My Teach for America journey officially began when I accepted a position in the 2010 Bay Area Corps in January 2010. The road to California has been unbelievably smooth since then. I interviewed with and accepted a position in Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary in late March as a second grade math teacher. My new roommates and I (also 2010 corps members and Rocketship teachers) signed a lease on our apartment in May. I drove from Richmond, VA to San Jose, CA from June 10-16, before beginning Induction in Foster City, CA on June 21 and Institute (training) in Los Angeles, CA on June 27. After two weeks with my Teach for America family, I can only relay how grateful and energized I feel about the movement and about my fellow corps members.
During this five week training program, I will teach seventh grade math at Stevenson Middle School (Go Pirates!) in east Los Angeles. Our students begin summer school on Tuesday, and the anticipation is building in the corps. All of us are scrambling to finalize lesson plans, create airtight management and investment plans, and gather materials for our classrooms. The energy is palpable in our dorm at Loyola Marymount University, where TFA houses us for the summer. While we are taking a much-needed break over this holiday weekend, it is obvious that corps members are anxious to carry the momentum from last week’s training sessions (about 60 hours total) into our first week of teaching.
I am hopeful that this blog will become a space where I can record significant events and ideas over my two year corps member experience. For now, however, I want to list some of the most important “bottom lines” I have learned over the past two weeks:
- The stakes are high for our students. The need is great, and the time is short. We must work diligently with an unrelenting sense of urgency.
- We build a diverse corps to increase our ability to impact our partner communities, which are largely made of students of color or of low socioeconomic status.
- Teach for America is striving to significantly outpace the diversity of selective colleges.
- Higher income students of color are outperformed by lower income white students. This is how we know that the achievement gap is a racial issue. (Glenn Singleton)
- Excellent teachers are made, not born.
- Dramatic student achievement is possible for all students. Teachers must set and maintain high expectations and conceptualize a vision of excellence.
- All instruction should be driven by an objective-aligned vision and should be backwards planned, beginning with the lesson assessment.
- Students want and deserve a well-managed classroom and a teacher who cares enough to command it.
This is it: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
For the kids,