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Learning from Experience in the Classroom

Deviate from the lesson plan. Recognize you can’t do it all. Veteran educators offer advice to new corps members at Teach For America’s summer training institute. 

By The TFA Editorial Team

January 15, 2020

What I Wish I Knew During Institute

Teach For America corps members share what they’ve learned through their years of being in the classroom.

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Learning From Experience


Yvanna (New Jersey ’16)

Something I know now that I wish I knew during my Institute experience is that the most important thing is not the lesson plan. 

The most important thing is the relationships and the connections you make with your students. If you're reading off of a lesson plan and just saying exactly what it says, it's not being authentic and your students can sense that very quickly. 

J (D.C. Region ’08)

I think I understand a lot more about the technical teaching practices. At Institute, you’re just learning--what are the core practices, what are the actual moves, I’m supposed to be making. Now, understand what those moves look like when they’re done well, and who I am and how can I leverage them as a teacher given all of my identities. 

Julie (Houston ’10)

The number of things that my students need in order to be successful is so vast and it is challenging for me even ten years in to know that some of those things are outside my locus of control and I can only do what I can fit into the day. I can do it at my school, I can do it at my district, but there are going to be moments where I wish I could do something and I can’t. What I appreciate about Teach For America is they are willing to continue to show up and continue to try to do the work and move all of those things forward as much as possible.