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.