About Alessandra Echeverria

Alessandra was in the 2008 NYC corps and taught 4th and 5th grades for three years in Brooklyn and the Bronx. After two summers on institute staff and a year in the New York Regional office, Alessandra is now a proud member of the New Site Development team at Teach For America. She enjoys receiving visitors at her stand up desk. Alessandra spends her free time training for ultramarathons, blogging, and watching The Young and the Restless.

Beyond The Tracker: Letting students define success

Finish Line

What does success look like at the end of the year for you and your students? Photo credit: jayneandd)

Back in the day, which by the way is 2008, a corps member’s effectiveness was measured by “significant gains” in the classroom. I lived and breathed by my tracker, and if my students were on the way to “sig gains”, then we were A-OK.  At the end of the year, all three of my classes had achieved “sig gains” and we were extremely proud of ourselves. Hooray! Pat on the back! The tracker is green!

But what did a tracker full of green mean for my students? Did they understand the progress they had made? Did I fully understand the progress they had made? When my school learned that it was overstaffed for the next school year and I packed up my classroom, I didn’t feel confident in the work we had accomplished and how that would translate into my students’ future successes.

I shared my feelings with my MTLD at our End-of-Year reflection meeting and realized that my students would have benefitted from an End-of-Year reflection meeting with me.

Make the Most of Your Staycation

I enjoy traveling but sometimes going away on vacation just isn’t an option. May it be finances tighter than my skinny jeans or just a strong desire to sleep in my own bed, I have discovered that I don’t need to travel far to get the vacation experience.

Over the years, I have learned the secrets to stay-at-home tourism.

I’ve lived in Manhattan for the past five years but my favorite place to be a tourist is in my hometown of Oyster Bay, New York. Only a short train ride away, with a small town atmosphere and free accommodations (hi Mom!), Oyster Bay makes the ideal location for stay-at-home tourism. If you’re living in a major city, there are probably tons of things you’ve been meaning to do, but I think smaller towns have the potential for the greatest staycation finds.

Here’s how to make the most out of your staycation:

The Secret To Making Time With Friends While In the Corps

43/365 Friends

Maintaining personal relationships while in the corps isn’t as impossible as it sounds. (Photo credit: Vinni123)

During my second year in the corps, I became convinced I was going to spend my life alone with cats. I had gone from an extremely social person in college to someone who sat in her apartment anxiously debating between lesson planning and lying on the couch catching up on All My Children (may it rest in peace) on the DVR. The deliveryman from Hunan Delight saw me more often than my friends. Sometimes I wondered if I still had any.

I had proudly shared my time management skills during my TFA interview. Like many of you reading this, I held leadership positions on campus, I was social chair of my sorority, I had a sick GPA, and I still managed to make it to Greek life mixers and dress up for theme parties several nights a week. I have the pink zebra, sexy lion, and flirty nurse costumes to prove it. Yes, teaching a classroom of children was entirely different than being a high-achieving student showing up for college classes, but I had heard rumors of other corps members living fulfilling lives that included people they weren’t responsible for grading. What was I doing wrong?