I had lunch today with a friend who's in the process of applying for Teach for America and is preparing for his final interview next week. I know there are certain things I can't tell him, but I do remember all the help I received from friends as I was going through the process a few months ago in terms of talking about why Teach for America and how to feel prepared.
While I love him, he uttered the phrase that I've been hearing a lot recently " At least you have a job. I really just want a job"
It's true that I have more idea of what I'm doing than many of my college friends, aside from the engineering people who have actual desired and real life skills. And to be completely honest, that is a really nice feeling. However, I keep needing to explain that I don't really have a job yet -- I know most Nashville corps members all got placed fairly early in the process, but I've also heard all the horror stories about last minute changes not only of grade but also subject matter. I've signed to take the Praxis II exams for Elementary and Middle School Content Knowledge, so that doesn't really give me an indication and there's a huge difference between Kindergarten and 5th grade.
And from everything I've heard, if you think of TFA as just as job you won't make it. The corps members I know care deeply about their kids and the work they're doing. I'm looking forward to doing elementary in part because I hope it means I will get to know a smaller group of kids really well. It's hard, however, to keep this perspective when people think of it as a "job".
I had another friend who came over to my apartment shortly after I heard from Teach for America and he congratulated me. Two days later, he stopped by and was super excited for me. "I didn't realize you got Teach for America," he said "that's super competitive. Congratulations!". While he'd been happy for me when I'd told him I was teaching, it almost made me sad to see this level of enthusiasm only because I was doing it through Teach for America. What if I had decided I wanted to be an elementary school teacher without it? Would his reaction have been that different?
I guess at this moment it's a little hard to tell what life's going to be like. I keep explaining the process to people, and the more I do, the more I realize that because I haven't gone through it yet I'm probably not the best person to explain clearly.