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.