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.
All incoming corps members will attend a summer training session or “institute” before they begin teaching. In order to get the most out of your institute experience, you may be required to complete prework before you attend institute.
Prework typically involves background reading, videos, and other materials to help you build more context around teaching, leadership, and the systemic issues that contribute to educational inequity. Some regions host group conference calls to discuss the prework.
Most regions also host an in-person “induction,” or welcome event for new corps members. During induction you’ll participate in learning experiences that will deepen your knowledge of the history of the region and the schools and communities you will be working in.
Institute is a rigorous, hands-on experience based on a proven model that combines intensive training with immersive teaching practice and coaching. Your time at institute will prepare you with foundational knowledge, skills, and experiences, which you’ll continue to develop and hone throughout your time as a corps member. View the 2019 Summer Training Schedule.
Throughout institute, you’ll work alongside other corps members from your region (and sometimes multiple regions). Institutes are run by TFA staff, alumni, and corps members as well as many local community partners outside of TFA who will become part of your network. It is a great way to get to know others who will be living and teaching near you for the next two years.
Most institutes take place over five weeks during the summer and are held in regions across the country. While your food and housing expenses are covered during institute—either directly or through a stipend—you will be responsible for covering the costs of traveling to and from institute. During your application process, you will have an opportunity to apply for transitional funding to cover these costs.
You’ll receive more detailed information from your region about institute.
Life at Institute
What to Expect at Institute
While the programming for each institute may vary, your training will typically cover the following areas:
Foundations of Teaching: You will build knowledge, skills, and mindsets around planning and delivering effective lessons, building relationships with students, and creating a productive learning environment. Your experience at institute is intended to help you build fundamental knowledge, not mastery.
Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness: You will 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: 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.
In addition to attending training sessions, you’ll also work with one-to-three other corps members to co-teach a classroom of students for one or more hours each day while being observed by experienced teachers. You will immerse yourself in the teaching experience and work on building relationships with your students, delivering a lesson, and creating a productive learning environment. You may teach a subject and grade that is different than what you are assigned to teach in the fall.
Observations and Coaching
Teach For America instructional staff will regularly observe your teaching throughout institute 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. In addition, veteran district teachers partner with most classrooms to provide regular feedback throughout the summer.
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.
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.
“My MTLD and real-time coach have been instrumental. They’ve helped me create a better classroom culture and streamline my lesson plans with practical advice and attention to my specific students’ needs.”
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.