Teach for America

How has your school reacted to you as a first year corps member?

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My district had a good relationship with TFA. TFA basically supplies their vacancies, but I'm in a large school district (10,000+) while there are smaller districts that will not hire TFA.

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I was one of three TFA teachers who came into the school at the same time. Nobody really knew we were TFA and we kept it that way. Honestly, we just wanted to be part of the team and that’s how the treated us. We reached out for help to people we felt we could trust and it worked out well. We have all since moved on from our original placement site but it was a good experience for all three of us

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I would say that it's been an uphill challenge for me. Some of the teachers are distrusting of my ability and intentions. It certainly doesn't help ease the challenges of being a first year teacher!

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My first few months were rough, OP. There is the trust issue, and the feeling that we haven't paid our dues. Eventually, I was able to win over my fellow teachers by keeping my head down, asking them for advice, and being proactive about my learning and development.

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Good advice. However every time I asked for advice, the answer was always, “You can’t teach these kids anything!"

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Love to hear stories of people coming around to corps members!

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I was an exception to many cases, but in my school I was supported a lot. I was the 3rd generation of a small group of CMs to be hired in my current school. It was rough during my first three months and my Teacher Coach and neighbor teacher were there to help me and provide room for observations multiple times. I attended multiple trainings for my AVID classes and also received support from my own Department Chair as I refined my science practices and classroom management. Ultimately, it was the peer-to-peer support, and my coach, who helped strengthen my skills as a teacher.

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I had an interesting experience. I was a 50 year-old TFA corps member in 2012. I went to lunch with some of the other teachers at the beginning of my 2nd year. Another non-TFA teacher started badmouthing the TFA faculty. There were six of us there and the principal liked having us. I let the lady grouse while the others in the car squirmed. Then I spoke up and the lady was mortified. Overall, the old Bolsheviks (that’s what I called the union teachers) thought our classroom management was bad, but much of the bad behavior was pushback against rigor. The union teachers didn’t teach—they just handed out worksheets. My students in a semester reading course averaged two years of reading growth. That happened in the classes of the other TFA teachers as well. Our results convinced administrators that we did a good job, but the rest of the faculty gave us pushback because they didn’t want to change their methods.

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I’ve been embraced but the school climate is very draining

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