Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Dec 03 2011

Should be sleeping, but…

instead I sit at a cafe in Connecticut, where I have been for at minimum three hours, listening to Man Man over the sound system and batting my dried-out eyeballs at this laptop.

All the other 16 visitors went home today, but because I live in Arkansas and Little Rock is a phenomenally small airport, there were no flights that I could have made after the observations today. So, alas, I have one more night in the incredibly comfortable Marriot about a mile from this cafe. After observing, I walked to Urban Outfitters, bought some shoes and Christmas presents, then J Crew where I got a teacher skirt for $18. You’re jealous, I know.

Let me say: Achievement First knows how to court. I was picked up immediately after getting off the plane, and my debit card was waved out of my hand at the first meal, “Put that thing away!” Ms. Recruitment Director hushed in the airport line. Well, okay then.

Then it was lovely hotel for a nap after waking up at 4am, and an excellent dinner with all the major players of Achievement First’s Amistad High School. The conversation was excellent, the people were joyful and healthy, and information was readily shared– good and not so good.

This morning we woke up to breakfast, a tour, classroom observations, lunch, professional development just for the visitors, then school-wide professional development. Let’s just said Achievement First has their act together. My favorite part was the actual buildings their school is housed in. They’re gorgeous and old, with high ceilings and huge windows– plenty of space for all their desks and gorgeous architecture. It was comforting just being in the rooms, let alone watching the teachers.

I don’t have a lot to say, besides the notion that I will very likely apply to one of their schools (likely a Brooklyn school… but maybe Connecticut? You never know.) The recruitment director will call me later this week or next, which will surely be its own post.

After my shopping spree, I felt particularly motivated. I sat down and completed my entire admissions and scholarship application for Arkansas Tech’s graduate program in educational leadership. I then shifted to KIPP New Orleans and applied to their Leadership Academy, which is a middle school. From there I popped over the TFA’s hiring website and started my School Operations Manager application which I falsely thought was due on the 4th, but once I noticed the massive “activity” I need to complete, I also noticed the app deadline is actually January 8th. Glad I’m at least halfway done.

I think I will apply to be an M,TLD, even though I don’t particularly want the position. I’m still thinking of preferencing only the Delta and Detroit.

And voila, here I am. 11:17 and needing to get up from this lovely large wooden table by the freezing window. Time for a shower and sleep, as I need to get up at 5am again tomorrow morning. Two flights then back to the Delta for a solid three weeks before Christmas. C’mon children, let’s get our act together!

** Sidenote: I’ve been in touch with a wonderful woman I met at the NCTE conference in Chicago a few weeks ago, and I sent her an email about my current life choices early this evening. Part of her response was this:

I was accosted after the program tonight by a young lady who graduated several years ago and ran up to thank me and tell me that being able to write coherently changed her life.  She didn’t think she appreciated what she was learning in her AP English classes when she was in high school, but once in college, she immediately saw the benefits across the curriculum.  Every once in while we discover that what we have done has reached someone.  I tell my students–who are appalled–that in my next life I will be a beautician so that I can see the immediate results of my efforts–most of them very positive.

LOVE IT. Also, I got an email back from Mr. Principal of the Sacramento school, which began:

Thank you for the opportunity to visit your classroom and the privilege of meeting a young and talented educator.  From my visit I can clearly tell that you are humble, hungry, and strongly aligned with Oak Park Prep’s mission.

I also saw clear areas in which  you can grow as a teacher.  First and foremost, you need to continue to work on your classroom management (which you were impressively aware of and transparent about)…

It went on to suggest I buy Teach Like a Champion, which I probably should have bought last year regardless, and it was $13, so I ordered it on amazon. Honestly, his feedback made the entire endeavor worthwhile by itself, so even if this doesn’t land me some crazy northern California founding charter school job, it was still a fun and productive process.

Time to walk back to my very temporary and very cozy New Haven bed.

5 Responses

  1. Wess

    Ha! I feel the same way about Teach Like a Champion. Still haven’t read it, still have a feeling when I do it’ll be the best decision ever.

    • Well now it’s ordered… some quality Christmas break reading material. Party!

  2. Why apply to be a MLTD if you don’t really want to? There are tons of kids to teach if you are excited about that-I’m sure you’ll be able to find a job!

    • Good question. I agree, but I think it’s more of a safety net, as well as considering how much my perspective and skill set has changed in the last 6 months… who’s to say it won’t dramatically change again in the next 6 months? In the directikon of really wanting to be an MTLD?

      I also can’t lie: being recruited is a heavy influencer for me, and I’ve had a number of people say not just that I should think about it, but basically demanding I apply. I’m the kind of person that learns about myself primarily by others’ relays of who and how I am. Not that I let other people dictate my life, but people close to me are usually better at pointing out what I want and am good out than I am.

      hmmmm

    • Quick update: I didn’t apply. Took your advice. Not worth a three hour application if I can’t even bring myself to do the first 20 minutes. Win for me! Thanks for excellent advice. :)

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