A New Corps Members First Impressions: Saying Goodbye

(Photo credit: Peter Kaminski)

(Photo credit: Peter Kaminski)

I’ve lapsed into post-training laziness over the weekend. Today, the Chicago corps attended another full day of planning for the first week of school and attending seminar, as usual. Now I’m sitting in an airport, waiting for my flight back to Washington state. Because we were encouraged to reflect on everything we learned (and because my free wifi session expired), I’m thinking back on the lessons I learned from the last day of class.

On Friday, my collab gave all our kids cards in which we wrote a little about them. Their potential, their skills, and the particular light they brought to our class. When we handed them out, one girl immediately took hers to the back of the room so she could read it in peace. Another got my collab to read it to her and couldn’t wait to show her sister what we said. After the bell rang, they hung around, and I had to shoo them out the door to get them to their math class on time. We also gave them pizza, so I’m not a hundred percent sure why they were so hard to get rid of, but I like to think it wasn’t just because of the food.

Pop Links 7.29.14: Alum Stays in Classroom, Explains Why; Password-Managing Site; Learning to Read; Ebola Virus Explained

  • “What followed was the toughest year of my life.” An alum explains why he chose to stay in the classroom after his corps experience, despite the challenges he faced.
  • If this is not already the case, you will soon have countless usernames and passwords for school-related software systems to remember. Keep track of login information using Dashlane, a password manager site.
  • The point where students transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” may occur later than previously believed. Read more about the results of a new study that has implications for how we educate students.
  • A recent outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Western Africa has killed more than 600 people in a brief timespan. In one minute, the BBC explains the frightening virus.
  • TFANet Resource: Vocabulary

Motivation Monday: Mistakes


Seven Tips to Ace Any Sample Lesson


It may come after a phone screening, or it may be part of a third interview—either way, eventually you’ll have to do a sample lesson. Teaching a lesson to a group of students you’ve never seen before, with the principal taking notes in the background, can be daunting. Check out our tips to help you ace it. The good news: with so many additional adults in the room, most students who pose a challenge are on their best behavior.


Do Your Homework 
Ask for information—the number of students, the technology you’ll have available, the room set-up (is there a rug? Are students in desks or tables?)—ahead of time.

You may be provided with a lesson template, or you may have to use your own. Either way, use the lesson plan as an opportunity to let the principal in on your thinking. Scripting out the introduction, directions, and content explanations will ensure that you’re confident, and (in case time runs out) will help the principal “see” the entire lesson.

Real Corps Stories: Karega

Karega Bailey (D.C. Corps ’09) shares the story of his toughest moment in the classroom. The twist? His toughest moment later led to one of his most rewarding moments as a teacher.

Pop Links 7.22.14: Girl Scout Barbie; Creative ESL Teacher; Southwest Airlines Soccer Balls; Free NatGeo Courses for Teachers

  • A new Girl Scout is stirring controversy even before her first pledge. The product of a partnership between Mattel and Girl Scouts, Girl Scout Barbie will soon debut to the chagrin of many protesters who complain that Barbie represents the antithesis of Girl Scouts.
  • An ESL teacher has gained Internet fame for his creative way of teaching the countless irregular English verbs.
  • Southwest Airlines is making recycling fun for Kenyan orphans! Find out why the airline is turning its leather seats into soccer balls.
  • This fall, National Geographic is offering free courses to help teachers teach students about one of the most critical compounds on Earth: water! Find out how you can join the online course.
  • TFANet Resource: Word Problems

The Power of Real Apologies in a Fake-Apology World

You might not need to go to these lengths to apologize. (Photo credit: butupa)

You might not need to go to these lengths to apologize. (Photo credit: butupa)

Apologies require the highest level of human capacity: mindful self-reflection and the ability to acknowledge another person’s experience. If that isn’t hard enough, it often requires putting ourselves in a position of vulnerability—often to the person to whom we are apologizing.

That’s why no one has ever woken up in the morning excited because they have to apologize to someone. Of course, it feels better in the long run, and yes, it’s the “right” thing to do, but usually we dread these moments. It’s why we so often come up with reasons not to apologize, like refusing to believe we’re wrong, excusing our behavior, blaming the other person, or thinking nothing we say will make a difference.

Adults often have the best of intentions; however, the way we teach children to apologize is often counterproductive. We often force them to apologize when they don’t mean it or we don’t understand what’s really going on. We demand they apologize, get angry with them when they refuse, and then don’t think to revisit what happened later when they’ve been given a chance to self-reflect. Or, we make them apologize but don’t realize or know what to do when they only apologize to get themselves out of trouble.

But there is a lot on the line: how you as a teacher model and teach giving and accepting apologies matters. If you handle these moments well, you are giving young people a foundation for their ethical development. If you don’t, you miss a critical opportunity to demonstrate your values in action and it decreases your credibility as an ethical authority figure.

Motivation Monday: Respect