From 1995 to 2003, I used to present a workshop at the TFA institutes about classroom management and the realities of the first year of teaching. The ideas were considered useful enough to be published as a book in 1999 (It’s called ‘Reluctant Disciplinarian’). That book was adopted by the New York City Teaching Fellows as required reading.
I’d volunteer to do these workshops, but each year TFA would tell me that they’ve incorporated my ideas into the institute curriculum so the workshop was no longer necessary. The regional office at New York, would still let me come and do the workshop and the feedback from those participants led me to believe that TFA still has gaps in the training that the 2008 corps is currently going through.
TFA has a tendency to ‘sugar coat’ the first year. The institute staff, though they are fine people, are not diverse in that they had similar good first years of teaching. Most people don’t, which is why most people don’t become trainers. So you get a very narrow perspective about the first year and how difficult it could be if you don’t prepare properly.
Well I finally got around to posting this workshop on YouTube. If you’re at the New York institute, I’m going to be speaking to the New York Corps Members after the institute, but before you start teaching. If you’re at one of the other institutes I hope you take a look. It’s an hour long and in 7 parts. If you’re really in a rush, you can watch parts 3,4, and 5 to get the gist.
Anyway, I created the workshop to fill two gaps in the TFA institute training. 1) Realism. If you know what could happen, I think you’ll prepare more seriously and seek out as many different perspectives as you can. 2) Humor. TFA takes itself way too seriously.