Praise for Teach for America

For a while now I've carried a bit of reticence about my place as a newcomer, outsider or whatever in my high-need school. I take pride in the philosophy behind NYC Teaching Fellows that intends to create career teachers out of people with no formal training. I think this is better than the Teach for America model which openly recruits teachers for only two years. This seemed counter productive since several studies show that high teacher turnover and lack of stability is a major problem plaguing schools like the one I teach in. And yet my stance hypocritical, because I am not planning to make teaching a career, so I am really following the TFA model more than the NYCTF.

Today, via my mom via my old kindergarten/1st grade teacher, I got a bit of reassurance. Maybe I'm not contributing to the problem. Maybe I am a part of the solution. A NY Times editorial mentions a study that shows young teachers from TFA are making a positive impact:
But the new study suggests that talented young people can have a lasting effect even if they do not make a career of teaching. According to the study, Teach for America participants who worked in North Carolina between 2000 and 2006 had more impact on student performance than traditional teachers did, as measured by end-of-course tests.

Of course the success of these teachers is once again measured by the almighty standardized test. I know for a fact that the teachers who have been in my school for a while have a whole other type of presence compared to newbies like myself. They are veterans and mentors to teachers and students alike. They are respected and loved and rightfully so. They have seen whole families come through the school and on parent-teacher nights those old students come back to say hi, or even thank you. That's an impact that can't be made in only two years time. Nevertheless, it's nice to think my inexperience isn't an insurmountable obstacle to succeeding as a teacher.


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