Teaching in the D

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 10 2011

Why is this HERE?

Once upon a time, there was a post here. It was a very angry post, spawned from some unfortunate things that happened to some friends of mine in the Detroit corps. Here are the relevant points:

1. This blog is on the teachforus website (as opposed to blogger or wordpress or whatnot) because I used it extensively when I was looking at applying and joining the corps. I found blog posts about the downsides of TFA life, as well as the personal lives of TFAers, to be some of the most helpful resources out there on understanding what TFA is like.

2. The teachforus site is technically independent of TFA.

3. Yes, people in TFA are punished from time to time for critical commentary spoken online or in person. This makes me intensely angry, possibly because it is so systematized and permanent (TFA keeps records on pretty much everything you do from the time you first make contact to the time you leave. To an extent that is pretty creepy sometimes). I completely understand a boss pulling an underling into an office and saying “you really shouldn’t post negative statements about this company on your personal blog when you’re also our spokesperson. I need you to make it very clear when you’re speaking for yourself, and when you’re speaking for this company.” It’s an important and valid distinction. I would never support a boss saying that an individual can’t criticize his/her employer in a private setting because it tarnishes the appearance of the organization.

4. I have made a conscious choice to blog on this particular network so that future corps members and curious friends and family can understand what my life is like in the corps. That involves criticism sometimes, but it is loving criticism intended to promote change in the organization and understanding in the wider world. Most of the TFA staff I have met are able to distinguish venting from genuine complaint/constructive criticism from malicious┬ádefamation. I’m going to trust my staff to keep on being able to make those distinctions as I write, since I fully intend to be completely honest.

2 Responses

  1. The goal of a PIP is not to kick you out of the corps. It’s to help you improve. While removal from the corps is in the realm of possibility for someone on a PIP, it happens so infrequently it should be far from your mind.

  2. Colleen

    As much as this bothers me as well, I kind of would love to see someone trying to “improve” you. I don’t think they’d have much luck.

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