Down to the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Aug 25 2013

On being a traitor

According to TFA’s statistics, I am one of the whatever percentage of TFA alums still in the classroom. Yes, I have stayed in the classroom. I am just about to start my second week of teaching 6th grade writing. But I am not in my placement school, my placement community, or even my placement state. About a month and a half ago, I moved to Oklahoma City to work at a private school.

Yes, I, a TFA alum, am teaching at a private school. I did not even apply to any public schools. I was very on the fence about staying in the classroom. In fact, I had pretty much decided not to stay in the classroom unless the perfect job presented itself. And the perfect job presented itself, thanks in large part to the efforts of a few friends from college. So here I am, a TFA alum and a private school teacher.

I have made some jokes to TFA friends about “busting the achievement gap wide open,” and this is partly because of some guilt I feel about taking a really great job at a really great school in a city where I get to be with my boyfriend and live a pretty fun life. So with all of these awesome things going on in my life, why do I feel like a traitor?

TFA has left me feeling like I should always be working to close the achievement gap. I am torn between being happy that I have a job I am enjoying and feeling guilty that I am teaching kids who are on or above grade level in a wonderful school that is full of great teachers. Anyone would be lucky to teach these kids, so shouldn’t I be doing a job that other people are unwilling to do? Or working with students who need teachers who have the time and energy to dedicate to them? So I keep saying to myself (and to others) that ALL kids need good, dedicated teachers. And I truly believe that, but it doesn’t change that little feeling in the pit of my stomach that tells me I am doing something self-serving instead of doing something to serve others.

At the end of the day, I am teaching an awesome group of students, and I have an awesome group of coworkers. I am incredibly lucky to be where I am. I am doing my best to be a great teacher for every single one of my kids every single day. Will I eventually return to working with families from low-income communities? I wish I could say definitely, but to be honest, I am not sure if I will or not. And I think that is what makes me feel the most guilty.

2 Responses

  1. tphily

    This guilt thing really bugs me. All kids need really good teachers. You may be working to close the achievement gap but for the next generation of students. Lose the guilt and be extremely happy with your choices; even if those choices took you away from us. Have complete confidence in the fact that you planted seeds in an “in need” community. Now go about your life and plant seeds somewhere else.

  2. Sally Odom

    I felt the same way when I took my job at a private school, but you’re right: ALL students deserve good, dedicated teachers like you. It’s going to be a great year!

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