This is journal I plan to keep to allow family and friends to keep up with me through the my time in Teach For America, teaching in one of the most challenged school districts in the country.  Out of respect for the privacy of others, I will not use actual names of others, where appropriate.

I’m currently in Baltimore for Induction, which is kind of like a week-long orientation to the Baltimore corps.  We’ve got lots of speeches, meet and greets, and bureaucratic tasks to accomplish.

I’m not sure how often I’ll have the chance to update this, but I want to make sure to cover the significant moments.

First Thoughts

It’s my third day in Baltimore for Induction, and it’s already been a heck of an experience.

I arrived on Sunday and began to acclimate myself right away, meeting people and picking through the paperwork they gave me at check-in.  It’s been really interesting meeting the other 2008 corps members.  We’ve got somewhere between 100 and 110 incoming teachers from all over the country.  Everyone is from really different backgrounds, but I get the feeling we’re also a lot alike.  I guess it’s to be expected, considering how rigorous TFA is in finding corps members that fit their mold.

The first full day was information overload.  I’m already trying to process all the teaching-related reading I’ve done on my own, advice from experienced teachers and TFA corps members, and the countless pages of info in the Pre-Institute manuals.  Add to that Monday’s 12 full hours of speeches of all sorts.  I tried to jot down the most salient pieces of advice and remarks, but I’ll probably never dig these notes up again, so I just hope I absorbed the most important details.  The biggest things I plan to internalize are to establish relationships with the students, the other teachers, the administrators, the corps members, and the community, to not succumb to negativity and defeatism, to never waver in setting high expectations for the kids, to be respectful and humble, and to be prepared to work relentlessly.  I’ve got a lot of learning to do these next couple of months.

And this much has been impressed upon me more than anything:  the experience of teaching in inner city Baltimore is going to be extremely tough.  I’d say all of us are somewhat scared to death, and we’d be fools not to be.  But we’re also fired up, and even after a just a couple of days, we’re already starting to band together and dig in.

Drama, drama

The first dramatic climax of the TFA experience (of many to come, I’m sure) has been the placement process.  Each  of us was assigned a provisional placement subject and grade level when we were accepted to the program, but the process of placing us into actual positions at schools has been ongoing these past few weeks.  Some folks had managed to secure placements before Induction, but most of us arrived with nothing yet set in stone.  For those of us without placements, today’s hiring fair figured to be the best place to make a play at the most choice placements.  I fell in an unusual middle ground; a few principals had expressed interest in hiring me, so I knew I’d have some leads to follow up on after getting into town.  One principal had expressed strong interest in hiring me for a middle school position, so I knew I had something pretty much in the bag, if a couple other options didn’t pan out.  It seemed as though the hiring fair would be a pretty painless process.  Wrong!

The plan was pretty clear cut:  chat up a couple charter high school principals to see if I could get an ideal placement, and then follow up with the middle school principal to close the deal.  So I went first to High School, which was a great school I’d heard about from a current Baltimore corps member, and had become my first choice.  The assistant principal caught me off-guard with her aggressive interviewing style, and even though the questions she asked weren’t that out of the box, I found myself struggling and making rookie mistakes.  The other lady with her interviewed me next and seemed a lot more interested in me, so all was not lost.  They said I would hear back later in the week, but I left far from convinced that I had the job in the bag.

While in discussion with High School, I missed a call on my cell from Middle School, and immediately after the end of the interview, I set out to find their table, but couldn’t.  Perplexed, I returned the call.  And this is when my day got complicated.  First of all, the lady I was speaking to identified herself as the principal.  This alone was weird because I thought the guy from the school I’d been in contact with the past couple weeks was the principal.  Anyway, I told her I couldn’t find the table.  She responded that they didn’t come to the hiring fair because mine was the only position they hadn’t yet filled, and she was told that I had signed on.  


Taken (way) aback, I fumbled to explain to her that we clearly weren’t on the same page.  I had expected to speak to a representative from her school at the hiring fair about the details of the school and of the math opening–you know, minor details, such as what their philosophy of education was and what grade I’d be teaching.  She proceeded to guilt trip me about how they’d held the position for me, but I wasn’t about to capitulate.  I compromised and said that there were other schools I had planned to talk to and that I would call her and give her a final answer as soon as possible, but that I needed to speak to someone about the position.  She recommended I talk to a guy named Dr. Roberts from a school called Friendship Academy, even though they were a different school.

So at this point I was torn.  I had a bird in hand, so to speak, but only a couple hours to decide whether to go for it, or to leave them high and dry.  Honestly, I felt bad about the prospect of turning them down, but I didn’t have an incredible amount of pity for them, because they put themselves in the position by not communicating properly with me or sending someone to the hiring fair to speak to me.  But the worst case scenario was that I would turn down Middle school, get turned down by all the hiring fair principals, and end up having to take whatever random assignment I might get.  So I went outside, prayed on it, and went back in, putting it in God’s hands.  I figured that if nothing else panned out, then Middle School was place for me.

First stop: High School.  I decided I’d lay the situation out for them, that they were my top choice, but that my second choice was waiting for me to decide.  The assistant principal basically told me that she didn’t recommend I hold my breath.  Well that took care of that.

Next stop:  I talked to Dr. Roberts at Friendship Academy explaining my situation at Middle School, but instead of telling me about them, right away he started selling me on working for his school.  And it sounded sweet.  Right away we hit it off, and his opening was for 9th grade, which in my mind is the perfect mix.  You still have time to hook the kids on math and bring them up to speed.  They’re old enough to reason with, but not too old to take orders.  Not only that, but the school sounded like a perfect match.  It’s a charter school with school uniforms, a dedicated staff, and focus on science, technology, and engineering.  Before I knew it, or really thought about it, I was giddily signing on the dotted line.

Only as I walked away did the gravity of my potential mistake dawn on me.  Frindship was not on our list of TFA partner schools, and therefore I was specifically told not to interview with them.  So I tore off to find Annie Caldwell, our longsuffering placement coordinator and find out what to do.  After some tense minutes and some back and for walking between Friendship’s table and Annie, it was determined that Friendship was, in fact, a partner school as of today, validating my commitment.

And suddenly, all my problems were solved.  Well, all of them except turning down Middle School.  Naturally, the principal didn’t take it well, and I reckon Dr. Roberts is in for a scathing phone call.  I guess each of us is somewhat to blame, but for my part, I feel as though I’ve tried to be as straightforward as I could be, so I don’t feel too bad about it.

Since I left the hiring fair, I’ve been on a high, and at the same time, I’m exhausted.  Well, that’s one less big variable hanging over my head!  I’m very excited about my school placement, and Dr. Roberts seems like he is going to be a fantastic teaching mentor.  Now, I just need to find roommates and a place.

Why Baltimore?

I’m often asked why I decided to join Teach For America, and why I picked Baltimore, and although I know my reasons internally, these reasons have evolved over time, so it’s difficult to distill it down into a soundbite. So I figured I’d write the whole story here.

I decided over two years ago that I wanted to join Teach For America after hearing about the program from my old roommate and 2006 corps member, Jim Vogl. After 3 engineering internships at two different companies, I had learned that although I enjoy engineering, I couldn’t really see myself spending 8 hours a day in a cube for the next 30-40 years. I had always enjoyed teaching people things, but didn’t know if I’d ever be able to give it a try, with less than a year till graduation. Additionally, I had committed months earlier to the GEM Fellowship, which would cover the full cost of grad school in engineering.

But after Jim told me about TFA, I was immediately intrigued. Immediately after I got back to my room, I went to the website and read as much as I could. It seemed like the perfect opportunity. I would have the opportunity to try teaching as a career, I could have a positive impact in a community where teachers are desperately needed, and the 2 year commitment was short-term enough to not intimidate me. Heck, I could go back to engineering if it wasn’t for me. I decided that I would spend the next 2 years of grad school trying to best position myself for acceptance and success in the program.

During the application process, I had to figure out where, among the 25+ diverse TFA regions, I would prefer to be placed. This was not a quick decision. I probably originally overlooked Baltimore as being somehow inferior to the other great mid-Atlantic cities, but when I finally did read the description of the Baltimore experience on TFA’s webpage, it spoke to me. One thing that struck me was the description of how tight-knit the Baltimore corps is. I’m a very social person, and I found appealing the idea of working in a big city, but without the isolation. Also, although I’m not a highly ethnocentric person, given the sad and desperate state of affairs in the black community statistically, I took a strong personal interest in working to improve a school system that serves an almost 90% black population. In addition, I was very attracted to the certification program at Johns Hopkins that allows me to earn a master’s in teaching in 2 years, which will be a major asset if I decide to continue teaching after my 2 year commitment.

And maybe it’s partly because I’ve always had a soft spot for overlooked places. I guess it comes from growing up near the Second City. It’s always mildly irritating when people ask me, dubiously, what was it like to go to school at Iowa State, to work in rural Belmond, IA, to live in Swansea, Wales, to attend grad school in NJ, or to spend 3 summers and a spring in Kentucky, when I can tell they’re expecting to hear how much it sucked. (Don’t let this dissuade you from asking me about it, it’s only irritating when it comes off like you’ve already decided for yourself) Well there’s more to life than New York and LA, and forgotten places have a lot to offer, too. All these things considered led me to make Baltimore my top preference, and I was fortunate enough to be placed there.

While the things that led me to choose Baltimore are still valid in my mind, my experience at Induction last week has really crystalized in my mind that Baltimore is the right place for me. The situation in Baltimore is stark. Barely a third of kids who enter high school graduate, and for black males, the rate is significantly lower. Even fewer go on to graduate college. The student population served by the public schools has shriveled to about half of what it once was, as people who can get out flee the desperation. The achievement gap between schools in the city and the surrounding counties is staggering.

Despite all of this, I feel like this is an exciting time to be in Baltimore. Everything I’ve heard about Dr. Andres Alonzo, the new CEO of schools, gives me faith that things are about to turn around in Baltimore. To a large extent, it’s now well understood that the status quo is completely unacceptable, and a lot of exciting ideas are being tried. Teach For America corps members from the 90’s and others with years of experience teaching in urban environments are starting experimental new schools, are becoming principals and policy makers, and are bringing in fresh ideas on how allow these kids to be successful.

And I feel that the training from Teach For America will allow me to be successful in my classroom. From what I understand, back when TFA started in the early 90’s, the intent was to provide warm bodies in schools that desperately needed teachers. But, against the odds, some of these first teachers were able to not only able to survive the classroom, but to achieve significant gains. Over the years, TFA has intently studied what it took for these teachers to exceed the expectations, and has distilled it down into a curriculum called Teaching As Leadership. I still don’t know exactly what I’m up against, but at least I know I’m armed with the combined experience of almost 20 years of successful teachers.

While I was at Induction, I also got a feel for what they really meant about how tight knit the Baltimore corps is, so much so that it has earned a reputation among other corps. And from spending time with people from the groups that came before me, I can see why. They’re hospitality has been incredible, and they’ve worked their butts off to make sure we were prepared. The greater Baltimore corps is like a big family, connected by the way each year takes care of the year after it.

Coming in, even though I had the feeling TFA was going to be a life-altering experience, I still looked at it as a 2 year excursion. But after my experience at Induction, it may well amount to more than that. I feel like many of the other incoming corps members had a similar experience. For me, and probably a lot of the others, a major turning point was the community leader panel on Monday night. The question posed to one of the leaders was what the community thought of TFA teachers. And I think the answer surprised us. He said that we do great work, and are very dedicated, but that we leave. We don’t put down our roots, we don’t join the community, and we dip out when our commitment is over. At the moment, I think we were all challenged to reconsider our attitudes coming in. I know I did.

So that’s how I ended up in Baltimore. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I’m psyched about my school placement, the people I’m with, and the city.

I’ve got a week off until Institute begins, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to say when I get there.

Almost done with Institute week 1…

There is celebratory vibe in the air tonight. Everyone’s excited because–Guess what?–due to independence day, we get to wake up at 6:30am instead of 5:15. Most of the Baltimore corps took this as an excuse to party. A week at Institute has made us appreciate the simple joys in life.

Institute has been interesting. That’s about the only way I can sum it up in a sentence. I’m having a great time, but it’s been tough. My days are typically 16 hours long, so I (along with everyone else) am consistently sleep-deprived.

Hour and a half long lecture sessions are rough to sit through when you haven’t slept enough, but I’m desperately trying to remain awake and attentive, because I have just this week to learn how to teach before my four weeks of summer school math teaching begin on Monday.

I’ll be teaching 8th grade math. 8th grade summer school classes are split up based on math ability, and I’ll be teaching expressions and equations to the lowest scoring summer school students. It’s going to be tough, but I’m excited, because this is my chance to make math make sense to these kids. They took diagnostic tests to determine their placement, and the results, while generally bad, aren’t completely hopeless. Most of the kids have the basics right; they just struggle with applying it to more complicated problems. If I can inspire them to put in the effort, I think I can make some breakthroughs.

We take our teaching courses at the school where we teach, and there’s a group of about 80 of us there, from the Baltimore, Philly, Newark, D.C., and Connecticut corps. There are about a dozen other schools where the same thing is happening for the rest of the corps members at Institute. I came out pretty well: I like my grade-level placement, I’m teaching my own subject, my school building is brand-new and air-conditioned, my TFA advisor is awesome, my veteran teacher mentor is really cool, and my co-teachers are down-to-earth and motivated. Many of my Baltimore friends weren’t so lucky.

More to come later this weekend…

What a week

I have never considered myself a judgmental person, but during teaching, and the TFA experience as a whole, keeping my judgments in check is going to be something I’ll need to constantly concentrate on. I’ve heard so many stories about a teacher sticking with the “bad kid” in class, and that kid going on to turn their path in life around. But can never happen if I write that kid off and decide to concentrate on the other 20 kids who want to be there. Our big class goals are worthless, unless they include success for every single kid in the class.

But being judgmental goes beyond just the students. I find myself constantly having to correct my thoughts when snap judgments creep in. For example, my summer mentor teacher (SMT) is really cool for the most part, but it bothers me a bit that when she talks to us about the kids in earshot of them, and talks as if they aren’t there. She doesn’t say anything particularly degrading, just things like “keep them busy at all times, then they won’t give you any trouble”, which kind of bothers me because it presupposes that they’re trouble makers, and she’s only just met them. But then I have to remind myself that right or wrong, I haven’t taught a full day and she’s got 20+ years in the classroom. And naturally, as a guy who grew up in the suburbs, it’s going to be a challenge to deal with my stereotypes and judgments about kids, parents, and the community once I’m working in inner-city Baltimore. I’ve heard so many stories about well-meaning corps members getting themselves into big snafus just for making assumptions. The smallest decisions in how you interact with your students can make a massive difference.

One thing someone said that really stuck with me is to remember that it’s not my job to rescue kids from their “poor” circumstances, my job is to work to close the substantial gap in opportunity between the urban schools and everywhere else. And that gap is there for a lot of reasons, but the people in the community not caring isn’t one of them. So whether Junior wants to go to college and join the white-collar class or wants to go straight to work in his community in Baltimore, it doesn’t matter as long as I’ve pushed him or her hard to achieve.

On another subject, there’s a really weird duality in TFA between the amazing things some corps members accomplish in really difficult settings and the grinding, frustrating experiences of many of the others. TFA sells this idea that they’ve studied scientifically the habits of successful (and unsuccessful) corps members and other teachers over the past 18 years of their existence and have distilled the formula for success in the classroom into a model, known as Teaching As Leadership (TAL). They don’t try and tell you that it’s going to be easy, by any means, just that if you follow the program and work relentlessly, you too can lead your students to massive gains. There’s something almost religious about it. My buddy Ethan, who’s a year into TFA in NYC, told me that people drink the TFA Kool-Aid to various degrees. Well, for the most part I’m sucking it up on pure faith that they know what they’re talking about after all these years.

That, and the fact that the TAL model is really insightful and interesting. It would be impossible to do justice to a proper description of the model in a reasonable amount of time, but suffice it for now to say that it has really made me rethink just about everything I’ve always assumed about teaching.

But after a week of having hours of TAL force-fed to my brain, I’ve just about reached my capacity for what I can retain and apply, outside of the context of actually teaching. Much of the rest of what I’ll have to learn is going to be on the job.

Well, I better get back to work. Next time I write will probably be after my first few days in the classroom with my co-teachers, so I’m sure there will be plenty to read!

Death and rebirth

Well, this week, Institute got real real. I don’t have much time to write, because I have 5 lesson plans to work on. Tonight.

The first two days of teaching went fairly smoothly, but today was kind of a train wreck. For a half and hour, I was shell-shocked. I wondered to myself if I could cut it. But in the back of my head Coach Rich from rugby was screaming at me to “get the f’ back out there and do the bloody business”. And the gears started turning again. I rethought my approach, and I’m hoping to turn this thing around tomorrow. I convened my co-teachers, and we’re going to attempt some radical changes to our classroom culture.

As they say, “You’re gonna fail. A lot.”

I knew what I was in for when I signed up, but there’s no way to really know what it feels like to work 20 hour days continuously until you actually have to do it. The toughest among us are feeling the crush.

But I know I’ll make it


The above is what I wrote yesterday, auto-saved by LiveJournal, about an hour before I spilled about 8oz of water on my laptop, during the process trying to fix my broken printer. Perfect.

I honestly don’t think I had any emotional energy left to spend at this point, because after about 2 minutes, my anger passed, and I went immediately upstairs to find a computer to get to work. After all, I still had to be up at 5:15am the next day to teach–you control what you can.

I don’t have time to write anymore tonight, but suffice it to say that despite a few hiccups, today was a much better day, overall. I mean, it really couldn’t have been much worse than yesterday 🙂

I’ll write more this weekend. Right now, I’m just excited that tomorrow is Friday. It’s been a LONG week

Well week one had some insane lows and a few highs, but overall, I learned a lot.

Teaching in summer school is so frustrating because I can tell my kids are really bright, but they have massive gaps in preparation. And I can’t help but wonder, “as quick as these kids are, how the heck did they get so far behind?” For a lot of these kids, all they really need is serious, hardcore remediation for maybe 2 solid months, six hours a day, led by a teacher far more capable for me.

As a teacher, I am failing badly, because the only measure of success is whether the students can execute the skill in your lesson objective at the end of the day. So far, I’ve failed every day. And unless I make a major breakthrough in teaching technique, I’ll probably fail every day next week too. What sucks is that it’s impossible to learn to teach without failing real-life kids. It seems almost unethical that I (and the rest of us) would be put in charge of classrooms, except for the fact that the only reason summer school even exists in Philadelphia is because TFA said they’d provide the teachers.

So, I focus on what they call in TFA my internal locus of control–the set of things I have power over–and I’m constantly reevaluating everything I do. It’s pretty easy for me to see what’s going wrong, but what’s going wrong, but what’s hard is knowing how to fix it. At the most fundamental level, I’m trying to make my lessons as effective as possible. I need to move from the point I’m at now, where about 20% of my kids master my objectives, to 100% mastery. That would be hard enough if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m trying desperately to improve on numerous other fronts (i.e. classroom management, student engagement, planning efficiency, and a million other things). Additionally, I have to fulfill my insanely long list of other responsibilities to my co-teachers, the program, and the outside world (which really seems quite separate, at the moment). I’ve got a lot of ideas to try out, so the challenge now is trying to steal the time away to actually implement them. It’s tough to describe how hard it is to sacrifice one of my 5 hours of sleep to design assignments that reach my students on their instructional level not knowing whether or not it will work at all, anyway.

I guess it sounds pretty bleak, but it’s really not all bad. I feel good about what I’m doing, even if I suck at it right now. It’s a struggle, and things have gone very badly at times, but God has provided me what I need when I need it.

A day in the life

So, so far, my entries have been more about my mindstate than what actually happens here, so I thought I’d write about my day last Friday. We’ve got a student, let’s call him Jim. Jim is extremely bright and usually a sweet kid, but has some serious behavior issues. On Friday, he was a nightmare.

The way summer school works is that 4 TFA teachers are assigned to work in a single classroom, and we take turns teaching. Two of the rest of us are in workshops at any given time, and the last teacher is free to hang around the classroom or handle business elsewhere. Last week, I taught the last period.

I came up to the classroom from workshops to observe 3rd period, having no idea what had gone on 1st and 2nd period, and as I approached the door, our SMT was in the process of literally screaming at Jim for being extremely disrespectful all day long and kicking him out of class. I wouldn’t find out until after exactly what happened.

So later on, while monitoring the students during an assessment, I thought I could hear music, but I couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Then I saw. Without me noticing, Jim had somehow made it back into the room, plopped himself in front row, put on his headphones, and pumped his music up loud enough that the whole room could here.

I walked over to his desk and told him to put the music player away. He pretended not to hear me.

Me: “Jim, if you don’t take those headphones off, we’re going right back down to the office”

Jim: “Huh, what?”

Me: “Put the headphones away Jim”

Jim: “I already turned the music off”

Me: “Put the headphones away Jim”

Jim: “Man, back up off me”

Me: “Jim, I need you to get started on this assessment”

Jim: “I’m not getting started on nothing”

Me: “I’m going to leave this on your desk and walk away. Everyone needs to take it. Get started”

I begin walking away only to hear him mutter something about me being a bitch under his breath.

Me: “What did you say, Jim”

Jim: “Nothing, I wasn’t talking to you”

Me: “It doesn’t matter. I heard what you said. And either way, everyone else is taking an assessment, so there can’t be any talking. I’m going to need to talk to you out in the hall”

Jim: “I’m not going out into the hall”

Me: “Look, either you can walk with me out into the hall, or I can call security, and they can come up and bring you back down to the office”


Needless to say, this whole encounter continues for the next 10 minutes, with Jim being resistant to every instruction I give him, right up until the consequences begin to escalate, and then he wants to comply in the least compliant way possible. I eventually end up having to bring him back down to the office after he starts making wild accusations at one of my co-teachers.

I found out later that the reason he had ended up in the office earlier was because he had been continually disrespectful all day long to the first two teachers, and the warnings and classroom consequences had had no effect on reining him in. Eventually, my mentor had had enough and chewed him out, old-school style.

The sad thing is, Jim is a nice kid. He’s the sort of kid I could get along with fine. It just breaks down when you have to exert authority over him. He just struggles to control himself. He also seems to have major issues taking personal responsibility for his behavior. Everything always comes down to the world vs. him. He can’t seem to grasp the fact that his actions disrupt the learning experience for everyone else, let alone himself.

We had hoped he would come back this past Monday with a better attitude, but not so much. He ended up getting sent down to the office again, and suspended for Tuesday. We talked to his youth worker Monday afternoon, but I’m not sure what effect that had, or really even what a “youth worker” is, exactly. Since he’s returned, it’s been a balancing act. We want him there in class, but it’s so difficult to manage him without triggering him. So far, it’s going alright, but he’s still far from a model student. We’ll see how it goes…

Week 3, in review

This week has gone reasonably well overall. I’ve managed to go the whole week without any major behavioral issues or instructional train wrecks. Part of the reason everything was so blissful was that the schedule rotated this week and I teach first instead of last. The difference is night and day. When I get the students, they’re still drowsy, which isn’t ideal, but it’s a heck of a lot better than the rowdiness of 4th hour.

I feel like my instruction is going over a lot better, although there are still a few struggling students I urgently need to find a way to reach. There’s also one student who is both particularly quick with the concepts and particularly disengaged. This week, it’s been a major challenge to get him to show up for class. He normally walks in halfway through my class. It will be a major shame if he doesn’t hit his summer benchmark, but even more, it will be a major shame if he starts high school with this same attitude in the fall, because he has so much potential. TFA teaches us that ultimately, every problem in the classroom should be viewed as a teacher problem. So basically, there’s no excuses. My student is disengaged because I haven’t properly demonstrated the value of being invested in my class.

So even though my instruction has gone from poor to mediocre, I still have a long way to go. I’m a bit envious of one of my co-teachers, who seems to have a much better grasp on classroom management and investment than I do, and who is also a much more dynamic instructor. One of my students asked me on Friday why I was so dry. That took me aback just a bit, but really, that’s the least of my concerns.

Despite the fact that the quality of my teaching is improving, I’m still failing at teaching lessons that lead to mastery of the concept by all of students by the end of my 45 minutes, and I’m taking a not-insignificant amount of heat for it from my classroom observers. It’s intimidating that I can have 5 observers, and each one of them can generate a whole list of things I could be doing better, and every list would probably be different. Even so, I think that while my instructional delivery isn’t superb, I have my doubts that these student would master the concepts in 45 minute even if it was. After all, we’re trying to squeeze 180 days of instruction into about 18, and for some of my kids, it’s like they weren’t present in 8th grade math at all (which may well be true). But TFA tells us that everything comes back to the teacher, because even though some things may be out of our control, if we truly are doing everything right, we will reach many of the students who would otherwise be written off.

So really, what it comes down to is investment and remediation. I’ve got to get my struggling students invested, which means that I need to convince them that they can do the work (which I know to be true) and that there is value in it. It’s going to take a lot of extra work on my part and on theirs to make it work, and they’ll only do it if they’re invested.

Two more weeks left…