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New Adventures

DEAR READERS: PLEASE CONTINUE READING MY BLOG POSTS AT NEW TERRAIN. It was the last day of school. It was my last day of work. Proudly, all of my eighth graders had graduated from middle school. I had just spent 20 minutes tunneling out of the post-graduation crowd in the hallway, detouring every few seconds to hug and say good-bye to students. I was finally in my classroom again, cleaning up, printing out last-minute documents, and stuffing teaching books into boxes and bags. I had 55 minutes left in the school I had made my own for the past two ...


Lessons on parenting

DEAR READERS: THERE ARE MORE POSTS TO COME HERE. BUT I WILL CONTINUE WRITING FOR "TEACHER MAGAZINE" UNDER A NEW BLOG STARTING IN MID-JUNE. CHECK BACK FOR THE NEW LINK! More than a year ago, I wrote a post on my personal blog, east meets west, on what I'd learned about parenting. Today, I am still not a parent. But as I sit in my gated apartment complex bedroom 1,238 miles away from my home in New Mexico, this entry takes on new meaning. They are not only reminders about parenting, but also nuggets on life that they knew ...


Cry, cry, cry and cry

I thought by now I was tougher, cooler, or, at least more mentally prepared. But I wasn’t. And so I cried. And cried. And cried. I suppose it is only fitting that my time on the Navajo Nation ended much like the way it began. During my last week at work, I would tear up every so often as I paused to absorb where I was, what we were doing and what was happening. I have a desperate need to remember. I need to remember the casualness with which my 8th grader said, "Oh, I already know that stuff," ...


NEW BLOG STARTS IN JUNE

Dear Readers, As the school year winds down, so will "On the Reservation." (Although there are several more entries to come!) But I will be starting another blog for "Teacher Magazine" beginning in June. Please stay tuned and check back often for the new link. Thanks! Jessica...


Bribe me

Functional Behavior Assessment: Refuses to write progress reports. Finds other ways to procrastinate. Gets irritable, talks back, abandons work when presented with assignment. Measurable Behavioral Goal: Teacher will write 72 progress reports in 3 hours requiring no more than 3 reminders to stay on task. Setting: Classroom. Door locked. Chained to the computer. Maybe some Brooks and Dunn on the speakers. Positive consequence: Everytime teacher completes 10 progress reports, she will be rewarded with 10 grams of Ghirardelli's intense dark chocolate ("Citrus Sunset" flavor). Negative consequence: If teacher does not finish progress reports, she will not go home. And she ...


'Tis the season...

... to be frantically grading, going on last-minute field trips, cleaning up, throwing together paperwork, tearing the posters off the walls, and checking out. It's the last week of school. I'm also in the middle of packing for my move. With all of these end-of-year events, I have tons of memories, insights and nostalgic bits and pieces swirling around in my mind. But right now, at 5:33 p.m., Tuesday, I am busy packing. In 22 hours and 34 minutes from now, the movers will be here to haul most of my belongings to McAllen, Texas. As soon as the ...


Make math make "cents"

Dear U.S. Department of the Treasury, Everyday around the world, people go hungry. Wars are fought. Lives are lost for seemingly pointless reasons. It is indeed a cruel and unjust world. So why make it any harder? Do you realize how difficult it is to count combinations of coins when you have to deal with quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies? Sure, it might not seem like too much of a headache for most people, but there are thousands of folks out there with (and without!) disabilities who struggle to figure out what 1 quarter, 3 dimes, 7 nickels and ...


Rural China Education Foundation

Out here, the sky is wide, the land is big and the interstate seems to stretch on forever. It’s easy to feel alone in the fight to close the achievement gap. In fact, around my third month of teaching last year, I was feeling sort of alone in general. I had fallen into an unofficial depression over teaching as characterized by my continuous crying, loss of appetite, and growing pile of un-graded papers. Luckily, it was around this time that I received a mass e-mail from a former journalism acquaintance. She was promoting a new international nonprofit that one ...


17 days left

For the past week, I had been mentally preparing a lengthy entry on international education reform. But as I finally sit down to write tonight, I can only think about how it's May. I have 25 more days in New Mexico, 17 more days in school, 13 more days teaching my 6th and 7th graders who are not in the dorm, 8 more days teaching my 6th and 7th graders in the dorm, 7 more days with my 8th graders not in the dorm, a mere 3 more days with my 8th graders in the dorm, and just three more ...


Be nice

After the Virginia Tech shootings, the whole world mourned, including our world on the Navajo Nation. But when you’re perched on top of a mesa in the middle of a desert, hours from high-rises more than 3- or 4-stories high, it’s easy to feel very far away, no matter how tragic the event. So while I heard my students express their horror and sadness over the massacre, I knew that some of them didn’t quite comprehend its tragedy. I knew that because I overheard quiet chuckling from several students after one made a crude and completely inappropriate ...


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