… that I wasn’t going to change lives, I guess. But would I have believed that?
No, they’d have to tell me a lot more. I guess I wish we would tell our people that walking into their classrooms as TFA corps members, instead of as teachers, will end in disaster. That incremental change exists, and transformational change… doesn’t. At least not in a significant amount.
Encouraging me to be optimistic or to aim for the top 5% is one thing—but convincing me that the earthquake stories of the top 5% are inevitable for me? Making me believe it’s the top 50%, or the top 95%, that achieve those results, instead of the tiny proportion that is reality? Encouraging me to create a vision and goal that would put me there, then pretending I’ll achieve it no matter what it takes?
That’s not cheerleading; that’s deception.
I guess the heart of this is about me. I’m departing from the belief that teachers OWN EVERYTHING that happens to their students. I don’t buy it anymore—we aren’t all dealt the same cards, and students’ lives are not within our control. When the Taylor Delhagens get lucky and their hard work actually does change lives, we assume they must have been better and smarter and worked harder, instead of assuming that their hard work found some sliver of fertile ground and flourished while ours didn’t. And then we idolize them.
I’m not saying teachers don’t control anything or that we should resign ourselves to mediocrity. I’m not saying this is a black-and-white situation at all. I just want us to temper our Academic Impact Model mindset just enough to be honest about what new teachers can expect to achieve.
I don’t know. I’ve just been thinking about new corps members and “intentional” messaging and reflecting on whether hearing a different narrative over the summer of 2010 would have made me feel differently now. Ha, and whether I would have joined TFA if I wasn’t totally convinced I was going to save the world.