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mindfulness in the classroom: for them, for me, for the world

This past summer, I took the course “Mindful Educator Essentials” from Mindful Schools. I knew from personal experience the power of mindfulness to steady myself, as well as to benefit students coming from traumatized backgrounds. But I was also looking ahead. My future students–now my current students–would largely represent the opposite demographics of my entire teaching experience: wealthy, advantaged, political, prominent. And those kiddos have parents in the same category. And with such privilege comes an enormous amount of weight: the strongest drive to get the best grades and the most extracurricular sports and activities to get into the elit-est schools. Just typing that sentence stresses me Read More

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cww trip journal: days 1-2

Each year, Graded organizes a trip for all of our students to experience learning beyond the confine of desks, chairs and computers: CWW, aka Classroom Without Walls. I am fortunate enough to be on the 11th grade trip to Belem, Brazil. Our arrival to Belem took a four hour plan ride. Taking the bus through town I saw: barefoot, sun-browned skin kiddos playing soccer in a field of dirt, wild dogs scratching fleas, countless pairs of people chatting on their “porches” in plastic chairs, shanty towns adorned with graffiti, more bare chests than I see at a typical beach, Bible Read More

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teacher reflections: strong relationships AND high expectations

I have transitioned, now, into four different schools. The first school, Adams City High School, I like to think I came in as a wrecking ball. Unfamiliar, new, powerful in a naive way. The second and third school, Bruce Randolph and North, respectively, where I first tiptoed around who I knew I was and who I thought my new kiddos needed. And now, I find myself in my fourth school, Graded. And once again, I am walking the wire of tension between strong relationships and high expectations. They don’t like it. Daily, I vacillate between “why don’t they like me?” Read More

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buying a car in Sampa

For the past fifty days, we’ve managed to get around Sampa via our feet and a la Uber. And although it’s been sufficient, the thought has lingered in the back of our minds: how do we get out of here?! Traveling beyond the city limits begs for a car of our very own. And so last weekend we found ourselves at a local auto shop recommended to us by several people from school: Auto Handel. There Marcus and his wife, Rosa, guided us through the process of picking, buying and securing insurance for a car (2012 Renault Sandero Stepway). In English! Thankfully, Read More

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flowers and monkeys, oh my!

When Dave and I transitioned down here, one of our biggest worries was the shift to city life. No longer would our yard be filled with deer, elk and bear. Rather the sounds of cars and smells of exhaust and emissions of lights would form our daily backdrop. While this is true, I have been pleasantly surprised at the connection to nature I have been able to experience in Sampa. Every morning between 5-6, there is the most beautiful bird song outside our window. When it rains, the drops on the roof outside my classroom are musical. As I walk Read More

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day 36: a Sampa adventure

This past weekend, some new friends of ours (yay!) invited us to explore another side of Sampa we have not experienced yet: Bela Vista (northeast from us in Morumbi, across the Pinheiros River). There, we discovered the most delightful farmers market: Jardim Secreto Fair. It was unlike anything we’ve experienced yet. Gritty, raw, noncommercialized (though ironically the majority of the vendors we talked to spoke English…more so than anywhere else yet). Within the first few minutes of our arrival, the local booth’s bartender offered us the opportunity to participate in..how shall I say…some herb which may or may not be Read More

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catch up journal: days 10-31

Today marks our 31st day living in another country. We have frequent moments where we look at each other and say: “Holy cow, we LIVE here. In another country. On a different continent.” As of late, I often find myself in the stage of admiring our hefty-ball size for doing something so bold. #teampossum for the win, indeed. It’s been awhile since I shared about the happenings down here in Sampa, so here goes. Students. My students have consulates and CEO’s as parents. My students are Olympic-bound athletes. My students are well-educated and articulate and reflective. My students say thank Read More

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parabéns: burgers and tutors

If you know us, you know we LOVE to eat out. (Like many other people, we plan our vacations around our meals.) This is one of the exhilarating and exhausting parts of being in a new country where the language is unknown: what do those Portuguese menus say?! Unlike at home, it is not easy to go out here in Sampa. Enjoyable… Yes. Accessible… Yes. Varied… Yes. Adventurous… Yes. Exciting… Yes. Cheap… Depends. But easy? No. This is what I’m realizing about living in a foreign country: nothing is easy. From reading different cultural cues to translating different menus, everything takes Read More

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dear you: a letter to my first set of international students

I’ve come here for you. All five thousand seven hundred and sixty nine miles for you. Yes, the adventure and travel and culture and lifestyle called, but more than anything, it was you that captivated me. The last two weeks have been in preparation for you. And I am ready. Though there is so much value in adult collaboration and collegiality, it is for you, the students, I show up everyday. You are my heart and soul. You are my light. Like any first time mother, I am nervous also; you are my first international children. I wonder if my Read More