Northerner In Nashville

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 26 2011

Students? What students?

Although it’s taken several weeks, I’m finally relaxed enough to enjoy my summer. After the school year ended, I was still having dreams about not having my copies done and feeling unprepared. While I’ve had other vacations, this is the first time I don’t have to worry about my plans and my students — the sense of urgency has also taken a vacation.

I had images of the last few days of school being filled with fun and excitement. By the time I was attempting to file assault charges on student on the last full day of school, I was just hoping to make it to the end without further incident. On the last day of school, 5 students were absent. This broke my heart a little, because I had hoped to get to say goodbye to them all. Many of the students will be back next year as we do have a 5th grade, but others will be leaving to start at one of the many charter or magnet school options available to them.

All year, I’ve wondered about my placement. Initially when I’d applied, I had crossed all my fingers and all my toes to get a high school placement. When I had to choose elementary school or math in Nashville, I struggled with it longer than many of my friends expected — I’d always hated math, so why would I entertain the idea of teaching it? As much as I love adorable little children, I can’t see myself teaching lower elementary. I love content and application of knowledge and given my own experiences with bodily excretions, I think I’ll applaud the work of our wonderful lower elementary teachers and watch with careful interest as they make their way up to me.

One of the biggest perks of being a 4th grade teacher didn’t hit me until I was at Induction for the 2011 corps members (I’m one of the TTCs which has enabled me to interact with many of the incoming CMs already). I was talking with one of the CMs lucky enough to already have a placement at a new charter school here in town where several of my students will be going next year. As I thought about my kiddos heading onto 5th grade, I realized with few exceptions I know at least one of their teachers in the coming year. Even if we’re not in the same building anymore, I felt this surge of happiness in knowing that my kids will be in the hands of capable, enthusiastic teachers who will continue to hold them to high expectations. Needless, I am curious how they transition — the 2011 CM is getting my highest AND lowest math student, so I am fascinated to see how well they do in 5th grade. I consciously did not tell the CM my kids names, because I want him to have the opportunity to get to know them without my own views of this past year.

As much as I found induction 2.0 rejuvenating, I can say with 100 percent certainty that I am glad I am not back at Institute! Thinking back to this time last year, I was miserable, exhausted, and frustrated with TFA’s training. I felt pulled in a thousand different directions. Overwhelmed with information, I still felt underprepared for what I needed.

The biggest reason? Although I arrived in Nashville a little over a year ago, I didn’t get to live in Nashville over the summer and enjoy some of the great opportunities that are here. Now that the cicadas are gone, it’s actually quite nice to be outside whether taking a walk at Radnor Lake, indulging my inner epicurean, or catching an outdoor movie or Sounds game. Throughout the year when people asked if I would stay in Nashville beyond the TFA commitment, I hemmed and hawed.

Sorry Mom, but now I’m letting myself seriously consider it.

2 Responses

  1. Heather

    Lucky you! I an a TFA alum with licenses in multiple states (including Tenn), a masters degree, and nine years of teaching experience. I could not even get an interview to teach elementary school in Nashville. I’m curious – how many brand new unlicensed and inexperienced TFA corps members are teaching elementary school in Nashville this year?

    I wish you luck, I do, but at the point when TFA corps members are taking the jobs of highly qualified, experienced teachers, the TFA model is extremely flawed.

    • NorthernerInNashville

      I’ve been helping out with the 2011s orientation and only some had positions before they left for Institute. Most had middle school positions, and I would say a majority were at the new charters opening up in town. I only know of a handful of elementary who’ve been hired and all the ones I knew of who were not at a charter were ELL or Special Education. Elementary makes up a small part of the corps here in Nashville — more are in secondary, especially secondary math.

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About this Blog

a 2010 CM’s experiences

Region
Nashville
Grade
Elementary School
Subject
Elementary Education

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