The MEGnitude of Change

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap

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Feb 07 2013

Recommitting to Myself

Last night, I stepped up to the mic–for the very first time–and read some of my poetry. It felt exhilerating, nerve-wracking, and altogether liberating. After my performance, my roommate confessed that he had been skeptical about my poetic skills — and thankfully, I met that skepticism with a big “don’t-you-dare-doubt-me-you-jerk.” And here I am today,…

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Feb 04 2013

Dreaming Out Loud

A wants to go to Harvard. M wants to be a pilot. Another A wants to be the President of the United States. And me? I want to…get through until tomorrow. Over the past few months, as I encouraged my students to think about their long-term goals, I had come to a sad realization: I…

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This is where it all began. The room where we all met for the first time — where the “incoming” was dropped from our titles and we officially became corps members. Where “Teach For America” changed from some abstract commitment to a living, breathing entity that would inspire and challenge and frustrate and encourage us.…

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Jan 29 2013

The Jan Brady of My Classroom Bunch

Raise your hand if you think I only teach geometry. If you’re reading this blog, you primarily hear about my trials & tribulations in timeblocks 1, 4, 5 and 6. But what about 7th? Why, yes — I do have a class during that time. Why, yes — I do teach something other than geometry.…

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“It’s always darkest before the dawn.” Proverbial wisdom has been ringing through my head recently (primarily in the form of Florence & the Machine). Not because I had experienced the hope of dawn, but because those words became all I had. I returned to some pre-fall break state of depression & angst. I felt like…

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Jan 24 2013

A post from the past…

Note: This post was written a few weeks ago. I am publishing it for the sake of keeping up with my records & experiences, and perhaps, shedding light on the post I am about to write. It may give some valuable background and my headspace. My students accept behavior that is less than they deserve.…

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Jan 17 2013

Something’s a-brewin’

Today, I am exhausted. From lack of sleep? Of course. From long days? Yep. But mostly from mental exhaustion. My mind has been on overdrive with ideas: for my classroom, for programs outside of my classroom, for my students, for my own identity. So much thinking. I’ve been meaning to blog for days, simply because…

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Jan 11 2013

Ms. Barnett/Meg: A Modern Day Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde

POP QUIZ: When sitting at a class, staring up at a SmartBoard, holding a mini-whiteboard, you feel compelled to: (a) Fill every inch of your whiteboard with your signature, so that it’s absolutely perfect for the day when adoring fans scream for your autograph. (b) Text your friend from across the room, who you haven’t…

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Jan 11 2013

Remembering the good ol’ BMC

It finally happened. A new side of my teacher self made her debut appearance this afternoon. One of my students has been struggling to focus in my classroom for the past few months. He went from bringing his A game to distracting himself and everyone around him on a daily basis. He has incredible potential…

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Jan 08 2013

A letter to my math team

Dear John Marsh students, You are creative & brilliant but all too often choose to express yourselves using such commonplace language. While I may teach math, I still appreciate the nuances of the English language. First of all, step up your game when it comes to slang. The kids at Douglass have stopped using the…

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Jan 07 2013

The Hail Mary Pass

What happened in my classroom on Friday? I am still in awe, still processing, and I don’t know what to say. But I’ll try. By the time sixth period rolled around, I had moved all the way from plan A to plan G. The copiers were down — no articles to read or review sheet…

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Jan 02 2013

The Secret of Early 20′s

Cracking voices. Growth spurts. Acne cream & deodorant. While many students at my school are trying to navigate the treacherous waters of being a teenager, I’m also going through an awkward stage of development. It’s the dirty little secret about your early 20′s that no one mentions — you’re back to being thrust into situations…

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Dec 05 2012

Untapped questions

“I’ve heard about people loving their high school years, calling it the best years of their lives, but I’ve never felt that way about mine.” When Ms. B walks down the hallway during first block, we all hold our breath. She calls herself the Angel of Death, the bearer of bad news. In her hands,…

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Dec 02 2012

‘Tis the season

“Oh man, Sideways Stories from Wayside School? That book was my JAM growing up. Do you want The Babysitters Club series, or can I have ‘em?” Right now, I’m sitting in my living room, feeling the unseasonably 75-degree breeze rolling through our window and listening to my roommates divide up stacks of childhood books. Yes,…

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When I was in high school (“when I was your age…”), our stands were packed with cheering students for every basketball game, decked out in their red-and-blue best and calling themselves the “Monticello Maniacs.” Our sports teams celebrated  gameday with spirit days (schoolgirl day and bro day were crowd favorites) and secret pals (essentially “Secret…

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Nov 25 2012

The task of juggling: soccer balls & geometry problems

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” — Marianne Williamson This quotation has always resonated with me, ringing in my ears whenever I feel myself holding back. But why? I had never…

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Nov 25 2012

The Wisdom of Others

I need help. From many sources. The obvious ones — TFA, John Marshall staff, veteran teachers, & other TFA teachers. But also the external ones — friends & family. After writing my post from last Sunday, I called out for more perspectives, to challenge my thinking & help propel me forward. Thankfully, my friends heard…

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Nov 13 2012

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

I AM SO PROUD OF MY KIDS. Successes today abound: (1) One of my first period students has been struggling to wake up to get to class, and as a result, he’s in jeopardy of not graduating. Another teacher & I made a home visit to talk with him on Friday, and today, he had…

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Nov 11 2012


What would the other teachers at my school say if they stumbled upon this blog? What would the parents say? What would my students say? I’m frustrated with Teach For America right now. This past weekend, we held our Oklahoma Regional Summit — an opportunity for the entire Oklahoma corps to get together and…well, mostly,…

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Oct 30 2012


My kids need to learn how to think. Yesterday, my kids took their quarter one benchmark tests. Yes, it was the day after a two-week fall break, and yes, they were tired & frustrated to have to take the test. I was, too. But I refuse to accept those excuses as to why they did…

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Oct 18 2012

Connecting Students Across Borders

Today, I visited my former high school, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science & Technology. This magnet school was formerly listed as the #1 high school in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report. As a student, I took the culture of achievement at TJ for granted; how could I have known how…

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Fall break is full of promise. It holds morning after morning of sleeping in, long-awaited visits with friends & family, and mental space that goes on for miles. As fall break draws closer and I have some time to think about my classroom beyond pulling together lesson plans, I’m starting to pull back to a…

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Oct 07 2012

Gaining Energy from Awkwardness

Middle school is one of the most awkward stages of life. Bodies are changing. Classes are challenging. Kids can be mean; friends can be meaner. For the past three summers, I have basked in the glorious awkwardness of middle schoolers. I’ve worked with fifth through eighth graders, talking to them about their changes and challenging them academically,…

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Oct 02 2012

The Wall.

I’m not really sure what keeps you going as  a teacher. Those small moments of victory in the classroom, maybe. Or faking a smile as you walk into the building. Or finding the right mixture between getting down to business & laughing with your kids. I’m finding happiness in the strangest parts of this life.…

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“Classrooms have become fear-based, test-based battlefields, when they could so easily be organized to encourage the heretical thought we so badly need. … Decades of school have drilled that into us — fear, fear, and more fear. Fear of getting a D-minus. Fear of not getting a job right out of school. … Here’s what…

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My journey in mathematics and beyond

High School

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