Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Teach For America Teaching Model

Move 'em, use 'em up, move 'em out:

“I’ve heard a number of our alumni—people who are running schools and school systems—think a lot about different models for the teaching profession,” Kopp says. “Models sort of like in the law profession, where people come in and have to meet a very rigorous bar to make partner, maybe in year seven. You could consider a structure like that, where you try to recruit folks to spend five or seven years in teaching, and then retain a very, very few of them.”

I'm better at year ten than I was in year one through nine.

Where I have especially improved is in how I handle the problems students are dealing with OUTSIDE of the classroom that affect them INSIDE the classroom.

I am better at this part of the job because a) I have learned from previous years how to handle situations in productive way b) I have learned when to push and prod a student and learned when a hands-off approach would be better c) I am in my 40's and have developed socially, emotionally and psychologically above where I was when I was in my 30's so I instinctively know how to handle situations with students that, quite frankly, used to baffle me.

I have more life experience. I have more teaching experience. I have more work experience. I have less energy than I did in my thirties and I couldn't do the 10 hour/6 day a week that Kopp and the the other ed deformers want their missionaries to do.

But I am a better teacher.

In Kopp's world (or the KIPP world, or For-Profit Geoffrey Canada's world, indeed, even in Barack Obama's world), I am TOO OLD and TOO EXPERIENCED to be a good teacher.

This is an amazing thing to me.

When I first started this job ten years ago, everybody asked me if I had any experience at the job. Experience was a plus to getting work.

Now, if you have experience, you're on the chopping block.

Welcome to the new 21st century feudalism - the corporate overlords make all the decisions for your life and some are based simply on age and experience.

Too old, too experienced?

Move on.


  1. So true. For me, I became a better teacher when I became a parent. Now I realize that I have even acquired some true wisdom (along with survival skills) that I bring to my students every day. I'm in my 25th year of service and my days are numbered because I'm good at teaching. Really. These times have certainly been an education for us RBE!

  2. In the present state of the Texas economy, the legislature is going to cut out all funds for TFA programs. Good riddance.

  3. The idea that people should not expect to remain in teaching beyond 5-7 years rests upon the assumption that the worst types of working conditions/abuses/deprivations will never, ever change. As the young teacher makes the futile attempt to be all things to all people, he/she is eaten up and spit back out. Career teachers know they must adapt and find balance, and they recognize when to set limits between themselves and the endless demands of the job, thus building a career rather than a mere lay-over. Experienced teachers also know how to spot which instructional practices are truly effective and which are a fad-du-jour, and a waste of time.

    And how long has Wendy Kopp been directing TFA? Isn't is about time that she step down?

  4. Anon - so well said. Setting boundaries, knowing when to say no, knowing which "best practices" are actually useful and which are horseshit, and maintaining balance so as not to get burnt out, and having a rich, abundant life outside school - sounds like a good recipe for life!

    teachme2, 25 years in service? You must be a lazy, bad teacher! So says Wendy Kopp and Barack Obama!