I was accepted to TFA in the fall of 2010. Due to medical issues, I never actually served as a TFA teacher. I deferred my placement for a year, then dropped out completely when my problems did not resolve.
Even though I was never a full-time classroom teacher, I have seen many different parts of urban school systems. Soon after my acceptance, I began tutoring, teaching at an afterschool program, and visiting classrooms. I taught a summer chemistry class in 2011 and worked on recruitment and technology for a new charter network that fall.
I was trained as an engineer and am particularly passionate about math education. During my classroom observations, I was sad to see that most teachers struggle to teach math effectively. However, I did see a few amazing math classes. All of them were in charter schools aligned to the “No Excuses” philosophy. While none of the “No Excuses” schools were perfect, the best ones absolutely floored me. They crackled with energy, rigor, and love. I would not hesitate for one second to send my own child to them; in fact, I wish I had gone to one myself.
In addition to providing a good education to students, they also provided extensive support for teachers, making it possible to be successful without spending precious time reinventing the wheel. While there is still much work to be done, I believe these people are on to something great, and it’s my goal to see more of their methods implemented in schools across the country.