Jersey Goes South

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 11 2011


I have been struggling since last night to write a blog post. I have so many thoughts swirling around my head (both TFA and non-TFA) that I just don’t know what to say.

Anyway, it is the start of the exam season here, and everyone is stressing out. I’m stressing out because I’m not as stressed as everyone else, and I’m worried I’m not prepared. I’m trying to motivate myself to study but everything is still a week or so away so it’s hard. But I keep forgetting that I have work all day Tuesday and Thursday, a meeting all day Wednesday, a concert Friday night, and oh yea..I’m observing for the first (official) time on Friday.

My mom get her principal and school board to approve me to come in an observe throughout the rest of the year. My mom is not a big fan of TFA and their training program, and doesn’t think that 4 weeks of training and about 20 hours of in classroom teaching is good enough. So I’ll be going through Mommy’s training program before I leave in June. I’ve been going to her schools since she started teaching and I was a wee little one in elementary school, so it’s nothing new. She’s been at this school for about 8 years now, so I know most of the teachers, I know the layout of the school, and I’m not nervous about it. It should be interesting to go into other classrooms and watch those teachers’ classroom management styles – my mom is a special ed teacher, so not only does she have less students but she also has to employ different methods to get them to pay attention and do work because they’re ADD, ADHD, dyslexic, and a host of other things.

One thing I am worried about, though, is that my mom teachers is a really good district. It is an upper middle class, mostly white, VERY small district. These kids graduate from the middle school and go on to a really good public high school or some of the best private schools in the district. So I want to observe in other schools that are at least low income, but I have absolutely no idea how to go about that. I’ve heard rumors that when TFA sends us our pre institute package, we have to do 2 observations but a) I want to do a whole lot more than 2, and b) I don’t know how much help they give us in finding districts to observe in.

I have friends in our Graduate School of Education who observe, but the schools handles their placements. Anyone have help or advice for me? Anything would be appreciated!!

Now I guess it’s time to get back to studying…or maybe reading Savage Inequalities by Jonathon Kozol who is one of my favorite researcher/writers on the achievement gap.

5 Responses

  1. Ms. O

    Try emailing some teachers in a district/school that you would like to observe in. Introduce yourself, TFA, and why you would like to observe. You’ll find that most teachers would be delighted to let you observe.

    If you wanted to do something more in depth you could set up an internship in that classroom, so that you would be able to help the teacher out. We are always grateful for graders!

    Be polite, respectful, and gracious, and you’ll be fine.

  2. Meg

    Do you live near a TFA region? If so contact your recruitment person and see if you can get set up to observe a CM. I’d also suggest looking into any charter schools near you. Many are known for being TFA-friendly and a lot of them have pretty open door policies when it comes to visitors and observations

  3. CY

    Hi! I’ll echo what Meg said. I’m not sure where in New Jersey you are from but you could check out TFA schools in Newark, Camden, or Philly. Trenton has a few charter schools as well.

    I’m a Jersey girl gone South, also, but to Memphis. If you live in the central NJ area and want to meet up over Christmas break (I’ll be home next Sunday) I’d be happy to meet with you and talk about my first semester in the corps, as well as my transition to the South. Let me tell you, it is different! Email me if you’re interested.

    • CY

      My email address should be in your TeachforUs dashboard

  4. Alana

    I would definitely suggest visiting a school that more closely resembles the demographic in which you will likely be placed. While observing any teacher in any setting can provide you with some tips and valuable information that you can definitely use to your advantage on your way to institute, many new corps members find that teaching at a low-income, predominately minority institution is nothing like the middle-class white classrooms they observed before training.

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Jersey girl moving south for TFA

Eastern North Carolina
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Elementary Education

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