Jacksonville Journey

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 04 2012

Hard Feelings

EDIT: The purpose of this post was not to bash TFA or teachers who aren’t from TFA. The purpose was to express my frustration at the message they are sending to us this institute. The comments have been side tracked by union debates, if TFA is worthwhile, and bad mouthing TFA. The vision that TFA has is wonderful. I am just questioning the methods. To say I expected better from teachers and people who are in education to act in a professional and respectful manner would be a bare minimum. I ask that you consider this when making your comments. 7/12/2012


I haven’t written anything since I got to institute because I had nothing positive to say. And I didn’t want to add to the negative message out there.

But today, I feel the need to speak out.

I wasn’t buying the message today.

TFA is telling me that how I plan for math will be how I plan for social studies. But I can’t see it. I’ve asked for help, but haven’t received any. My supposed support structure doesn’t seem willing to set up a concrete time to meet with me to explain how the math lesson planning is the same as the social studies lesson planning (which I will be teaching in the fall).

I got a good look at my summer school data so far and where my kids are. They are failing. I am failing. I have failed them. There are 4 (FOUR) days left in Chicago summer school at my placement school. According to my mentor, I have actually widened the achievement gap this summer rather than keeping it the same or changing it for the better.

I can’t fail these kids. They deserve better. But I’m not sure how to make myself a better teacher in a content area that I basically know nothing about and that I quite honestly stink at (Math). Every day I spend hours on the computer or looking in the resource books to try to teach myself the lesson that I am planning.  I lose precious planning time trying to understand exactly what it means when the TFA/CPS provided objective say “SWBAT estimate the square root of a non-perfect square.”

Today I was told that I am learning how to look up content and how to actually plan. I will give them the actually planning step- three weeks ago the lesson plan I wrote was complete garbage! Utter trash. Now they are just three day old leftovers in the fridge. But the content- all I am doing is researching- which I already knew how to do.


This fear and feeling of being unprepared every time I walk into the classroom is why I was complaining about the Pre-work earlier.

One week of training is not enough time before putting us in a classroom.  Five weeks of one hour a day teaching plus sessions IS NOT ENOUGH. I am no longer trusting in the system that I will be a prepared teacher ready to make transformational goals from Day One.

I was ok with thinking that “this is just institute, this is just what I have to jump through to actually be able to teach. This fall it won’t be like this. I will be teaching something I know, something I actually care about.” I got through this last 1.5 weeks promising myself that I would get to teach social studies that last week- something I am totally passionate about (voting). But then TFA changed our schedule. We don’t have a final week. We only have 2 days of instructional time next week. We had our kids for a total of 11 days. 11 DAYS.

In 11 DAYS I am supposed to help these kids get 30 more points on a standardize test. In those 12 days we are only teaching 22 objectives. So even if they aced every day and got every objective that we taught- IT STILL WOULDN’T BE ENOUGH. They still wouldn’t make these arbitrary growth goals that TFA gave us.


But what gave me pause today was that we found out that we only have 2 days of teaching that 4th week. And I was supposed to switch to teach that with one other teacher. We would have been the only two switching. This was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to prepare myself for the fall.

But as I was being told how I utterly failing my kids and myself as a teacher, I learned something. THIS ISN’T ABOUT ME. This is about THEM. What I want doesn’t matter. It is what they NEED. And they NEED consistency. Thus, I stepped back and decided to teach math those last two days. It was/is really tough. And once I made that decision- I no longer trusted in TFA’s line. They are failing and I am supposed to continue teaching them?


I forced myself to hold in the tears long enough to make it back to my room. But on the way one of my awesome corps members stopped me just to say hi and ask how my day was going. And I told the truth. Later we started talking, and a few other corps members came over. They were more supporting than anyone else I have met here. And they helped me realize something


We are all feeling like we are learning some things but not other things. I thought that going into instate that I would be preparing for the fall. And I am. But I am only learning two aspects- how to plan with a purpose (maybe not even using the same template) AND how to manage behavior. This is not what I thought I would be doing and thus had a bit of shock.

I do not feel like I can teach in a classroom this fall. I do not think I have the skills to practice on these kids. I do not feel that I have that right. These kids deserve better than that.

But my Jax family taught me something today.

It’s good that I feel this way. It’s good that I feel like they need someone better, because that pushes me to BE that better teacher. That sense of urgency is what is pushing me to give 150% of myself. To go that extra mile to commit to them.

But most of all: that I am not alone. And that is what made m write this post. If you are out there and doubting the party line, if you are feeling like you aren’t learning anything, if you feel like you need more help or more support: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.


That alone made me feel better. Something else that would make me feel better: TFA admitting to us, to the corps, that you will not be this way for day one. That you can’t be this way from day one. That you will fail. That you will have days in which the kids don’t understand anything. And most of all you will have days that all you want to do is cry. But most of all I want the lies to stop.

38 Responses

  1. CAT

    Dear Cassidy,

    I feel what you’re getting at in this post. I’m in Delta Corps right now and our institute has people in very similar positions. I would caution, however, the removal of any sense of self or personal well being in the equation you’ve constructed between your students and their Sumer growth goals. A ship’s captain always has the best quarters, an officer the best barracks, and teachers a teacher’s lounge – a heralded privilege from the perspective of a student. Thus in all top down or bottom up equations there is respective reverence for each individual part as together they construct a whole. Hence to remove yourself is a detriment to the metaphysical whole we’re discussing and the actual physical whole of your classroom. Perhaps if I said to you – hey, what basic management skills have you gained this summer? – you might reply in terms of BMC, or tracking, or anything along those lines. Taking this a step further we could say – well how would you apply those skills to the last few days of class? – where I assume the obvious answer is 1. Keeping the class ordered 2. Meeting the objectives you have time to meet in an orderly fashion, and 3. Taking something away from this experience yourself to grow as a manager. I’ve learned these past few weeks to check my ego at the door when I walk into my classroom. But I’m also a martial artist and I’d knock any serious opponent out in the ring given half the chance. For, life is a consistency of ying and yang in every way, every situation and every context. As much one thing is, so is another. With no ego we’d never push ourselves to the lengths we do, as it seems you’ve done, but without humility we wouldn’t have been able to make the selfless realization you reference in your post. Yes, it is all about the kids. So how are you going to show up.


    • A REAL teacher

      I’ve never read a bigger load of crap than this “answer.” You are the epitome of the problem REAL trained teachers have with you Ivy-Leaguer-types, who come in totally unprepared to do the job we’ve been doing for years, far better than people like you ever will, especially because you’ll leave just as soon as you put in the required minimum time. And what is that minimum time? Just long enough to put it on your resume or C.V., perhaps in order to get into a graduate program to become an administrator, to show us how to do the job we’ve been doing all along, and which you couldn’t do if your life depended on it, or to make policy for a system you have no knowledge of whatsoever.

      Another thing: you advise Cassidy to take from this experience that s/he has learned to “grow as a manager.” Teaching is not the same as managing, but it doesn’t surprise me that someone like you would think it is. You seem to be trying to show Cassidy that the fact that s/he doesn’t possess the skills to teach math shouldn’t matter. YES, IT SHOULD!! How dare groups like TFA come in, placing unprepared, unskilled “teachers,” with no regard for the children who are there to learn, in these positions. It should not at all be about how much the TFA’er learns about getting by as a teacher, but how much the children learn about math, or whatever subject they are in school to learn. It’s not like someone who majors in Business Management and is then skilled to manage a restaurant, a store, a medical office, or whatever. Teaching children is NOT managing!! Your glib (and frankly, almost incomprehensible from an English language standpoint) answer is scary, and the more I think about it, the more it makes my blood boil, because I know the system is moving towards hiring unskilled, untrained people like you, to save money by being able to fire those of us who have toiled for years to perfect our craft, and replace us with you.

      (And, by the way . . . it’s YIN/Yang, not YING/Yang.)

      • CAT

        You’re right, it is Yin and Yang. And it is devoted teachers who make this world go round. And teaching is a craft, and children are not things to be simply managed. However, learning is learning as much as digesting is digesting, whether it be liquid or solid it all goes to the same place — in different ways, of course, and at different rates, but always into the body, into the blood stream, etc. One teacher may therefore be as beneficial or as toxic as another.

        Perhaps TFA teachers aren’t the best teachers coming out of the gate, but they are dedicated, they have a strong support system, and they’re willing to put in the time to improve themselves and their students. Yes, you may make the argument from an education major’s stand-point that TFAers don’t always have an education background. Yet this could easily be rebutted with the fact that the majority of education majors are nowhere near the tops of their classes, whereas we are. Moreover, Education majors are some of the most highly inflated majors in colleges.

        Maybe we didn’t study to be a restauranteur, but we sure know how to keep our business in order; we know how to take the essence of successful lessons to further our own; we mimic and we grow to become as effective as possible; and we take advantage of our 20 year long network and school faculty mentors kind enough to coach us on top of teaching their student to make us all as effective as possible.

        Then again, perhaps, your argument is simply: anyone who goes into teaching should be as dedicated to the crash as any other artisan is to his.

        The fact of the matter is that this simply isn’t the case in the United States, no matter how much we want it to be so. There are horror stories on both sides of the teaching divide, whether it be unprepared TFAers or awful, apathetic instructors. So why assault those working in the same direction as you? We should instead meditate on how to maximize our collective effort for maximum student results across the Delta and across the United States.

        In lieu of your last point, though, I must concede that it would indeed be a very negative side effect of the TFA mission if EFFECTIVE veteran teachers were replaced by fresh TFAers for the purpose of saving a few dollars in the district. But, I find it hard to believe that any competent administrator would do so. Thus in such an instance the problem would only arise do to incompetence in the administration. Therefore the blame would not lie on the person being hired, more so the person making the egregious error of hiring and firing the wrong people.

        • CAT

          Excuse me, I meant: “be as dedicated to the *craft* as any other artisan is to his.”

        • A REAL teacher

          “Put in the time to improve themselves and their students”?? How much time are YOU planning to put in? Most TFAers don’t stay a day beyond their two year commitment. Do you really feel that’s all the time needed to become as good as you could be? And it’s offensive to speak of “improving students.” Students need to be taught, not improved. But it’s the typical TFA mentality, that the superior “white man” is going to swoop in and “improve the natives” by improving them.

          Your comment: “the fact that the majority of education majors are nowhere near the tops of their classes,” is of course a statistical fact. The majority of anything can’t be near the top; half of everything is in the top 50% and the other half is in the bottom 50%. I do understand your point, however. And once again, I ask you to cite the study or proof that this is actually so. This is more TFA propaganda, not ever documented, but said so often, that people like you believe it without questioning it. It’s actually pretty sad that with that supposedly superior education, which you are not embarrassed at all to throw in our faces with immodest statements like “we are [near the tops of our classes], it doesn’t even occur to you to research whether this statement is even true. In all the time you spent at the highest levels of your HS and (Ivy?) college education, did you ever take a course in research? Would any of your vaunted professors accept such a statement without verification or documentation?

          Your last paragraph really confused me at first. I couldn’t understand what you meant when you started off by saying “In lieu of” until it hit me: you don’t know the meaning of this simple phrase. Somehow, in all your years of shining, at the tops of all your classes, you embarrass yourself publicly by using English incorrectly! And I’ll even grant you that your use of the phrase “do to,” later in the same paragraph is just a typo, rather than further proof of your lack of knowledge of proper English, though it’s one I would not accept from my students.

          What an embarrassment to my chosen profession you are.

  2. Emmanuel Parello

    You are definitely not alone. My experience with institute was similarly disconcerting. And planning for math is NOT the same as planning for social studies. After leaving TFA I got traditionally credentialed with an authorization for secondary social studies. It’s a completely different skill set than teaching math, and it’s a shame that TFA would lie to you like this.

  3. DC Chillin

    Institute is the worst. It really is. Lots of nonsense and doublethink and TAL Impact Models. Once you get to your region, you’re first and foremost a teacher at your school and you can kind of put up with as much or little of that stuff as you want.

  4. 50% of traditionally trained new teachers quit within the first five years of their career. I wonder what the statistics are for TFA with a few weeks of training. I hope that you are able to enjoy your first year of teaching and that you make it a career. We need master teachers. It is a great job, but probably one of the toughest. Good Luck! Email us with any classroom problems you might have. We are three veteran teachers who are willing to mentor and have written a book just for you…Teacher’s Tacklebox. Good Luck!

    • Bella

      This. Exactly!

    • NYC Alum

      The attrition rate is roughly 18% over two years (only current data I can see).

      Not to knock the absolute difficulty of going into teaching, let alone going in with limited training time. Just providing the numbers.

    • Matt

      It is asinine to think that anyone would be prepared to teach effectively with the limited amount of ‘preparation’ you get. This was my fourth year teaching and the first year I was able to start putting the pieces together. I went to grad school for two years and had 6 months of student teaching. I feel badly for you and your colleagues. You are not getting the support you need and your good intentions are leading you to unsolicited stress. It sounds like you’re in a cult. Hope some day you have the means to get certification in a graduate program and through student teaching. Good luck.

  5. Meg

    In my region we received a LOT of subject-specific resources during Orientation – we wrote our visions for the year and came up with our long term plans, first unit plans, and first unit tests. I sincerely hope that it will be the same for you in Jacksonville, but if it’s not, please take the initiative to ask a second year in your region for help. At the very least they’ll have the standards broken down and should be able to give you some suggestions on how to handle them.
    Learning how to write a lesson plan and learning how to manage a classroom are both essential skills to have as a teacher, but you’re absolutely right, learning only those to skills is not enough to make you successful. Hopefully when you get back to Jacksonville they’ll provide you with the resources you need.

    (PS content communities on TFA-Net are usually wonderful!)

  6. Esther K

    Dear Cassidy,
    Prepping for Social Studies and prepping for Math/Science is completely different. I’m teaching US History at Institute and will be teaching HS Physics and Chem in the fall and as I think about how I’m going to run my class, all I can think is how telling a story (because history is all about the stories) is different from teaching a process. The way you think about it is different and yeah, the ISAT can be frustrating sometimes (personally not a fan of the OSAT).

    I won’t lie and say that I’m getting support from the people who are supposed to be helping me because… that’s blatantly untrue. It’s about finding the people who can and will support you. That may be a CM in a different group who maybe majored in math and is teaching ELA – who knows. Find someone and be that someone for someone else because most days at Institute, it feels like we are alone but WE ARE NOT.

  7. nonTFAtxteacher

    I felt sad while reading your post. I hope that you do find that once you are through with institute and you start teaching in your region, that you will be able to teaching with a more clear mind and goal. It is a shame that TFA put you in a content that you are not that strong in. Of course this “achievement gap” is going to widen. That’s not your fault. They really expect you to teach 22 objectives in 12 days so that the students can be at least a little proficient is ridiculous. Have they tried teaching 22 objectives in 12 days in a real classroom setting before? It’s a little overwhelming and unrealistic. Our curriculum specialists would jump on you and tell you to stop that as that is a disservice to your students. I am at a Title 1 campus but without any TFA teachers. I know how hard it is to teach at an inner city school but there will be a lot more support at your campus once you get there. Good luck to you!

  8. Bella

    I remember feeling like you do. If I could give you one piece of advice, it would be this: seek out the most knowledgeable veteran teacher at your placement ( hopefully, he or she will be your mentor teacher) and ask for help. Ask anyone and everyone. Do not feel like you have something to prove and try to go at it by yourself. Until I did the same, my life at school was miserable. My mentor teacher and the other veterans at my school saved my sanity…and my kids were the real winners here!

    • hb

      while that’s probably good advice, why should experienced teachers have to shoulder the burden of “mentoring” unprepared teachers from a program that was founded to undermine traditionally trained teachers?

      it’s really sick, and honestly, i wouldn’t blame the veterans if they refused to mentor tfa teachers. it’s to their credit that they do, when tfa has been touted in the mainstream press as some kind of ‘miracle’ that’s going to show those stodgy, uncaring, unenthusiastic, selfish “just give me my paycheck” veterans how to do things.

      • G

        In my district, every new teacher (TFA or not) was assigned a mentor teacher for their first two years. Some new teachers took advantage of that offering, and others didn’t. Personally, my mentor teachers were amazing, and didn’t have a problem sharing what they knew. Not every TFAer thinks they know more than the veterans.

  9. Cassidy,

    I read your blog post via Diane Ravitch and empathize with you. I went through a traditional Master’s degree program and loved the 9 months of training/student teaching that I received. Yet, still, my first year was somewhat of a crapshoot. So, I wanted to offer you resources that I use as a math teacher:

    Dan Meyer’s blog: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/
    Dan Meyer’s Alg 1 curriculum: http://algebra.mrmeyer.com/

    Wonderful activities from NCTM: http://illuminations.nctm.org/

    And twitter! Make sure to follow people on twitter. If you need help, just DM me at bncohen.

  10. Nancy Winterbottom

    I taught at an inner city school for 38 years. I started with the “War on Poverty”, and was certain I could change the world. When I retired, I was still committed to children, and loved the act of teaching (not the administrative BS) My advice to new teachers has always been: If people are telling you that they can do it all (great teaching, fantastic lesson plans etc.(, don’t believe them. They are either lying to you, their supervisors, or to themselves. Teaching poor kids is a humbling task, and you have to concentrate on the small successes. You can make a big difference for a VERY small number of children, and you can make a small difference for a large number of kids. You can’t be perfect, you can only do your best. You will fail, but you can get up and do it again. The best thing about teaching is that you get to wipe the slte completely clean every year, and start the next year with new skills, and new promise. Good luck.

  11. At some abstract level, all lesson planning is the same. This notion isn’t itself useful for the practicing teacher, only for people outside of classrooms who spend their time on the “big picture.” Having never been a part of TFA, I can’t comment on their ability to teach you corps members. I suspect that they don’t understand themselves how all lesson planning comes from the same type of thinking, and I want to recommend Tools For Teaching by Fred Jones.

  12. Kathleen

    The best advice I can give you is to find a colleague who has experience and excels at teaching. You will learn more from observing a pro in action than you will ever learn in any classroom.

  13. Social Studies Blues

    I completely agree with Bella about seeking out veteran teachers at your school. I’d also add make sure that you pay lots of attention during ‘First 8 Weeks’ where you really dig into curriculum and planning, and, whether you’re inclined to or not, form a strong relationship w/ your MTLD (I didn’t at first, and I think it may have helped me grow more quickly!!)…all of those things will help you become a strong teacher.

    I went in, as I think we all do, with lots of apprehension, but, by the time I finished up my 1st year and saw the actual impact of my work and how quickly I climbed the learning curve, I knew I had to stay in my classroom and school past my 2 years…and I did :)

    ***Also, have you spoken candidly about this w/ your CMA or CS? You and others you know who feel like this…like, honestly spoken about it? Anyone who says you’re 100% ready to be transformational Day 1 isn’t being honest and I’m shocked staff would say that (all the folks I know who work at Institute speak very differently about the full journey of moving towards transformational teaching…it’s a looong process). You’ll have tools at your disposal and support to help you figure it out, but it’s YOU who’s going to have to figure it out. That’s why you were admitted and, as tough as it is, your spot-on mentality that it’s about the students, not you, is what’s going to help you be the awesome teacher you want to be.

    Sending support from afar!

  14. Jteacher1

    Unfortunately, this is why so many teachers in the trenches have a problem with TFA. This is not a slam on many of the wonderful new teachers who have come through TFA and stuck with it to continue to teach and to learn and grow as teachers. However, there is NO way a summer institute prepares you for what you will face in the classroom – absolutely no way. I am proud of you for trusting your own instincts to realize this and seeing that you need to be better prepared. Most teachers with more traditional training have countless hours of classroom observation and practice before being thrown in front of a class. Even though my degrees are in my subject areas and not in education, I still had to take a set number of education classes to be certified by my state. I started classroom observation hours in educational psychology my sophomore year of undergrad, and every single education class I had thereafter – right up through student teaching – had some sort of practicum requirement with it. By the time I graduated, I had observed, taught lessons, and taught entire grading periods in a private elementary school, a private inner-city high school, a struggling public inner-city middle school, and two of the largest public comprehensive high schools in my state. I also had worked with excellent professors and a cohort group in student teaching to “try out” lesson plans on each other and dissect what worked and what didn’t in a supportive atmosphere. Luckily, I earned my credential at a time when I didn’t have to worry about teaching to a test or any sort of the “deform”-based standards. Instead, I was allowed to focus on what my students genuinely needed in my classroom and to teach each of them on individual merits. My advice for you when you get into your own classroom this fall: 1. Align yourself with a strong, creative, experienced mentor teacher ASAP. If your school doesn’t assign you one, ask someone in your department who is willing, and make sure that person’s personality fits yours. My school gave me an invaluable mentor my first year, a great teacher whose upbeat, slightly irreverent personality matched my own, and it was so nice to go to her for help. 2. Read all the research and self-help educational books you can get your hands on and take note of those ideas you would like to try. 3. Realize that you can’t realistically change the world your first year of teaching, and you will NOT meet all of your TFA objectives. Give yourself permission to fail and don’t stress out about the little things too much. It’s not worth it. 4. Take time for yourself. As much as you’re going to feel like being at school until all hours of the night every night, you simply must take time for some rest and relaxation, or you will quickly become a stressed-out teacher, and the kids will pick up on that anxiety and reflect it. 5. It’s OK to deviate from your lesson plan if it’s what your students need in that moment. Period. 6. Teaching to the test is not teaching.

    Best of luck to you from someone who’s been in the trenches for 17 years now but still gets asked, “How did someone as smart as you end up as a teacher?”

  15. educator

    TFA=Union breakers

    • Why is this immediately a bad thing? Teacher’s unions are supposed to look out for teachers, which they do. But usually by ignoring the job that teachers are supposed to do: teach. And letting kids fall to the wayside to protect those teachers who are not doing good. How is this a good thing?

  16. A REAL teacher

    Cassidy, you’ve drunk the TFA Kool-Aid. You started out sympathetic with your original post, but now you’re spouting the same old, unsubstantiated nonsense that TFA spews.

    Find out and stick to the facts, before maligning teachers, who, probably 98-99% of the time, are NOT letting “kids fall to the wayside.” It’s only the well-publicized negatives, few that there are, that ruin it for the majority. Are all priests suspect because of the sins of the few? Are all cops dirty because of the sins of the few?

    And before you are so quick to badmouth unions, I wonder how fast you’d run to go back to the time before they existed: no days off, dangerous working conditions, no worker protections at all, etc.

    • I don’t like the idea of unions who will protect teacher jobs at the cost of students.
      IF the teachers union can and DOES do both, more power to them. And they can be great tools.

      However, take NYC where teachers who do inappropriate things are still paid to just sit in a room. How is this helping kids, when NYC can’t hire new teachers?

      Not all unions are bad, but I’m not sure they are needed in teaching. And I had this opinion LONG before I ever thought of joining TFA.

      I’m not saying all teachers are, I never even said teacher are. I said, the unions let kids fall to the wayside to protect teachers who are not doing good. Not to protect GREAT or GOOD or AVERAGE teachers but POOR or BAD teachers- how is this specifically a good thing? Not how are teacher’s unions a good thing? But how is this one specific aspect of teacher unions good?

      I am honestly looking for explanations, not judging.

      I’m also not saying ALL unions are bad and unnecessary, I’m just asking the question- are TEACHER’S unions necessary?

      • A REAL teacher

        I don’t know where you are getting this info from, but teachers in NYC haven’t “just sat in rooms” for over a year, maybe even two. Even then, they were there because they were being denied their due process rights to a speedy trial. Most were not guilty of anything beyond being outspoken or the victim of an annoyed student who made bogus charges against them. When the DOE decided to let them languish instead of speedily investigating, they sat because they were not convicted, but also weren’t able to be placed in a classroom. If the DOE had done things more quickly, names would have been cleared, and they would have been able to go back and teach.

        Now we have teachers who are let go from schools which are being closed and “turned around,” but are not being hired because their higher salaries are taken from budgets, and principals who aren’t given enough money to run a school in the first place, have to decide between hiring one expensive teacher or two cheap newbies.

        I think it’s a shame you don’t really know much about this, only get your info from the media and TFA, and don’t seem ashamed to show your ignorance here.

        One final idea about unions. Unions have traditionally protected tenure, and tenure is the thing that comes between a teacher whose ideas might not quite jibe with administration and being fired for speaking their mind. It has long been accepted in higher education for just that reason, and if you don’t see that it’s a good thing to know you won’t or can’t be let go capriciously, just for disagreeing with what a principal thinks, then you really don’t understand the system.

        • My only question is about failing teachers. NOT about teachers who are being denied any part of their contract.

          I refuse to argue with you about anything else, or respond to your argumentative comments. You feel the need to take a thoughtful post about feelings and decisions and change it into your own personal soapbox.

          • LG

            Cassidy, you have a great head on your shoulders and the advice that has been offered here is absolutely spot on: Talk to the veteran staff and your administrators. They are invaluable resources to help you structure your craft.

            Perhaps your words can influence some changes in the TFA concepts and improve the over-all effectiveness of all TFA teachers. You are very brave for speaking out, and this critical thinking shows that you will be a success in this field. Take your suspicions, seek out help from veterans and make strides to improve wherever you can. In the meantime, you should absolutely continue to address your concerns to TFA. Bring research with you to support your claims.

            I do hope you can speak your mind without repercussions. I apologize for seemingly going “off-topic” once again, but I must address your comment: “I don’t like the idea of unions who will protect teacher jobs at the cost of students.”

            Cassidy, it appears that you have become a victim of the “trend” of blaming unions for bad teachers. (I addressed this down below.)

            In all the school districts I have had the pleasure of teaching, union contracts afford teachers the right to “defense before dismissal.” It is the district’s prerogative to fire what you call “bad teachers” if the district has been able to prove a legitimate reason for doing so. If the district fails to do so, the DISTRICT IS AT FAULT for the so-called “bad teachers,” not the union. The contract only protects the teacher from being fired without legitimacy. As I stated below, unions do not want “bad teachers” any more than communities do.

            It is bad enough that people who are not in this profession believe that unions protect the worst among us, but when people who ARE in this profession allow themselves to be fed propaganda about the current working structure in many public schools to the point that they actually believe it, it is absolutely devastating.

            I implore you to step back as a social scientist and research how the process works. Your right to speak out about what you feel is of utmost importance in this profession. A union would absolutely back you and offer you support to do so without worry that you would lose your job. Without a union, if you were to speak your mind about some aspect of your job, as you do in this original post, you can be fired without any recourse. Is this the kind of working climate in which you want to find yourself? If not, support unions and the freedoms for teachers to be the thinkers that students deserve to have teaching them in the classroom.

          • Thank you for responding in an adult manner, this alone allows me to read your comment and actually think about what it is you are saying. These are all questions that I have and want answered. You are the first person to answer any of my questions without yelling about how unions are wonderful and I’m a horrible person for not wanting them. I will consider what you have said, and when I have time again, I will begin to research teacher unions from a social scientist stand point.

  17. educator

    If I went applied for a job and a TFA applied for a job, guess who would probably get it? Admin like scabs better. They just tossed one of the best math teachers we have in our school SYSTEM. We are a turnaround school so the union couldn’t do anything about it.. They hired TFA in her place… give me a break. I wish I could go be a doctor by just taking a summer program.

  18. educator

    A REAL teacher is spot on.
    Yes started out sympathetic… hahahaha but molded and brainwashed from the same ideology. I take what those people say with a grain of salt. How can someone be an expert about something when they aren’t there long enough to develop?

  19. educator

    A REAL teacher… these IVY kids…haha…um… Have you ever had a truly smart teacher that couldn’t convey his or her subject? Being the smartest in an area doesn’t mean you’re the best teacher. Every real teacher knows that. Someone who struggled a bit with a subject also realizes where others may struggle. It’s easier to identify where problems may occur. I guess they don’t teach that in the TFA summer program.

    • It’s ironic that the condescending character in this argument is you. You are mocking the OP’s education and TFA status and using it to basically reject anything s/he is saying.

      No, being smart doesn’t guarantee a quality teacher, but it doesn’t mean that a smart person will automatically suck as a teacher or is not a “real teacher”.

      Like “normal” people, “smart” people have strengths and weaknesses. We have heard of multiple intelligences, right? I won’t get into the argument about “these Ivy kids”, but I do find it a bit worrying that we’ve come to the point where someone’s opinion as a teacher is rejected because they did well in college.

      • Educator

        I’m not impressed with TFA kids’ educational background, ability as teachers, and future goals. They are taking away jobs from teachers who went through a real teaching program, and not some fly by night program. Some of our best dedicated teachers were tossed out of our school and replaced with TFA.

        No one ever said a smart Ivy League teacher would suck. However your trusty program allows only the top that are extremely smart. They don’t see above average intelligence as worthy for their “fast food” teaching program.

        As for your comment about me acting condescending, please don’t confuse that for complete disgust. The TFA program is condescending and a total INSULT to many good professional teachers.

  20. LG

    I’m glad that you have a willingness to find out more about unions. Due process is very important in education where academic freedoms are the crux of an educated society. Without academic freedom, education is dead. Teachers need to feel free to speak and have opinions without feeling as if they risk their livelihood doing so.

    Surely someone of your intellect level and background in social science would not easily fall victim to the propaganda that paints unions as “protectors of bad teachers.” Unions don’t want bad teachers as members. The political discourse on this topic is fraught with misinformation that serves those who are threatened by unions, i. e. those with interest in dissolving rights of employees.

    Unions protect a teacher’s right to a fair investigation of charges that MAY lead to dismissal, but if a district has grounds to dismiss someone after the person has had his day in court, the union will give its blessing for that person to leave.

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