here and now

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 14 2009

“School is not over!”

Suddenly, after a semester of “ok” to “pretty good” behavior in most of my classes, my students seem to have picked up the idea that the time has come to begin acting like buffoons. I am displeased. Examples:
I rewarded about 40 of my “most well behaved” students with a field trip yesterday to a nearby college campus. At the end of the trip, one of my smartest honors students decided to yell at the field trip coordinator, “Your hair stank!” WHAT? Another incident: We held a “last call” for the restroom before leaving the college campus for the hour-and-a-half drive back to our school. TWENTY MINUTES INTO THE BUS RIDE, two students who inexplicably had chosen not to take advantage of the restroom facilities stood up and began yelling at the bus driver that they were going to pee in their pants, pee on other individuals, “go R. Kelly on” F (umm…SO gross), etc. One of these two students then threw balls of…

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Apr 13 2009


Student, who happens to be white: Ms. ____, where do you get those Starbucks energy drinks? Me: Oh, I stop at the gas station on my way to school — the Double Quick. Student (in a shocked, ingenuous whisper): Ms. ____, that’s where the black people go. (Silence) Student: I don’t mean no harm in it. That’s just…

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Apr 12 2009


On a rainy Sunday like today, I can’t help but curl up on the couch and write in my blog. Or at least think about it. I need to get reacquainted with this thing. As the months have marched on – as the weather has changed from Mosquito to Frost to Flood, and my teaching has gone from…

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Apr 10 2009

A Teacher from Carver Upper

“Do Now”: Please tear yourself away from your computer, make your way to the nearest bookstore, and pick up the current issue of Oxford American ( It’s a magazine that features writing from and about the South. You will physically need to get your butt to Borders because, tragically, the article I want you to read does not appear on the publication’s website —…

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Apr 03 2009


Fortunately:  We’ve been on a quest for background knowledge these past few days so that we can start reading Animal Farm next week. Because I studied Russian and Soviet politics and economics rather seriously in college, this has been an exciting time for me. I LOVE HISTORY! YAY!  Unfortunately: As much as I try to galvanize my…

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Mar 03 2009

I think we might be getting somewhere

As a written record to which I can refer on future days that are not as good…today I wrote down some humorous, sweet, and otherwise cool things my students said. Exasperated voices before the bell: “Sit down and be quiet so we can listen to music!!!” Cacophony: “I wanna be Creon (Antigone, Ismene, Choragos, etc.) today!” “Man, we do some…

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Feb 25 2009

Essay Land

To elaborate on a previous post (see January), Essay Land is a faraway place where students must go when they have been bad. After three warnings — for having their heads down, for example, or talking when they shouldn’t, or just generally “acting a fool” – students must write an essay on a topic of my choosing. They cannot get credit for…

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Jan 22 2009

Comments on a Thursday evening

So it looks like I volunteered today to start a choir at the after-school program. It also looks like I am brimming with enthusiasm. I’m grinning right now. Thank goodness my housemate M knows how to play the piano…because my skill set consists of the following: 1. The voice of an angel. (Ha.) 2. An artillery of embarrassing dance moves, mostly involving jazz…

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Jan 13 2009

Just another update

A couple of kids got in a fight after tonight’s basketball game and shattered the window of the classroom next to mine. Sweet… On the other hand, Keisha (formerly “Tough Girl”) excitedly introduced me to her mom in person at the game tonight — which is such a big moment that it pretty much makes…

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Jan 13 2009

Not ideal

At one point today my entire fourth period class was in Essay Land. I will explain Essay Land at a later time. Just know, for now, that it is not a good thing.

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Mississippi River Delta

Mississippi Delta
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