Jacksonville Journey

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 15 2012

Induction Day 1 (well….2)

Today was the first real day of Induction. We had to show up yesterday, but it was a more “get to know you” day as well as a “this is what we expect of you” day. They told us what to expect over induction and a bit of a time about our COA groups. I do not know what COA means, but essentially it is a small group within our larger group of Jax corps members (CM). We have 9 total in our group and two 2011 CMs who are our advisors. (Who rock and help us out as much as possible!).  We also got a fancy dinner with donors (or older CMs), I didn’t have any donors at the table. But man, that dinner was awkward. I’m not sure if it was just the end of the day or the group of people, but it was just awkward. There was almost no conversation, a few people were checking their phones on and off.

At the end of the day, i was just feeling…well…feeling. It is hard to describe.  I feel like I am having trouble fitting in somewhere just because I’m not a recent (as in the past month) college grad, but I also didn’t have a job. (I was living abroad for the past 9 months in Macedonia http://travelbycassidy.blogspot.com) So not only am I readjusting to life in the US but also to a new city, new people, and new everything. I only got to be at home for 36 hours before I had to leave to come to Jacksonville. So, I’m just chalking it up to re-entry culture shock, but I just feel disconnected. Hopefully this will pass soon.

Today’s actual day (Thursday) was super busy! We started with breakfast at 7am, which consisted of a danish, fruit, OJ, coffee. They also had snacks for us to take to eat during the day (note to self- I didn’t pick up enough for me!). We got on a bus, and drove to a school (Gilbert Middle School) where everything was happening today.

Every day will start with an Opening Session which consists with touchy-feelingy stuff followed by Local Inspiration. Which today was pretty cool. There was a 2010? CM who is leaving the classroom talked about what we needed to do and what inspired her. I wish I could remember everything that was said, but I feel like my head was in a whirlwind. The main thing that stood out for me make sure that you care about your students. Above all else- care about them. They also suggested that we have a vision that goes beyond the year that we are teaching.

But the quote that stood out and made me smile/all of us laugh from a student of hers:

I don’t have time for a teacher who don’t know what they are talking about

Up next, we went right into our Theory of Change and Theory of Problem. This is our idea of what is wrong and what we can do to fix it.

The Problem: What are we trying to solve?

The lack of knowledge about the problem, fighting against “those people who don’t deserve it” ideal, low income people who can’t see a way out, education being seen as a weak way of growth, institutionalized racism (meant to hold people down)

Our Mission: Why do we exist? What’s our charge?

The idea that we exist so that TFA will no longer exist, society need ground breakers (bold expectations), attracts from all backgrounds- where we learn as much as possible, and then do something about it. At all levels of society are pushing for success.

Our vision: What is our inspiration and aspiration for the future?

We want to show the American Dream as an opportunity, let the world be your stage (let them know that they have a choice), make is something that goes beyond the classroom, instill the ability to dream.

We discussed in our COA group our group’s ideas and answers to all of these some of which are listed above.

23% of African American males will NOT graduate from high school

Next up was about the Teach As Leadership model of teaching that TFA has found that this model works well. This basically shows us that teaching is a form of leadership and we should have high expectations that our students will succeed.

After this we had lunch and a hiring overview, which basically told us stuff that didn’t actually turn out to be true because the principals decided not to follow the instructions. But we got our hire packet that we will have to fill out for once we get hired and need to fill out all of our tax and benefits and fingerprinting paperwork (which we found out would happen on July 31st. In an all day session).

Then interviews started. I wasn’t supposed to have an interview until the 9th and 9th rounds, but ended up getting called over on round 5. I interviewed with Highlands middle school to teach reading. I was so nervous, while I love to read, I’m not sure I would be a good reading teacher. (This is something that is scary/bothering to me about this process that I don’t get to have a say in where I will get hired TFA/DCPS pick for me. I’m working on accepting this, but only doing so so.) Then I stood around and waited until my next interview, because they thought they could fit me in somewhere. I went early for the next interview at First Coast High but ended up interviewing with the table that didn’t have the principal at. And I didn’t get to interview at the second school I was scheduled with because they filled up their spots before I was set to interview with them.

Almost every one got hired today. I think about 20-30 of us didn’t. I did not get hired. It’s a bit of a tough pill to swallow, but there any many of us who weren’t hired. And they have never not placed a CM in a school by day one of school starting. So I’m trying to look at the bright side and say that this way the schools that were NOT there today only have to look through a shorter list for the best candidate!

We had dinner with some community leaders before heading back to the dorms to chill. The dinner was awesome and the overall message was do not give up on Jacksonville. We are the tipping point and we can make Jax better! We can strive towards a wonderful education with our students and they will be great!

2 Responses

  1. You’ll learn about this in depth soon enough, but COA = Culture Of Achievement. It’s one of two measures used to gauge whether student actions/habits are leading to positive student outcomes. Not exactly sure why they’d use that term to divide you guys into groups..

  2. Carol

    Wow. Lots of insight in this post. I agree with the “Why do we exist” question. The answer is the same in child protection. We could work ourselves out of a job if it all goes great! The end of child abuse? The end of inadequate and unequal education? They are awesome goals. Love you Cassidy! Mama.

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