Teaching in the D

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 24 2011

Hello Detroit! (Induction)

Hello friends, family, future corps members, and whoever else has stumbled across this blog! Every time I told someone I was going to be doing Teach for America in Detroit after graduation, they always said “Be sure to blog or something so we know you’re alive!” So, I’m alive, and I’m blogging.

This is the third day of Induction, the official “start” of my Teach for America career. Induction is a four-ish day intro to your region, staff, and fellow corps members. It’s a whirlwind of tours, presentations, and trying to remember whether or not you’ve introduced yourself to the person next to you (tip: go ahead and reintroduce yourself – they probably can’t remember either!). Basically, it’s orientation week like at college. Only shorter. And in business casual dress.

For the most part, Induction is an exercise in patience. The staff wants to get you fired about educational inequality and the impact you’ll make in two years. And once you get fired up… there’s another PowerPoint presentation about some other aspect of your term of service! Some of the non-stop (8am to 9pm and sometimes earlier/later) sessions are fantastic (like a panel of current corps members talking about their difficult years), others are… less than interesting. The staff has an unfortunate habit of treating us like campers. Most of the presentations and discussions are at an very low intellectual level, which is a far world from what I was used to in college, and many of the norms are throwbacks to elementary school. We’re constantly watched by staff to ensure we are “on task” with our listening and they use clapping patterns to get our attention. Needless to say, I’m… a bit restless. I’ve always been a “I’ll give you my respect when you earn it” kind of person. If you present an engaging or visibly important session, I’ll pay attention and engage with you. If you read me slides a fourth grader could have written of material you already assigned me to read, I firmly believe I should be allowed to surf the web, read, or text to my heart’s delight. You’re not respecting my time, so why should I respect yours? (I have, for the record, only had one minor skirmish with a staffer. I’m mostly behaving.)

That said, Induction has served its purpose for me. We went on school visits today, and I could barely help myself from jumping in front of some of the less well-run classrooms and taking over. I can’t wait to have kids and be working! I have an interview tomorrow with what looks like a great charter school, and then a tour of a house I might live in, and then we drive out to the New York City Institute! Stay tuned (and consider, say, subscribing to email alerts or something for this blog)!

10 Responses

  1. Sharon

    Clapping games? Really?!
    If they’re going to treat you like a fourth-grader then they should at least give you recess. And a jungle gym.

    • hcook

      Really. They did treat us to a Tiger’s game, which I suppose is rather like recess…

  2. That all sounds so exciting! I’m so thrilled to be able to track what you’re up to. And I’m completely in agreement about paying attention.

  3. CC

    So, are you blogging voluntarily or under happy pressure?

    • hcook

      Can I be happily acquiescing to loving pressure?

      • CC

        Yes, but not if you’re a liberal.

  4. Keep up the blog for us, darling. You’re going to be on the Catflight of Fancy blogroll.

  5. Jay

    Nothing outside college will ever be quite like it, but I am sorry they are treating you like fourth-graders. Anyway, looking forward to reading more thoughts about your experience.

  6. G rammy

    I’m so excited to hear about your days – and nights (it sounds like a 24/7 endeavor). From an old teacher – that’s life! Can’t wait for the next episode – better than a soap.

  7. Bekah

    I am so happy to have found your blog all about your adventures with TFA. As a current teacher, I look forward to reading about your future experiences. Good luck!

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One Girl's Teach for America Detroit Experience

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