Significant Gains

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
May 25 2013

The Right to Serve

My first year teaching, I counted many more failures than successes. The one story I clung to was when I helped a student gain admission to a summer robotics program at the Cooper Union. He was interested in engineering and I knew full well that the science education I was giving him was poor preparation, so I guided him through applications for summer enrichment programs. The Cooper Union gave him a stipend, a MetroCard, and the chance to work with a research team at the school. It was the college’s model in miniature: providing high quality education to the city’s most determined and under served young people.
That was four years back. My former student is at Penn State now and has traded engineering for film studies, so perhaps my efforts were ineffectual. Meanwhile, Cooper Union, for the first time in its history, will be charging its undergraduates tuition. It’s a…

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Feb 05 2013


Today, I’m heading to the NYC Leadership Academy for a training about programming and scheduling. It’s good I’m going: I might be generating programs for 300 students next year and I’m certainly not prepared. It worries me, though. There’s a contradiction between my developing educational philosophy and my expected course of action. My school needs…

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Jan 20 2013

Test Anxiety

Regents week begins this Tuesday. Students will be retaking the exams they failed last June — and August, or January, or the June before that. We have students in their senior year of high school sitting for exams they first took in ninth grade. They have failed these same exams repeatedly. For a number of…

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