This is a great idea to have this blog site. There used to be a message board on the TFA website for alumni, but TFA decided that they didn’t like some of the things being posted there, and it was shut down about five years ago.
Maybe this is an opportunity for TFAers to share their thoughts.
I’ve had a love/hate relationship with TFA since I got into the program in 1991. I had a really tough first year of teaching, but then I figured out what I needed to do and had a great 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year in Houston.
I wrote a monthly column for the Houston TFA newsletter. Those columns eventually became an actual book ‘Reluctant Disciplinarian’ I’m really proud of that. It describes the good and bad of TFA and of teaching.
Well, I was ‘in’ with TFA for about two years. They asked me to speak at a couple of things and then I became a CMA for the summer of 1996 in Houston. I had some problems getting along with some of the staff. It seemed like they were pretty intolerant of differing points of view. Maybe it was me that was intolerant. I’m not sure.
After that, I was ‘out’, though I continued to speak at the New York institute and do a workshop on classroom management there. Then, last year, I was told that I couldn’t do the workshop anymore, and I haven’t been involved since.
Fortunately, I’ve had a lot of opportunity to help new teachers still. I teach a course for the New York City Teaching Fellows. Also, the NYCTF program purchases a copy of my book for all of the fellows, so I’m getting my message out there more than ever.
Basically, I give the non-sugar coated story about how hard teaching can be when you go into it overconfident. I needed someone to tell me something like that before I started my first year, but if they told me it, I didn’t believe it.
My impression is that TFA still sugar-coats how tough things can be, or they make it so some people make it through training without fully believing how hard the first year is when you’re unprepared.