Looking over some of the new corps members blog entries, I’m struck by their enthusiasm despite their revelation that my biggest critique of TFA over the past few years is still valid in 2012.
Student teaching classes are ridiculously small. In Mississippi I read a post here where they have just 11 students, and one here where they have just five. Comments were disabled on both of these posts so I couldn’t ask them how TFA might be rationalizing the fact that they are being denied an authentic student teaching experience that will cause their actual classes they teach in the fall to suffer.
I also read a post here by a corps member in Oklahoma who matter-of-factly states “Although my fall placement is to teach high school English, here in Tulsa at Institute, I’m teaching rising fourth graders to read.” At the end of this post, this corps member concludes an analogy involving gymnastics with this “My role, as the teacher in this process, is to instill the desire for transformational change–to alter the trajectory of those whose opportunities have been blighted because of setting the bar too low for them.”
What I get from this is that TFA is filling these corps member’s heads with lofty aims while not providing them with a opportunity to develop the skills to be effective.
Teaching a few fourth graders is completely different than teaching high school. This corps member will first encounter a student over the age of 10 when he or she shows up for work the first day of his or her actual job. This makes me kind of angry.
What I’d like to know is how TFA is keeping the corps members so blissful when they should be irate. Are they saying that 4th graders and 9th graders aren’t all that different? That kids are kids and that what works for the immature 4th graders will work for the ‘easier’ and more mature 9th graders. Anyone who has ever taught 9th graders would laugh at this.
How are they supplementing the training for people who will be teaching a completely different thing in the fall as they are in their student teaching assignment.