Expect Wonderful Surprises
Massachusetts is one of the many Teach For America site placements. I volunteered today welcoming some of the newest corps members to Boston, handing out their TFA t-shirts and gift bags of snacks, letters of advice from local public school students, and other goodies. The experience brought me back to some of my own early memories as a young corps member (Houston, ’00). People like to debate about the pros and cons of TFA — Eduwonk reviews some of this, along with the research.
I’d like to share some of the sentiments and memories that the day jogged, because they help to add some context to the TFA conversations (wherever one may stand).
- Whether they know it or not, TFA teachers expect wonderful surprises in their classrooms. These are people who expect to love teaching, to enjoy their students, and to make larger contributions to their communities through education. Not only is this contagious, it is difficult to understand if one has never been in a room filled with thousands of people so dedicated and energetic.
- And, in many of the schools in which corps members find themselves, this sort of optimism and willingness to go above and beyond the average day’s work is welcomed. I want people on my team who are willing to learn and adament about doing the best for kids. They are willing to get up and do the hard work. This is is not something that everyone does. Non-TFA folk in these settings also deserve applause.
- Contrary to popular belief, most corps members stay in education beyond their TFA committment. The problems facing schools today are big. They require creative thinking and work from many angles. There is no one answer or magic bullet. Having more corps members stay in the classroom is good (many do, and I did); but so is having corps members venture into other areas that affect communities and schools.
Mine was a good experience. I’d do it all over again.