The Sort-of-Scientific Method

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Jul 05 2013

The End, For Now

Day 180: I intentionally waited a while to write this post. This is because the last day of school felt so weird – so incomplete and unsatisfying – that I wanted to let it sit for a while. Most of the last day was great. We had kids write letters to their teachers, thanking them for…

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Jun 21 2013

Some Final Bonding Time

Day 179: Pretty much every day at my school that is not sitting and learning in regularly scheduled classes has a feeling of chaos to it. Like the time we got lost hiking. Or the time we got to the art museum an hour early. Or that time every Thursday last period when no one knew…

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Jun 20 2013

Moving Up

Day 178: Today was the 6th grade moving up ceremony – aka graduation. Well, that would come at 2 pm. Beforehand was four hours to fill with about 30 minutes of stuff. Students had to write index cards explaining what they would be bringing with them to the 7th grade – think, “Such-and-such is bringing her…

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Jun 19 2013

Breaking The News

Day 177: Today, I finally told my kids I was leaving. To prepare, I did two things. First, I made brownies. I figured if my kids were going to take it poorly, at least they’d have brownies. Second, I made a slide explaining the new city I would be teaching in – Lawrence, Massachusetts – and…

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Jun 18 2013

Meh, They’re Kids

Day 176: My last Monday at my school is over. It felt, unsurprisingly, like pretty much any other Monday. Kids riled up in the morning, having completely forgotten how to be focused during Morning Meeting. The joys of recess and lunch duty. The inability of my homeroom to get into class in an orderly fashion, followed…

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Jun 16 2013

One Last Shout-Fest

Day 175: As I’ve explained before, I have my students do a call and response chant before every quiz and test. I yell “work hard” and they respond “get smart.” I wonder if they actually remember this is supposed to remind them about the value of persistence and growth mindset, or if they just like yelling…

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Jun 15 2013

One Last Marathon Thursday

Day 174: When we last left our brave hero, he was up too late on Wednesday writing a Science final. We find him now, Thursday morning, desperately trying to finish said final, and then print it before first period. Never a dull moment. As usual, Thursday was a long day. Given the last-minute nature of the…

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Jun 15 2013

Limping, But Still Standing

Day 173: So, as it turns out, students near the end of the year struggle to handle Trashketball. I suppose I should’ve guessed that one. My homeroom got through a whopping six rounds; 10-12 is typical. Oops. I have a very bad TFA admission to make. Wednesday night, once I was finally done with grad school,…

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Jun 13 2013

Might Be Going Senile

Day 172: This is the first time I’m two days late to write about Tuesday. My brain is oatmeal. If I were a runner, this would be the point where you’re nearly at the end of a marathon, muscles desperately craving oxygen. I do remember one happy moment. NM was in my room for lunch, as…

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Jun 11 2013

In Which a Slip-Up is Forgiven

Day 171: Finals review packets aren’t thrilling, but they’re effective. Three classes walked in and, for the most part, efficiently made their way through nine months of science. Three days until the final, and we’ve got plenty of work to do. I told a student to shut up today. It was the end of fourth period…

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Jun 09 2013

On Broken Copiers and Dead Turtles

Day 170: So, sometimes, your normal day runs into an obstacle or two. Friday was one of those days. We have three printers at school. Sometimes, one breaks. Friday, all three broke. This left me without a printer on a day when all of my classes depended on my ability to print quizzes and final exam…

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Jun 09 2013

Still Winning

Day 169: The long, tiring days typically are not “wins.” And yet, today, 12 days from the finish line, the wins kept coming. First and second period’s double block was listless to say the least, as is typical for that class. However, a late bit of pumping the kids up about how fast we’d been able…

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Jun 07 2013

You Gotta Fight

Day 168: I know it’s nearly all over when, one day later, I can honestly remember NOTHING that happened in class yesterday. I can only assume that means neither anything bad nor anything particularly wonderful happened. Class itself was pretty average. I gritted my way through a pair of teacher-directed lessons, getting by on management more…

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Jun 05 2013

Bucking the End-of-Year Slide

Day 167: Sometimes, it all just works. First period handles the decomposer lab – including leaving to go put soon-to-be decomposed bread in their lockers – without flipping out. Second period’s usual characters were all calm and focused. Fourth period, aka my homeroom, aka my darlings, aka my devil-children, were all engaged and on their game.…

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Day 166: We had indoor recess today, due to rain. I had to tell five girls to get into the classroom three times; they finally went in when the building sub walked by and said, “Do what you’re told.” So, you know, that had me in a good mood, the whole not-following-my-directions thing. TC was the…

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Jun 03 2013

In Which I Hold Students Accountable

Day 165: Every time I teach a lab, I make a point to reinforce the importance of respecting materials, even when they are everyday materials that you might have in your house. This usually results in on-task behavior. And then, sometimes, kids are kids. Like Friday, when JM ate the bread that was meant to be…

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Jun 01 2013

With Children in the Woods

Day 164: Thursday was our annual 6th grade field trip to Blue Hills, a hiking area and nature preserve south of Boston. Last year, I had to sit out due to car accident-induced concussion and whiplash, so I was excited to get to participate this time around. The weather was perfect – 85 degrees and sunny.…

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May 30 2013

Ending With My Best

Day 163: Tuesday, I committed to a better Wednesday. By better, I mean not only helping my kids be more focused in class, but also writing plans that were worthy of class – not end-of-May crap. Mission largely accomplished. Fourth period was grossed out by the decomposing rabbit slideshow I began class with, and then was…

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May 29 2013

Post-Long Weekend Blues

Day 162: Sometimes, you just get caught off guard. Tuesday morning started innocently enough. I had two classes come in and nail class. And that’s despite the fact that second period featured a skit on energy pyramids that totally bombed last year (ah, the wonders of improved management). I let myself think it was going to…

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May 27 2013

You’ll Thank Me Later

Day 161: Friday morning, we took the entire sixth grade to the Upper School – the 7-12 campus where they’ll move after this year. We saw the recess yard, we met the principal, and we had a tour of the 7-8 building where they’ll have all of their classes. Two items stand out. First, we ran…

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May 25 2013

Win Some, Lose Some, Get Some Rest

Day 160: Thursday’s Theme: Win some, lose some, then try to get some rest. The sixth grade was presenting plays on Greek myths at various points throughout the morning. This means I got my third period class intermittently over a period of 10 minutes while I was trying to start class, and teach a really tricky…

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May 24 2013

Improvement! Sort Of …

Day 159: Wednesday, I had one of the best classes with my homeroom all spring. Sort of. After three or four quick warnings, the Do Now was silent. Not sort of silent, but actually silent. When it came time for the food web demonstration – throwing balls of yarn around the room to make a big…

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May 22 2013

Searching for Creepy Crawlies

Day 158: I can’t think of any overarching theme for today. Classes went well, whether it was the “we need to shape up” speech I had to give 2nd period or the “we have a lot to celebrate” speech I gave 8th period. So, in the absence of any big theme, here’s a cute story. My…

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May 21 2013

When a Sick Day Isn’t Enough

Day 157: Well, 157 days into the school year, I finally took a sick day. It turns out that being out at receptions and dinners and family time for an entire graduation weekend – for my youngest brother, now a Skidmore College graduate! – and subsequently missing your regularly scheduled catch-up-on-rest time, combined with some head-inflating…

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May 20 2013

Praying for a Stronger Finish

Day 156: Students might not know it, but they love routines. Structure and schedule helps them know what’s expected of them. It helps them focus on learning. So, what happens when you try to teach on a Friday, when Tuesday and Thursday were high-stakes tests, Wednesday was a half-day, and Thursday afternoon was mostly recess and…

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Experimental Procedures of a Second-Year Teacher

Greater Boston
Middle School

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