Teaching Profession Blog

New Terrain

Jessica Shyu, who taught special education for two years at an American Indian reservation school in New Mexico, is a program director for Teach For America in Washington, D.C., where she supports and trains TFA teachers. In this opinion blog, Jessica will write about the lives of new teachers in today’s schools, exploring their practice, experiences, and career challenges and opportunities. Opinions expressed in the blog are Jessica’s own and do not represent the views of Teach for America or teachermagazine.org. (New Terrain ceased publishing in June 2009.)

Education Opinion Work hard, get smart
"...success depends less on intellectual endowment than on perseverance and drive. As Professor Nisbett puts it, “Intelligence and academic achievement are very much under people’s control."
Jessica Shyu, June 7, 2009
2 min read
Education Opinion We MUST relax!
Like so many of you right now, I am tired. I have not blogged in over a month (I'm sorry Teacher Magazine). I haven't made dinner in over 10 days, scrubbed the bathroom since winter, and my jiggly arms attest to how many workouts I've canceled with friends. This is because like so many other educators, I've been working 80-plus hours a week to improve teaching so all kids would learn (a lot). However, according to my fiancee's not-so-subtle hints lately, "I have so much to do" has become an inexcusable excuse for not enjoying life.
Jessica Shyu, June 7, 2009
3 min read
Education Opinion Friday Night Eduholism
I love kids. It's Friday night and we just finished our dinner party. It was all adults, but one of my fiance's friends brought two high school students he has been family friends with for more than a decade. As an eduholic, I immediately grilled the kids at the dinner table about which school they attend in DC, who their teachers are and how they are doing in class. Some lighthearted conversationalist I am.
Jessica Shyu, April 25, 2009
2 min read
Education Opinion Big, bold leadership (and more hours in the day)
Thank you, Mr. Duncan, for saying clearly in your Time interview what needed to be said:
Jessica Shyu, April 22, 2009
1 min read
Education Opinion Actively. Publicly. Loudly.
I swear. I am a nice person. I say "please" and "thank you." I recycle. I chew with my mouth closed. And I am respectful to everyone, especially my elders.
Jessica Shyu, April 20, 2009
2 min read
Education Opinion The gap within the gap
My younger brother never visited me in New Mexico, but he had a loyal following of middle school boys on the Navajo Nation. I may have been the one crafting creative lesson plans and cutting out manipulatives late into the night, and I may have been the one who helped them grow by two reading levels, but "Daniel" was the one who they looked up to.
Jessica Shyu, March 26, 2009
3 min read
Education Opinion DC Chancellor gives self failing grade
DC Chancellor Michelle Rhee graded herself an "F" when asked by The Washington Times how she would rate her first 20 months in office.
Jessica Shyu, March 17, 2009
1 min read
Education Opinion Freedom to Debate: Is NCLB Working?
Is NCLB working?
I'm a supporter of No Child Left Behind, not because it doesn't need a ton of fixing, but because I believe it's driving us in the right direction and holding us all accountable to children learning.
Jessica Shyu, March 5, 2009
1 min read
Education Opinion $100 billion daydreams
Hallelujah, we are rich.
With the sweep of his pen on Tuesday, President Barack Obama will more than double the budget for education when he signs the $789 billion stimulus package. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will have a glorious $100 billion to deliver to needy schools, programs and universities.
Jessica Shyu, February 17, 2009
2 min read
Education Opinion Shovel-ready
I'm all about balance and compromise when it comes to politics and policy, but how many others out there shook their heads knowingly and resignedly when finding out that the revised stimulus package passed Wednesday took a $16 billion bite out of the initial plan for school construction. (Insert disappointed clucking and sighing?)
Jessica Shyu, February 12, 2009
1 min read
Education Opinion Snow baller
Here in DC, we don't play. Sure, there's snow falling and they're calling for sleet and ice in a couple hours. But bring it on, we have school. When all the other districts around us either closed or ended school early yesterday, we in the district kept on going. Today, we only have a 2-hour delay. And you know what? It's been OK. No accidents, no problems, nothing. I was on the roads all day going to schools and it was fine.
Jessica Shyu, January 28, 2009
1 min read
Education Opinion One Today, Starting Now
Like so many of us from Teach For America and all over education, my manager didn't start of dreaming of teaching children, arranging centers or discussing student assessments. He wanted to be a poet, he earned a Masters in African Studies from Cornell, and he tried for a Fulbright to Africa. Then he joined Teach For America. And over the past decade, as classroom teacher, school principal and trainer of new TFA teachers, he hasn't left education or the fight to close the achievement gap. That doesn't mean he hasn't left social justice work or poetry.
Jessica Shyu, January 19, 2009
2 min read
Education Opinion Mentoring: It takes a village
Happy New Year! First off, there's a great discussion going on about Michelle Rhee's philosophy and tactics for ed reform. I'm currently on vacation in Taiwan for lots of family time and limited Web time. I can't wait to jump back in to the conversation when I return on January 13th, but in the meantime, keep the passionate debate going!
Jessica Shyu, January 1, 2009
2 min read
Education Opinion Arne vs. Michelle
I'm just going to put it out there if it wasn't apparent already-- I'm a Rhee fan. I believe in focusing our time, resources and brains on teacher competency as our primary way of closing the dire achievement gap, and I believe in plucking the many incompetent teachers from schools and sweeping them far, far away from teaching our children. Anyone's who's worked in an under-performing school knows at least a handful of these teachers. I gladly forgo my own seniority and tenure as a teacher to know that those teachers-- the ones who ultimately make my and my children's work harder-- will be asked to leave by the end of the year at the latest.
Jessica Shyu, December 22, 2008
2 min read