Miss Bennett in the Bay

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

Archives › First Year

Jul 09 2008

TFA in Popular Culture

Yesterday, I was watching a healthy dose of Cash Cab when the $100 question was posed to the contestants: “What non-profit, founded by a Princeton senior, sends recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools for two years?” TEACH FOR AMERICA! I unabashedly screamed at my television. I watched in horror as the contestants hummed…

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Jun 24 2008

An Open Letter to Gary Rubenstein

Dear Mr. Rubenstein, Hi.  You don’t know me, but you can probably guess a lot about how the way my first year of teaching went when I tell you I am a 2007 Bay Area corps member.  As I’m sure you are painfully aware, I didn’t receive any of the “reality checks” that you are…

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Jun 20 2008


Today is my half birthday.  And the summer solstice.  And it is hot.  I mean, really. really. hot.  There’s nothing like a classic California heat wave, combined with the effects of finishing a first year of teaching, to make you go completely insane. I, along with about 99% of TFA corps members, am not the…

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Jun 17 2008

What Teachers Do in the Summer

Today is my first “official” day of summer break.  (I use quotation marks because I didn’t consider it break for myself until I finished organizing my classroom yesterday.)  I am having difficulty with this new schedule: 6:30 am: Open one lazy eye to see the time on the clock.  Blissfully roll over and continue sleeping.…

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Jun 12 2008

Significant Academic Gains

Well, the results are in.  It’s the last day of school.  Desks have been emptied, posters have been taken down, shelves have been covered, and the only thing left to do is celebrate our Big Goals. We met them, by the way. My final classroom average reading growth was 1.5 years of growth!  4 of…

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Jun 07 2008

End of Year Celebration

Last night, all current corps members traveled up to San Francisco for a wonderful end of year celebration.  We sailed around San Fransisco Bay on a Hornblower Yacht while the ’06 corps members were welcomed into the alumni movement.  It was quite inspiring, even for Scott.  It was nice to take a moment to reflect…

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May 23 2008

And the Beat Goes On

You can really feel it in the air these days, like an ever present whisper getting slowly louder and louder.  It feels like the beat of distant drums driving an army marching on and on, never stopping, never faltering, gathering strength towards the Last Day of School. I feel it looming on the horizon.  And…

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May 16 2008

Mental Health Day

It is 9:30 am and I have only been awake for about 30 minutes.  It’s Friday, and after a grueling week of Open Court Police and an intense heat wave, I decided to give myself a mental health day. Granted, I do have to re-take a section of a stupid technology exam for my credential…

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May 14 2008


Lately it seems like every time I turn around, I’ve passed some kind of important anniversary in this journey.  April marked the anniversary of making the life changing decision to join TFA.  Last Friday marked the one year anniversary of graduating from dear old CU (!).  This weekend is the anniversary of the May Hiring…

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May 10 2008

CSTs and OCR Police

5 weeks.  23 days.  Oh, my Lord, I am actually going to survive this school year. I really didn’t think I would make it. The stress, long hours, ridiculousness of my school, and not having much of a life outside of work are getting to me.  But, now that I can taste the end of…

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Apr 30 2008

Just Another Rivet in the Machine

These days, I feel more like the late DentArthurDent stuck in a Vogon Bureaucracy than a teacher who is attempting to subvert the Bureaucracy from within. Last week, we had M’s second SST, in which I had to go in and again explain that, despite my efforts at interventions, M still has made no progress.…

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Apr 20 2008

Gaining on the Goal

All year long, my class has been about 10 percent under the Big Goal. They have made tremendous reading growth so far and I have no doubt they will meet their goals in that realm. But math continues to elude us. After my round 3 meetings a few weeks ago, my Program Director pointed out…

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Apr 12 2008

No Test Score Left Behind

Second grade is not a happy place to be these days. Since my school is only a K-2 school, second graders are the only students at the school who will take the CST. Which means that our students will determine our API. Which means that our students are the only shot we have at ever…

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Mar 24 2008

Spring Break Musings

For this first weekend of spring break, Scott and I spent a wonderful three days up in Napa valley. It is truly beautiful there, and it’s one of the best vacations I have ever had. I really needed it. While having dinner before heading home tonight, I heard Eric Clapton’s “Change the World” on the…

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Mar 19 2008

Oops and Double Oops

As you may well know by now, I am teaching in an Open Court district. This means that for whatever reason, somebody down the street at the district office decided that OCR is the solution to all of education’s problems. Forget the fact that 90% of our students are English Learners and OCR’s ELD program…

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Mar 08 2008

Utter Exhaustion

This week was one of the most difficult weeks I’ve had in a while. On Monday I got to school at 6:45 and worked right up until the bell rang and somehow I still was not fully prepared for my day. I don’t really know what happened. Maybe it was that last weekend we had…

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Mar 02 2008

SSTs and Mid-year Reading Growth

After much sweat, blood, and tears on my part, we were finally successful in having the SST for M, one of my students who can’t read (the other one who can’t read has leukemia and is never at school.) As you may recall, I submitted the paperwork for M’s SST in October. We had the…

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Feb 23 2008

Landmark Academy

During our much-needed break in Colorado, I was fortunate enough to visit my friend Ms. Cantrell’s 1st grade classroom at a beautiful brand-new charter school in Reunion, CO. I spent the day wandering around, popping in classrooms and getting ideas. What I saw really struck me. They have larger class sizes than at my school.…

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Feb 15 2008

Butterflies and Sharks

The grand extent of “science” in my classroom for the past few weeks has been growing butterflies. They shipped a bunch of caterpillars in a cup to us, and since then we’ve been “observing” butterflies every few days. Mostly, this consists of cries of, “Look, Ms. Bennett! It’s EATING the FOOD!” Or, “Oh, man, it’s…

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Feb 03 2008

Guest Blogger: Ms. Snyder

I figured that since I spend so much time with Jess, and we do all of our planning together, and we are pretty much the same corps member but with two classrooms, I should give her some space to post on my blog. A little background: her class is the worst class behavior-wise in second…

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Feb 03 2008

Planning Things and SSTs

On Monday at about 8:10 in the morning, I was in my classroom preparing for the day. All of a sudden, I heard lots of screaming coming from the playground. At first I figured that it was just some game that the kids were playing, but the racket grew. I opened my door and realized…

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Jan 27 2008

My Day with Alliant “University”

As I journey towards being a fully credentialed teacher in California, I am required to be enrolled in a credentialing program and pass certain tests to prove that I can, indeed, teach. My credentialing program is called Alliant “University“. Basically, the entirety of the Bay Area corps enrolls with this program because they will give…

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Jan 23 2008

79 Is the Lonliest Number

Nothing frustrates me more than when I’m entering in the data for our goal quizzes and the class average goes down to 79% at the last possible moment. We shoot for 80% mastery to meet our Big Goal, and tonight I graded a quiz on measurement. All but 5 of the kids got 80 or…

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Jan 21 2008

100 Book Challenge

Ok, I’ll admit it. I was wrong about the 100 Book Challenge. Well, perhaps wrong is not the right word. Misinformed is more accurate. It turns out that I was pulled out of my classroom on Wednesday for something actually worthwhile (shocker!) I think that the 100 Book Challenge will turn out to be a…

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Jan 14 2008

Renewal or Burnout?

After 6 days back in the classroom after break, I simply can’t decide if I’m feeling renewed or burnt. I’m certainly working much harder and more purposefully than I was before break. I have solid plans, and a solid vision. I feel like a teacher now (as opposed to feeling like a “teacher.”) These things…

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"All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost." -J. R. R. Tolkien

Bay Area
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Elementary Education

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