Long before there was the cleverly titled ‘Gary Rubinstein’s TFA Blog’ (It’s all about branding), back before the internet even, there was ‘The TFA Two-Step’, Houston’s regional newsletter back when I was a corps member from 1991 to 1995. 1991 was my first year, so I wasn’t writing anything back then but discipline referral cards. But during my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years of teaching I wrote a monthly column for the Houston newsletter entitled ‘I Didn’t Do Nuthin” which was mailed out to all the corps members. Many of the 30 columns I wrote eventually became part of my 2 books, but some of them were so TFA specific and not very educational that they’ve never been seen in the past 15 or so years. I wasn’t so ‘political’ back then with my critiques of TFA. This was just about being funny, so I thought it would be fun to dig a few up and re-publish here. This is one of my favorite ones, so I hope you like it.
LOVE AT FIRST SITE
It’s more frustrating than I had anticipated. I try to be interesting, but they won’t listen. When I finally do get their attention, they look like they’re about to fall asleep. And besides, beers cost four dollars each. I’m definitely tired of the Houston club scene.
I fear that, like many of you, I am destined for another TFA relationship. TFA corps have no choice but to date other TFA teachers. Regular teachers look down upon us, and non-teachers aren’t as impressed with our accomplishments as they should be.
“I’m a lawyer,” I explain to an educational outsider, “well, not actually a lawyer yet. You see, I postponed law school to participate in this new program where I commit two years to teach in the inner-city.”
“Which year are you in?”
No one wants to date us because teachers possess two intolerable characteristics: 1) They are always right (or pretend to be) and 2) They don’t let you use the restroom. Inevitably, teachers will continue to date each other. This year will witness dozens of TFA relationships. To become involved in one, you will first need to master teacher small talk. Teachers love to listen to funny war stories. Not because they are interested, but because listening to one entitles them to describe one of their own. If you have trouble devising amusing teacher anecdotes, I have divided them into three generic categories.
I) “A kid did something bad. I tried to punish the kid, and the kid said something funny.”
II) “A kid did something bad, and I said something funny.”
III) “How would you pronounce this name? (spell the name then wait for response) That’s what I thought! But it’s pronounced (say it the correct way).”
Some TFA members will refuse to participate in the TFA dating circuit. These are the people who disassociate themselves with the organization soon after the school year begins. They are first to learn that the only thing more irritating than a TFA member is a TFA member with a guitar.
TFA couples are even more annoying than TFA individuals. They write sickening love notes like, “I love you more than early dismissal days.” At restaurants, the TFA couple is often marveling at some scientific property they have observed in the salad dressing. Wide eyed, they exclaim, “this would make a good lesson.”
Many TFA romances are short-lived. In order to protect yourself from an unexpected breakup, you must learn to recognize the warning signals for a failing TFA relationship.
HINTS THAT YOUR TFA RELATIONSHIP IS TROUBLED
If they say … I have to grade papers. They really mean … I have a headache.
If they say … I need to plan lessons. They really mean … I’m too tired.
If they say … I have to do progress reports. They really mean I’m having an affair with my mentor.
If your TFA relationship begins to go stale, you may need to enhance its sexual aspect. The quickest way to do this is, briefly, Manipulatives. ‘Cause when the lights are out, baby, we are all kinesthetic learners. Another fun way to add variety is to engage in sexual role playing games. Some popular scenarios include: ‘Assistant Principal / Substitute Teacher’, ‘Guidance Counselor / Cafeteria Worker’, and ‘Department Chair / PTA President’.
My biggest fear is that some TFA couples will get married. If you do marry your TFA mate, PLEASE don’t have children. First, there’s the incest factor. Your children are likely to be mildly retarded, ultra-liberal, or, most likely, both. Even if your child is born normal, it won’t stay that way. After the poor kid is subjected to your opposing philosophies of discipline, it will certainly be disturbed. And NEVER have kids with a middle school teacher. They are nearly all in favor of child abuse.
If you need further advice on having a TFA relationship, you are welcome to call me anytime on any night. I’ll be home.