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Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jun 29 2011

Who needs water when there’s plenty of kool-aid to drink?

I’ve made it to Philly now! Institute (training) started today. It was a very early morning (my first alarm was set for 4:45am) and a long day but overall a good day. I got to meet a lot of the people I’ll be working with these next five weeks and more about what I’ll be doing.

Here’s the fast facts:

-I’ll be teaching at Overbrook High School. Notable alumni include Will Smith and Wilt Chamberlain, the student population is about 98% African American. The schools test scores are around 20% (rough numbers because I don’t remember the specifics) below the Philadelphia district average (which isn’t that high to start with). It’s called the ‘Castle on the Hill’ because it’s a beautiful building architecturally including lots of neat details on the inside (pretty pointed arch ways). We’ve also been told to watch out for mice and not to drink the water.

-I’ll be teaching Algebra I as a summer school class for about one hour each day starting next week. We get 18 days with our students generally to help them recover credit for classes they failed during the school year.

-Walking to the bathroom today I realized that all high school hallways smell the same. Getting a sniff definitely reminded me of my own high school as well as when we would sit around in the halls during volleyball tournaments.

-I have a lot of people that will support me including a Corps Member Adviser (CMA) that I really like. She’ll be the main person I work with on my lesson plans. I also will have a Summer Mentor Teacher (SMT) who is a veteran teacher that will be with me everyday in the classroom and will provide some feedback. My SMT typically mostly deals with Special Needs students so it’s likely I’ll have some in an inclusion setting for my classroom.

-TFA uses an acronym for everything.

-I feel like I’m at slightly grown up summer camp with a lot less free time. There are a little less than 1000 corps members here at institute with me in Philly representing about 6 different regions.

TITLE NOTE: In the last week, I’ve had a lot of sessions talking about the mission and core values. Sometimes TFA seems a bit cult like, and so we often make references to the phrase ‘drinking the kool-aid’.

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