Teach for America?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Alyssa20, Jan 8, 2018.

  1. Alyssa20

    Alyssa20 Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2018

    Has anyone worked for Teach for America? What is it exactly? From what I gathered, they are a chain of charter schools that cater to low-income students throughout America. They don't require a credential either.
     
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  3. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    Jan 8, 2018

    Google experiences. I did something similar.

    Here's my advice: It's a fairly easy way to get into the field. It's also a fairly easy way to end up despising your existence and having the worst few years imaginable. Your job placement will be ungodly difficult...there are NO unicorns and rainbows no matter what they push out.

    Don't. Do. It.
     
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  4. DobbyChatt

    DobbyChatt Rookie

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    I should follow up with this--search your area for other types of teacher residencies that will better prepare you for being in a classroom than TFA...you should be with a mentor teacher (student teaching) for at least 6 months in my opinion.
     
  5. FourSquare

    FourSquare Fanatic

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    TFA is not a charter school in any way. It is an alternative certification program.
     
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  6. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    I don't even know if I would consider it a proper alternative certification program. More like teaching boot camp. From what I understand, many just use it as a short-term situation to slap on their resume.
     
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  7. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    That’s the goal. They aren’t interested in creating teachers. They are interested in creating policy changers. That want you to teach for a little while then work in public policy, non profits, or start schools. That’s the gist.
     
  8. vickilyn

    vickilyn Virtuoso

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    Even if some routes to AR are tightening (rightfully), there are better choices, IMO. In my AR experience, I taught in a suburban school with wonderful teachers, not afraid of violence, and not requiring a crash course in poverty. That's not to say that since by entry into teaching I haven't experienced all of the above, but I have also added over 65 graduate credits, a MEd., a TOSD endorsement, over 200 hours of AR training classes, plus PD, workshops, and conferences. I have taken on some of the harder stuff as I grew as a teacher, making me better able to build on what I had learned in a much more cohesive and logical progression. My son considered TfA when job offers weren't plentiful in his original major. We looked at it closely, and decided that the sink or swim mentality wasn't a fit for him. I am very grateful that he decided to go after the master's in ESL instead, which has been a perfect fit, leading to an ideal job for him. He would have needed to move to a high poverty school district, functioning without a strong mentor teacher, despite what they would have you believe. When seeking a job, I was just protective enough to rule out certain districts simply because I knew enough to fear the violence and throw away mentality of many districts. TfA throws unskilled teaching candidates who want to make a difference, but are ill prepared to function in these harsh districts, to the wolves.

    My recommendation is to find a state run AR program and give yourself a fighting chance to get the basics down pat, making friends, learning vital skills along the way that can lead to long term success. FWIW, I also counseled my son to steer clear of charter schools. They work their teachers very long hours with usually lower wages, and you are an at will employee. In NJ, you must also be aware that there are credentials that can only be used in charters, and credentials that are valid in all state schools. It isn't worth taking the risk of ending u with the wrong credential, which could lock you into a charter only situation. AR programs (in NJ) pay essentially a teacher's wage and benefits, so why work for peanuts in a lousy situation?

    Do your homework and talk to the DOE of your state. Know that there are more options than TfA.
     
  9. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    TFA students get 5 weeks of training over the summer and then given their own classroom with extra "mentoring" during the year from the TFA organization. I think the entire idea is absolutely crazy, especially after my experience last year.

    We have an AR program in my area for people who got their BA in something else and want to transition into teaching. They spend an entire year working with mentor teachers (in the mentor's classroom as a sort of ST, NOT in their own classroom) while taking classes to earn their degree at night. They also take full days of classes in the summer leading up to their year in the classroom (longer than 5 weeks). I agreed to take on an ST from this program last year, thinking it was at least way better than something like TFA. It was an absolute nightmare.

    The program touted the idea that being in schools and learning from teachers in "real time" would help the STs learn better anyway. I can sort of see that logic, but it was extremely hard having an ST that had absolutely no background knowledge in anything education related. She didn't understand the most basic things. After struggling all year, my ST finally decided in MAY that teaching wasn't for her. We had 4 of them in our building and only one made it. This year no one in my building would agree to be a mentor teacher, so we're no longer partnered with the program. After that experience it is absolutely mind blowing to me that TFA teachers are given their own full time teaching jobs after 5 weeks of training.
     
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  10. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    The TFA organization is working hand-in-glove with the privatization movement. They advocate an end to public education and a push the for-profit/charter sector taking over schools. TFA officials view teaching, not as a profession, but as a low skill job: 5 weeks of training and you're good to go.

    My state won't let TFA "teachers' in the classroom.
     
  11. AlwaysAttend

    AlwaysAttend Fanatic

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    What state are you in? I know we’ve talked about it but I didn’t realize they were banned anywhere.
     
  12. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    I don't think I have ever personally met a TFA teacher...
     
  13. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In a general sense, I disagree with a lot of what TFA stands for. Having said that, I've worked with numerous TFA people, and most of them have been really great people. Most of them have put in their few years teaching and used it as a stepping stone for a different career path; almost none of the TFA people I've worked with have chosen to remain in the teaching field.

    I would not recommend TFA to most people. There may be a circumstance or two where I may recommend it as a viable alt-cert option for a certain type of person who needs to get into teaching, but only if they're planning to stay in teaching for the long haul.
     
  14. Backroads

    Backroads Fanatic

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    Perhaps if someone really did need a quick and dirty entry, but I can think of several other rather admirable alternate routes I'd prefer to see them take. And of course there comes a point of, why aren't you just going to teacher college?
     
  15. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I agree that other routes are better in most situations. For someone who already has a degree, would meet the eligibility requirements for TFA, and can't afford to spend either time or money on an alt-cert program, TFA could be a sound option.
     
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  16. Ms.Holyoke

    Ms.Holyoke Groupie

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    I'm currently in an Masters of Arts in Teaching program but one of my classes had a lot of TFA teachers who were in their second year of teaching. They all seemed like great people but it shocked me that they were taking this class in their second year of teaching since it was a basic methods class. It seems like a disservice to the students and most of the people I talked to were not planning on staying in teaching. I am starting my student teaching soon and I would not participate in a teacher prep program that did not provide the opportunity to student teach. I do understand that there are people in situation where TFA is the most affordable route to teaching since it may not be easy to student teach without a salary. However, if you do have other options, I would recommend choosing a different teacher prep program. There are many other reasons why I dislike TFA but I will leave it at that.
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2018
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  17. MarySK

    MarySK Rookie

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    Jan 11, 2018

    Interesting information, thanks...
     
  18. MissCeliaB

    MissCeliaB Aficionado

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    Our district has its own rapid certification program. Most of the people who do it are already working in schools as paras, coaches, or subs. The program works beautifully for those people. However, we had a teacher at our school who had no experience in the classroom, and he struggled mightily and only stayed one year.
     
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  19. Kindergally

    Kindergally Rookie

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    I have never met a TFA person either. I wonder if my county/state doesn't allow them. My sister-in-law graduated college a few years ago with a pre-law degree and TFA recruiters tried very hard to convince her and her sorority sisters to join. I'm glad I was able to talk her out of it.
     
  20. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jan 12, 2018

    When I first read this, I thought it was an easy enough thing to Google. Once I did, I realized that you may have done that and still could reasonably be confused. What pops up first thing in a search is:

    "Teach For America is a diverse network of leaders who confront educational inequity through teaching, and work with unwavering commitment from every sector of society to create a nation free from this injustice."

    Not the best best description of a program.

    I looked into TFA for a while when deciding to become a teacher. I believe the info below is true. TFA claims to put teachers in the highest-needs areas. We have them in my current city because there's a huge teacher shortage. The program puts brand new teachers with a short, intense amount of training into their own classrooms at what can be very rough, high poverty schools. You get regular teacher pay and you may also qualify for AmeriCorps to get an extra $5300.

    My issue with the program is that it seems like a fast track toward teacher burnout. They're taking inexperienced teachers and throwing them into very challenging workplaces, and telling them they need to devote all their time and effort to succeeding quickly in order to fix the social and educational injustices in our society. That's a lot of pressure, but if it works, I guess ultimately it could be good for the kids - but still, it's a bandaid on a much bigger problem.

    People also take issue with the fact that the program claims to get teachers classroom ready in 5 weeks while most traditional programs take 1-2 years. The TFA program fills a need - it gets teachers into areas where there are shortages - but why are there shortages in the first place? Are there issues with overcrowding, behavior, or teacher pay? It would be better to address that issue head on. It is also a way for districts to hire cheaper teachers - they might pay a new teacher 40k while a teacher with years of experience would be 65k.

    One blog you might like to read is DianeRavitch.net. She has a lot to say against privatization, charters, and the TFA program.
     
  21. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    I really respect Dr. Ravitch and have subscribed to her blog for years. Regular readers know that TFA teachers are often hired to work in schools that do not have teacher shortages. These TFA recruits take the place of traditionally trained teachers. Not only that, but districts pay about $5,000 more to the TFA organization when they hire a TFA "teacher".

    I think TFA started off with noble intentions to get capable young people into hard-to-fill jobs in inner city schools. Now the organization has devolved into a platform for advocates who claim teaching is a low skill job that anyone can do.
     
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