Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 18 2012

Year 3. Day 17.

It’s hard to say goodbye to summer, even when you’re 4 weeks into the year. Was I really in Argentina a month ago? Did that trip to Brazil actually happen? Can those memories of sipping coconuts on Rio beaches already be fading?
Year three has brought an unanticipated frenzy.
First trigger: I moved to a new school. With new expectations. A new staff culture. And new modes of management. (Read: I feel out of place and unsure of how to approach the bosses.)
Stage 2 trigger: I switched grade levels. You’d think jumping from 4th to 2nd grade would be easy breezy, but that would underestimate the value of being able to work independently for extended periods of time. Working in 15 minute chunks means being on your toes. Constantly.
Escalating trigger: PLCs 3 mornings a week? I’m all for collaboration. In fact, it’s the reason I opted to switch schools. But our team…

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Apr 25 2012


Why do I show up every single day? Without fail. You ask me. Why? Because I can’t help how much I feel for my 31 kiddies. I am the extension of their family. And this merger–well, it’s going to happen. The neighborhood will change. And the success of change depends on how we approach it. I…

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Jan 17 2012


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive. Howard Thurman

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Mar 12 2011

So long, lil’ rut of mine.

*Names have been changed to protect the confidentiality of my students. Admittedly, I’ve been in a bit of a rut last for the last month. This place of stagnancy emerged somewhere between the daily grind of planning and executing awesome lessons, taking grad school classes, completing performance assessments for my credential, being observed and evaluated…

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Mar 07 2011

3½ months later.

In retrospect, the moments that stand out from my own 180 days as a 4th grader swarm together to create a mixed montage…reading Bridge to Terabithia in a book group, dominating kickball at recess, learning how to draw 3D shapes, playing the role of the princess in a play about Orpheus,  using the word “unique”…

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Nov 22 2010

Thank you, Portable E.

Outside this room is an ocean of cracked, gray, bumpy, plain, cement waves contained by fence after fence after fence penning my kids in like a prison yard. Just beyond that 3rd chain-linked barrier is a wide open, green, grassy field. A space where these children are not permitted to play because drug lords, gangs,…

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Oct 09 2010

Lessons for Ms. S.

I’ve been waiting for the right words to pull together my thoughts, but it’s been six weeks and I just can’t wait any longer. So with or without them, here I go. In the past month and a half I’ve amassed several new students and a world of new experiences. There have been many failures…

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Sep 06 2010

Launching Portable E.

“Being human’s a complicated gig, so give that old dark night of the soul a hug and howl the eternal yes!” These words graced a bookmark that was gifted to me yesterday, and after what felt like a challenging ending to an intense week, I found them relieving. Week one as leader of my very…

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Aug 02 2010

$320,000 per year.

Saturday circa sunset, I wandered the Santa Monica beach for one final nostalgic night in So-Cal this summer.  Just before turning my back on the water, a pair of fins peeked above the waves and caught my eye.  Two, then 6 more, then more, and more. These fins, however, did not belong to sharks like…

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Jul 21 2010

Down the rabbit hole.

Most of you know me as Katja. But in my classroom this summer, my Kindergarteners call me Ms. S.  In the last five weeks I have been adopted into a new culture (of supremely motivated people and what seems like a mandatory love for marathoning), with a new language (just yesterday my SOM asked, “Did…

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Bottom Line: My kids must have options.

Bay Area
Elementary School

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