Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teach For America?

This afternoon, I met with a recruiter and former corps member of Teach For America. Turns out he actually taught in Houston, which was a neat coincidence. Anyway, I'm not exactly sure I got much out of the meeting--I didn't really learn anything I didn't already know about TFA, though I did get to hear a little of this guy's personal story.

But, it's likely I also just wasn't open to getting much out of the meeting. See, I don't think I'm a good candidate for TFA. That doesn't mean I don't think they'd hire me, but I'm not a great candidate because I am not interested in teaching.

Or is that just what I've managed to convince myself of?

My job with Citizen Schools this summer was a fantastic experience, largely because it showed me that there are ways to be involved in education that don't involve being in a classroom. That really excited me, as I'm interesting in working in education but have few inclinations to be a teacher. As I said above, this is because I'm just not inclined toward it; i doesn't particularly interest me and I think my talents lie in other areas. But part of me does wonder: am I just kidding myself about that? Have of convinced myself such because I am just so scared of teaching?

I am scared of teaching. I admit it. The short stint of tutoring I did my first year of college was terrifying (and I didn't go into the experience expecting to be overwhelmed). One on one, I'm okay, but a classroom?

The question I need to ask myself is: should I just get over this fear and do it anyway? Do it because it would be good development for me, especially if I want to work in education, do it because you can really see the impact you make on students? Are the reasons I have for not doing it real reasons or just excuses because I am intimidated, and even if it is just that, is that a good enough reason not to do it? The teachers I've always liked and admired the most are the one who obviously loved what they did--if I force myself into this, is that fair to my potential students (or will I come to love it, and what if I don't)?

I'm not applying this year, either way, so I've got some time to answer these questions (or to keep putting off answering them). For what it's worth, I really do think I have stronger areas and skills, skills that I can put to use without also feeling nauseous and going through extensive training. I just...can't make a pros and cons list and actually adhere to it (I'm too good at justifying my way out of things). I can't really trust a recruiter to help me with the decision, because of course they'll think I should apply (and the current corps members and TFA alums I know probably won't be much better).

Is my gut feeling right? If I have to deliberate this much about it, do I already have my answer?

And which answer would that be?

1 comment:

Kevin Anderson said...

I remember 60 minutes did a segment on them about 6 or 7 years ago and I remember thinking that it was a very noble cause, and an all around good idea, but the people involve (running the thing) were very underwhelming. If you don't have the teaching itch by now, then your destiny resides elsewhere.