Recently there has been a lot of good discussion about the pros and cons of TFA. It started this summer with Katie Osgood’s An Open Letter to New Teach for America Recruits which has gone ‘viral’ and already has 500 comments. Alex Morgan, A blogger here at TeachForUs.org wrote a competent, but generally weak, rebuttal called My Open Letter to 2013 Corps Members. Then this past weekend there was a conference in Chicago where there was a session run by TFA alumni who are opposed to the direction TFA has chosen to go in. I was not an organizer of this event, though I was invited to participate, but I couldn’t make it. I’m glad that it happened without me since it shows that I’m not some lone vigilante doing this. Juice Fong, a TFA staff member, wrote a bizarre post about this event called Open Letter to Anti-TFA Folks at Free Minds Free People Conference which here at TeachForUs.org, diddymath wrote a nice response called Some Anti-TFA Blowhard Lights a Torch. This TFA push-back from within is getting a lot of coverage, which is giving more and more people the courage to speak out including, just today, someone who was a staffer for three years in Phoenix giving a very revealing interview to Valerie Strauss in The Answer Sheet in A former Teacher For America manager speaks out. Exhausting, isn’t it?
I’ve been somewhat quiet this summer. I’ve been busy with my kids, and teaching a graduate level course at City College and also trying to exercise and catch up on some T.V.. I even watched the All-Star game yesterday, something I haven’t done in a few years. It is nice to get some use out of some different parts of the brain and, like crop rotation, helps rejuvenate me for another set of battles I’m sure I’ll want to participate in in the coming year.
So, in the spirit of trying new things, I decided to add something new to the education of the new 2013 TFA CMs by creating a very simple and non-rehearsed video message to them. I don’t know if this adds anything new to the discussion, but I sometimes think that in writing my tone doesn’t always come through the way I want it to, and maybe I seem a little mean when I write when, in real life I think I’m a lot nicer and new CMs might be able to relate to me better if I speak to them. Then again, maybe I’m an even bigger jerk in real life. I hope not. If you like watching me, you can see my hour long ‘spreecast’ that I did three weeks ago where I interview two new CMs. The link for the spreecast is here.
So here is my 12 minute ‘Gary Rubinstein’s viral open video message to 2013 TFA corps members.’ I hope you like it.