There, I said it: I'm 5'7'' and 198 pounds. That makes me a good 30 pounds overweight. My supportive husband calls me "voluptuous," but my middle school Advisory students say I'm "chunky." My mother calls me "healthy" and "big boned," but my girlfriends tell me I've got a lot of "junk in my trunk." Call it whatever you like, but with diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in my family tree I know I need to increase my level of fitness, which also entails losing weight. So in the spirit of accountability and transparency, I am sharing this information ...


There's a proverb that says, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." I thought about this as a high-ranking official from the U.S. Department of Education came to speak with me and the Chicago Teach Plus Fellows on September 9. He was a part of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan's bus tour, which included ED officials leading focus groups with teachers across five Great Lakes states. He brought a draft document called "Envisioning a Teaching Profession for the 21st Century," and asked thought-provoking questions to test the limits of some big ideas. What followed was simply fascinating. But ...


We were making our final descent toward LaGuardia airport in New York when my husband nudged me from his window seat. "Look at the Twin Towers," he said in awe. "They look so eerie from up here." I had taken the trip from Chicago to New York dozens of times and the aerial view of the vertical landscape had lost its luster. I awkwardly peered over at the mighty chrome and glass pillars, glistening in the still rising sun, trying to see what he saw. The World Trade Center was my absolute favorite place to take family and friends when ...


Some friends from church and I periodically do a community prayer walk, engaging people on the streets to find out what's going on and how we can pray for them. On the evening of August 26, I approached a group of teenagers and asked them how things were going. That's when I met Monique (not her real name), a 17-year-old who felt like a dead girl walking. "My school sucks!" said Monique, repeating it twice. It was the first thing she said when I asked her how I should pray. When she told me the name of her high school ...


It was time to take the training wheels off. In fact, it was long overdue. My nine-and-a-half-year-old daughter had been too afraid to ride her bike without them, yet too embarrassed to ride with them on. Her friends were riding with no hands, and the 6-year-old girl on the corner had ditched her extra pair of wheels a year ago. Instead of facing her fear of trying to balance the bike on her own, my daughter left it in the garage and contently rode her scooter. Isn't this what some of us do? Teachers ride around school buildings with training ...


On August 11, I had the opportunity to meet with Chicago Public Schools' new CEO Jean-Claude Brizard on his listening tour. Brizard and Dr. Noemi Donoso, his Chief Education Officer, spent more than an hour discussing education reform with me and several classroom teachers selected for the two-year Teaching Policy Fellowship by Teach Plus. For years I had been talking about education reform in theory, but as Brizard continued to solicit our thoughts on upcoming initiatives, I sensed for the first time that change was actually coming to Chicago Public Schools. Leading up to his hiring by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, ...


I am humbled by the overwhelming support for my first blog post. I want to thank each and every reader, those who left a comment and those who did not, those who shared the article and those who kept it to themselves, those who agreed with me and those who did not. I am honored to have your audience and challenged to continue to reflect deeply and write honestly. THANK YOU! I entered college as a pre-med major set on becoming a doctor. After writing for the college newspaper, my passion shifted to journalism. As a reporter, I volunteered to ...


Back in the days when I had no idea of what was actually required to be a good teacher, back when I was in grad school studying education theory and making foolish assumptions about how to manage students, I walked in on a conversation in a teacher's lounge that would change my life. I had recently fled—yes I said fled—an elementary school on the West Side of Chicago. My year of student teaching had begun with the principal telling her staff that she hired us because we were physically attractive and that she loved the "green stuff" (gesturing...


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