Stuff Students Say

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Feb 27 2013

Prop them up, or let them fall?

We completely ran out of paper at my school today, requiring me to ration the small stockpile I had throughout the day to make sure I had enough lesson packets for my students.  This is far from the first time this has happened. But when I saw the principal this morning he seemed completely puzzled…

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Jan 03 2013

Back to School Cookies

It’s amazing how well-behaved and friendly students can be after a long winter break. Though I’d like to think they missed me terribly, it probably had more to do with the fact that I brought in a huge tray of my grandma’s leftover Christmas cookies. M: “Wait, is that fudge? I never knew I liked…

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Dec 06 2012

The Crayonmaker

Ms. S, what is that? What IS that? What is that box? Why is that here? Why is it called a Crayonmaker? Can we do science now? ————————- Is it going to melt the crayons? Can we eat what it makes? Can I have a crayon? Can I? How about me? Not fair! ———————- It’s…

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Dec 06 2012

Hell Week

Last Monday, three of my kids were caught stealing from the Holiday gas station next to my school when they were supposed to be boarding their buses. On Tuesday, one of my kids was suspended for throwing a paperback book at me while I was teaching. On Wednesday and Thursday, everyone was back in action…

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Nov 02 2012

Yes to Obama, No to Star Wars

Here are some happy quotes, because this week has been rough. All are from answers to this week’s current events questions:   Who do you think is going to win the election?  Why? Obama because a lot of people are voting for him. Obama because I like his ideas better Barack Obama he won’t let…

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Oct 26 2012

Eid Mubarak!

Today was the last day of first quarter and the day before the Eid holiday.  The days leading up to and after Eid are probably the easiest to make small talk with absolutely any child in school, because they ALL want to tell you about their Eid plans.  Girls start coming to school early in…

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Oct 04 2012

Comparatively awesome.

I just read a post by another second year about how year 2 of TFA is just so much more “even.”  That captured my feelings about the past 6 weeks so perfectly that I finally worked up the motivation to write a decent-length post about Year 2 so far. Ridiculous things are still happening at…

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Sep 25 2012

Is this real life?

After telling myself all weekend that I would avoid going into work, I drove to my school late last night to make copies for Monday morning.  (Like usual, several other CMs were there, too). I walked out to my car in the school parking lot about an hour later to find that someone had thrown…

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Aug 11 2012

Zombies: America’s next achievement gap?

I’m in D.C. this weekend at a Bellwether Education conference for teacher bloggers.  According to the current presenter, I should not annoy my readers by using “trolling” headlines like the one above.  Whoops. In all seriousness, I’ve been learning a ton of great stuff about blogging in general, and specifically for teachers who want to…

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Jun 14 2012

Tomorrow’s the day.

The LAST day. A day that, for a decent amount of time back in the fall, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it to as a teacher. All dramatics aside, I’m very much ready for a nice long break before I can even start thinking coherently about changes I’ll be making next year. The last…

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May 21 2012

My other blogging job

I’m now also blogging, a bit more formally than usual, for an education reform group here in Minnesota. Check out my first posts on the need for more structured teacher evaluations and detailed school “report cards”.     p.s.:  18 more days of school!!

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…I took my kids out for an unscheduled recess and they started playing a very spirited game of boys vs. girls soccer.  If I haven’t said it enough before, my kids live for soccer and were ridiculously happy to unexpectedly get to play at the end of a long two days of testing.  One of…

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May 03 2012

The power of One Direction

Today’s Do Now to start math class:   Last night Ms. S. saw a post on Facebook that made her laugh: ’83% of girls would not care if Niall dropped out of One Direction. Re-post if you’re one of the 27% of girls who would fall on the floor crying!’ What is wrong with this…

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May 03 2012

General frustrations

If you’re hoping for entertaining kiddo stories, sorry in advance.  This post has two purposes:  a healthy vent, and some curiosity about how these things work in other TFA regions (specifically numbers 1 & 2).   #1:  I already used up my one allowed Professional Saturday skip in December, in order to catch up on…

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Apr 24 2012

My future writers

Somewhere in between all the test-prep madness, we do a little writing here and there.  And I love every minute of it:   A. wrote a letter to the editor in response to an article about the dangers of allowing teenagers to have cellphones.  Her conclusion?  People need cellphones, so clearly teenagers need cellphones.  Obviously,…

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Apr 06 2012

A certain level of chaos

Of all the mindset changes that I’ve made in the past 7 months, both intentional and unintentional, I think the most important by far has been accepting that along with every day at school comes a certain level of chaos.  It doesn’t matter how long I spend micro-planning my instructional day and problem-solving classroom management…

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Mar 16 2012

Taylor Swift look-a-like

A few random thoughts as I impatiently wait for the last 50-some minutes of grad class to wind down… -According to I., I look just like Taylor Swift.  He informed me of this last week, I think in the middle of a social studies lesson. To provide some clarifying details:  I have short, straight brown…

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Mar 02 2012


1.  6th graders are too old for recess. 2.  Token economies aren’t worth the annoyance. 3.  We’ve moved past the “stealing from the teacher” phase of the year. 4.  (Insert coworker’s name) can’t actually be THAT difficult to work with. 5.  Since our extremely tense behavior meeting with A.’s dad, the school director, the cultural…

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Feb 24 2012


One of the weirdest parts of teaching sixth grade is constantly observing- and sometimes partially reliving- the awkwardness of the middle school years. The gender-divided, cooties-concerned 11-year-olds who entered my classroom in September are no more.  I still have kids who span the age range of 11-13 (and one new guy who might be 14…

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Feb 17 2012

Worst grad student ever.

I am so far behind in updating this blog, and since I’m sitting in hour 3 of mind-numbing night grad class, I think it’s the perfect time to finally update it.  Just one more reason why I completely fail at TFA-mandated grad school.  Another reason being, I just dropped the other night class I’m supposed…

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Jan 27 2012

Coming out even?

Since I joined TFA, I’m guessing most of my friends and family members have become well acquainted with my typical answers to the questions, “So, how are things going?” or “How’s your class doing this week?”  I’ve become pretty used to giving those answers, too.  It’s funny (but actually kinda sad) how accustomed you can…

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Jan 17 2012

All you need is a little IMAGINATION!

Best question I’ve ever asked on a test:  Of all the civilizations we’ve learned about so far this year, which would you most want to have lived in, and why? I. picked Egypt:  “They have some jars for the mummification. For guts to put in.” A. chose hominids (early humans) although she doesn’t “want to…

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Jan 14 2012


Almost all of my kids are obsessed with soccer and completely worship the school’s soccer coach.  Although our school doesn’t have sports teams, about half of the kids are allowed to have soccer practice during the school day instead of regular gym class.  They also play in a local league with the same coach. Though…

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Jan 11 2012

Updating my resume

After four years of constantly applying to internships, I felt like I had the resume thing down.  But now I’m in the process of updating my resume so that I can look for a summer job.  Specifically, I’m trying to fill in the job description under “Teach for America, St. Paul, MN” and I’m drawing…

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Jan 05 2012

Consistently inadequate

So here’s how it goes: 1) I manage to get one tiny classroom thing figured out and I feel confident about it being somewhat effective. 2) I suddenly think of 20+ other things that I’m completely failing at. 3) I start tackling these newly recognized problems. 4) The pattern repeats. 5) Eventually something that I…

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I used to be a journalist. Now I just quote students.

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