/* open id delegation ---------------------------------------------- */

Friday, April 27, 2007

Some thoughts on TFA

A lot of people at my school do TFA. More people do TFA than certify through the school's education department.

This year, a handful of people did not get accepted into TFA who were expecting to get into the program. They are all upset and mad and angry and unhappy about this fact. And, okay, I understand that. Getting rejected from something never feels good. But, what I don't understand is why they don't follow one of the many, many other options out there in regards to teaching in high need areas. There are one year masters in education! There are other teaching corps which certify you as you are teaching! If you really want to be a teacher, there are a whole host of ways that you can make that happen.

Yet, all these people do is complain and resign themselves to finding some other type of job.

I think this may be part of my discomfort with TFA. The fact that some people apply to TFA just because they don't know what else to do. And if you went to a "good" college, there's a good chance you'll get accepted into TFA. What I want to know though, is how many people get rejected from TFA, and then go on to pursue jobs teaching or at least working directly with children? If the percentage is high, then I am wrong. But from what I have seen, at least, it seems that people who do not get accepted into TFA do not necessarily find another way to become a teacher in a high needs area. And well, if they don't make the effort to find another way for it to happen, maybe that's just evidence that they shouldn't have gotten accepted in the first place?

I don't mean to be too harsh on TFA - they do so many good things. I have a friend who is finishing up her first year teaching through TFA and is having a lot of success with her students, and is learning a lot in the process, too.

Some people who do TFA actually want to be a teacher, and that's great for them that they get accepted and are given the opportunity to do what they want. Others though, and perhaps more so at a liberal arts college where you get a degree in something really random, and then realize you can't get a job with the qualifications you have, decide to do TFA for lack of any better job prospects, and then just pout when they don't get accepted. And that aspect of TFA makes me uncomfortable. If you don't want to work with kids badly enough to make an extra effort to find the opportunity to do so, perhaps your rejection may have been for the best...

And again, this is just what I have observed at my school. Especially since my education department is going through some...turmoil at the moment, I feel very possessive of education as a discipline. (Also, I may be slightly brainwashed by my professors who are not huge fans of TFA. Though, I prefer to think of it as informed, not brainwashed.) Regardless, I know that TFA does some great things, but I also feel that there are many aspects of TFA that are not great and could be improved.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I shouldn't doubt my life decisions, but...

When I hear people talk about how they are doing Teach for America next year, I begin to regret my decision to stay in the education program at my school. After all, they're going to get certified too, and they're going to begin teaching sooner, and they don't have to jump through the sometimes frustrating hoops to certify through the college.

When I think about it, I sometimes feel foolish or selfish for doing the program through my college. After all, I'm not "going where I'm needed most," or whatever TFA's motto is. I'm getting certified in a state I don't actually want to live in, so I'm going to need to transfer the certification to a different state upon completion. I have to stay here (in the town where my school is) an extra semester after I graduate to finish the student teaching.

Would it have been easier to just apply for an alternative certification program? Would it have made more sense? Are all the classes I have taken here worth it all? If I hadn't taken all the education classes I did, I could have taken other classes, that I never got the chance to take. I see people who I know, who began college planning to join the certification program, but who now have plans to teach, or are already teaching. They didn't take the classes at my college, but they're going to be out there, teaching for real before I am.

I know there are values to getting certified through a college, for learning before you're thrown into the real world of teaching all day every day. I know I gained so, so much by taking all the education classes I have taken. I know these things and I believe them too, usually.

Sometimes though, I wonder. Would it have made more sense to do it differently? Would it have been easier to join TFA or a similar alternative certification program? Should I have just gotten a masters in education, instead of certifying during my undergraduate life?

Really, none of this pondering matters. I signed my life away to my college the other day - promising to student teach, and promising to pay the college a lot of money if I don't fulfill my end of the contract (I need to teach, full time, within the next few years. Otherwise, I owe the school a semester's tuition.) I should stop second guessing myself. I have greatly valued, if not always enjoyed, all except for one (physical education methods...) of my methods courses. I will be certified too. I am doing it differently than the majority of my peers, but like them, I will teach.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

End of spring break.

I have returned from my volunteer trip/spring break. We did quite a few interesting things during the trip, working with many different organizations.

One of the things we did that interested me the most was help at adult ESL classes. I have never before worked with adults in an educational capacity. The whole experience was really interesting. It was a little unsettling, but I learned a lot and worked with some really interesting people. In particular, a 73-year-old man who was only just beginning the ESL classes, and was not did not know how to read or write in any language. We was so motivated and really wanted to be there and learn how to write and read, in both Spanish and in English. (Although, he did spend a lot of time telling me stories about his life and his children, which while not quite on topic, was endlessly interesting for me.)

Another thing we did was help an organization that works with Latino/as. We were sent to several high schools to hand out surveys to the students, asking what services would be helpful to these students and their families. We were told to give the surveys to the Latino/a students. I don't know how we were supposed to identify which students were Latino/a, but I think they wanted us to do so based only on appearance. This made me incredibly uncomfortable. You can't tell if someone is Latino/a based only on appearance! I basically just asked anyone who came up to our table to fill out the survey, regardless of whether or not they "looked" Latino/a. This certainly flavored my perception of the organization though (along with several other things they did, which I can't really articulate in a clear way, but which also made me less pleased with the organization than the other members of my group, who had less experience studying the issues important in Latino/a communities, and multicultural communities in general).

Now though I am back at school and ready to finish up my last semester here as a student.