Strength In Numbers
As someone who stopped teaching at the end of her two-year commitment to TFA, I constantly wonder if I was a "quick fix". Can I quantify my impact by my students' Regents scores? Can I justify my departure with the knowledge that the teachers who have replaced me are teaching from the curriculum I crafted in my short tenure?
I attended the TFA summit this past weekend to reconnect with the people who inspired me to join TFA initially and those who lit the fire beneath me while I was in the classroom. Many of them have continued teaching, while others, like myself, have moved on to other professions. But regardless of our current pursuits, we were all still deeply passionate about how we can work to better the lives of our students. Only this time, we came to the conversation from multiple professional perspectives.
The mission of TFA is two-pronged: the first is to recruit passionate teachers into classrooms while the second is to build a movement of individuals who will continue to close the achievement gap from all professions. Often the latter is overshadowed by the debates garnered by the former. Given that there are many factors in a child's life that affect his ability to receive the education needed to prepare him to attend a four year college, it is important for the conversations of closing the achievement gap to take place with many different professionals at the table, for on our own little intellectual islands, our understanding is limited.
As a first year medical student, I am constantly finding myself returning to the classroom: teaching Saturday science prep programs, mentoring middle school students, and bringing medicine to elementary school classrooms. My experience as a TFA corps member will undoubtedly shape the type of medicine I practice and my conversations at the dinner table. This weekend reminded me that we are in this together, regardless of our current labels, and that our ongoing conversations and knowledge of our collective impact will continue to inspire us in our daily work.
February 14, 2011
"When I found out I wasn't crazy."
Such was famed feminist Gloria Steinem's response to a question posed by writer Malcolm Gladwell during a panel session this weekend at Teach For America's 20th-Anniversary Summit in Washington, D.C. Steinem was responding to a Gladwell query about when she knew she had been successful in her campaign for equal rights for women.