Teach for America

posted 3 years ago in Career
Post # 3
Member
1884 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I’m not familiar with the details of the program, but I definitely wouldn’t choose teaching because of its apparent “low stress level.”  While you might not be working 12 hour shifts, you bring work home most nights just to stay caught up.  I’m a third year teacher, and I’m finally to the point where I feel like I can catch my breath. Teaching is very rewarding, but it shouldn’t be gone into lightly if your heart isn’t in it. 

Post # 4
Member
1929 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Full disclosure: I’m not a huge TFA fan.

If you’re looking for a “low stress job” after college, teaching is NOT the career for you.  I am an 11th grade teacher, so I don’t actually have experience teaching any grade younger than 7th, but I can tell you that teachers at all levels work A LOT.  I work on average 60-70 hours a week, and during my first year that often got up to 80 hours per week.  It is a highly rewarding job, but it is NOT low stress by any stretch of the imagination.  I am constantly thinking about my students, constantly considering how I can do better.  In fact, right now I’m a bit stressed as I look at the pile of grading sitting next to me.  Yes, you get off work at 3 (or 4 in my case), but I typically work until 8 or 9 every evening and most of the day Sunday.

I did not do Teach for America, I got a teaching credential and M.Ed. through UCLA.  However, I have several co-workers in Teach for America.  ALL of them talk about how much work it is!  It’s like having a full time job (well, 70 hours per week) AND going to graduate school at the same time (which is what i did last year, it was hard!).  

As for the two-year commitment, TFA is VERY strict on that.  My co-worker is in TFA and she told me that if she lost her job mid-year or even after the first year, that she would owe TFA thousands of dollars for funding parts of her education.  Also with TFA, from my understanding you don’t always get to choose which region you work in, so you may be required to work across the country.  

Have you considered looking into credentialling programs in your area?  Many credentialling programs are only one year (if you don’t get a masters), which may fit better with what you’re looking to do.  Also, they may be able to provide you with a longer training process before throwing you into the classroom.  Your first year of teaching is VERY hard, you want all the support you can get!

As for teaching, it is a lot work, but it I LOVE my job!  I feel like when I’m working a lot, it’s for a purpose and for a greater good.  The moment when a student understands something after struggling with it is all worth it to me!  I love going to work every day, as I am constantly problem solving, being creative, and being social with a large group of people.  I don’t mean to make it sound too hard, because is it an incredible career.  I feel lucky almost every day that I have this job!  Even if somedays I am so exhausted and sometimes I am so frustrated, in the end, I am fully satisfied with my job.

 

 

 

Post # 5
Member
3978 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Teaching is not low stress. TFA has hates and lovers, but if teaching is not your passion it is not your route. You will be placed whereever they want to place you, not necessary near your FI. You will often be in big cities where the cost of living can be high. 

Post # 6
Member
4540 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Royalton White Sands

I’m a student teacher, and I can tell you – teaching is not low stress! The politics in a school can really take a toll on a teacher. I’ve heard a lot from my mentor teacher. 

If TFA is something that you really want to look into, then that can definitely be a great opportunity. Like others have said, though, they can be really strict with their rules and they will very possibly move you wherever they need a teacher, usually a lower income area. 

Post # 7
Member
167 posts
Blushing bee

Agree with PPs!!

I’ve been teaching for five years, and teaching is definitely not a job I would ever consider to be low stress. I struggle with anxiety and have had issues with depression in the past.  As a result of those issues, I have considered leaving teaching multiple times (even though deep down I love it and feel like it’s what I’m meant to be doing).

 

If you’re really serious about wanting to be a teacher, then this could be a great opportunity to get into the field.  I just want to make sure you don’t go into it thinking it will be a “low stress” job to just try out for a while. It is very much a high stress job with a lot of multitasking and having to put on a happy face and be “on” at all times.  It is a very intrinsically rewarding job, but you really have to be motivated from the heart to do it.

 

Good luck in whatever you decide to do!

 

Post # 8
Member
1929 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Also, they can’t guarantee the same pay rate as a credentialed teacher, that’s up to the school you work at.  I work at a charter school and they pay about $8,000 more per year for credentialed teachers.

Post # 10
Member
2061 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

@jujubee53:  NYC high school teacher here…..I’ve wanted to be a teacher since before I ever even stepped foot in kindergarten, and I’ve thought about leaving the profession so much recently. Unless it is written in your heart, don’t do it. To say you’re misinformed if you think it’s a low stress level job, is the understatement of the century. Those who do their job well, in general, are extremely stressed. The entire system in the US is the most fucked up thing I’ve ever encountered…finding administrators who care about the well being and future of the child is basically impossible, and a bazillion minute details that are ridiculous will take all your energy. If I didn’t adore my students as if they were my own children, I would have left the profession entirely. Unfortunately, teaching is like 1% of a teacher’s job.

Post # 11
Member
926 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

Aaaamen to all the PPs… teaching is HARD. It irks me when people think, “Well, if I can’t do _____, I’ll just go into teaching,” (which is not what I’m saying you’re doing, OP… it’s a whole other soapbox)!

If teaching isn’t what you’re SURE you want to do, don’t do it just because you have a potential offer.

ETA: I went through the three rounds of interviews/mock tutorials of the TFA process, was offered a position, but ultimately turned it down, finished my licensure courses, got my Master’s, and can honestly look back and believe I made the right decision.

Post # 12
Member
789 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@jujubee53:  I am a TFA alum.  There are a number of issues here: primarily your desire for a low stress job (NOT what TFA will offer you), your serious relationship (you will rank your top cities and be placed in one of those, no guarantee where you will go), and they don’t forgive loans (they have a partnership with AmeriCorps so you’ll get roughly $5,000 per year of your committment – I wound up with around $11,000 to use for grad school after I finished my commitment).  The acceptance rate is VERY low, it usually hovers around 10% of applicants.  I’d say look into it more, meet with a recruiter, but don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  If you DO get in, and it is a city you want to be in, and you know you can commit to the two years fully, then it could be an option.  But make sure you have some other options to choose from.  Also, only do it if you believe you want to stay in education.  This is what I believe is a primary flaw of the TFA system; they don’t necessarily recruit people who want to stay in teaching, which isn’t doing schools any favors when their teachers leave after two years.  

Post # 13
Member
789 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@jujubee53:  

@Ms.GoodEarth:  

You will work to get your teaching license during your first year of teaching, so after your first your you will be fully licensed, just FYI.  That would be very frustrating if they didn’t pay you as a licensed teacher with an “emergency” license!

Post # 14
Member
1472 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

I’m also a TFA alum (and worked on the recruitment side before my commitment, too). Hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also worth it. I’d be happy to talk more about my experience, but it’s easier to answer questions. Feel free to PM.

Also, you do get told where you’ll go before you accept, so you can’t just be “sent” somewhere after you’ve already committed. You make your decision after you know where you’ll be/what you’ll be teaching (generally. Like, you might be told High School in NYC or elementary school in the Bay Area.)

Post # 15
Member
349 posts
Helper bee

It sounds like you’ve perhaps made up your mind but I thought I would throw in my two cents. 

 

As many others have mentioned, teaching, especially first-year, is incredibly demanding. TFA has a pretty intensive interview process that takes a couple months, and then you preference your top 5 teaching locations and content areas and if you get through your interview rounds, you get placed somewhere in the country. I was accepted for the 2012 corps (I graduated in 2009 and worked for a few years) and was placed 1000 miles away from home in a secondary science concentration (And I was a communication studies major!).

 

I decided to commit, moved my life across the country, and started the hardest job I’ve ever had, with laughably little training. Then, months into my first year, my position as a middle school physics teacher was eliminated at a time when licensing requirements were changing and TFA was unable to continue to support me unless I could change to math (der, nope), so I ended up leaving TFA and couldn’t continue teaching as I was still working toward my provisional license. 

 

The cost of licensing and doing TFA will vary from state to state – it would have cost me $1500 where I was, but in my home state it costs TFAers more than 10,000 but it is for a full master’s. The loan forgiveness is an educational grant that is typically less than 5000/year and is only offered if TFA is granted it through Americorps- they were close to losing it last year. 

 

It is a far from predictable path, and corps members don’t get much say – I had to accept every interview opportunity and accept the first job offer I got. It placed me in a town that was not my first choice, but not an awful place either. 

 

If you google TFA you’ll be able to find a lot of the arguments for and against it. I just wanted to offer a personal experience with it. It was incredibly difficult, but some of my friends that started with me are are deep into their second year. I also know a fair amount of people that left at the end of year one and broke their contract. If you have other questions, just let me know!

 

Post # 16
Member
579 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2015

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE for the sake of education really reconsider entering into service with TFA! It is so hard for lower-income student populations to recover from the loss of so many TFA teachers, it’s really a majority of revolving door teachers rather than individuals who are passionate about the teaching profession and education.

If you are enjoying volunteering in the classroom but you’re still considering your options after grad undergrad (sorry, I wrote the wrong thing!), take a year to be a paraeducator or an assistant teacher at either a public or independent school (they are often salaried positions with benefits where you get the experience of a teacher without the take-home work load). I took that path before applying to get my MA in education and my credential, and now I’m a happy (but very stressed [as in I just got home from an 11 hour day in the classroom]) third grade teacher.

 

 

 

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