Welcome to my new blog! I am a future TFA corps member (2012!), and tomorrow is my first day of work at the home office of a charter school network. Since I am not currently in a classroom, my blog’s focus will be a bit different than that of most Teach for Us blogs, but I still want to add to the conversation. This post gives a little bit of my back story.
I’m a recent graduate of MIT, where I majored in mechanical engineering. I applied to TFA last fall after visiting several corps members’ middle-school science classrooms. One of the teachers told me, “the hardest thing for me is actually the science. My kids are smart and have good questions, and I can’t answer them because I’m just reading a chapter ahead in the book. I never had a science class in college.”
I was shocked. TFA had sent me to these teachers as part of its recruitment process, so I couldn’t imagine they were weak links. I knew how competitive TFA admissions were, and while I knew that there was a nationwide shortage of math and science teachers, I had assumed that TFA could attract candidates with strong content knowledge. It seemed that assumption was wrong. I applied immediately.
After I applied, I began volunteering in local schools to help me get ready for teaching. Once I was accepted and assigned to teach math – my first choice – I visited as many math classrooms as I could. I read education blogs. I read Teach Like a Champion. I got my hands on the Institute reading early and plowed through it, too. In college, I had bounced from one career idea to the next, never finding anything I really enjoyed. Now, I finally felt like this was it.
I was placed as a math teacher in a charter school in early 2011. I was ecstatic.
Unfortunately, I was beset by chronic medical issues. By early May, I still wasn’t better, and I felt like it would be irresponsible for me to start teaching this fall. With extreme regret, I called TFA and my school to deliver the bad news. Both were sympathetic. I deferred TFA until 2012 and asked the school to keep me in the loop on volunteer opportunities.
One thing led to another, and now I am about to begin a yearlong position at the central office serving that same school. While I would love to be teaching math, I’m also incredibly excited about my new job. I am convinced that every additional individual working to improve schools makes a difference, no matter his or her role. Though I won’t be on the front lines, I’m looking forward to making my own contribution.