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How Are Teach For America Corps Members Set Up for Success?

How Teach For America provides ongoing training, coaching, and opportunities for growth throughout the corps experience and beyond.

February 19, 2020

Teach For America corps members collaborating

Prior to joining Teach For America, many corps members have not had the experience of teaching in front of a classroom. But throughout their journey with Teach For America, with the support of mentors and peers, they will rise to new challenges, learn, grow, and continually develop as leaders in the education system and beyond. Even after completing the corps, alumni will have access to professional development opportunities for continued growth.

Through professional development opportunities, TFA works to ensure that its corps members are set up for success in the classroom in a variety of ways, including summer training, ongoing coaching, workshops and webinars, and access to a professional network and an unwavering community.

Summer Training

The summer before their first year of teaching, all incoming corps members attend TFA summer training, known as institute—an intensive immersion program that prepares corps members to enter the classroom. Attendees develop lesson plans, observe classes, and teach summer school sessions for students. They form a vision for their future classes and learn the important skills of tracking and analyzing student data. 

Institute not only prepares corps members for the challenges of a classroom; it focuses on essential training in diversity, equity, and inclusiveness and culturally relevant pedagogy. Corps members will learn the professional skills required to be a successful teacher, while gaining a deeper understanding of the empathy and curiosity needed to be effective when engaging with their students and community in their placement region.

Ongoing Coaching

Once corps members leave institute, their development continues throughout their two years as teachers in the corps. Each corps member has a coach to support them in their transition to the classroom and provide guidance as obstacles or challenges may come up during their two years. TFA helps corps members complete necessary certifications as well.

Teacher impact coaches work to support new corps members professionally and personally. They offer individual and small group support to practice skills and provide feedback. Teacher coaches give guidance on building stronger relationships with students and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses. They help ensure corps members maintain a balanced lifestyle that continues to fuel their passion for teaching. These experienced educators offer invaluable advice and tips for success during the two-year TFA commitment and beyond.

Professional Network

One of the best assets of any organization is its professional network—and Teach for America’s extensive alumni network is no exception. Right from the start, corps members make lasting connections through the relationships they build at their summer training. But it won’t stop there.

Many alumni go on to become principals, department heads, nonprofit leaders, lawyers, policymakers, or virtually any other role that allows them to continue their impact and helps open opportunity for our nation’s students. Nearly 62,000 people share the bond of having served as TFA corps members. Through the TFA Connect BETA platform, alumni and corps members can access a job board and a direct connection to employers looking to hire talent from the TFA network.

Redefine Paths

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Unwavering Community

Throughout all the triumphs and challenges, corps members have a community of peers going through the exact same thing at their side—every step of the way. And, once the two years are over, the bonds corps members build with each other last a lifetime because they were founded on shared values and a passion for pursuing equity.

Workshops and Webinars

Over the course of their two-year commitment, TFA corps members will have the opportunity to attend a number of in-person trainings, webinars, and networking events in their regions. Professional Development (PD) Saturdays are regional workshops for teachers, specific to their subject areas, grade levels, and personal identities. LGBTQ corps members and corps members of color have opportunities to gather with other members of their identity group at conferences focusing on education equity to leverage their positions as community leaders. TFA provides funding opportunities for personal and professional development interests.

Fellowships and Awards

After finishing the corps, alumni have various options through TFA to continue their professional development, helping them maximize their impact in the fields that they pursue. The Capitol Hill Fellows Program places alumni in full-time, paid congressional staff positions on Capitol Hill. The Rural School Leadership Academy is a year-long fellowship for teachers specializing in geographically isolated areas. The Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership recognizes TFA alumni whose work has led to expanding educational opportunity. Alumni and current TFA teachers can apply for the Social Innovation Award, which allocates funding for ventures that strive to tackle educational inequity in new and impactful ways. These are just a sample of the many opportunities available for TFA alumni.

Teaching is a challenge—but new corps members should never feel alone. Professional development opportunities permeate the entire TFA experience, from summer trainees to alumni. Teachers within the TFA network will continue to grow professionally and extend their impact. Apply now and join this supportive, diverse community of educators.

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