B is for Blast Off

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 27 2013

B is for Blue Chairs

I moved to Johannesburg, South Africa almost 13 months ago to join the founding team of Spark Schools, Africa’s first blended learning school network.  This week, as we sign the lease on our second school building, start the interview process for our second staff, and open enrolment for our second student intake, I want to take a moment to commemorate how far we’ve come in a year.  When I look back at my notebook from last August and compare it to my current notebook, the differences in our priorities and competencies are striking.
We had our first team meeting on 8 August 2012, where we talked about operating as thought leaders in South African education reform, building a strong and sustainable academic and financial model, and the teacher interview process as an opportunity to start building team culture.  My notes from 8 August 2013 are about building a whole network metric…

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Nov 16 2012

B is for Because

Stacey and Ryan, the co-founders of eAdvance, have begun asking staff members to present at our weekly meetings about the eAdvance story and our roles in it.  The following is my presentation from this morning. I met Stacey and Ryan on January 19, 2012.  They were two South Africans on a research trip to the…

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Oct 22 2012

B is for Burning Platform

On Saturday, I attended TedxSoweto, an independent TED conference focused on solutions to close the wealth gap in Africa.  Before I spend this post bemoaning the state of the South African education system, I want to take a moment to acknowledge how incredible it is that Soweto was the site of a conference affiliated with…

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Sep 12 2012

B is for Build

Five weeks ago, I moved to Johannesburg, South Africa to join eAdvance as the Director of Development and Leadership.  It turns out that opening a primary school is an all-hands-on-deck sort of endeavor.  Yes, I do develop curriculum, design professional development sessions, and hire terrific faculty, but I am also responsible for a number of…

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Jul 26 2012

B is for Band

My students are featured on the band OK Go’s Facebook page for their simple machine drawings based on the music video “This Too Shall Pass” (http://vimeo.com/10977948). As a Do Now activity in spring 2011, they were instructed to watch the video, choose a favorite simple machine, and explain how the machine changed the direction of…

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Jul 26 2012

B is for Belief

Today marks one month since I left the Bay Area.  In 11 days, I will move to Johannesburg, South Africa to begin my next adventure in education.  I will serve as the Director of Development and Leadership for EAdvance, a uniquely South African education company that provides affordable private education to low income communities.  Similar…

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Dec 24 2011

B is for Better

Here’s to not falling into the blogging “catch-up” trap, where I recount what has happened since I last updated in June.  Suffice it to say that there have been victories and defeats, personally and professionally.  Every teaching day is still massively challenging, and I remain grateful for my students and their families, for my charter…

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Jun 21 2011

B is for Board Meeting

Last Wednesday, the Santa Clara County Board of Education convened to hear a proposal from Rocketship Education to open 20 more charter elementary schools in the next 5 years.  In terms of community impact, this would make Rocketship one of the two largest districts in San Jose by 2018.  Students, families, and community members filled…

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Jun 03 2011

B is for “Beat the Test”

It has been two months since my last post, and my mood has improved considerably.  I went on a cute mini-vacation with my roommate to Mendocino, California (a tiny bed-and-breakfast town on the Pacific coast), visited a childhood friend in Seattle who lives on her sailboat, and road-tripped to Los Angeles last weekend.  I am…

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Apr 10 2011

B is for Breakdown

Generally speaking, I try to keep this blog very positive.  There is absolutely no denying that the first year teaching experience is hard.  I can only speak for myself, but I know that my corps friends and I share an understanding that most days we are only surviving.  Successes are intermittent, and when they are…

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About this Blog

Bailey Thomson, Bay Area Corps Member 2010

Bay Area
Elementary School

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