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Prepping for Your Final Interview? 4 Tips on Regional Assignments

By The TFA Editorial Team

February 12, 2016

Prepping for regional assignments

Getting ready for your final interview requires multiple forms and docs: your transcripts, employment eligibility docs, Coursework Information Form, and of course the Assignment Preference Form (APF). While the APF might seem like the easiest action to complete, quite honestly, I think people submit their forms a bit hastily, without considering what the information on that form can mean for their next two years. People think they know exactly what they want: “Massachusetts, English, middle school, done!” While we certainly need corps members teaching middle school English in Massachusetts, there are 53 regions and a lot of classrooms that also need great teachers. With this in mind, I encourage you to think about a few things: 

Consider what you’d like to teach, but also where you’re needed
People often assume that what they majored in during college is automatically the subject they’ll be the best teacher for and this just isn’t the case. Across the country there is an urgent need for teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)ECE (early childhood education) and Special Education. You don’t need to be a physics major or already have a particular set of skills to teach these subjects; you just need to be ready to work and have a passion for teaching students. If you need some inspiration, check out Julia King, a 2008 Chicago corps member and the Washington D.C. 2012 teacher of the year, who switched from teaching English to math because there was a need in her school. 

Be open-minded about your regional preferences
I know, I know, you’ve already read our explanation about how some regions are more popular than others, and we can’t guarantee you’ll be placed in your highly preferred region, etc. But, instead of telling you to check your expectations, I also want to point out the opportunity in front of you. If you’re invited to join the corps you have a unique chance to live in a different part of the country and become part of a new community. How often do you get to do that? Let me take you way back to 2007. I was a college student in NYC and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. When I completed my APF, I marked NYC as my highly preferred region. Back in the olden days of ‘07 there was a high need for corps members in NYC, and much to my delight I was placed there. I lived with my college friends and even taught close to my university campus. While this meant the transition for me was easier (and I ended up teaching for four years in the same school and loved it), I do sometimes wonder what else could have been. What would it have been like to teach in New Orleans (my second choice) and to have been part of the amazing school reform going on down there, or in South Dakota (my third choice) and partner with the Native communities there? Of course you can have an impact no matter where you go and students all over the country need great teachers; so why am I subjecting you to my own “what if” game? No other reason, except to say that I’ll hope you consider regions that might be outside of your comfort zone. 

Do your regional research
Have you considered the costs for your highly preferred regions? Are you sure your GPA meets the required minimums in some regions? Are you interested in getting a master's degree? Are LGBTQ employment protections important to you? There is so much to consider when reviewing your choices we've created our Regional Comparison Spreadsheet (available on the APF) that covers a variety of topics, from salary, to average rental costs, to subject placements in each region. Think about what factors matter to you and then get to researching! Sometimes corps members are surprised by the high costs of certification or their salary. We've created a Regional Financial Profile for each region that discusses these costs. We want you to feel as prepared as possible if your admitted to the corps, so take a look at all of our resources before submitting your APF! 

High Priority regions are titled that for a reason
As you already know if you completed our Assignment Preference Form, we have five high priority regions (MississippiOklahomaNortheast Ohio-ClevelandEastern North Carolina, and the Las Vegas Valley) and you have to select at least one in order to submit your form. Why do we force you to do this? Not because we just want you to choose one and forget about it, but because we want you to seriously consider teaching in one of these regions. These places have a need for corps members, more so than other regions, and the opportunities in these regions are tremendous. They’re all unique places in need of great corps members and school leaders, so why not highly prefer one of them? 

Learn more about the regions where Teach For America works and where and what you'll teach. To learn more about the difference between assignments and placements, check out this article.