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How Will I Be Prepared To Teach?

Five facts about Teach For America training you should know.

By The TFA Editorial Team

January 25, 2018

Teacher working with student at desk.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the idea of preparing to step in front of a classroom of students for the first time, you’re far from alone. The challenge can seem daunting, especially if you don’t have prior teaching experience. But with our training and development programs, we hope to ease the transition and accelerate your growth as a classroom leader.

TFA has created a pathway to help you prepare for your first days as a teacher and continuously improve throughout your two-year commitment. Training typically includes completing certification work and exams once you get in, attending a five-to-eight week summer training program before year one, working with staff to grow your skills, and completing a certification or master’s degree program in your region while you teach.

Here are five important things to know about the training process. Visit Corps Member Training to learn more about each step of our training pathway.


1. You’re not alone.

You’re not required to have a background in education to apply to TFA. In fact, most TFA teachers—known as corps members—are considered “nontraditional” teachers, since they haven’t completed a traditional education program before starting the school year.

Yet each of our 51 placement regions requires new corps members to complete steps to become highly qualified in the subject they’ll teach, and most require corps members to work toward full certification during their two-year commitment.

As you work toward your certification, you’ll likely work alongside fellow corps members. Many corps members attend courses together, study together, share teaching tips, and offer one another support when times are difficult.

In addition to working alongside your peers, you’ll partner with TFA staff members and alumni to help grow as a teacher. You’ll be paired with a teaching coach, generally known as a manager of teacher leadership and development (MTLD), who will provide individualized support. Many regions also host mentorship programs with alumni and other group events to help you establish a community a support.


2. Your training starts right after you’re accepted.

After you receive your acceptance to TFA, you’ll have the opportunity to research and rank your preferred regions and subject areas. Once you receive your placement and accept your offer, you can expect your training to begin.

You’ll most likely have regional- and/or subject-specific certification material to complete shortly after being accepted. Most regions require you to complete one or more certification tests before attending summer training in order to become “highly qualified” in the subject you’ll teach. While some corps member may already be experts in the content that they’ll teach—such as biology majors who teach high school biology—others may need to dedicate significantly more time to preparing for their exams. Either way, this is typically a great way to begin familiarizing yourself with the material you’ll teach.

TFA staff members will help guide you through this process. They’ll make sure you fulfill initial requirements and meet deadlines before summer training. Many regions will host test prep webinars, provide study materials, and/or connect you with peers who have already completed requirements to help you better prepare.

3. Summer training isn’t easy—but it’s so worth it!

Over the summer, you’ll prepare to lead a classroom by participating in a multi-week, hands-on training program, typically referred to as “Institute.” You’ll begin to develop the skills for lesson planning and curriculum development while gaining classroom experience by teaching summer school alongside veteran teachers.

Your experience at summer training will lay the groundwork for your teaching practice. While experiences differ, most corps members can expect to teach summer school courses for a few hours during the day, participate in lesson planning and curriculum workshops, and receive continuous coaching and instruction. You’ll work alongside other corps members and teacher coaches in small groups to practice skills and analyze student progress.

Summer training is rigorous—but it pays off. You’ll establish a strong foundation that you’ll continue to hone throughout your time as a corps member. You’ll also build context and confidence that will help you quickly acclimate to your teaching environment when the school year begins.


4. You’ll continue to receive TFA support while you’re in the classroom.

Throughout your two-year commitment, your placement region will provide a variety of learning experiences and support structures. Support is grounded in maximizing your students’ learning and building your leadership. 

TFA staff members partner with you to achieve your classroom goals. You’ll also attend professional development sessions facilitated by your region or local partners.

Your teacher coach (MTLD) is often your first line of support. Support typically includes modeling instructional, giving guidance on building stronger relationships with students, analyzing student results to determine what’s leading to or inhibiting progress, and developing your leadership capacities to enact change in the short and long terms. Throughout your two-year commitment, your MTLD and you will celebrate progress and success together.


5. We partner with some of the best education programs in the country.

In addition to the support you’ll receive from TFA staff, you’ll have access to nationally recommended resources, including online courses, planning templates, tracking systems, and sample assessments. You may also have the chance to attend national summits to learn alongside other teachers.

You may take classes with other corps members in the evenings and on weekends to earn your teaching certification. Many corps members also have the opportunity to earn a master’s degree while in the corps.

We partner with some of the best education programs and graduate schools in the country to help you meet requirements in two years while also working full-time.

Compare regions for more details on certification and master's degree options.


As a TFA corps member, you’ll have to balance all of your teaching responsibilities and training requirements with extracurricular activities and, of course, your personal life. Yet the transformational change you’ll see in your students—and yourself, as you develop as a leader—will keep you inspired. And along the way, you’ll be supported by the TFA community and have access to some of the best teacher prep tools out there.