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TFA Miami-Dade Celebrates School Year Kick Off

In September, we celebrated School Year Kickoff. Corps members, alumni, staff, and community partners reflected on the school year so far and engaged in diverse learning opportunities.

Miami Dade School Year Kick-Off

By The TFA Editorial Team

September 17, 2018

On Saturday, September 8th, our network gathered for School Year Kickoff, the first TFA MeetUp of the school year, hosted at Miami Jackson Senior High School. The event, which was mandatory for all first and second year corps members, consisted of small group discussions with TFA's Managers of Teacher Leadership Development (MTLDs); alumni-led workshops centered on a variety of education challenges; and networking spaces for corps members and alumni to further develop their leadership, expand their impact, and pursue our mission.

Miami Dade School Year Kick Off

Corps members kicked off the day in small groups led by their MTLDs, or teacher coaches, who outlined the five unique types of professional development they will receive from TFA this school year. These supports include:

  • MTLD Coaching Cycles - Through one-on-one support, corps members receive professional development plans and set learning goals for the year. Corps members build skills, knowledge, and mindsets to go above and beyond traditional expectations for student success, advance the academic and personal growth of students, and help strengthen our school communities.
  • Miami MeetUp Events - Three Saturdays this year, all current corps members come together with our broader network of alumni and community partners to network, collaborate, and learn together. These MeetUps include School Year Kickoff, Mid-Year Meetup, and the End of Year Celebration.
  • Network Miami Events - Quarterly networking events help corps members engage around the most urgent leadership pathways for pursuing educational equity in Miami-Dade, including excellent teaching, transformational school leadership, mission-aligned organizational leadership, civic leadership, and social innovation.
  • Leadership Pathways, Opportunities & Fellowships - Ongoing opportunities throughout the year engage corps members in high-impact opportunities, such as policy and EdTech fellowships and conferences, that mobilize them to take action around the most urgent leadership pathways in Miami-Dade.
  • Nearpod Pathways: Through an exciting new partnership between education technology company Nearpod and TFA offers corps members the option of participating in up to three six-week group workshop alongside other TFA teachers, centered on a leadership topic of personal interest that aligns with their individualized classroom goals. 
Miami Dade School Year Kick Off

After learning about the opportunities for the year ahead, corps members signed up to attend a workshop of their choice led by a second-year corps member or alumni. In breakout groups, corps members were able to collaborate with an empathetic group of like-minded individuals ready to support and assist them in expanding their leadership or in navigating a challenge they have faced in their first three weeks of school. Topics led by our corps member and alumni instructors included:

How to navigate a current challenge:

  • Alejandra Vazquez Baur - Relationship Building – How to create productive relationships with students and maintain them even after breaches or conflicts. 
  • Alyx Ramsay - Living Into Your Authentic Self – How to navigate situations when you feel that your authentic self is not valued or is hindering relationships with students and staff.
  • Becky Esquenazi - Classroom Management, Systems and Procedures – Best practices for organizing yourself, classroom, and students, and how to tighten up classroom systems across the board.
  • Francisco Ortiz - Student Investment – How to support students to be invested and “on a mission” in class and working toward goals.
  • Malcolm Howard - Relationship Building – What authentic and meaningful relationships with staff and students look like and how to build them.
  • Melissa D'Haiti and Elizabeth Erra - Classroom Management and Student Engagement – Strategies for supporting student engagement and how to create a strong learning environment.

Build on your idea to expand your impact:

  • Jamyah Cox - Starting a Club/School Initiative – Get support or knowledge to bring a club or school initiative to life. Learn from someone who’s successfully launched a club.
  • Matt Funk - Starting a Club/Expanding impact through Coaching a Sport – Bring your club or school initiative to life, and learn from someone who’s successfully coached and led clubs.

Explore your strengths and passions to determine how you may expand your impact:

  • Chris Tarbett & Henry Bareiss - Head+Heart=Hustle – Expand leadership beyond the four walls of the classroom. Learn how to expand impact at school or in the community.
Miami Dade School Year Kick Off

At the end of the day, we came together for a community building lunch. Jose Soto, on behalf of State Farm, generously presented TFA Miami-Dade with a check for $15,000 to support teacher leadership development. Corps members and alumni met each other and learned about opportunities to get more deeply involved in our community through some of our partner organizations: Achieve MiamiClass UpdatesEngage MiamiJungle IslandMiami EdTechState Farm, and United Teachers of Dade. President of United Teachers of Dade, Karla Hernandez Mats, presented how teachers can get involved by joining the largest local union of educators in Florida who work to advance education in Miami.

Miami Dade School Year Kick Off

Ultimately, the entire TFA network left feeling part of a community that is here to support and challenge their individual and collective leadership toward educational equity. Our teachers shared these three beliefs as their top takeaways from the event:

  1. I am growing the capabilities I need (e.g., knowledge, skills, relationships, etc.) to play a valuable role in the movement to ensure that all children have the opportunity to attain an excellent education
  2. I am committed to working, now and in the future, to ensure that all children have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
  3. Within Teach For America, I feel part of a community where corps members are driven to help each other increase collective impact.

Thank you to each of our partners, alumni and staff members who made our first event of the school year a success! Watch this video to see more highlights from the event!