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Wes
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Today was one of my WORSE behavior days. But I am cool with that. Yes there were throwing papers, arguing, crumpling up my college spotlight brochures, emasculating my human anatomy doll model, calling out, fighting... I have read their thoughts. I have had them write me personal letters about what I can do to help each of them reach their goal in life. They all responded and wrote: keep me on task" "keep class quiet" "cover lots of things" "do labs" They know what it means to be successful. The fact that they are misbehaving just means I need to... Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
With all the griping during institute and round 0 Teach For America has prepared us well. We had district meetings Monday and Tuesday. These meetings are for new teachers to the district many of which are lateral entry and recent school of education graduates. The point of these meetings is to introduce new teachers to lesson planing, the achievement gap, and the rigors of teaching. These mismatched slides are all many people get before entering the classroom. Which is shocking. This is not to say CM's are experts on these subjects. And I am no expert on the academics of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
I dont know what to write about and considering the fact that I pay $9 a month to blog I might as well write about something. Well lets talk about that: why do I pay $9 to have this blog. The main reason is for the domain name tfaadventure.com. But I have no clue if it is effective. I could save over $100 a year if I just had a blogger blog or a wordpress account. Of course this could explain why I have been so broke lately. Besides that here we are. I am about to enter the classroom... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
I haven't been placed yet. So haven't a lot of 2010 Corps members. Before arriving at Institute my corps (Charlotte) was told that most of us would be placed halfway through. That did not happen. By the end of institute however 2/3rds of our corps had been placed. It is hard washing friends excited about knowing where they are going this fall while you yourself is still jobless. What is hard for many outsiders to understand is that simply getting into Teach For America doesn't guarantee a job. In years past the organization had been pretty successful at placing 100%... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Institute was a life changing experience. It was pure hell. I do not mean that in a harsh way. All day every day I was being pushed beyond my comfort zone. There was little sleep, little rest, and seldom breaks between one major challenge to the next. There was a constant bombardment of work. I missed my family dearly. I felt like I did not have any control over my life. I felt confined and micromanaged beyond belief. I hated institute. Did I survive? Yes. It was a positive to get through the expedience. Never before did it feel like... Continue reading
Posted Jul 21, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Yesterday was the conclusion of the Charlotte Corps Induction. Over the past four days we covered everything from Teach For America's mission, to ways to connect with our student's and communities. Most importantly we covered the logistical task of actually being an employee of our local school district. The experience was overwhelmingly positive. Since induction was in my hometown I opted to stay at home. This had it pro's and cons.It was difficult to get there in the morning and to head home in order to get changed for events. It was much back and forth in rush hour traffic... Continue reading
Posted Jun 11, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity to speak with Mark who is an incoming corps member in the San Francisco Bay region. One of the reasons I was so excited to interview Mark is because of his life story, which is outside the typical background of the average TFA CM. Mark has raised wonderful kids, has a tight knit family, and has a lifetime of experience he brings to the table, a narrative I found intriguing. Both before and after my discussion with Mark I got to thinking more critically about how one’s life experiences influences success in the classroom,... Continue reading
Posted Jun 5, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Its important to me for this blog to be an honest reflection of my TFA experience however It is equally important to keep it from becoming a bitching depository for my frustrations. The reason I am mentioning this is that the past two weeks have been very difficult for us financially. I know I had written another post about all the expenses about preparing but we are really struggling to get by. Having a child makes it logistically a nightmare. Most students have graduated from college are moving in with their parents and then get to go to induction and... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
I'm breezing along getting ready for institute. After being granted my re-assignment things have been hectic. By switching regions I was put on a different timeline. This meant re-registering for the praxis late since my subject had changed. It also meant me applying to the graduate school at my local university as directed by Teach For America. All of the new info I was getting via email blasts were very overwhelming and confusing. Yes there was already a spreadsheet with critical dates but I needed to personalize one for myself in order to fit my life. To make things easier... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Getting ready to teach is expensive! Praxis $150 Praxis Study book $20 Fingerprints $18 County Admin. of fingerprints $10 Dr. Apt for TB test- rec. by school system $30 Dr. Apt for physical rec. by school system $30 Graduate application program for licencure: $50 GRE for graduate program: $160 Payment plan program for Coursework at Institute $50 Transcripts $30 Total: $548 Thats as of May 15th with even more to come. I am so stressed and overwhelmed at these financial burdens mainly because they have had to come directly out of my paycheck. Beecher has had to get a part-time... Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
So far a lot of the focus of this blog has been on applying to Teach For America and the application process. Well now all the applications have been submitted and everyone's been notified. What this means for the blog is a shift in my writing. The posts will begin to focus on the process of becoming a teacher and when August comes they will focus on being a teacher. As a future educator I hope to utlize the tools of the web to be an effective teacher. Take these two examples of educators using the web to aid in... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
I may be the biggest hypocrite you have ever come across. Last week I petitioned to have my region re-assigned from the MS Delta to Charlotte. My advice in the past on this blog has been the exact opposite arguing that your regional preference was imperative to the successful placement of an applicant that met Teach For America’s high bar for acceptance. I argued that even I with a spouse and a child could make that sacrifice because being in the corps was that important to me. As it turns out my family and myself cannot realistically make that sacrifice.... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
As I delve into my pre-instiute work for Teach For America I am noticing that the work is focused directly on the reality of low income classrooms. It is focused on the means to which teachers achieve success in the most neediest classrooms in America. It is more based on the real world experience of teachers rather than an academic approach to primary education. This has been a surprise but a welcome one and it is why Teach For America is defined in the education world as an alternative route to teaching. The traditional route is: Someone who takes on... Continue reading
Posted Mar 31, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Im sorry Mona to hear about all these complications. While it is possible to get placed off the waitlist, I've heard of more people not getting placed from it than getting placed from it. The main thing is to cover your own tail which is what I learned last year. Rather than waiting on TFA I should have given up on them and gone after other opportunities with more vigor. They are a huge organization and no offense but from the outside looking in the waitlisteres are just their fall back option if districts want even more CM's or if current accepted CMs start dropping out. So TFA is covering their tail by having you on the waitlist and you should do the same. If you like your current job just stay with it or find something different. Chances are TFA most likely wont be calling you off the waitlist but if they do cross that bridge when you come to it, but don't restructure your life based on their slim possibility of placing you. Good luck and thanks so much for reading
Many of the steps towards day one in the classroom is passing the Praxis I and II. As of last Thursday I was notified that I had a passing score for the Praxis II. The Praxis I still remains to be taken but passing the subject based Praxis II was a huge achievement. My major in college was Political Science and I am slated to teach secondary English. The English Subject Area Assessment (English Language, Literature, and Composition: Content and Knowledge) posed a difficult challenge. Many of the subjects/topics covered were ones from my Freshman and Sophomore years in college... Continue reading
Posted Mar 10, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
This summer will be the second non-traditional summer for Beecher, Wes, and Taylor. Wes has to attend his Teach For America training institute, which isn’t a very friendly place for spouses and their families due to the nature of the hard work Wes will have to do within the environment of a college dorm! Meanwhile the family’s income will be cut in half as Wes will not be working during the time of his training and Beecher is opposed to finding employment since it will take away from her mothering. The main problems are the lack of funds, uncertainty, and... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
There are many misconceptions regarding Teach For America corps members (CMs). Are these misconceptions simple observations about the organization and its membership or something deeper? Critics of the organization have many complaints about CMs: naïveté, inexperience, youthfulness, and unrealistic ambition. Some of these complaints are valid, but not for all CM’s. However, from my many hours spent reading and integrating into the organization, I have noticed that overall, the organization does little to mount a PR offensive against biased views, preferring a strategy of non-engagement and otherwise re-enforcement of the skeptical views. I believe that a greater effort on behalf... Continue reading
Posted Feb 17, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Learning Matters followed seven Teach for America Corps members in New Orleans (NOLA). All but two were first year CM's. The differences in their experiences was striking and revealed the characteristics that made strong teachers and weak teachers. These videos offered me a wake-up call on what such teachers face, especially new CM's, everyday. What I was able to pinpoint by watching these are some key outlooks the successful corps members had over those that were not successful. I consider success to be returning for your second year, establishing a good rapport with your students, and achieving some type of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
You've decided to apply to Teach for America. The most selective post-college program out there. I'm Wes: father, spouse, recent graduate and future corp member for 2010. I've applied to the program twice. I've been on the downside of this recession- unemployed with a wife also out of work and a daughter to care for. Today things are much better I'm nannying to make ends meet but excited that after applying this year for the first/summer deadline I was accepted . I have a lot to share and in these 2000 or so words I hope to share the first... Continue reading
Posted Jan 30, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
You've decided to apply to Teach for America. The most selective post-college program out there. I'm Wes: father, spouse, recent graduate and future corp member for 2010. I've applied to the program twice. I've been on the downside of this recession- unemployed with a wife also out of work and a daughter to care for. Today things are much better I'm nannying to make ends meet but excited that after applying this year for the first/summer deadline I was accepted . I have a lot to share and in these 2000 or so words I hope to share the first... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
The point of this post is to highlight two options that are out there after being rejected from TFA. If you are single, young, and are about to graduate YOU ARE LUCKY! When I got my rejection letter in May there was little available for a new parent with a spouse also unemployed. There are an almost unlimited number of opportunities available to you that were not available to me as a parent, even though the economy is in a rough spot right now. City Year provides opportunities to work with children in low income communities nationwide. The benefit of... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Yesterday at about 6:00pm myself and hundreds of others were notified of our Teach for America status. Some were accepted, others were rejected, and some were waitlisted. I was accepted last night but last year I got the later two options. My wife was rejected, and I was waitlisted only to be fully rejected on May 30th. So when I got my acceptance yesterday it was a bitter-sweet moment. In a way I know that re-applying and doubling my efforts made my application stronger and my interview day better. I was excited to be admitted into the corps after pursuing... Continue reading
Posted Jan 24, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
A quick post- You've gotten in NOW WHAT? There is so much to do now. Teach For America's post acceptance information is a lot. There are several items that require action, thought, and understanding. My advice: take a breath. Here are some tips to handle the post acceptance rush. Tell your friends, family, and community of your acceptance. Most of these people had big parts in helping you get this far. Most importantly notify your recommender's with the good news. Don't be overwhelmed by the matriculation process. I printed everything out, all of the following matriculation documents. Then the night... Continue reading
Posted Jan 21, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
After being forwarded the article What Makes a Great Teacher ,I was expecting a read about teacher quality and education reform techniques. That was there too, but what was most surprising was the fact that this article perfectly laid out how Teach For America comes to decide who gets in and who is rejected. The process, according to this article, is quite simple and based on Teach For America's on research on "good teachers. I have delved into it below. Here is a list of the most common misconceptions of what people believe would make a great TFA applicant: Experience... Continue reading
Posted Jan 12, 2010 at Wes' TFA Adventure
Brief post addressing three big events for Teach for America folks for January. For the first batch of recently admitted applicants like myself, the Praxis II exam is on Sat. Jan. 9th. I am very nervous about the exam mainly because I haven't taken one since I graduated in May. Since my subject placement is currently secondary English, I do have some studying to do since I was not an English major etc. To prepare I purchased the CliffNotes English Praxis II review book off of Amazon for an amazing $11.00. Since I have been trying to study as much... Continue reading
Posted Dec 28, 2009 at Wes' TFA Adventure