 things I was thankful for from the past year. This year I will do it a little differently (in the spirit of shorter posts and my new format). Here are a few of my favorite things from 2010;

Friendly visits to Maple House: I enjoyed the company of many people during my first year here in the Delta. Special thanks to Kearly, Jacquelina, LoDo, Schlobs, Nico, and many others! Beyond the "non-TFA" friends that visited, I was also lucky to be surrounded by and visited by many fun TFAmous friendlies.

Trips to new places: I also traveled a lot in 2010. I visited Dallas/FTW, New Orleans (a few TOO many times), Memphis, Little Rock, Minneapolis, Asheville, Atlanta, Jamaica, St. Marteen, Chicago,

SUMMER: I was certainly ready for this point. Most certainly.

My Lovely Students: Never did I think I would love my students as much as I do. It has really made me want to have a family of my own and to take care of the ones around me. They are caring, thoughtful, and eager to better themselves. Not to say that they aren't immature, angry, and too fast for their own age.

My Roomies: Well, it was not an easy transition into the country. An hour + away from city living, the lack of actual entertainment (not a la Refuge), and that minor fact of teaching. All of this was made a little bit easier by having great roomies around all the time! 

The Wedding!: Congrats to B and Kristin again. What a solid celebration and great memories to come.

Delta living: This has been an experience. To say the least. The landscape, the new job, the new people. I am thankful that I proved to myself that I can do it. Now, I don't have that fear nagging at the back of my head. "Can I move somewhere new and survive? Could I just pick up and go?" The answer is now YES, YES I CAN!

My family: Love them always. Had another great year together, and I am thankful for that.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Weekend Wonders

I slept so much this weekend, it was ridiculous. Like, I'm talking 23 hours in two nights. What a beautiful thing. I'm now working on grading and lesson plans, and I'm not tired, not hungover, not anything. Just refreshed. Happy Sunday!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Minnesota Song

As Arkansas is preparing for THREE inches tomorrow (society will shut down), I was forwarded this email from a fellow Minnesota lover. Too fun!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Daily Grind

Back to the daily grind. My two week break of relaxation and no work has now come to an end. Here I am, sitting at my computer, thinking -- WHAT DO I TEACH TOMORROW??

Ugh, see yah later world.