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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.


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