Teaching in the D

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 27 2011

Welcome to New York! (Institute)

After a two-day road trip (with two fabulous Detroit corps members), I’ve made it to New York City for Institute!  We’re at St. John’s University, which has  a large, confusing, and generally beautiful campus. The facilities seem impressively new and well-maintained, except for the elevator (which rattles and trapped 14 corps members for over half an hour today). Plus, after Chicago chills and Michigan rain, New York is finally warm, sunny, and beautiful!

More importantly, I get to meet my kids in 8 days! I’ll be teaching at Bronx Lighthouse, a charter school, working with eighth graders in earth science. After all the presentations about significant gains* TFA-ers make, I can’t wait to get into a room with students! The strangest thing is that I know it will be incredibly stressful once I have kids every day and lessons to prep, and I’m so excited to be in that situation anyway.

*”Significant gains” is a term TFA loves to use. It generally connotes making two year’s worth of progress in at least one content area with 80% mastery.

I’m rooming with six other girls from the Detroit region in a multi-room suite. There are a few things I’ve noticed about Teach for America people, or at least Detroit corps members. First off, they are without a doubt some of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. Every single one of them is kind and well-intentioned. Second, they are much more interesting once you’re talking to them alone after a few days of adjusting. At first, almost every new corps member wants to seem like the “ideal” CM (corps member). They want to talk about why they joined the corps, how important the mission is, and how excited they are to be there. Which, although all very earnest, can be enough to make you want to vomit with saccharine idealism. However, as the days wear on, the enthusiasm becomes overwhelming and you remember that these people are going to be working with you no matter what, and you start to have actual conversations about things that matter. I’ve spent the last couple days talking about (among others) UChicago professors, Joss Whedon, institutional racism, workforce psychology, and  whether or not Nissan Altimas are evil (long story). I’m still looking to find a roommate for the beautiful house I looked at on Saturday, but my stress about the social situation in TFA continues to decrease.

More updates to come!

4 Responses

  1. It sounds like you’re having an awesome time! Welcome to my city, by the way.

    Sharon, Aaron, Nory and I might want to take you picnicking at some point before I leave!

    • hcook

      I think we’re shooting for July 17…

  2. CC


    Aren’t you going to get in trouble for all this honesty? Also, I am so looking forward to you teaching about rocks.

    Much love from MA,

    • hcook

      Grumpy Bear,

      Probably. But, hey, if I’m going to be a problem child, might as well be up front about it… The rocks and I are not friends.

      Much love from NYC,

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One Girl's Teach for America Detroit Experience

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