DC Chillin

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 25 2011


This may not be a new thought, but it needs to be said.  Institute is a pile of garbage.  It serves one primary purpose, and there’s no close second–getting you used to be completely and utterly miserable.

It certainly wasn’t for the students.  I was supposed to cram a year of algebra into about fifteen hours to students who did not know their multiplication facts.  And each week I had to answer whether I was putting them on a different academic and life trajectory.  Ha! If my CMA weren’t so serious about it, I would have laughed in her face.

And it certainly wasn’t for my professional benefit. All those hours slaving away writing five step lesson plans and guided notes?  Why in the blazes didn’t anyone just tell me to use betterlesson.com!?  I wasted SO MUCH TIME at Institute and through October when there were better materials already made and waiting to be used.  And the diversity sessions?  They were a nice break from all the other nonsense, but somewhere in there they could have taught be me how to:

1.  Make a test

2.  Grade effectively

3.  Teach my kids problem-solving

4.  Teach my kids to think critically

5.  Any of the million things I had to figure out on my own over the first four months of the school year.

At my last PD session, an MTLD claimed that they’re completely revamping Institute, but it was very hush-hush.

They certainly can’t make it any worse…can they?

4 Responses

  1. Ex-TFA

    It would be pretty hard for them to make it worse, but if anyone can do it, TFA can.

  2. I attended the LA Institute in 2010 and worked the LA Institute last summer where we piloted a new “Instructional Leader” model. Instead of the curriculum specialist giving all 40-something sessions at a given school site, there were specialized instructional leaders who gave sessions only in their area of expertise. They traveled to school sites and also gave sessions back at Loyola Marymount, where we house corps members. So, there were instructional leaders specifically for management, planning, execution, diversity, literacy, and so forth. They were even assigned secondary vs. primary. And it was the most experienced (literally, in terms of years of teaching) group of session facilitators I’ve ever seen TFA use. Hoping this pilot will expand to other Institutes this year- it may be what your MTLD referenced.

    We turned the corps members at our school site onto TFAnet late in the summer, and one of their number one criticisms is that they should have been taught to use it in Week 1, to alleviate the craziness of planning. Thanks for this post- I’m planning on going back this summer (a 3rd year, I know I’m crazy), and that list is a good starting point for what to cover in CMA sessions, even if it’s not covered in large group.

    Happy Holidays,

  3. I was in the ECE Pilot in Chicago and I felt like we had a much better experience than the rest of the CMs at our Institute. We had a lot of Early Childhood-specific sessions and we had a lot of open dialogue about what we were doing there. Hopefully some of the successes of these pilot programs (I know there were a handful) get transfered over to the entire Institute structure.

  4. Baby Cakes linked to this post.

Post a comment

About this Blog

From DC public school student to teacher

D.C. Region
Middle School

Subscribe to this blog (feed)