Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two Down

Teacher Corps has lost another first-year teacher, our second in two months.

I hope, at some point, "Blue Shirt" will post about his reasons for leaving.

As for posting about people who have left the program, it is not that I want to point fingers at them or make them feel worse than they already do, but I do want to be as honest as possible about how difficult the program is. I don't want to hide the fact sometimes people leave. Teaching in a critical-needs school district is incredibly tough. The flip side is, it is also incredibly rewarding.

Here is a copy of one of the flyers we use when recruiting:


Employees for growing, complex enterprise in a highly regulated industry. Must stay focused on core business despite disparate stakeholder demands, uncertain funding, critical labor shortages, and politically charged environment. Must be highly skilled at dealing with sensitive and divisive issues that may jeopardize relationships, health, and/or career. Must be able to withstand intense scrutiny of professional and personal life. Typical workday: 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., plus weekends. College education required. Pay significantly below market rate. Future of nation at stake.



Uncle Coy said...

Great Recruitment Flyer

the hawk said...

In looking over your comments re: two participants leaving I don't sense much empathy. There is a sort of "I told you so" attitude exemplified by the Wanted copy and a "Now look what you've done" with the comments about losing an English II teacher, but no sign of trying to grasp why these people might have felt badly enough to leave nor any indication that you are trying to address that and to offer increased support or a forum for sharing problems or something. Perhaps these things exist, I don't know. Am just reacting to what I read here.

Ben Guest said...

Thanks for the comments. I don't feel it is my place to share why the two participants have chosen to leave. That is why I linked to their blogs so, if they choose, they can write about their experiences and their decisions to leave. I think I have a pretty good grasp of why each person chose to leave, but again it's not my place to share that.

As for what the program can do differently, I'm struggling with that. That is part of the frustration. This is the most competitive class (by percent accepted) we have ever had, and the best initial summer training we have ever had and yet, for at least two participants, it wasn't enough. I do not think it was a problem of sharing or support, as we have mentoring groups every class (two first years and one second-year or alum in each group).

I do think it is important to stress to potential participants how difficult going through the program can be, hence the "Wanted" flyer.

All that being said, there are incredible rewards to being in this program; rewards that most of the second-years and some of the first-years are starting to see...

the hawk said...

This is not a comment; I am testing password.

the hawk said...

Now, I will respond. When in the Cooperative Urban Teacher Education Program a hundred years ago, there were components of the program designed to assist us in understanding the community. Granted, we were all located in Kansas City, but in different school districts. A part of this involved conducting an ethnographic survey of an area/neighborhood; weekly meetings with a psychiatrist and psychologist to afford us an opportunity to discuss cases(students), and just weekly get togethers to talk about problems or successes. I am not sure whether or not any of this could be incorporated into the MTC, but it certainly helped us understand what our students were dealing with and how to better move within that environment.
I realize that this is a crude analogy, but it seems to me that having a sort of mentor system is kind of like a circle jerk. It leaves everyone feeling good but doesn't really provide a solution. I just don't think it's enough.

Then there is the issue of non-supportive administrations. What is your approach to dealing with same? I suspect that many of the MTC members already feel "out there" so having an at best neutral at worst hostile Principal or whomever compounds this. If a system is not responsive to your attempts to create a more supportive environment, why keep them as a part of the program? Do you meet with your administrators and, if so, how often? Do they evaluate for you?

In what ways do you help your teachers learn to overcome the very different backgronuds that most have in order to communicate with their students? Are you able to identify those who are having serious difficulties and thinking of leaving?

It is also important to realize that someone leaving the program doesn't necessarily signify failure. Sometimes a person isn't prepared to deal with whatever even if they've read the fine print.

Enough from me.