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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Feb 06 2011

Just A Little Anxious

I can’t help but to feel like I’ve been forgotten by TFA.  I keep reading about all the new CMs who were just accepted and have received cards and letters from current CM’s and students in their region.  I got accepted into the Greater New Orleans chapter back in November and besides the initial welcome/what are your concerns phone call and letter I received in the first week, there hasn’t been much more communication or outreach.  I do receive the TFANet This is What’s Happening in GNO e-mails but it seems as if there isn’t much going on because there is never really any news in them.

On Tuesday I’ll find out the results from the Praxis II test I took 3 weeks ago.  The test that was unbelievably hard and had no resemblance to the ETS practice material so I’m really not too optimistic about the score.  I’ve heard that for certain regions you only need to get half the questions right to pass, unfortunately for me Louisiana isn’t one of those regions.  And even if it was I really don’t know if I got half the questions right.  So on Tuesday I’ll know, and if I didn’t pass I have to register by Tuesday night to take the Praxis II again in March.  Oh the joys of testing.

I know that overall I just need to be patient with everything and that the pre-institute work will be on its way in the next 2-3 weeks but I want to get started on something NOW because I want to get as much preparation as I possibly can.  I read on here last week when someone asked about what is the best way to prepare and almost everyone said classroom observation.  Well that really doesn’t work for me right now since I work 8:30-5, Monday-Friday.  I’m thinking my next best option is to read as many books as possible so…for all of you that are teaching or have previously taught, what books did you find the most helpful to prepare you for the classroom? And to all the 2011 CM’s, if you’ve been reading any books, which ones have you enjoyed and thought were helpful? Any input at all would be greatly appreciated!

10 Responses

  1. CLB

    I’m currently teaching at the college level (and have prior K-12 experience…) A book I love (and I use to teach my college students) is Karen Hale Hankins book “Teaching through the Storm.” I think my biggest take away was how to reflect and the importance of it as a teacher.

  2. Izzy

    If you haven’t already, read Wendy’s book(s) just to get more familiar with the organization. In terms of teaching books, read “Teach Like a Champion” by Doug Lemov and “The First Days of School” by Harry Wong.
    Don’t feel forgotten by TFA…they know you’re busy now and don’t want to inundate you with contact, believe me, you’ll get pleeeenty of info once you get closer to Induction. The regions are all pretty focused on helping the current CMs and recruitment so they’ll just contact you when they need to.

  3. phoenix 09

    I know it can be difficult waiting and you want to cram in as much info as you can before starting your teaching career, but honestly the best advise I can give you is to read up on the placement schools in GNO, and have some fun with your last year in school. Your life is about to became extreamly hectic and exciting so enjoy your friends and the end of college. Institute will come and you will learn a lot there, and when you begin your gad classes you will continue to learn, as well as each and every day in the classroom. The book that I found most helpful, when I got to institute was the first year teachers survival guide.

    Good luck and welcome to tfa.

  4. SLA

    I’m a ’10 CM in Baton Rouge (about an hour from GNO). I wouldn’t stress out about the Praxis exams too much. They’re incredibly difficult exams, but people almost always pass them. Even if you don’t, TFA will give you other opportunities to take them, even if they make it sound like they won’t. LA has some of the lowest passing Praxis score requirements in the country though, so don’t fret about it.

    Books… don’t get caught up in content knowledge (ie. math, reading, science, etc.). Your placement at acceptance may differ from your placement at institute and may differ from your eventual teaching position depending on what content areas the schools in the region actually need come August. I would focus more on overall teaching concepts – effective usage of technology, manipulatives, classroom management, positive behavior support, differentiation, etc. because you could use it universally in any classroom with any age.

    Observations – Check out,,… all three have GREAT classroom videos to watch. I honestly learned more watching them to see what classrooms should look like than from my real-life observations.

    If you have any questions – shoot me an email. I love helping the new CMs coming in :)

    • amandainthemitten

      Thanks so much for the sites! I’ll definitely check them out… I’m working full time currently too and going to a classroom isn’t really an option!

      (Also, I haven’t heard much from my region and I’m pretty nervous about certification exams. Good luck, I think we’re all a little anxious!)

  5. G

    Honestly, the books aren’t really going to do much for you unless you have something “tangible” as reference…that being said, observe as many teachers as you can before going to Institute. Observation of how a real classroom operates will be invaluable to you during the summer and next year….

  6. elsa

    I totally know what you’re going through. I’m going to the Mississippi ∆ and teaching math too! I haven’t received any correspondence from TFA, really, since the first week phone-call, and I was a first-deadline applicant too. I also didn’t feel very optimistic about my praxis II scores. I have been reading a lot of teaching books, though, and these are my recommendations:

    good luck!!! :)

  7. There is a post on the TFAnet site that has links to the Pre-Institute work. I’ve downloaded the .pdfs and am currently reading through the Ms. Lora’s Story. If you are itchin’ to get going, I would check there.

  8. Read William Glasser – “The Quality School”, “The Quality School Teacher”, “Choice Theory in the Classroom”… awesome for developing a mindset that will help you build positive, accountable relationships with your students which translates to a great classroom culture and far fewer behavioral issues. Also, if you are familiar with Twitter, there is a new teacher chat on Wednesday nights #ntchat. You can also join the New Teacher Mentor Project on the Educators PLN website – The Educators PLN Ning is a tremendous resource (all kinds of articles, groups, videos etc) and there are thousands of educators from around the world that you can connect with there…

  9. Can’t believe I forgot this but here is a blog post with loads of resources for new teachers that I wrote at the beginning of the year. Hope it helps!

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