Stir Up the World

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 08 2011

the kool-aid-free perspective

My friend that’s visiting me wrote a post for my blog, just to shed a more objective light on this whole TFA-in-the-school-year works.

For the last five days I’ve been visiting Elsa and her roommate (also a TFA-er) in a small town in Arkansas. Being from California and never having been to the South, this has been a whole new experience for me. The culture here is different from what I’ve previously experienced. I love the accents, and the Southern hospitality has been incredible! I’m amazed that everyone acknowledges and chats with perfect strangers when walking down the street.
This has also been my first introduction to Teach for America. As a teacher myself, I was curious to see how TFA compared to the credentialing program I went through and the differences in preparations for the upcoming school year. The thing that has struck me the most about these ladies’ TFA experience has been the amount of work they are doing! After a summer spent at Institute, they continue to work hard preparing for their classrooms this fall. A day filled with emails from advisors, developing classroom management plans, and filling out TFA-required paperwork is common. These ladies are working hard to be ready for the first day next week. They are excited to meet their students and begin making a difference in the lives of these learners.
I believe that Elsa and her roommate are going to be great teachers! They are passionate about learning and teaching, and they have both invested the time needed to be great teachers. While I have witnessed their passion and excitement, I have also observed their frustration during the last week. It is hard to serve two masters. While TFA has expectations for its teachers, it is not the one who writes the paycheck. TFA teachers are hired by a school district, and it is necessary for teachers to meet the requirements set forth by their employers. A discrepancy in requirements places extra stress on teachers as they try to balance the program’s expectations with those of their schools. These ladies are working hard to be successful in both places. Their courage in moving to an unknown place and their determination to touch their students’ lives is inspiring. I look forward to hearing their stories as they begin this new adventure!

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    rural Arkansas, eh?

    Mississippi Delta
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    the title

    "If one desires to 'stir up the world,' it is easy to be impatient with work for the sake of work. Yet no story's end can forsake its beginning and its middle." -Joshua Wolf Shank on Abraham Lincoln