I’ve been an avid TeachFor.Us blog reader since I began my (healthy) obsession with TFA but wasn’t sure if I would start one of my own. I’m knee deep in pre-institute readings right now so my mind is definitely spinning with ideas of what the next two years of my life will look like. I’d like to think I have a relatively unique perspective as a current intern with TFA as a Campus Campaign Coordinator, and likely the ONLY ballet major to join the 2010 corps. Definitely the only ballet major to end up teaching secondary math!
I’ll start with a recap of my experiences thus far:
I became interested in the program spring of junior year and found out about the CCC position within days of the application deadline. I whipped up a relevant (read: non-dance) resume and turned it in pretty unsure of my chances. Two phone interviews later I had the job! I spent the summer obsessively reading everything I could find related to TFA, from books on the achievement gap to random websites with advice on how to get the job as a CM. It was my ultimate goal and one and only Plan A to become a 2010 corps member.
I applied at the summer deadline and bounced between complete assurance that I would make it (I work for them! how can they not take me?) to total conviction that I never would. I skipped the phone interview round, and the interview day was, to my complete surprise, an enjoyable experience. I had fun! I could barely eat or sleep for the days leading up to it, so convinced was I that this day determined the trajectory of the rest of my life. Everyone I’ve talked to that works for TFA is genuinely friendly and the PDs in charge of my interview were no exception. I felt completely comfortable, and actually excited to spend so much time talking about my one dream job. I was surprised to find myself the only volunteer to go first with the lesson plan and it was a relief to get it out of the way. I taught the three states of matter, and how molecules act in each, and I made it an arts-integrated lesson by incorporating movement. It was great to see all the nervous interviewees in suits wiggling and moving around like atoms! It went exactly as I had planned.
There are rare few moments in my life that were as exhilarating as reading that acceptance email. I was visibly shaking as I held my phone, because I could see the title of the email and knew what it meant. I was in my senior choreography class, so I was surrounded by my closest friends and two of my mentors (who wrote my application recs). I had a room full of the people I love cheering for me when I found out! Everyone screamed and clapped and hugged me and I immediately burst into tears of joy and total relief. It was amazing.
I called my mother, who asked me what my placement region and subject were. I hadn’t even thought to check! I was stunned to see I was teaching secondary math in Colorado. I agonized for days over the order of my first and second ranked regions, only to end up with my third choice. I hadn’t seriously considered living in Colorado, especially since I thought being in the first round virtually guaranteed me one of my top two choices. It only took me a few minutes to adapt, and now I can’t imagine going anywhere else! The subject was of most concern. I am a ballet major. I haven’t even taken a math course in college (I got a 5 on my AP Calculus test in high school so I transferred in credit) Sure I was talented four years ago, but I haven’t exactly been practicing since then. I hardly have any academic credits since so many of my hours are devoted to dance courses so I hadn’t considered teaching anything other than elementary school. I assumed I wouldn’t qualify for secondary. Luckily math is my favorite subject, and phone calls with my CCC manager and CO team member assured me that I could do it. I just had to study for the PLACE exam!
Ah, the PLACE. I spent all of my winter break relentlessly pursuing the knowledge of mathematics. I am blessed with a math major boyfriend who spent countless hours tutoring me and helping me prepare. He was an essential component of my study plan, and made it more enjoyable. As payment I took him with me to Denver when I took the test in January. We continued studying up until the morning of, waking up extra early to get in a few more ideas before my required 7AM arrival time. I don’t think I felt fully confident about it until that morning, when he reviewed everything with me and I realized I knew the answers to all his questions. I had been told it would be 50 questions and I came to find out that no, it was 100. I kept my cool, and used every minute of that 4 hours. I passed with a higher score than I expected! Plus I got to visit Denver and get to know my future home a bit.
So now I’m trying to get through my final semester as an undergrad while preparing myself for the coming adventure. I’ve started the pre-institute work. Ms. Lora’s story completely motivated and moved me, and I’m trying to absorb as much information as possible. At this point I’m mostly insprired and ready to take on the challenge, anxious to get going, learn more and start teaching. I waver with uncertainty about my abilities every so often, since the more I read the quicker I realize all I don’t yet know. Once I have an actual job at a school I’ll have a clearer picture of what the next two years will look like. I’ve sent my resumes out to every possible school but there just aren’t many opportunities yet. There’s time, but I am impatient.
I’m not sure where this blog will take me, but for now you are caught up.