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Life as a Corps Member

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

When Marcos Vargas’s plan to shadow a lead teacher on his first day of school fell through, he learned how to think quickly on his feet.

By Marcos Vargas

March 15, 2019

Handling the Unexpected in Your Classroom

Marcos Vargas (Rio Grande Valley ‘16) was all set to shadow another teacher on his first day of teaching. But a change of plans meant he had to step up and lead the class on his own. Here’s how he turned a stressful, unexpected moment into an opportunity to begin building relationships with his students.

For the first day, I was originally told that I was going to shadow the teacher that had been standing in my place. I show up, the door's locked, the lights are turned off and I'm thinking, okay, the teacher is running a little late. I enter the classroom, she left a note: “Good luck.” Didn't prepare anything. The students are looking at me like, what are you going to do?

My advisor at the school was like, “Hey, did you prepare your lesson?” I was like, I wasn't told to prepare a lesson, I was told that I was going to shadow on the first day to kind of get a feel for the school. And he was like, oh, okay well, you're Teach for America so I know you're going to make it work. And I was like, okay.

So I had to think really quick on my feet, so I went, I went to the board. Wrote my name, I wrote two questions: What do you expect from an excellent teacher and what is one of your personal goals? Laid down my rules. We went around, introduced each other and got started. At the end of the day, I sat down, I took a deep breath and my face just fell into my hands.

It was very overwhelming, but I decided that I was gonna stay in the classroom because when I went to college and I saw the education I lacked compared to those from bigger cities or private schools, I was completely flabbergasted and I felt cheated. I'm in TFA because I wanted to provide an amazing education to my students.