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A New Corps Member's First Impressions: Induction

Corps members and Institute staff on the Harlem Village Academy High School Village Academy High School.

By Erin Schulz

June 27, 2014

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Induction—it’s an intimidating name that brought to mind images of chanting pledges with hands over our hearts. Despite foggy expectations, I dragged myself out of bed on Monday morning at 2:30am and headed for Seattle. (To be fair, everything is pretty foggy to me at 2:30 in the morning.)

A TFA staff member with an infectious smile shuttled me from the SEA-TAC airport to the hotel where I met my fellow corps members. With a muffin and hot tea in my belly, I felt better about my chances of staying coherent for the next few hours. After all, I’m a recent college graduate. If there’s one thing I’m trained to do, it’s to stay awake and appear interested even when sleep is in short supply.

As the day went on, I found that faking interest was not on the menu. I thought I’d have to push myself to live up to the group expectation of staying engaged, but I found the opposite to be true. Are you familiar with the joy of finding someone who shares your passionate enthusiasm for something a little strange, or nerdy, or off the beaten path? Suddenly you are allowed to talk for hours about which K-drama is your favorite, or the best comic book collection, or how many rare birds you’ve spotted on nature hikes. That’s what it was like for me to be in a room with the thirty-odd people I went through Induction with. For every opinion, experience, fear, and frustration I can spew, someone else in the room could relate.

Instead of talking at a three hundred miles an hour about education while friends and family nod politely, I found myself supported and challenged in my opinions by people who geek out about educational practices and policies as much as or more than me. We talked at our tables about racial identity, reactions to student leaders, and statistics in our region. As I looked around the table at my fellow Washington corps members, I found myself feeling so wealthy. All around me were rich educational and life experiences that wove in and out of similarity with my own.

Induction demanded a lot of energy and engagement, but I managed to work out twice, and take a couple of feeble steps toward finding a place to live in my new community. I even caught my first bus-nap of the summer, although I predict more bus-naps will make it into the tally during Chicago training! Training promises to be longer and more demanding, and probably involve less fancy shower heads than my week in Seattle, but I can’t wait to see what treasures I uncover here.

It only took a week for me to recognize what a privilege it is for me to be a part of the Washington corps. Teaching and learning are the work of communities, and I am part of an incredible community of support. Current CMs or alumni: Where have you seen this support help you in your practice? If you could go back to your first year, where would you try to get more support?