The Official Website of Kendel Christensen

The first week of my new life as a Teach for America corps member here in Philadelphia is now over. It has felt a lot like the MTC–Large group meetings, discussing the vision and mission and goals of the movement in order to get us pumped up to work hard, living in tight quarters with (at first) total strangers, and a hierarchy that permeates everything we do.  I’ve loved it. It really has a mission feel. So hard, but so going-to-be-worth-it.  My favorite part so far, as usual, is the people. They are all… AWESOME. They are driven. They are ambitious. They are smart (I’ve already had a conversation about philosophy, psychology, vocabulary, and–my favorite–TWO about grammar!!!). Totally my type of people.  I have to admit, though, I do feel a bit like the odd man out as everybody’s idea of a good time seems to consist solely of going to bars… how do I relate to that? How can I better take part in the social scene? No one seemed interested in my board game night idea, alas… will work on that.

Here are some notes from the meetings we’ve had, using my usual system (more *’s = more life-changing amazing):

Story of Ghandi and a mother coming to him with her son who ate too much sugar. His advice: Wait two weeks. Came back, Ghandi told him to not eat sugar, so he stops. Mom asks why:
“I felt I had to be the change I asked in your boy.”

“The long arc of history bends toward justice.” MLK Jr.

***Great students aren’t made by teachers, they find it in themselves.

Step it up, step aside

June 22
Most Impprtant question: what can I do for my students?
Second most:how is it perpetuated?

TFA’s theory on the cycle that perpetuates the achievement gap:
1 children in poverty face extra challenges
2 school systems lack the capacity to meet these extra needs
3 students don’t perform well
4 prevailing beliefs haven’t led to policies and investment needed to break the cycle.

What would it take to close the gap?
Attract Best Teachers
Change prestige of teachers
Kill tenure
Family, business, community investment–
teach Malleable vs fixed intelligence
Home issues. Value of edu

Don’t want you to just ‘go with the ideological flow’:
****In the seeds of doubts are often the answers to the very questions we are trying to solve.

This entire work is about realizing your little successes

I’m doing good, and I need to do better.

Get granular.

*****Haven’t you realized that the ‘they’ in ‘They should really do something about that’ is really you. Malcolm X
Don’t engage in pointing the finger. It’s your fault.

Our system is jacked up. Mike S. (VP of district of Philadelphia)

1 ask for help
2 document everything. Excel.

Lori Shorr:
Competition between schools is needed. Didn’t believe this 15 years ago (lifelong democrat).

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