It’s that time again! I feel like I’ve been away for so long, but in reality it’s only been two weeks since I left Houston Institute. The past couple weeks have been crammed full of some last visits with friends (after all, the Valley is pretty isolated from the rest of Texas and who knows when I’ll be able to afford a big trip to Austin again!), lots of moving and unpacking, and attempts to get settled in. But it is training time again! Tomorrow I head to my school for New Teacher Orientation!
I’m excited to get to my school. I can’t wait to decorate my classroom (Harry Potter themed, of course), and to jump into teaching. A true organizational nerd, I bought my 2013-2014 planner yesterday and have been hastily filling it out with all of my workshops and deadlines! This year is going to be very busy for me. With certification sessions every couple weeks, plus my TFA-specific sessions, as well as grad school classes I am planning for a hectic year. But I love hectic. I live for hectic. If I don’t have something to do at every moment of the day, life gets pretty boring for me.
My only concern as I head into this year is getting all of my certification hours. But I am a worrier, and I know no matter how many times I am told (or tell myself) that I am on track with my hours, I will worry until I have that certificate in hand.
I had a great discussion at lunch yesterday with two of my fellow 2013 CM’s. We discussed the controversy going on with TFA right now, and came to a conclusion that every region in TFA is so completely different. That makes finding an opinion on the matter slightly difficult, but the one thing we agreed on that is relatively universal across TFA is pride. Not just pride, even, but a douchebag-ish, pretentious kind of pride. So many CM’s waltz out of Institute and into their classrooms feeling so empowered that it gets to their heads. I know my personal goal as I begin at my school is to not let all the TFA kool-aid get to my head. Sure, I have many strengths that I know will help my classroom. But I’m a new teacher, and I have a lot to learn. I may not agree with everything my experienced colleagues do, but I can learn from them every step of the way. And I hope to learn from them! So many CM’s don’t have that mindset, however. Such an easy fix for the poor opinion the public may have on TFA is to get a reality check and realize that we are not the be-all-end-all of educational issues. We are inexperienced and need to bide our time in schools before expecting everyone to listen to our supposedly life-changing ideas. Like in any work place, experience matters.
That is not to say every CM I have met has this attitude of being the white knight riding in to save the day. Many of the people I had the great fortune to work with this past Summer are rather humble and know their capabilities in the work place. But for every person I met who had their head on straight, I also met a handful of people who thought that because they went to such-and-such a school, or simply because they were alive, they had the ultimate answers to the worlds problems. You’ll find people like that anywhere in the world, but it is a poisonous attitude when you are representing an organization already under fire.
I guess you could say this is my plea for all pretentious people to just quit it. I can’t really expect that to become a reality for the whole world, but think about your actions and how at every single moment you are, whether you want it or not, representing your organization. When I was VP of Recruitment for my sorority in college I had to constantly remind my sisters that at every moment of the day, especially (but not only) when wearing our Greek letters, you are giving everyone who sees you an impression of the organization as a whole. As much as I wish we took everyone as individuals, that isn’t reality. When I studied abroad, I was aware that everywhere I went I was representing the United States and giving all those whom I interacted with an impression of Americans as a whole. From this moment on, we are all representatives of Teach For America, and it is up to us to decide how others see us. Besides, if we act our best and people still don’t like us, well, that’s on them at that point, isn’t it?