Your training begins soon after you accept your offer to join the corps and continues throughout your two-year commitment. Here's how Teach For America will guide and support your development as a teacher and leader.
Last year, in the face of the pandemic, Teach For America staff and alumni from across our network came together to design and execute our first centralized/virtual summer teacher training. Our approach to the 2021 Pre-Service journey builds on the successes of last summer, and balances standardized learning alongside regional experiences for our nation-wide 2021 corps.
Pre-Service will support you in becoming an anti-racist teacher leader, preparing you to provide your students with a high-quality education and equipping you to pursue a lifetime commitment to advancing educational equity and excellence. Throughout the summer and your first 90 days of teaching, you will build relationships with a network of systems-change leaders within your region and across the nation-wide 2021 corps. You will engage in continuous and critical self-reflection and immediately put the lessons you learn into action in the classroom and beyond; your confidence and hunger to learn and grow will continue to increase as a first-year teacher!
What to Expect During Pre-Service
In early May, you will gain access to our central learning platform to begin your Onboarding. You will engage in asynchronous learning, on your own time and at your own pace, covering the following topics:
- Foundational Knowledge of Teach For America
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness
- Leadership Development
- Community and Context Building
The entire 2021 corps will join together for our first “live” experience from June 2nd-4th. You will participate in a large TFA-wide experience and smaller region-specific experiences as you begin to build relationships and connection to the 2021 corps.
Centralized Learning Series: Training Sessions
The Centralized Learning Series is programming that all 2021 corps members will participate in, led by staff and alumni from across our network. You will engage with three distinct Centralized Learning Series (CLS I, CLS II, and CLS III) covering the following areas:
Foundations of Teaching: You will build knowledge, skills, and mindsets around planning effective lessons, building relationships with students, and creating a productive learning environment. Your experience during CLS I-III is intended to help you build fundamental knowledge, not mastery.
Diversity, Equity, & Inclusiveness: You will build the foundational skills and mindsets of an aspiring anti-racist educator, and examine your own identity and the impact of race and class on educational inequity within a space that is both challenging and supportive. This part of the training will help you develop your approach to culturally relevant teaching alongside peers who are also committed to doing this critical self-reflection. During these sessions, you will lay the groundwork for your ongoing development as a leader working toward systems change.
Leadership Development: You will also explore TFA’s “Theory of Leadership” and learn how your role as an educator will help you build foundational skills and experiences for changing the systems that contribute to educational inequity.
Getting Started: Practicum Sessions
Your Practicum experience is led by your regional team and is your first opportunity to work directly with students and families. You will put into practice the knowledge and skills you have developed through teaching students in a supportive environment (virtual or in person). You will begin developing a relationship with your regional coach through coaching and reflection cycles, setting the foundation for your continued leadership development over your two years. Practicum is also a time for you to get adjusted in your region—the place where you will be making an impact!
Corps Member Financial Support
We will be offering a stipend to all incoming corps members to help offset some of the costs of housing, food, and transportation for the duration of your Practicum experience. The stipend is calibrated to support basic housing, food, and transportation costs of your region.
If you need additional financial support you can apply for need-based grants and no-interest loans to help cover your expenses during this transitional period. Funding packages are determined based on your demonstrated need, cost of moving, and cost of living expenses in your assigned region.
Observations and Coaching
Teach For America instructional staff will regularly observe your teaching throughout Practicum and engage in feedback conversations. Together you’ll discuss areas for development and create concrete plans to increase student learning as you develop your teaching skills.
During the School Year
Once you begin teaching in the fall, your day-to-day life as a corps member will take place in the classroom, where you’ll primarily interact with your students and colleagues at your school. You’ll continue to receive additional teaching and leadership training and support from TFA throughout the course of your time in the corps.
Ongoing Professional Development
Your regional team will continue to supplement your learning and development by offering regular professional development sessions, typically held monthly on evenings or weekends. In some cases you may work closely with a cohort of corps members in your region who are also teaching at your school, or who are teaching the same subjects and grade-levels.
In addition, you will engage with Centralized Learning Series III throughout your First 90 Days of teaching, growing alongside the corps members you met during CLS I and II, and working together to incorporate new teaching practices into your classroom.
Your Teaching & Leadership Coach
Every corps member has a personal coach, usually called a “Manager of Teacher Leadership Development” or “MTLD.” In addition to facilitating your ongoing professional development, your MTLD will visit your classroom for observations on a regular basis and provide you with feedback and guidance on improving your teaching practice. They will become one of your closest partners in helping you develop as a teacher and leader.
Certification Coursework & Master’s Degree Option
In addition to ongoing professional development offered by TFA, you will also continue your learning and development through your certification coursework. Certification programs vary from region to region, but you will likely be required to attend courses through a local college or university during evenings and weekends throughout all or part of your two years in the corps.
Many regions also have partnerships with universities that offer a master’s degree program—sometimes with discounted tuition rates.