Drinking the Kool-Aid

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Jul 03 2012

Today, I’m tired of Messy.

For the last two years, it seems, I’ve been unable to think clearly unless I’m typing. If you don’t want to read my disillusioned processing, please don’t.


Actually, sometimes I wonder if I shouldn’t just make my blog posts private until I figure these last two years out. (And stop talking, too, ha.) Everything I write is more controversial than I mean it, everything I say is angrier than intended and aimed at the wrong people. I don’t know anything about anything, and writing and speaking as if I do backfires against the real work people are doing while I type my brains out. But then I think about keeping quiet versus sharing my story, ugliness and confusion and all, and I start to think I have an obligation to at least put my version out there. To stop worrying about audiences and images and what comes off how, and just be honest.


Today, I’m tired of this. I want to walk into the offices of anyone and everyone in this field and yell the truth at them, tell them in no uncertain terms exactly what’s right and why. But of course I have no idea what’s right. And yelling at people who mean well just makes things worse anyway.


For the first time, I’m imagining what it’d be like to run away from this problem, somehow pretending these two years never happened. I’m in this silly master’s program, writing crappy papers and getting As and compliments, but I have absolutely. No. Idea. How or where or if I’ll ever fit into this education mess.


I even, serendipitously, got a call yesterday from some industrial supply firm. A lady wanted to know whether I’d be interested in managing people who sell junk to corporations. They think highly of TFA, she said.


I scoff, but isn’t that just the meat of it? Selling things is tidy. Helping people isn’t. Of course it’s messy—and with a guiding imperative like “work my ass off to make the world better,” maybe I’m just never going to be able to escape Messy.


I guess the calmed-down, moderated truth is that I really am trying to separate myself psychologically from Teach For America. Not necessarily permanently, and not because I don’t believe every single person working for TFA is smart and well-intentioned, but because I just want to be more balanced. I did my two years, and I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who benefitted. Until I can believe that this isn’t the norm, prove that kids and the country are conclusively better off because of TFA, I’d rather be an independent party than some unwitting TFA spokesperson.


… Maybe, rationalizing aside, I’m just another one of these bloggers with a chip on their shoulder because I wasn’t the teacher I wanted to be and now I’m taking it out on TFA.

2 Responses

  1. thelearningcurve

    I think it’s possible to be all of these things. Maybe you do have a chip on your shoulder, but you also have things to say and work through. And who’s to say the chip wasn’t earned? I don’t think we get anywhere if we accept things without thinking critically of where they came from and why. I’ve really enjoyed reading your posts. I’ve seen a couple of the negative comments but I don’t read much into them and frankly, I don’t think you should either. This is your blog and you’re doing with it what you need to do.

  2. nonTFAtxteacher

    Continue to teach. Continue to be a better teacher, whether or not that’s with TFA. We need teachers that are committed to teaching excellence to our students, no matter their SES. From the words of my ex-team leader, “You can only do what you can do.” Just teach. Don’t worry about anything else.

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