Didymath

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Sep 26 2014

#89: Five weeks into year five

Oh, hey. This old thing. At this rate, I should be finishing up post #100 by about summer of 2019 or so. This is year five. I’m teaching math still, but this time it’s remediation for the state end-of-course exam for Algebra 1. After five weeks, I really like it! I have small classes for…

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It’s only been seven months or so since I last deigned to come on this space and write about anything. There are a lot of reasons for this: I’m on Twitter now. A lot. The teachforus.org site went all nutty at one point (and it still is?) I have been drowning in a sea of…

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Dec 30 2013

#87: Megan

I was wary of making post about this. I’m struggling to write about this in a way that isn’t about me because it isn’t at all. But I feel like this is professionally the most emotionally-wrenching thing I’ve been party to and wanted to share this from a teacher’s perspective. One of my students from…

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Dec 30 2013

#86: Fall 2013 in review

In the past and particularly this summer, I have had a draft or two kicking around in my mind before I actually sat down to type anything. Not so, this fall. I think this goes beyond me being busy. We are always busy. I think what is different now is that I’m less certain. Less…

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I am in the middle of wrapping up 30 hours of state-mandated “Gifted and Talented” professional development. I don’t know how useful it is to call it such given that many of the practices are just plain good practice for any student (encourage creativity! open-ended questioning!), and it’s a bit disconcerting that it is brought…

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Aug 21 2013

#84: Guest post on Edushyster

Year four of teaching 4 America is afoot, but before I lapse into a writing coma until Thanksgiving, I have a guest post up on Edushyster. I had a lot of fun writing it and a lot of distress researching it.

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Aug 16 2013

#83: I don’t blame you

I had a chance to sit and chat via Spreecast with some of the regular cast of characters around the TeachForUs/TFA water cooler this week. At the end of the discussion, a 2013 corps member remarked to Gary Rubinstein that he comes across as extreme to new TFA corps members who have not had much…

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I’m pretty far removed from academia these days, so forgive me if I’m duplicating another scholar’s work. I’ve been engaging with and reading the opinions of a greater number of stakeholders in education this summer. I’m finding the Democrat-Republican and liberal-conservative (social or economic) divides to be less helpful in understanding the debates that are…

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Have y’all heard of this guy Matt Damon? Apparently he’s a fairly well-known public school advocate who made some waves by announcing that his children would not be attending public schools in Los Angeles and instead he and his wife decided to enroll them in private schools. In response, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush did…

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Jul 21 2013

#80: Fight the real enemy

Mrs. Villanueva-Beard, I’ve been reading your speech to TFA alumni in Detroit. I found the title of your speech compelling: “Fighting the Wrong Enemy”(1). Once I was able to get past the more boilerplate aspects of the speech, I dug into the core of your message. I know one of the things you and Matt…

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We have a new principal who has charged members of their respective departments with interviewing and recommending potential hires this summer. I was privileged enough to be on that committee for a couple of different rounds of interviewing. First, we had two vacancies left by teachers who took jobs at neighboring schools. We interviewed five…

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For those of you who would like to participate, I posted about a MOOC offered by Stanford called “How to Learn Math” for which you can still register. This course is my introduction to MOOCs, so I’m at once enjoying the content and the presentation of it as well. I don’t think this substitutes for…

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I’m going to take a break from breathing fire for a post and get into my summer plans: digging into the new state standards. If you teach in Texas, our illustrious legislators approved changes to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards in 2012. Those changes will go into effect for the 2014-2015 school…

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Hi, my name is Didymath(1), and I am anti-TFA. I’ve been blogging in this space for nearly two years and if you are a regular reader, you are probably not shocked in the least to see that sentence. To muddy the waters a bit, I want to clarify what it is I am against. I…

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The serendipity of Mr. Rubinstein showing us Chad for America and the triumphant return of parus inspired me to lecture y’all on professional internet etiquette. While I am certain that everyone has sat through a session on this already, I feel obliged to reiterate a few things. Here’s the Didymath guide to internetting: Everything you do online,…

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Institute has a pretty classic narrative structure. Induction is your exposition, setting the scene. Your rising action: first day jitters, getting your dorm room, ice breakers, the first big pep rally where you stand with your regional compatriots: it’s college all over again! Then, teaching for the first time, being excited to meet your students,…

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Last year, our district was in thrall to the unit exam schedule of CSCOPE, a very expensive curriculum/unit exam regime not at all appropriate for students who were behind grade level. Our district math coordinator at the time insisted at the time that fealty to this schedule would ultimately lead our students to the promised…

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Any future and present math teachers interested in a little summer PD from home? I’m taking Stanford’s EDUC115N “How to Learn Math” starting July 15. Direct quote: CONCEPTS 1. Knocking down the myths about math. Math is not about speed, memorization or learning lots of rules. There is no such thing as “math people” and…

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2013 TFA teachers: you are finished with Institute or are about to finish. You’ve spent hours poring over lesson plans, listening intently to feedback from your advisors(1), attending session after session, and reflecting more than a funhouse mirror. You’ve been staying up late and getting up early for a month-plus. You are probably exhausted. This…

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This is part five of an ongoing dialogue regarding the importance of standardized testing. This post is in response to EMinNM’s “Test scores aren’t all that matter!” EM, before I go any further, let me apologize for my slow response. My go-to excuse for tardiness is here. Thank you for your quite thoughtful response. I…

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I’m responding to EMinMN’s most recent post titled “Test scores do matter. Unfortunately.”  This was originally to be a comment but it got long-winded(1) and I think merits a discussion of the importance of testing in our work. Her post is itself a response to Gary Rubinstein’s post regarding a 2012 CM’s quote: “My vision…

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Jun 12 2013

#68: End-of-year reflections

Summer is officially here as evidenced by an adorable sleeping baby strapped to my chest and the Spurs rolling in the NBA Finals(1). My first year as a general ed teacher is done. My first year of teaching with the STAAR Geometry test is done. My third year is in the books with the fourth…

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I came across a TFA corps member’s old letter of intent, and in addition to showcasing some grade A positivity pablum, it featured this utterly disgraceful passage: I’ve been following Teach for America for several years.  Alum (sic) like Michelle Rhee(1) at DC Public Schools or KIPP founders Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin have used…

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If you will forgive the drought between posts, I did actually begin this one last month and it’s been sitting in the drafts folder ever since. But I think today is as good a time as any to revive it due to the latest legislative news. Among other things, House Bill 5 eliminates the requirement to…

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The Texas House of Representatives just voted to reduce the number of end-of-credit exams required for graduation from a record 15 (five each year from freshman to junior year) to just five. The push to scale back our testing regime came from all corners of the state and enjoyed near-unanimous support from both parties. The…

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