Monday, March 28, 2011

Blahhh, laksdjfalskd;f

Dear Caitlin,

Do better. Pathetic planning. L A Z Y. Seriously? Do Better.

your students(who were UBER bored with your "spring cleaning today", yourself, your teachers, your PRAXIS THREE ASSESSOR THAT IS COMING NEXT WEEK FOR YOUR LICENSE, your PrinciPAL (not such a pal when he's asking where your non existent lesson plans are)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New Hobby: Walk and Talks

Over the past week I have picked up on a hobby my parents have been doing for a number of years; the walk and talk. It's refreshing, it's exercise, it's active, it's reflective. It's perfect! I'm kidding - it's not that great, but pretty good.

So while in Stuttgart, we've started our walk and talks with a group ranging from 4 across, to a single partner, to a telephone partner. I have really enjoyed it. I also have enjoyed walking on the track, it seems like you more easily lose track of the time you're walking (ie Hannah and I walked 4 miles and didn't even know it!). But back in Wisconsin, carless, I have walked around the neighborhood and that's been good too. I am happy with this hobby, and hope that it continues. I've walked to the mall, walked to the coffee shop, walked through the park, walked to the library. Pretty nice. I enjoy it.

 You know that awkward question you get in interviews, "So, what do you do outside of ____?" And you're like, damn, I don't know? Drink? Party with friend on the weekend? Oops. Never fear! Hobbies are here!

Current hobbies being considered; Blogging (duh, check!), walking (check!), scrap-booking (oohh, secrets), reading (see previous post about reading the top 50 books that appear on the AP Literature exam--I have 37 complete, working on number 38!), coaching (check!), ...and still drinking with friend (check!). I'm well on my way to mastering that interview question. Bring it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Beginning Confirmed

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was offered a job, but I didn't go into much detail about it. I am still not going to, because I, myself, do not know much about it yet. But either way I am pretty amped about it.

I will continue to work for Teach for America next year, but in a different role; Program Director. In this position,  I "mentor," "supervise" 30-40 corps members that are both first and second years. I will participate in other parts of TFA too, including recruitment, matriculation, induction, and interviews. It's an amazing position and something I applied for thinking "oh well, I am never going to get this." I heard through the rumor mill that over 60 Delta corps members applied, so I am both excited that I got it and excited to hear who else got it from the Delta. I already know one, a fellow Stuttgart dweller, proving that Stuttgart is a TFA powerhouse.

I feel very lucky to have been considered for this position. I have felt, for the last two years, that I do things generally pretty well, but not exceptional. I see other CMs who are changing lives every day, and I sometimes think, "wow, I could be doing so much more." I have tried to do lots of different things for the kids, and for other CMs by teaching a course and mentoring some first years, but never felt like I was one of the standouts in my CM year here in the Delta. So, this is a great confirmation that I am doing some things right and that they see my commitment to the organization.

Now, the perhaps best part of this job; I am moving again to a new place. You're not going to believe where this Yankee is going.... TEXAS! And not even Dallas, Houston, Austin.... no, no, no I am moving very South. I am moving to the Rio Grande Valley. I am in fact closer to Monterrrey, Mexico than I am to San Antonio, Texas. Amazinggggggg. It's pictured in red below.

Can you believe it? If I go to visit my alma mater and best friends in Minneapolis, Minnesota I will literally be going border to border!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

Caught my ear today in a video, really enjoy the meaning behind this.


Dear Tracy, Please Follow

Dear Tracy,

Please follow this blog, too. You'll really enjoy it. ThxThxThx

Love, cbb

The rest of you will like it too!

Solid Spring Break

Friday, my day of birth, was also the beginning of our Spring Break. I had a really great day at school, the kids were so nice, brought me presents, sang to me, and acted right (a nice gift alone). After school we had a beautiful day for some softball games, and I got a super exciting phone call (see below post), and we made over $500 dollars for the softball/baseball teams collecting gate (for the first time in a few years). After that, went home, went to Mexican and the Fuge (first time since September) with some great Sugaaatown girlies. It was a great way to spend my birthday, alternative style.

Saturday, my birthday celebrations continued in Little Rock, which started off slow and ended super fun. Overall itw as great. I again, as always on my birthday, feel so lucky to have some of the best friends around. I received three cards in the mail on my birthday and a package from the fam. I am blessed, blessed, blessed. Thank you to everyone that was a part of it.

Now I am relaxing in Wisconsin (super tan...haha) for the rest of the week, and I am pretty okay with it. Although, I do wish I was sitting on a beach.

Future Plans? Confirmed.

I just got the job I applied for in November!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Final interviews were two weeks ago in St. Louis, the same week of my End of Course exam (stress attack), and I found out on Friday via voicemail that I got it! I hadn't been able to make actual contact with my boss until today but I.AM.SO.E.X.C.I.T.E.D.

I'll tell you about it more in the coming days. But, it's big. Yes!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Delta Life - Spring

I love my birthday! :)

I love my birthday. Really. I do. I always am reminded of how great my friends, students, coworkers, family, and roomies are. I am blessed, blessed, blessed. Pre-birthday sweets. My students made 24 cards with things they liked about me. They have been so cute this week!

Monday, March 14, 2011


Today we had only below basic and basic students at school. If the student received advanced proficient or proficient on any exam last year, they have this entire week off, and the next for Spring Break. Interesting thought process....reward proficiency with no school. But, alas, here we are.

Anyway, the "gap" students showed up today and we had an interesting thing happening. First of all, I had some students for five hours. Five hours. One day. Horrifying. I do not know how elementary teachers do it. You know? Sometimes you like a student, but not that much.

But the worst part -- the kids some how got a hold of the schedule. And now they know they were in the "below basic" group versus the "basic" group. Embarrassing for the kids. Embarrassing for the staff member who was too dumb to not think of basic human emotions.

Ugh. Adults.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Current Classroom!

Birthday Wishes

Possibilities During Birthday Week:
1. Friends visiting
2. Job possibilities
3. Summer options blossom
4. Paycheck recieved
5. $1,000 dollar birthday check from parents (haha)
6. Phone screen magically uncracks when I awake Friday
7. Every parent shows up to Parent-Teacher conferences and tells me I am the best teacher ever (haha)
8. I meet the man of my dreams
9. It is announced that Whole Foods is opening a branch in Stuttgart, AR
10. Anthropologie, too
11. I am accepted into every graduate program I have ever looked at
12. No children show up on Friday, so I spend my birthday celebrating in my room hiding from the Principal
13. It is 80 degrees every day this week

love, cbb

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


Busy for the next 48 hours...but as Mom requested, I have a new photo to celebrate my Dad's birthday. We had a great time in Nashville, at the Grand Ole Opry, and enjoyed some great margaritas. Thanks Dad! Hope you had a great birthday! :)

Monday, March 7, 2011


Just wrote a note to every student and rubberbanded (?) it to a gatorade for them tomorrow morning. I hope we can kill this test. Today made me uber nervous...but I am hoping they brush it off and chalk it up to nerves. I think I'm going to have them run into their rooms to "You Be Killin' Em'" by Fabulous? Get errrrrr done.




Thursday, March 3, 2011

Happy Birthday, Pops!

Happy birthday to the best Pops ever! I am lucky enough to spend the weekend with him in Nashville, too! I am leaving school tomorrow around 2:00PM and meeting up with the fam!

Thanks Dad for being fun, supportive, thoughtful, consistent, and giving me killer curly hair. Love you mucho! 

ACT Readiness

Great feelings today. I took all of my juniors today to the computer lab (I have all but five of the juniors in school) and we registered every student for the ACT. EVERY STUDENT. One more time, EVERY STUDENT. What a great feeling. We have prepared them, we have registered them, we have given them fee waivers. We are going to send a letter home, we are going to use SchoolCast (a phone system that calls all listed) to remind parents and students the day before. We have used all of our tools to excite them, prepare them, and get them there. I feel great about it.

The counselor was organized and effective. She provided their SSN and fee waiver sheet. The kids did it during class time and finished (with the exception of one) in class, printed off their admission ticket (that they turned into the office), and understand why they are signed up.

Go kiddos! I'm going to drive around on test day picking up their asses too. Don't doubt it for a second.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Duke Basketball

I love Nolan Smith. I LOVE Kyle Singler.

@BlueDevilNation‎ I speak for the Blue Devil Nation in saying thank you Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith. Thanks for a championship, thanks for returning.



Some of the core values that Teach for America pushes one us; 1. maintain rigor, 2. develop high expectations. My first year roommate has made me think about these things recently. He has been having some trouble developing some of that rigor in that class and feels like he is "dropping his expectations." As I first listened to him I said to myself, "well, they are doing well...for our kids." YIKES. DIVERSITY CORE COMPETENCIES (insert TFA jargon here). I need to check myself, before I wreck myself.

High expectations are what make our students successful. Successful is not a 19 on the ACT. I don't care that it gets you a scholarship through the Arkansas Lottery. It's almost a back handed scholarship, in my opinion, because it can only be used at state schools, which in Arkansas does not translate to top 20, top 50.... even top 70 (Razorbacks are sometimes top 75). Beyond that, particularly because of being in a rural place, I think it is even more important for the students to get beyond the state lines and into a new environment.

I have perhaps dropped my expectations without realizing. On average my students read at a seventh grade level, and have gotten an average of a 15 on the ACT thus far. A 15 is not good. Seventh grade reading level (average...meaning 1/2 are below this) is not good. But then, when a students goes from a 12 to a 15, or a 5.8 reading level to an 8.3... I am happy. I feel a slight struggle in this progression throughout the year. They are reaching their reading goals. Reaching their individual growth goals. But, are they reaching a level where they will succeed in a place that is high functioning? A place where people thrive on competition (and competition at a much higher level then they are currently at)? Am I preparing them for that situation?

Test Time

What a different feeling from last year. Full of anticipation, nerves, lack of understanding, stress, and niaevity - I was nuts. In the moment I thought I was "doing it for the kids" when other people weren't, often getting stressed about how it seemed like everyone else was molasses. Now, I can see a different side. If anything, the above listed emotions induced more stress on everyone involved; the counselor, the literacy coach, the Principal, and maybe even the students.

Now, I feel a different feeling. I feel like maybe there is a storm around my corner. I admit, I am a significantly better teacher than last year. That, however, does not translate into me thinking I am a good teacher. Better does not mean I have reached that level. So yes, I was more organized. And yes, I feel like they've gotten better and more consistent feedback. But, I also think they maybe don't have the intensity I gave students last year. I wanted it bad. They knew it. If they didn't want it for themselves, or for the school, some of them wanted it for me. Now, I don't know if I have instilled that drive this year.

I actually enjoy my kids more this year. I play around with them more, I push them more, all that stuff. But, I tried hard for this review to be simple, organized, and straightforward. Because of its ease (in an organization sense) the kids did well on completion and mastery. But, were they invested? I don't know. Maybe I should have done more in that regard.

Again, this is probably just all stress coming out in the last minute panic. At least this year my panic has been subdued until one week before the test, instead of the four week train wreck last year. Either way, say a pray, say a Hail Mary, cross your fingers. Something. Thanks.