Along The River

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 25 2011

Teach for America’s Selection Model

I think I’ve got it figured out. Well, credit really goes to another 2011 Memphis CM but I’ll share it here. I’m convinced that the number 1 thing Teach for America looks for in a CM is non-stop, 100% dogged perseverance. They know they can’t train us the way we need to be trained. They know they can’t support us the way we need to be supported. They know we are going to come upon things we could never imagine. Their insurance against that is that they know (for the most part) that we won’t give up. They choose people who will not stop trying anything, not give up for anything, to continue this work. The passion behind it doesn’t even necessarily have to be student focused; it can just be a refusal to fail. That is what TFA looks for. Those kind of people are the only people who can succeed in this work.

So if you are thinking about applying to Teach for America, think about whether you can give up on something so hard. You are probably not used to failure; most prospective corps members aren’t. But you will fail in this work. You will fail for days and days. Will you be able to keep going? Will you understand that you cannot remain stagnant? Will you be able to seek out the resources that help keep you going? Will you be able to find success through your own hard work, without relying on others? If you answered no to any of those questions, don’t apply. You’ll just hurt our kids when you can’t make it through. If you know that you can find success from failure, welcome to Teach for America.

3 Responses

  1. jansen

    sounds about right.
    but what happens to those who continue to teach after their 2-yr commitment? isn’t 1 well-known definition of “insanity” doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

    my only grave concern is that eventually such persistence can eat at any1 to varying degrees w/sacrifices made w/in one’s personal life. as long as that person is aware of it & can balance it out w/his/her future life partner & family, then it’s consider “success”.

    good luck though. u’ll do well. really. (& don’t give up)

    • CY

      Well my thoughts (hopes) are that it’s really just the first year that’ requires so much work and perseverance. The second-years that I’ve talked to are having a MUCH better time this time around. However, I guess that only applies to what TFA might call just getting by. But if you are thinking about the amount of work it takes to make “transformational change,” then yes, I’m not sure what happens to those who year after year sacrifice themselves for their students.

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