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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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That was in reference to one of my fourth period all-stars from last year who is now a third period all-star. I’ve heard this same song-and-dance from administrators for two years already. This student is going to change, I believe it. I find it amazing that every new administrator buys into the sweet act from…

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The last two days, as much as I can be negative about my school, really reminded me why I go in everyday. Yesterday we unveiled a new way to do Enrichment day. Instead of the “every teacher plans something” way of last year, students had schedules with three 80-minute Enrichment periods. Mine was College 101…

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Sep 22 2009

Day 11: “What’s my combination?”

I had to assign locks to my senior advisory for the year. To make this process as painless as humanly possible, I made sure all of the locks worked and put them on lockers before school. I then gave the students an index card with their locker number and combination on it, thus hoping to…

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While the explosive nature of yesterday did not return today, third period still made for some interesting discussion. We have a pretty good number of gay students and, as is the case in all situations, are sensitive to the rampant homophobic language in the school. However, I took three students in the hallway for their…

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Sep 17 2009

Day 7: “He got up to it last night.”

I had a classroom first today. A student vomited in class. And by vomited I don’t mean found a trash can or ran out of the door. I mean while sitting at his seat he just started throwing up to the point where he took out four desks, two bags and an aisle since he…

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As I told this student, you are the early leader in the clubhouse for dumbest thing anyone has done this year. Let me explain how this conversation came about: Step 1: Student shouts “Oh shit!” in the middle of the test prep session. Step 2: I say, “Hallway. Now.” I have appropriated some angry teacher…

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Sep 09 2009

Day 2: “When do we have your class?”

What a first two days. If you read last year, you know we hired outside tutors to help the juniors do well on the ACT. It didn’t go great, so, we hired a new company to come in and prepare the sophomores for the PLAN test in October. To do this, we’re pulling them out…

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Jul 03 2009

End of Year

I know I’ve neglected my blogging duties, but I did manage to get my job back. I had to go and make sure for TFA that I was actually fired. My principal, while not retracting any previous comments, said she would bring me back if I dedicated myself to the school policies. Things did not…

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May 14 2009

Day 153: “You’re insubordinate.”

I was told without being told, via a 20-minute conversation with the principal, that I will not return next year. It was by far the most frustrating 20 minutes of life to this point. Obviously I care a lot about my kids and I look forward to finishing the year strong (2nd period was 8/9…

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A majority of ninth period is failing right now. Like 17 out of 24 majority. Monday we made posters about our First Amendment rights that were basically writing down your freedom and coming up with a visual representation of it. One of the comments was, “If we’d make posters all of the time, I’d be…

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Shout it out eighth period! On day 2 of surface area, we seemed to get it. So, on Monday hopefully we’ll have similar revelations in 2nd and 4th. The surface area formula is very confusing and brings back perimeter, area, circumference and circle area. It’ll be good review if nothing else. I got observed during…

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May 08 2009

Day 148: “Don’t touch anything.”

School was pretty solid today. Geometry moved in to 3-D figures, so it was definitions day, which is the day where we either fall asleep or command that we don’t call it the vertex, but rather “the tip.” I keep trying to explain the idea that math has its own language and vocabulary–like Spanish–but I…

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May 07 2009

Day 147: “I’m so wet.”

It was a pretty solid day, even on the Wednesday short periods. Geometry finished up their study of trigonometry with one last monster packet of problems. It was all about deciding between sine, cosine and tangent and then applying them. We seem to be there. What was great was that in second and fourth I…

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May 06 2009

Day 146: “Ooo…I’m getting this.”

Day 7 of trigonometry. I made a bit of switch up. I gave problems to the students who “had it” and had the rest of the students in my three classes come to the board to get some spot re-teaching. What was amazing was that I had pairs scattered around the room pushing through problems…

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May 05 2009

Day 145: “I’m telling on you.”

I got told on twice today. The first was after I started teaching something new to second period. One of my girls started freaking out because they didn’t know the old stuff and it wasn’t fair to teach them new stuff when they don’t know the old stuff. It was 30-60-90 triangles and is very…

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Oh my. At softball Saturday we were winning 6-4 in the 4th inning (playing with 8 players, too) when a girl on the other team spouted that gem. We ended up winning 21-9 after our girls got really mad. I know it’s kind of my job, but I would never want to make any girls…

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I’ve been trying to have journalism do a presentation on any media issue. for the two weeks. However, we didn’t get very far in the computer lab (which is like any time we go to the computer lab) and the lab is signed out until June. So, my plan was to take the idea and…

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Apr 30 2009

Day 142: “Can you write me a pass?”

As good as my first day and a half wen this week, was as bad as the next day and a half went. Just in fourth period I had a student who wouldn’t tuck his shirt in go on about how it was that time of a month, another girl freak out on someone and…

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My mood stayed good all through the morning today. However, it was abruptly changed by my juniors. Seventh period just did nothing, threw things at each other and got themselves sent away. At the beginning of ninth period, a paper ball buzzed past my head and, even after I got mad and such, they kept…

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We opened up our study of the trig functions today. One of the many initial reactions to the notes was, “That on the board is Spanish.” If one examine the words (sine, cosine, tangent, opposite, adjacent, hypotenuse and SOHCAHTOA), one can see the apparent other language effect. However, most of the class got the basics…

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Apr 27 2009

Day 139: “We’re all on the board!”

8th period was 13 for 13 on mastering the test. They were kind of pumped since it was the first time it had happened. The whole class mastered. It felt good. 2nd period was 9 out of 12, so they were very excited as well. Things are working well in those two periods. Half of…

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Watching the ACT went very well. Kind of surprising. What wasn’t surprising was the responses that some of the juniors had after the test. “They never taught us that,” was the quote of the day. Especially when it came to the math portion. We’ll see what the scores look like, but it didn’t appear that…

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Apr 22 2009

Day 137: “I ain’t takin’ this.”

Test day today. Naturally, way too many of my kids still pulled the “I ain’t takin’ this,” route and subsequently failed, but they are not the top of my importance list. Second period had nine of the 12 who took the test crack 75% mastery on polygons. I did not think this was going to…

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So, between crazy ends of week and inability to get onto the site, I haven’t updated for awhile. First, the softball team picked up a win on Saturday 15-8. It was pretty exciting and the girls were definitely into the experience. Even better, we had a full team at practice tonight and we were there…

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Apr 15 2009

Day 133: “Blowout.”

We had our first softball game tonight. We lost 19-3 in four innings. It was pretty much the result of having six players who showed up for practice and knew what was going on and another seven who just wanted to wear the uniform. We have eight more games this year, but we need to…

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Teaching Math on the West Side of Chicago

High School

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