Here Is Real

I’m going to be honest: I’m not totally sure how I’m going to use this blog. When I started it, I was cynical. I knew that TFA wasn’t perfect. I knew that I myself had joined for some very selfish reasons. And so I thought I would try to point attention to it in every post. I would try to poke holes in TFA’s glamorous veneer in an effort to find salvation for myself. If I said often enough that I did not agree completely with TFA, perhaps I would not be blamed.

I thought maybe I would write about my students. But their stories aren’t mine to tell. The things they say in class, the math concepts with which they struggle, the math concepts they’ve mastered, and the lives they lead are not owned by me.

I thought maybe I would write about how horrible of a teacher I am. (Because I am oh so bad after just two days.) But that didn’t feel professional. And it’s not news. This is my first time really teaching. I’m going to be bad. No one is great at the beginning. (What other profession constantly tells the world how bad they are? What other profession is expected to?) I’m going to get better.

I’m crazy about saying something original. About being someone who gains some kind of fame for my words, for critiquing TFA from the inside, for being insanely honest. But the truth is that any post like that (like the first post I drafted in this one’s place) is about me trying to find acceptance. I want TFA-critics to think of me as the exception. But I’m no exception. I’m just Mr. Smith.

I’m so exhausted from critiquing. My students need quality lesson plans. They need a teacher who fully believes in what he’s doing. They need to learn Algebra. So that’s what I’m going to do. No more wondering if I’m in the right place or not. That’s the difference between being here and pontificating in a dorm room. Here is real.

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