Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Still Fighting...

Although now it's from a new city where I have a new last name and no longer spend my days with children. So much changes in a year.

I now live in Kansas City (home to a Momma and niece that are pretty much the best people in the entire world and completely worth moving across the country for...) I'm a wifey now...anybody that can put up with me through my first 2 years of teaching deserves the best of me for at least the rest of his life...

I work to support 1st and 2nd year teachers across 5 schools. I can occasionally work from home and am rarely up before 8 am (although you will often find me meeting with teachers at Starbucks well into the night...) Most days this role is the best professional development I've ever had, but every once in a while it feels like riding at the front of the first year teacher roller coaster with 21 people in the cars behind you, looking for any sign of panic and 'I don't have this all together'ness.

In my new job I talk about my kids often - the same kids who I shared with you for 2 years - who I now Facebook stalk to make sure they're going to school on time, doing their homework, and not drinking (or at least not posting about it on Facebook...). They're in their mid teens now, and the pictures of them I have hanging in my cubicle look so very different from the chiseled young men they have become over the last 4 years. The stories I tell of them now are very different from the ones shared with you in the moment. They are now more edited - the Disney version instead of the documentary one. Sugar coated. With a music montage in the middle.

The reality is that many of them are not where I hoped they would be. Some have been in and out of juvenile detention. Some have babies. Some do not regularly go to school. And I can't help but wonder what I could have done differently...knowing all the while that I did the best I could with who I was at the time.

I hope to post here more often, if not for support (does anybody even still read this?!), then at least to have a record of the career of a young ed-reformer - incredibly passionate about this gross injustice within our country. Not sure how to fix it - not even sure if I will see it fixed in my lifetime, but dedicated to trying incredibly hard for the rest of my career to make sure that the stories of future Adonys, Maliks, Yahkemps, and Joshuas have happy endings...

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


I LOVE my new job. I love my colleagues, the kids I work with, the parents - I work in a strong school with a good community of people around me and FINALLY feel like what I do everyday actually closes the achievement gap.
But I still think about them - my old kids - all of the time. When I say all of the time, I mean at LEAST daily. I regret that I wasn't there to make them cakes on their birthdays, mediate their fights, prepare them for the state test, and see them walk across the stage at their 5th grade graduation. I still get random texts from them asking if I'll come back, or if I could teach at their middle school. It pains me so much every time I type the word 'no'. I vow to stay in touch, but we both know that this isn't enough. They need someone everyday to believe in them - to push them.
I left because I knew there would always be more kids - another reason to stay in a school where I wasn't supported professionally or personally.
So why, after so long, do I still feel like I should have stayed?
Like the kids at my new school would be okay without me, but there are 13 kids in the Bronx who are not okay because I left...
This is the only decision I've ever wrestled with for so long.
Does that mean I made the wrong choice?

Friday, April 24, 2009

See You Later :)

I've given in to the fact that I'm no longer a good blogger. And I'm okay with that.
Because I converse.
I used to work at a school where I had only very surface conversations - any 'real' conversations I had were about my personal life, and these were very rare.
Now I work in a school with true colleagues - people I have a deep respect and appreciation for. In these colleagues I have found a handful of 'thought partners' - people with whom I discuss lessons, data, theories of education, students, good days, bad days, and in the midst of it
And somehow, the desperate need for so much help from a blogging community is gone.
Well, maybe not gone - but there's no longer time.
Face to face conversations take time - relationship building takes time - and right now that's more important than chronicling this experience here for myself (which is what this was intended to be).
So this will remain, for now, stagnant. I don't want to feel the guilt of not blogging anymore, but I want to have the opportunity to do so if I feel the need to share again.
And with this....a weight has been lifted...

Monday, February 16, 2009


5 days to sleep past 5 am, to work out and not worry about the clock, eat when I want to and go to the bathroom more than 3 times during the day.
To catch up on wedding planning...lesson planning...and TiVo.
This will be good :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sugar Cane - Missy Higgins
Baby ballerina's hiding somewhere in the corner, where the shadow wraps around her
and our torches cannot find her, she will stay there 'til the morning,
crawl behind us as we are yawning, and she will leave our games to never be the same.
So grow tall sugar cane.
Eat the soil, drink that rain.
But know they'll chase you if you play their little games.
So run, run fast sugar cane.

It's her song. My student who reads on a 1st grade level and writes on a kindergarten level. She's in 3rd grade, supposed to be in 4th. Not shocking, really - if you consider that I teach special ed in NYC. (Although the fact that that's the standard is so incredibly sad.)
But the fact is that we are a great school. We work hard. Her parents are involved. We have professional development that most teachers only dream of. Our management is super tight.
And yet...when she speaks it sounds like 4 sentences smashed into one - her writing is much of the same.
She shakes her head when you ask her a question, almost as if she's a slot machine and someday she'll hit the jackpot, spitting out a perfect, insightful answer that will get her the praise she so desparately seeks.
She works harder than most students I know. 1 of 10 children, she's a caregiver, nurturer, and leader.
But will she go to college? Will she graduate college? Today her dad, in a look of defeat I seldom see, told me he knew what it was going to be like for her. She would get held back and get held back until she eventually just quit.
Somewhere, in the midst of the college pennants and cheers and an extended school day and intervention groups, this little girl is drowning and I don't know how.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Only 3 weeks ago we returned from break.
Rejuvinated...rested...inspired by the time we had to be a person.
I made a promise to myself to be more balanced. To work out more. To leave work at least 3 days a week at or before 5:00 (this is HUGE for my school, considering I used to always stay until at least 6). To spend more time with my friends...boyfriend....and dogs.
And to sleep more.
I'm doing all of these things, but I'm still exhausted.
I see it in my colleagues, too.
How do you give kids what they need - purposeful lessons, tight classroom management, an extended school day, and lots of academic intervention for students who fall beind....and still make sure teachers get what they need?
I love my school. I love the people I work with. But I would love to wake up in the morning and not feel so exhausted.
Maybe I should become a regular coffee drinker.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

I watched the inauguration with 100 students, most of whom will be the first in their family to go to college.
They clapped each time the audience clapped and after the swearing in, most of the teachers in the room were teary-eyed. Several of the students comforted us, which totally speaks to the culture of our school.
It was incredibly powerful to watch such an important moment in history with kids who I know are going to have amazing opportunities in life because of the work our school does with them.
We work hard, and there are times that I'm incredibly tired. But we support each other.
I'm so proud to be a part of my school....and sad only that I couldn't bring my old kids with me.