Former TFAer on His Experience in the South Bronx

I just came across a video of John Bilby, a TFAer who worked in the South Bronx last year. Take a look.


A few things stood out to me:

- he mentions the culture shock he experienced coming from a comfortable middle-class background

- he thinks TFA promotes an emotionless teaching persona

- he says he made his lesson plans up on a day-by-day basis

- he says he spent $300 on classroom supplies per month

- he thinks TFA is really about gaining access to money

- he thinks the traditional teacher training route is more sensible

As much as my experience aligns with most of what he says, I was startled by his admission of culture shock. He says that the summer training institute was pretty worthless, but surely it must have taught him that his students would not be sharing his socio-economic or cultural background. It seems almost like he's overdoing it - or maybe he just has a self-effacing capacity for honesty that most people don't.

I also found his story about meeting with donors on Park Avenue interesting. I'm sure the majority of people donating to TFA have virtually no knowledge of the environments its recruits work in or what it means to offer a quality education to underprivileged students.

As long as people continue to land on this blog by Google searching "How can TFA get me into law school," I will continue to be largely skeptical.


  1. Reflective Educator,
    I found the blogging by this TFAer interesting.
    She worked Prince George's County Public Schools for 2 years, then went to help administer IMPACT in DCPS and now works for afamous DC consulting firm

  2. Gotta love incoming search terms!

  3. I seriously hope that I never googled stuff like that when I was applying to TFA o_O

    The guy in that video is absolutely correct that TFA encourages an emotionless teaching persona. I was always stunned at the times that my program directors would demo lessons or help out in my classroom: they acted like robots.

    You may have seen this, but there's a TFA blog network at You might find some of the postings interesting.

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