Saturday, May 5, 2012


This was posted on the wrong blog. :/

Originally written around 4.10.12

A Summation of My 2 Years in MTC

Well, initially I’d planned to talk about the experiences and training and trials and tribulations.  But instead, I’ll talk about the PEOPLE who have impacted and completely changed my life while in the Delta.  As I mentioned in my portfolio, the people I chose (and didn’t choose) to surround myself with became my community.  There is NO WAY I would have survived the tough days and lonely nights without my support system.  I thank God for each of these individuals, for they have sustained me in more ways than they can imagine.

So here goes!  In no particular order!

Philip Mohr- Philip was the very first MTCer I met in Oxford.  When I arrived, I had trouble finding the meeting place.  Once I did, I plopped down next to Mr. Philip Mohr from New York (we were seated alphabetically).  From the moment he introduced himself, I knew I was in for a treat.  “Mr. Mo” kept me laughing the entire day.  We chatted about random things and he found humor in wearing my “diva shades.”  Fast forward- little did I know that the crazy cool guy from New York would grow to be my favorite person in MTC.  His depth.  His faith.  His intellect.  There is never a dull conversation with Philip.  And I love that he’s so accepting of EVERYONE.  Not judgmental.  So genuine, self-aware,  and transparent.  So articulate.  I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with someone who can so accurately convey his or her thoughts and feelings verbally.  His word choice is always superb.  He never ceases to impress me!  And he can chill with ANYONE, from Noble Prize winner to someone from Po Dunk, Mississippi.  You don’t meet many people like Philip.  I love him to death and I hate that we didn’t hang as much as we did the first year.  He is sticking around, so I’ll be sure to take a trip or two down to visit my buddy.  Love him and his infectious swag!  (Did I mention he’s a dancer too!)

Ben Mackey- “We found love in a broken place.”  Without Ben Mackey, I definitely would have quit during the first year.  Although our love didn’t last during my stay in the Delta, his support, love, and affirmation are irreplaceable.  God knew what he was doing when he sent Ben into my life.  I am soooo grateful for our time together.  Even if only for a season.

Laura Jones- My lovely roommate.  We started out a bit rocky, but in the end we’ve both learned so much from one another.  We recently embarked on a journey together (Go WAVES! :) ) and I’m grateful for her support and encouragement throughout this process.  I will miss Laura dearly.  If only we’d gotten closer sooner.  Oh well.  Everything happens for a reason!  Also, Laura is a phenomenally creative teacher and mentor to her students.  I hope this experience in Mississippi doesn’t leave her too jaded.  She would rock her f*cking socks off in a better environment. 

Charlie Preacher- What’s not to love about this lovable guy?  He’s gorgeous, funny, smart – perfect right? Lol.  Charlie has brought so much sunshine and so many rainbows into my life.  ;) Despite Charlie’s strong hatred for all things Mississippi, he has never complained or griped.  He did his job with a smile on his face- each and every day.  And he always had a funny little jig to go with it too!  Strength I tell you.  I’ve never seen strength like Charlie’s strength.

Ben Guest- Without this guy I would be running around like a chicken without a head.  Most of us in the Delta probably would.  Although Ben is a tough cookie to deal with at times, he’s always keeping us in the loop about our MTC obligations.  There was never a time I didn’t know about a deadline or class schedule change or role play.  I appreciate that.  Life can get crazy during your first (and 2nd) year and Ben made sure to keep us up-to-date.  I’m sure we don’t say it enough but THANK YOU BEN!!!

Mom- Duh. This goes without saying.  I thank my mother for being the shoulder I needed to cry on (literally) and for celebrating the great and fulfilling days with me.  She’s listened to my endless teacher stories and continued to lift me as I pursue my dreams.  She’s always been 100% supportive of whatever decision I made and I’m so grateful for that.  Not everyone can say that about his or her parents.  My mom is awesome.  Period.

Orlando Hodges- Orlando was a 2nd year TFA’r at my first school.  We instantly clicked and became super duper good friends, lol.  Orlando was always there for me at school when I needed someone to vent to or cry with.  He kept me sane and- in some cases, from losing my job.  He was extremely supportive and helpful in my times of need.  He genuinely loved me for me.  Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever met someone I felt like I’ve known my whole life.  Our chemistry really is amazing.  Unexplainable.  Kindred.  God knew what he was doing when he sent Mr. Hodges my way.  I love you!  Buzz:Woody

My favorite students – These were the kids who kept me going.  The ones who always smiled when they saw me in the hallway.  The ones who could read me as if they were my own.  The ones who missed me when I was absent.  Called me when I was sick.  Texted me to make sure everything was alright.  The ones who took up for me when the other bad asses talked shit.  Like last year, this year it kills me to leave my favorites in this broken place.  I wish I had money like Oprah to whisk them away to a better place.  A better school.  A better life.  I will continue to keep in touch with these few and I pray that when they get older, they’ll understand why I had to leave.  I love these kids unconditionally!  Thank you for making my days worthwhile.

Various MTCers- Maya- Maya has a beautifully brilliant mind.  She, like Philip, is so articulate and easygoing.  I wish we could have hung a bit more during our stay in Mississippi.  I loved that she questioned everything.  Herself.  The program.  Her purpose/impact here.  I did the same.  Except she was able to articulate the jumble of emotions in ways I never could.  Thank you Maya for being the voice of so many.  Thank you for challenging me to be a better teacher.  Thinker.  Communicator.  Woman.  You are beautiful and I know you’ll do some incredible things once you’re in a school where you’re truly valued for your array of talents. ------Bill- Thank you for arranging the Delta dinners and being unashamed to tell the Gospel.  I admire Bill and his strong faith in Jesus Christ.  I often looked forward to his inspirational emails, IMs, or blogs.  He’s an incredible guy and he has lifted me up more times than he can imagine.  Keep fighting the good fight!------Ashley Johnson- Incredible.  This chick is the next big thing in the education world.  WATCH OUT.  Ashley thank you for being so supportive, uplifting, cool, and helpful.  Her time in the Delta was invaluable to the Greenville folk and we are so thankful for her.  Ashley genuinely wants to see people get better and advance, and she’ll go out of her way to ensure that she’s being the resource and support you need.  She’s definitely someone I will keep in my circle.

TFA Family- I am grateful for the TFAers who so generously shared their time and resources to help me become a more effective teacher.  In additional to that, they provided other outlets like booze and parties.  TFAers are definitely still in college mode, and the uber-stressed alternate route teachers in the area usually appreciate that.  TFA ROCKS! J

I’m sure there were people who have slipped my mind, but charge it to my head and not my heart.  Like I mentioned before, I will forever be grateful for this experience and each and every person who has played a role in it.  GOD IS GOOD!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Time's A Wastin'

Tik Tok

Close the door.
Block it out.
Don’t think about it.
Let’s drink it out.

Lost, helpless.
Found by Him, but still bound.

By the feelings of inadequacy
Feelings of apathy
Not appreciated
Upset and frustrated

Empty minds
Simple thinking
Empty tanks
Our future’s sinking

Into an abyss
Does anyone care about the kids?
Getting an “education”
More like probation, or indoctrination
From the highly sexual generation

Repetition, different rendition
Try this strategy, and that
Shit! Just cut ME some slack

Held responsible, but not to blame
In the blame game, the mindless, thoughtless, effortless reign
The Beamer, Benz, or Bentley take the reins
When hard, leave us in front of the trains

Demolished. Destroyed.
Dismembered. And what for?
Is race, the color of my face, a factor in the race?
Or the zip code in which the place where I reside lies?
Or the fact that my mother is the only one who raised this child

Backseat factors are steering my brain.
Excuses rain. My intelligence wanes.
My drive is drained.
In junior high and on a cane.

By high school, paralyzed.
Brain is fried.
Tired of trying.
No fear of dying.
Or committing the crimes that
Are used to define the race. Now the face of that race.
Not really a race, but of that barred place.

At the end of the day, we’re the human race.
We all suffer. When the reality finally hits
There will be no buffer.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Volume 2.1

SMS= my second middle school (the new school)
FMS = my first middle school (aka the prison)

The First Day of School
The night before the first Monday, I was in a “blah” mood.  I thought for sure I would be excited or antsy or something, but I was not.  I went to bed a little too late and woke up the next day in the same mood.  “Well…here goes!”  On my drive to work, I blasted some of my favorites tunes to get me a bit more excited about the first day of school!  I mean, I was driving to SMS not FMS!!!   That in itself is a good enough reason to cut a backflip or two. LoL.

About 15 minutes into my drive, I could feel the excitement coming on.  Though, so many questions were running through my head:  Will I rock the first day like I did at FMS?  What will the teachers think of me?  Will I truly be accepted?  (The teacher I replaced was an all-time favorite of the teachers and students.)  Will the students be the same as the students at FMS?  Will I have troublemakers testing me the first day?  How will my Whole Brain Teaching work in an environment with no ceilings (literally)?  Will the other teachers complain about my noise?  Will I have to let go of WBT and basically my teaching style because we don’t have ceilings?  Will my feet start to hurt in my shoes? (At FMS, I wore tennis shoes every, single day.)Will there be a fight on day one?  Will my occasional “Memphis Heat” discipline style come off too strong and not be accepted by the students and faculty?  Will I even need to show that side of me?  Will I be able to leave the old Miss Nesbitt at FMS and fully embrace SMS, while using this as an opportunity to unlearn ALL the horrible habits and management “techniques” I picked up at FMS?  Will I have the energy to last 6 classes instead of the 3 I had at FMS?

Before I knew it, I was pulling into the school- hella early!!! (This is also a big deal for me.) :P  I went to my duty post and riiiiiiiinnnnnnnngggggg!  School began!

In addition to the typical first day agenda, we were instructed by our principal to teach “character education” for the entire first week.  He’d recently attended a conference on Quantum Learning, and came back thrilled about incorporating strategies learned at the conference at SMS.  One main topic being “The Cognitive Imperative” which focused on “THE Line.”  The Line is the threshold of a level of responsibility.  Living “above the line” or “below the line” is a personal choice, thus giving the power and freedom back to the individual.  The individual is taking control of choice and subsequently, taking control of results.  It was a great lesson in positive self-discipline, for the students and staff.  By 6th period, the students knew all about “the line” and were aimming to live "above it"- make smarter choices, come to school prepared, show respect to teachers and peers, etc.  Over the course of the week, it was really interesting to watch the transition from typical, middle-school behavior to a sense of respect and responsibility.  IT WAS GREAT!

At the end of the day, I felt amazing!  My students were great, the noise wasn’t too bad, my WBT worked well, and my colleagues were so helpful with anything I needed.  Several times throughout the day, someone stopped by to “check on me,” give a little ‘first day of school’ advice, and see if I had everything under control.  (I think they all think this is my first year of teaching.)

I am so thankful to be where I am.

Click here to view larger image

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mmmm, Mmmm, Goooood!

Hmmm… I don’t know what to write about folks.  I’ve been thinking about it all weekend, and I’m still drawing a blank. Nothing too personal, nothing too negative, nothing too anti-education… I guess I could write about my true love- COOKING! :) 

So before deciding to attend graduate school, I was strongly contemplating going to culinary school.  Not just any ol’ school, but THE French Culinary Institute in NY!  My mom frowned upon this, but I was dead serious.  I ABSOLUTELY loveeeee cooking! (Actually, prior to MTC, cake decorating was one of my main sources of income!)

Lately, cooking has been my stress reliever from all the CHA-OS at my school.  Last semester I cooked a little here and there.  Nothing too fancy, and nothing too new.  All old recipes that were tried and true. Quick, 30-minute “Rachel Ray” meals.  But with the new chaos at school (still holding classes and ish!) came a need for some variety in my cooking regimen.  So I dusted off a few cookbooks, reactivated my account on, and returned to my true love.  Boy has it been a blast!  I literally sit in class, thinking about what I’m cooking that evening/weekend.  I’ve tried so many new dishes and ALL have been a huge success/hit.  Local MTCers (weekly Wed. night potlucks) are loving it and so is my new beau.  He eagerly tries each and every dish, giving me his stamp of approval.   I enjoyed every minute of it and I’ve been thinking of picking this habit back up, full-time, once I’m done with the program.  I would love to travel to Italy or Argentina and live for 12-16 months-cooking and eating.  On that “Eat, Pray, Love” tip, lmao.

For my birthday (2nd weekend in January) my beau took me to the Viking Cooking School in Greenwood, MS for their “Southern Cookin’ ” class.  CAN YOU SAY HEAVEN?!?!  Classes have approximately 10-12 students and 2-3 professional cooks.  Each group (3-4 students) is responsible for cooking the entire menu, which is provided by the school with recipes.  Our menu included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, greens, cornbread, banana pudding, and sweet tea.  Not only did we cook all that food, at the end we sat down to eat all the food!  It was so amazing!!!  I enjoyed EVERY SINGLE minute of the class and we’ve been checking our schedules to plan another visit.  If the classes weren’t so pricey, I would definitely be making that drive to Greenwood every weekend I didn’t have class in Oxford for those classes.

Anyway.  The ONLY issue with cooking so often is…eating so often.  The best foods aren’t usually the healthiest…and let’s just say I LOVE GOOD food! LoL.  So to balance my insane new cooking, I’ve been doing some pretty insane workouts. (More on this later).  So far, so good.  We’ll see if I’m saying this in a few months.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I often ask my students this question during class and, needless to say, there are usually puzzled little faces staring back at me like, “What??...” I get this look in my math class, whether I’m speaking Spanish or plain ol’ English, on a daily basis. But I noticed an unsettling number of students, even my “good” students, asking several questions and feeling defeated with word problems in math. The students moan and groan when they’re asked to write something for class, read aloud, or reword directions and concepts in their own words. And the root of this problem is…comprehension! The student’s don’t comprehend well. Yes, many of them can read the words, but they’re doing exactly that… Just reading words. In math, comprehending what word problems are asking is crucial, if not the main freakin’ purpose.

So what can I do? How can I get my students to THINK? To pick out pieces of a word problem, comprehend what’s being asked, apply what they’ve learned in class, and solve the problem? Once again, I felt that this chapter didn’t really help me as a math teacher. There were some useful points in the chapter, like the outline of what skilled readers are able to accomplish after reading a passage, or word problem, but how can I get my students to that point? Not to mention, I teach middle schoolers. I felt many of the strategies mentioned are geared towards high school teachers. Even some of the strategies mentioned in our MTC training isn’t always helpful because of the prevalence of high school placements.

One method I’ve used for comprehending is the Whole Brain “Teach, OK!” (See link.)

I also allow students to teach various lessons and to teach one another. So far, I’ve had success with these methods, but I need something more to reach the students that think Whole Brain Teaching methods are “lame.”

Despite my frustration with the chapter, it was interesting to read and I could definitely pass the information on to my fellow high school teachers, specifically the English teachers. Also, I wouldn’t mind teaching various subjects, later in life, so learning about different teaching techniques and strategies is something I’ve come to enjoy in my free time! (The little I have, lol) :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010


The weeks between September 11 and October 9

I incorporated 2 new assessment tools in my class.  The first was a test similar to the "Fun with Functions" test.  I used the "matching" method to assess my students' understanding of scientific notation.  Each test had a unique sent of cards, so it was very important that the students kept all the cards together and did not swap cards. (Mistake #1). Also, there were about 16 cards per student with only about 10 question on the test. (Mistake #2) For my first class, the assessment worked REALLY well.  However, for the remaining classes, it was a disaster.  Despite specific instructions, several students dropped pieces on the floor, swapped pieces with a neighbor, and took pieces with them when they left the class.  By the end of the day, I was seeing pieces of my test down the hall. And because the pieces were mixed up, several students did in fact have the correct answer, but because they had a card from a different test, their answers didn't always match the answer key for their test number.

It seemed the students were excited about the idea of  the new assessment style, but there were too many cards per student and too much room for error.  In the future, I will do a better job of color coding the cards, creating fewer cards, and requiring the students to write the letter AND the number/answer on their test.  For the first 2 classes, I only required that they write the letter.  For the remaining classes, I required that they write the letter AND answer.  That's how I came to the realization that the pieces were allll mixed up! :(

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Corn. Soy Beans. Cotton. Repeat.

Greetings from the Mississippi Delta!!!!!  Where the heat index's 103 at 10p, the water's brown, and the mosquitoes are huge. lol.  A far cry from my once "glamourous" life in Malibu.

I don't know where to I'll start at day one.  During the drive down (for New Teacher Training) to Leland...I got VERY depressed.  It literally hit me all at once. What am I doing?  Where am I going? What will I do in my spare time?  Will I pick up this "accent"?  Will Laura and I get along?  Will my kids like me?  What will the parents be like?  Will the principal be supportive?  What the f*** was I thinking?  Will the water damage my hair and skin?  Are the mosquitos really THAT bad?  What if I'm not a good teacher?  What if my kids fail the state test?  How are the scores from last year?  Will I be able to live off of 32K a year?  Bills?!?!  Will anyone come visit me?  Will they WANT to come visit me in the Delta?  What will my Cali friends think when/if they come to visit?  Will my race be a huge issue down here?  What will I do about church?  Lord why? What? How? Why now? So many few answers.

Once I finally arrived and shared my fears with Laura, I felt a bit better.  And fast forward about 3 weeks, I love my new Delta fam (Laura, Charles, Douglas, and me).  We've all gotten to know one another very well and we get along GREAT! (fyi- Doug and Charlie live next door) I named our house the Teacher's Lounge (yea...I know you like it.) and it is definitely THE place to be for some great set ideas, music, grammer lessons, dramatizations, and much more.  I'm sure there isn't another clan that beats ours...  Special shout outs to ALL my new found TFA friends. Yea for alternate route teachers! lol.

Now...because I'm in a decent mood, I will speak BRIEFLY about my school.

We're failing our kids.

As a school.  As a district.  As a state.  And as a nation.

We're letting them down miserably.  The NNPSD (No Name Public School District-->alias) "superiors" are getting fat checks monthly while there are kids sitting in my 7th grade HONORS math class who didn't know about lining up decimal points or 3 x 3 = 9.  I've never seen an organization so ill-functioning and UNORGANIZED IN MY LIFE!!!!  Literally, every "horror" story I've heard from current and past MTC folk has all happened to Bill, Laura, or me in the last 16 days.  I held for 6 days, and here we are at day 16 and schedules are STILL being changed.  I've been cursed out and disrespected by 12 YEAR OLDS and when I wrote them up, they were sent back to the room.  A TFA teacher got punched in the face by a fighting did nothing.  I had 18 desks...26 students.  I feel like I'm on a little island with the other 20-somethings (mostly TFA) who actually give a damn about education and about the children.  Other teachers actually make fun of the "new teachers" for 1. having rules, 2. enforcing the school's rules, 3. decorating our bulletin boards, 4. giving homework...and a host of other things EFFECTIVE teachers do.  I feel sorry for the students that are actually there to get an education, because too many are there for "rank" (more on that later) or because momma and daddy are tired of fooling with them at home.  I've never seen such a LARGE group of apathetic, DISRESPECTFUL KIDS in my life.  And what does my unsupportive administration do to combat this problems...not a doggone thang! No sense of urgency whatsoever.  As I always say, "That would be too much like right!"

On a positive note...  1. The Whole Brain Teaching method has been working REALLY well in my classrooms (for the most part).  I have a video from my very FIRST day of school of the kids responding to the "class-yes" and reciting the rules with gestures.  (Still working on loading that vid on the net!) Pure joy! :)  2.  The kids keep me laughing...really.  Kids say the darnest things! ;)  3.  The parents have been quite supportive and receptive to the weekly reports, whether positive or negative.

I took the teachers, office staff, and custodial staff brownies on the first day of school and BOYYYYYY were those a HIT!  My colleagues are STILL talking about those brownies, and I've even had a few orders because of it. :)  I didn't get a picture because the secretaries have major a-t-t-i-t-u-d-e, but here is a pic of one of the pan of brownies! YUM!

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