Becoming a Family: When a Classroom Comes Together


Holt’s homeroom students celebrate a goal milestone.

Family is so much more than mothers and fathers, siblings, and children, and there are many people in my life whom I consider family. My familial influences extend beyond the traditional descriptions and bloodlines, and include some of my most prized relationships—including those that I fostered with my sixth graders in Sanders, Arizona, a small community on the Navajo Nation.

I taught three daily math classes and one social studies class. My 97 kids and I started the year off as acquaintances, at best. But together, we learned the ropes of middle school—we opened combination locks on lockers, organized notebooks for five different classes, collaborated, figured out problems, and solved two-step equations. We quickly became a family.

A family can be defined as a group of people united by certain convictions, and my students and I were united by our conviction that we would not allow our ZIP codes, socioeconomic background, or ethnicity determine our trajectory in life. I didn’t think fighting for my students was right—we had to fight it together.

8 Lessons for Teacher Growth


1. Humility

You’re probably very good at what you do–at least parts of it. You’re also probably very bright, compassionate, and driven, or you wouldn’t have made it to whatever place you’re currently in as an educator.

But change requires self-awareness and a humble approach to your craft. The ability to see yourself and the need for change–within or around you–is the most critical step in any process of growth and change.

2. Balance

As often as possible, strive for a balance of thinking, tools, strategies, and related resources. The most popular, clicked, shared, and curated content on the internet is probably lists. Top 10 Strategies for _____, 25 Apps _____, 8 Tips for _____, etc. This is probably because they’re easy to skim, extract takeaways from, and save–and then move on with your life.

Instagram Photo of the Day 4.23.14

kball_a: Great to visit my sons school & classroom yesterday where he's teaching for #TeachForAmerica #Oklahoma

kball_a: Great to visit my sons school & classroom yesterday where he’s teaching for #TeachForAmerica #Oklahoma


Earth Day: You’re Just Getting Started


Each year on Earth Day, many of us commit to environmental acts of kindness. From water conservation to composting, from climate change to changing light bulbs, each of us can do our part to tackle the eco-issues facing our planet. But where do you start, and how do you make this something for your whole school to rally around? And while we’re at it, why stop on April 23?

This year, the Center for Green Schools challenges you to think about what you can do not just on Earth Day, but throughout the year. Our third annual Green Apple Day of Service is September 27, 2014, and the buzz around Earth Day gives you the perfect opportunity to begin planning activities at your school.

To get you thinking about green projects, we’ve lined up a few ideas that will transform your schools into healthier, safer, more efficient places.

  • Give the campus a facelift. Teachers at Oceanside High School in San Diego, CA spent last year’s Green Apple Day of Service with volunteers inside and out of their school. They planted beautiful flowers and repainted exterior walls long plagued by graffiti, making the school and neighborhood a more welcoming place. Materials were donated by local partners, and volunteers from the U.S. Green Building Council – San Diego and Balfour Beatty Construction lent a hand to get the work done.

Pop Links 4.22.14: Segregation in American Schools; Age of Best Brain Function; Better Online Searching; ASL Performance

  • More than 50 years after the Brown vs. Board of Ed. ruling, American schools still are dealing with segregation. This ProPublica special addresses the re-segregation of our schools.
  • Scientists have identified the age at which human beings achieve maximum cognitive function! The magic number may surprise you.
  • Are your students working on end-of-year papers and projects? Give them the right tools so that they can do their best research! recommends online tools that make searching easier and fun.
  • Hand gestures are commonplace in rap performances, but the gestures on an April episode of Jimmy Kimmel were unique – it was American Sign Language. Watch Wiz Khalifa perform his hit song “Black & Yellow” with ASL interpreters.
  • TFANet Resource: End of Year

Pinterest Pick: The Best Sites for Cinco de Mayo Lessons


By |April 22nd, 2014|General|0 Comments|

Laundry Room Lessons

(Photo credit: Gideon)

(Photo credit: Gideon)

Institute was hard for me, and I struggled day after day during those five weeks. Now, as I see announcements of 2014 corps members being accepted, I’ve been thinking about how my journey with TFA began.

And so I started re-reading blog posts that I had written from the beginning, from Institute, and I found a snippet written on the way to my assigned school:

June 20

It was a Wednesday night in the laundry room, and I learned three important lessons from two amazing women, Dez and Jazmine:

  1. “Your friends take you seriously when you talk. You can be taken seriously.”
  2. “Find your own voice. Use your own voice.”
  3. “You are a student of your students.”

Time to try this out.

Instagram Photo of the Day 4.21.14

jeremycwilson: Thanks to #TeachForAmerica Executive Director Josh Anderson for joining us to discuss Ed Reform in #Chicago

jeremycwilson: Thanks to #TeachForAmerica Executive Director Josh Anderson for joining us to discuss Ed Reform in #Chicago