Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 06 2012

#40: Missionary Zeal

Saturday was the last day of Needing To Do Stuff for the 2011-12 school year and what better way to spend your first Saturday of summer than to be at a TFA function(1)!

It was an interesting contrast to a year ago when the fleet of new corps members was buzzing with excitement.  Now, reality had set in and they had become grizzled, disillusioned cynics LIKE ME(2).  Exaggerating, but only slightly.  Lots of frustration to go around: about the year, about the level of expectations, about the seeming special treatment of superstars, about the few who didn’t finish the year.

It was likely the least well-organized TFA event of the year, too.  There were 100 minutes scheduled for being out in the community with no real stated end goal.  We were clustered by what part of the city we teach in(3).  Our Westside group went to Mission Concepción which I found puzzling considering that it’s definitely on the Southside.  What do I know, though, I ain’t no Geography Man(4).

Anyway, we get to exploring the old mission and the irony was relentlessly punching me between the eyes.  That a small group of honkies charged with fixing the education system in low-income communities were asked to reflect on the school year at an historic site of honkies trying to fix native people’s souls was a bit too much.

The atmosphere changed at some point.  There was hope that next year would be better.  I know it will as my second year was much better than my first.  But maybe the expectations set for TFA’s first year teachers are too high, that the failure to come close to those levels is disheartening in a way that can inhibit growth as a professional.


(1) Sitcom audience groans.

(2) Sitcom audience applause.

(3) I actually like this idea a lot! It’s the structure of our MTLD (these are our advisers, for the uninitiated) groups next year as opposed to content areas.  As long as corps members are getting content support in addition to this community-oriented support, I think it’s kinda neat.

(4) Coming to theaters in 3-D June 2014 starring Taylor Lautner as The Guy Who Can Read Maps Pretty Good and Blake Lively as Some Girl He Really Really Likes I Mean Like Likes, You Know?

2 Responses

  1. Heh.

    On a related note, it seems TFA has gone from being metaphorical missionaries to being literal missionaries. Holy crap.

    • mches

      Just 30 seconds of me going “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..”

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