Everything I Know I Learned in Pre-K

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 12 2011

Another one bites the dust

People have been dropping like flies. I don’t mean in a sickness kind of way (that would be me you hear sneezing and coughing and almost dying, but I’m still here), I mean in an “I quit!” kind of way. It was a total shock when people started leaving well before we ever entered the classroom, but I totally understand the people who decide to leave at this point. Well, almost totally understand. It is incredibly frustrated to be an adult, who is soon to be in charge of a lot of students, and be treated like an 8-year-old all the time by people who are actually at most, 2 years older than yourself. It is also frustrating to rely on a schedule that changes at the drop of a hat, often with very little understanding of why. We are often effectively told that it is for our own good and we’ll understand later, but is it really? And will we?

There is much more to say on the subject of why Institute is worth quitting TFA over, but the reality is that once you’ve made it this far, how can you just walk away? And I don’t mean because you have to pay back money or anything, I just mean in a personal way. Firstly, it is an accomplishment to be here, especially in the New York Corps. Secondly, you’ve worked your butt off up until this point. If you didn’t think it was going to be just as hard or worse when you got here, what were you thinking? And why didn’t you Google it? Thirdly, hopefully you joined TFA for a good reason, one that a little discomfort can’t sway you from. Ok, a lot of discomfort. But still.

We are held to an almost impossibly high standard, one that our instructors and mentors are not able to uphold themselves. This is possibly one of the most frustrating parts of being here at Institute. We sit for hours in workshops, lectures and other various portions of time that take away from the time we could be writing lesson plans, investment plans, or any of the other millions of plans we have to write in a given week. Rather than helping us, many of these sessions leave us just as baffled as we were when we walked in, only we know that we were supposed to have learned something, creating a sort of Culture of Non-Achievement, as sometimes it is embarrassing to ask someone to reiterate what has just been told to you. It certainly doesn’t help that we are often running on 3 hours of sleep, with little healthy food or opportunity to exercise. The reality though is that we’re all in this together. No one person has inordinately more work than any other person. At some point, we have or will pull an all-nighter or two.

So what’s with the ditching? I think it’s a number of things. A lot of people probably just aren’t ready. I know that it’s a daily struggle, knowing that if I’d taken another job, I could have my summer free to spend at the beach, or with my boyfriend. I also know that almost any other job I would have gotten would not be requiring me to wake up at 5am every morning. I think a lot of people also come here for the wrong reasons- if you’re not properly motivated, you cannot last in this environment. And lastly, to be perfectly honest, I think it’s the fact that we’re literally in the middle of nowhere on a dry campus, leaving little opportunity for stress relief or fun. Yeah, we’re “in” New York City, but it’s more of a struggle to get into the city than it’s worth most of the time. All that being said, BE SERIOUS, and SUCK IT UP!

3 Responses

  1. Gary Rubinstein

    Would you be able to estimate how many people have actually quit so far at the institute. I investigated the quit rate for The Delta 2010 corps, and by the time TFA started making up stats, it was too late for me to verify. I’d appreciate it if you could let me know how many people started the 2011 New York institute, and how many have quit so far.
    My sense is that people quickly realize that TFA doesn’t know what it is doing so they bail since they know they will not be prepared for the difficult and important challenge they are about to face. They don’t want to do any harm to kids because of their poor preparation.
    Thanks,
    Gary

  2. It’s not like quitting TFA necessarily means quitting teaching. Several of the people who dropped from my corps were teachers elsewhere last I heard.

  3. I never meant to say that quitting TFA means quitting teaching. I definitely know that that is not true. Many people quit and become quite effective teachers through other means.

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