Musings of a veteran teacher joining TFA

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 19 2012

It’s the start of a new experience

Tomorrow is the start of a new chapter of my career.  Joining Teach for America allows me to get amazing and unparalleled training in teaching.  The newbies won’t be able to take all of it in.  I plan on being a sponge and soaking it all in.

I’ve taught for ten years at the end of this school year.  Admittedly, one of those years was student teaching in Michigan, where I paid to teach students and starved for almost a full year.  But it was teaching, none-the-less.  I’ve taught in Flint during my student teaching and also got a long-term substitute teaching in my favorite subject.  I moved to Detroit and lived there for three years teaching Biology to 9th grade students and then a random class or three (Anatomy & Physiology, Computers, Life Skills).  Moved from Detroit to Baltimore and have taught there for the last six years in an underachieving high school.

My high school has been blessed by many wonderful people who were Teach for America core members.  Some stayed only their two years.  Some stayed a little bit longer.  I have great friends that I appreciate who’ve joined and worked (and continue to work) at my school.  The students generally appreciate our teachers.  I feel appreciated by my students.  I’m not a bad teacher.  I do well in my classrooms most times.

So, what I’m getting asked is, “Why TFA? You’re all ready a teacher!”

For me, it’s not about becoming a teacher.  It’s becoming a BETTER teacher.  TFA has amazing resources.  They are on the front of knowing what’s coming and staying in education.  They know which way policy is tending to lean towards.  They have seen what works and what doesn’t work in the situations I am personally involved in.  It’s definitely about being a teacher leader.  And, I’m that too, no doubt about it.  It’s still about making myself better.

The experience of applying was… thorough.  I say that with ellipses in that it was time consuming.  I realize that it is one way to weed out the people who don’t have commitment.  I’m okay with that.  Coming from someone who’s been teaching, the application process was not really with me in mind, of course.  And I say “me” as in “already a teacher”.  I’ve been out of college for 10 years.  I’ve been out of high school for 20.  I’m significantly older than nearly everyone I will be working with during this process.  Some of these teachers coming in are young enough to be my children.  I will be 39 this December.  I don’t act like it and I don’t look it.  But sometimes I really feel it.  I know I can be flexible enough in this situation.  I like to learn, and that’s what I’m trying to do.  I ended up wandering out the last day of school this year, relaxing with teachers unwinding and socializing before we all went off our separate ways during the summer.  Our group wandered into a karaoke bar filled mostly with Teach for America people.  How do I know?  You’ll see.  TFA is an interesting group.  They bond with the hardships that they are facing.  There is a serious sense of community.  It made me feel very old.  Yet, I was out in that group as well, and I know I do fit when I so choose.

I need to keep in mind that I joined for a reason.  I want this information.  I want this opportunity.  I can do this.  Obviously.  I am excited.

I would say that tomorrow starts the experience, but realistically, this has already happened.  The myriad of papers needing to be signed, things sent out, making sure you’re checking everything and doing it in a timely fashion and well has been an experience.  I know this really will not change either.  It’s just going to be student papers given out, things checked, and given back in a timely fashion.

Tomorrow is Induction.  I know this experience will be hard.  I’m okay with that.  I know that I am in a unique situation.  I’m okay with that too.  I did it for me, my students and my coworkers.  Let’s Ride!!

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10 years teaching, trying something new and exciting!

High School

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June 2012
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