Of the nearly 6,000 new TFA corps members who have just completed half of their first year of teaching, very few have posted on teachforus about how their first years are going. I think I’ve seen about five or six midyear reflections so far. As they say in old western movies, “It’s quiet out there.” “Yeah, too quiet.” usually means that the quiet is not a good sign.
My theory about this is that my prediction that the poor training that the 2012 corps members got this past summer with a paltry 12 hours total of student teaching classes of about 10 kids each has led to some pretty difficult first years of teaching for them. And as self-reflective as they are supposed to be, there is also a shame associated with this tough first year that makes new corps members not want to blog about it. I also think that if the opposite were true, that people were having outstanding achievement-gap-closing experiences they would be blogging about it. Either way, the lack of blogging activity on this site is, I think, quite telling. 6,000 people is a big number to be so closed-lipped.
Before they knew very much, ironically, the 2012 corps members were blogging a lot over the summer. Now, after half a year of coming face to face with real schools and real kids, the 2012 corps members have learned so much. They are now extremely qualified to make judgments about the causes and cures of the ‘achievement gap’ (Sorry Dr. Royal. I know you want a more accurate term for this, but I need one that is four syllables or less!).
For instance, do you still agree with TFA that a main cause of education inequity is that most teachers set their expectations too low for low-income students and that a big step in equalizing things is to have high expectations? Also, have you found that you are some of the better teachers in your school already? Are you significantly better than even the other new non-TFA teachers at your school? Are you convinced that teachers would work a lot harder if they were to get pay cuts when their students did not exhibit sufficient ‘growth’ on their standardized tests? Finally, do you think that you would have benefited from more student teaching at the institute, or was what you got good enough?
Now I’m sure someone is going to say that I’ve scared off potential bloggers by dissecting what they wrote and critiquing them. If that’s the case, I’m surprised that I wield so much power. Seriously, I doubt it. A more likely explanation is that people are scared to write the truth because they are concerned that even if they write anonymously it will somehow get ‘out’ and then their reputations will be forever tainted when potential employers one day ‘Google’ them.
Here’s my message to the 2012 corps: You have been recruited as some of the best-and-brightest because you would be willing to apply your great analytic ability to assessing what the primary issues are in education. After half a year surely you’ve come to some conclusions? If you keep these conclusions to yourself, you are not fulfilling your obligation to lend your voice to the discussion. How does that help improve American education? Please speak up by writing your own blog posts or by commenting here. I won’t make any promises, but I’ll really try not to be too judgmental if you say something that I disagree with.