Friday, April 15, 2011

TFA Explained

I feel like I should be super secret about this post, because I know from experience that blogs where people discuss Teach for America come up on Google blogs and get a million hits, so they rise even higher, because insane people like me are out combing the internet for a clue, any clue, about how to get what we want (in this case, TFA).

So anyway, I applied for TFA out of college and didn't make it. I applied for an MFA program and did make it. Going to UNCW is in the top 5 best decisions of my life (also on the list: marrying Tim, attending the University of Arkansas, studying abroad in Australia, and getting involved with the Wesley Foundation).

But now that UNCW is about to end, I am faced with the prospect of working another minimum wage job, as I have done so often here in Wilmington. I thought TFA was a good alternative, and I have to admit, I wanted to avenge that failure. I made it this time, and they placed me in my preferred region, Eastern North Carolina, and my preferred grade, high school. The perfect place for me to have a job that used my education and Tim to go to his favorite grad school.

And it was so nice to be around TFA people. They were articulate, they sent funny yet moving emails, I could hear the passion in their voice, and the whole thing really felt life-affirming. Let me say it now: I'm glad these people are out there in our education systems.

But I turned them down. Everyone I talked to worked 10+ hour days. That should be good news to all of you out in cyber world... these people are completely dedicated to change! And I know that I was accepted to TFA because I have the same personality as everyone I talked to. I love teaching, and when I take up a cause, I can't let it go.  I go insane and thrive in that type of atmosphere. I could happily work 14 hour days and be satisfied; the search for the great achievement is completely thrilling. But, I'm dedicated to Tim. And to my church. And I want to start running again. And I want to have free afternoons, to make up for all of the free afternoons I didn't have in grad school.  And what I want right now is to try to be a writer, which requires being selfish about large chunks of time. TFA doesn't have room for people who want to be selfish with huge chunks of time. I know they have a waitlist of people who will be completely unselfish with their lives. I made it off the waitlist for UNCW, and I'll be eternally grateful to the one person who turned it down and gave me their spot.

So maybe I'll be waiting tables in Chapel Hill, because I'll be competing with 500,000 UNC graduates for the same jobs. But that's okay. I'm still young, and if I want to be a teacher, I can get a certificate with one more year of school.

Lately I've been a lot more personal in my blog. I don't think this will be a new thing, but Tim and I are going through a lot of changes right now. So here is our transition stage, laid out for all to see!


Tom Frase said...

I wonder who got your TFA slot?

Rachel said...

You made a very good decision. Free time is extremely important, you already do lots of good, and it's true that you've made someone really happy to get that spot. Congratulations!