Saturday, July 21, 2012

LA Times: Retooling Teach for America

The Los Angeles Times has an opinion piece that resonated with me on why I think the current format of Teach of America is bad for both college graduates and the most disadvantaged children in America's schools. It demonstrates further proof that Teach for America needs major reform, possibly lengthening it (in my opinion) to a minimum of three years because it takes time and practice to become an effective teacher. TFA also hurts teacher recruitment and retention for those school districts who desperately need professionals who are highly committed to the teaching profession.
Being a great teacher has to be one of the hardest jobs in the world. I knew I had found my passion the first time I stood at the front of a classroom at Jordan High School in South Los Angeles during my TFA summer training five years ago. But it took me several years of teaching psychology, government and world history to feel truly competent. Those first couple of years in the classroom are a huge learning curve for any teacher, and it seems arrogant to think that just because the TFA kids went to good schools and got good grades, they'll instantly be able to teach. It's no wonder the longtime teachers at some schools resent these upstarts. The two-year commitment means that many of the program's participants leave just as they're getting to the point at which their students will really benefit.

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