20 Years is Not Enough

Today I read an article in the New York Times celebrating Teach For America recruits for putting aside their six-figure salaries for their promised two years of teaching.  The comments, as always at NYT, are interesting.  I have added mine:

This is my twentieth year of teaching.  I have awards, degrees, and recognitions.  This year, I teach two new courses, and even with all my years of experience, I need to apologize to my students: my courses are nothing compared to what they will be in three years.  I have not the depth of material nor the mastery of the content and this is, again, despite twenty years of experience.  

If my twenty years of classroom experience isn’t enough to adequately prepare me for a class, what makes America think TFA’s mere weeks of training will?

But here is the saddest part.  I think TFA is right to recruit the best and the brightest.  Teaching needs the best and the brightest, but despite my intense love for my job, I don’t want my own children to become teachers.  

 Schools are ridiculed and scapegoated.  I no longer share publicly that I am a teacher, afraid of the reaction and the public scorn.  I no longer talk writing or critical thinking with my peers, but rather talk test scores and data points.  I no longer dream, supported by my administrators.  I instead have nightmares haunted by rubrics, checklists, and scores.  

TFA and their spokespeople are part of the assault on public education and public teachers.  I can not support nor condone them.

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One thought on “20 Years is Not Enough

  1. Any time you want to discuss critical thinking, I’m all ears. I love, LOVE listening to my students’ thoughts on something we’ve read and then encouraging them to go further. Sometimes I feel as if schools have lost the “intellectual” atmosphere.

    As for TFA, I agree with you. When I was getting my Master’s we watched a video about TFA, and I’ll never forget a quote from one of the TFA candidates- “I wanted to do something meaningful before I got a real job.” Since then, I have not been a fan of the organization. You might be interested in reading this piece by Dian Ravitch–http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/22/how-and-how-not-improve-schools/?pagination=false.

    Keep up the great work.

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