Teachin' Spanish For America

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 18 2011

Placement, Induction … Life

So, all y’all have really clever post titles, blog titles, blurbs, basically (it seems) lives in general and I’m feeling a little less than capable compared to all of the brilliant folks here.  So thanks for making me feel inadequate, beautiful TFU bloggers ;)

I figured I would update TFA hopefuls out there (and my family– and I think that pretty much covers my potential audience base!) as to how the interview fair went and generally the business that has happened since saying YES PLEASE in November and Induction (for me, June 20 TWO DAYS OHMYGOSH).

I graduated from college and my thesis squeaked by a less-than-traditional defense process (as my thesis advisor had her baby the morning my defense was supposed to occur), and I moved into my boyfriend’s house in Jersey.  I just back from a week home in MA with my family, who had a wonderful grad party for me.  I loved seeing all of them and being “home,” even though that too is not traditional (I don’t have a room anymore, etc.).

The interview fair was a few weeks ago and I had mixed feelings about the whole thing.  I got into Newark (the fair was very conveniently within walking distance of Newark Penn) and controlled chaos ruled my life for the next four or five hours.  I was supposed to interview with three schools and I interviewed with five; school representatives with understandably busy schedules did not show up for hours and hours; I was asked to role play.  The experience was certainly a learning one, and I made some mistakes I’m still pretty embarrassed about and thought I did well in some interviews without getting a call back.  I ended up getting one call back from this fair — a growing middle school (charter) in need of a maestra.

So, for a while after that I panicked that I had not gotten any calls back, and the one job that I had really, REALLY wanted (and whose interview I knew I had irrevocably messed up) was offered to another 2011 CM.  I wasn’t upset, because I know and like this CM very much, and she is very capable and will do an excellent job there.  I was also fully aware that placement takes time, that there would be another hiring fair, and that most CMs had yet to be placed.  Still I despaired.

I then received the follow-up with the middle school and was asked to prepare a forty-minute lesson plan.  Um, are you out of your mind?  I have five minutes’ teaching experience and I sure as heck haven’t finished the pre-work yet!  So I panicked about that and ended up finishing it the night before the interview (and it was pretty good-looking, I thought).

I went to that interview and I thought I did really well despite not being allowed to actually give my lesson as originally planned.  The principal was playing his hand close though, so I couldn’t read him as I left.  I hadn’t seen any students, or any learning, and he hadn’t given me much info about the school or its vision. I left wanting something, but I didn’t know what.

That week (literally two days after), I went to a new elementary charter school for an interview with the K-2 position (the school is yearly expanding to eventually become K-8).  I did not write my lesson plan–in fact, I was supposed to receive one in an email and didn’t so I wasn’t sure if I was even supposed to show up but I did anyway.  I really liked the look of the school and really wanted to opportunity to teach Spanish to younger kids so I made the executive decision to roll in there anyway and see if they wanted to see me.  After I greeted every single student at the door, I was handed a twenty-minute lesson plan and I executed it.  It was flawed, of course, QUITE flawed in fact, but I thought overall it went well.

The head of school there spent a good amount of time allowing me to observe classrooms and then sat down and talked about the position, how I would be the founding Spanish teacher and as such would be given a fair small class load (4 30-minute classes in the afternoons), but that in the mornings I would be responsible for essentially creating the curriculum that would be used at the K-8 school.  I LOVED the sound of this, and told her so.  We shook hands and I went on my merry way.

Turns out, I got offers from both schools.  It is TFA’s policy to require (not strongly suggest, but require) the incoming corps to accept the first position offered to them.  However, since my offers were received literally a day apart, I was given a choice between the two.  I weighed the personal satisfaction of teaching higher-level grammar and being able to more visibly set students on a path to college against a desire to have the chance to actually design my curriculum, work with smaller kids, and alignment with the values of the charter’s mission.  I chose the latter option.

So, dear readers, that means I AM EMPLOYED.  It has been a SUPER EXCITING week for me.  The wait is over, first and most importantly.  Second, I bought a car today, a beautiful 2008 bright red VW Rabbit (what is now marketed as the Golf).  It’s beautiful and I love it so, so much, I just need proof of employment to take it away from the lot…hurry up charter school!  HURRY UP I SAY!  Also, there is a movie being filmed at my house.  Talk about intrusive.

With all that said, I am sincerely looking forward to Induction next week.  I am excited to learn and the discuss, and I am excited to meet the people I will spend the next two years with.  That being said, I really need to finish my pre-work for Institute.  Like, really.  So I’m going to go do that.

I hope all is well with you :)

–H

PS. Why is “Turkish people” a suggestion for this post’s tag?  Any ideas? (Also Roma and Didem…)

4 Responses

  1. G

    Congrats on your placement…I would have chosen option number 2 as well…how exciting!

  2. lisa

    Heike, you are such a great & entertaining writer! I’m inspired to start my tfu blog now. So looking forward to working with you! I’m chillin at woodward hall before ice breakers & dinner, see you there!

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