In the summer of 2012, Kaitlyn Delaney interned at Chalkboard Project between her junior and senior year at a Florida State University teacher preparation program. After Kaitlyn graduates this year, she will be teaching either elementary or special education in the Greater Boston area through Teach For America. She plans to teach past her two Teach For America years.
During my summer interning at Chalkboard Project, I spent time researching Teach For America. I knew that I had a campus recruiting job waiting for me back at Florida State University, where I would be completing the final year of my undergraduate career, but I was still unsure of whether or not I would be applying for the corps.
I was still unsure because a lot of the criticisms resonated with me. Here I was, spending two years in a teacher preparation program, but in my first two years of teaching, I would be working alongside college graduates who could have majored in biology or political science. How could we be held accountable to the same standards? I also worried about the “burn-out” rate I had heard about from a few vocal opponents of the program. These opponents stated that the five-week training did not adequately prepare corps members for the teaching profession, especially for the schools that TFA corps members are placed in. I was not worried about burning out, but I worried about any fellow corps members’ struggle. I did not want to see my peers consider themselves failures if they did not succeed in their classrooms right away. I wanted to be part of a program that inspires people to stay in the profession.
By August I had made the decision to apply for Teach For America. I know that in my first few years of teaching I am going to need as much support and feedback as I can get. I know that Teach For America can provide that for me. As for my concerns, I cannot speak too much into them, because I have not started the program yet, but if the people I have met so far are an accurate representation of next year’s corps, I have no need to worry. The accepted corps members, current corps members, and TFA staff have shown me a community of individuals who take initiative, are comfortable with open and honest feedback, and are always looking for ways to improve their teaching skills. I am proud to work with individuals who did not major in education, because I see the wealth of knowledge that they bring to their classrooms. I have learned so much about the teaching profession since my acceptance in November and cannot wait to spend the first few years of my teaching career with the Teach For America community.