Emma Lind is in her fourth year of teaching. She entered teaching through Teach for America and started teaching in the Mississippi Delta. She now teaches in an inner-city school in Brooklyn.
In this article, she warns Harvard seniors not to apply. She discovered the job of teaching is much harder than her TFA recruiters described.
Emma is one of the few TFA who stayed in teaching more than three years. She came to realize that she and other TFA teachers were not producing dramatic change. Students need teachers who stay in it for the long haul.
“There is some limited statistical evidence that TFA can be at least marginally impactful. But so few TFA teachers stay in the classroom beyond three years (more than 50 percent leave after two years and more than 80 percent leave after three), that the potential positive impact of TFA is rarely felt by the people who matter most—the students. In short, TFA may be pumping alumni who “understand” the achievement gap firsthand into various professions and fields outside of direct instruction, but it is doing so at the academic expense of the highest-risk kids who have the greatest need for effective teachers
“If you feel inspired to teach, I beg you: teach! There are young people who need “lifers” committed to powering through the inevitable first three years of being terrible at teaching sinusoidal curves to hormonal 17 year-olds. I encourage you to pursue an alternative route to licensure and placement: one that encourages and actively supports longevity in the classroom and does not facilitate teacher turnover by encouraging its alumni to move into policy or other professions. If you feel compelled to Teach For America instead of teaching for America, please preference a region that has demonstrated a high need for novice teachers due to verifiable teacher shortages. And then stay in the classroom. For a long time. Feel at home teaching, and feel even more at home learning how to get better. Sit. Stay a while. Then stand and deliver.”