Regional Support and Learning Teams
Throughout the year, you will attend professional development sessions with other corps members in your region. You will also have access to regionally recommended resources to maximize student learning including sample assessments, student-data tracking systems, and planning templates, among others.
In some regions, you will be grouped into learning teams based on the subject or grade that you teach. These teams are led by teachers with demonstrated records of success in the classroom. Learning teams discuss challenges specific to their grades and/or content areas, share best practices, and work together to increase knowledge and skills in focused areas of teaching.
As a corps member, you will partner with a manager of teacher leadership and development (MTLD) who will provide individualized coaching, support, and guidance. Strong relationships are the basis of this support, and MTLDs and corps members must work to develop trust quickly so that they can work as teammates. Read below to learn more about the support MTLDs provide.
What Will Your MTLD Do For You?
Your MTLD will observe your classroom and provide feedback, coaching, and support tailored to your and your students' needs. This typically involves analyzing student results to determine what’s leading to and what's inhibiting progress.
Your MTLD may model instructional or leadership techniques and give guidance on building stronger relationships with your students, students' families, and community.
Your MTLD will help you develop your leadership capacities to enact change in the short- and long-terms. Throughout the year, you will celebrate progress and successes together.
- Poet Warriors Teaching Tools
TFANet is the online community for Teach For America corps members and alumni where you'll find:
- Classroom and Teaching Resources: A leading collection of lesson plans, unit plans, data tracking tools, and classroom management strategies created by and for teachers working in low-income communities. Corps members and alumni can post, rate, comment on, and download thousands of resources from our growing collection.
- Community and Collaboration: National Content Communities are an ongoing content and professional development support tool. They offer collaborative and moderated spaces for corps members and alumni to explore, inquire, and problem-solve with other expert and veteran teachers about student learning and teaching.
- Video Resources and Models: Watch video clips of excellent teachers to see successful grade- and subject-specific strategies in action. Videos range from short clips of different classroom systems, techniques, and lessons to more in-depth videos of a featured teacher’s instructional approach throughout a school day.
- Teaching As Leadership Online Navigator (TALON): Learn more about implementing Teaching As Leadership strategies through videos and testimonials of teachers demonstrating how these strategies work at various proficiency levels.
- Career Support: Download resources for exploring different career paths and connect with alumni to investigate professional opportunities after the corps.
TeacherPop showcases corps members and alumni sharing real advice, tools, and the often needed dose of humor. Find honest reflections on the darkest days and uncommon wisdom for the challenges you will face.
The Poet Warriors Project is a powerful collection of poems from students from across the country and a curriculum that meets Common Core Standards to implement in your own classroom. Student voices are as bold and inspiring as they are diverse. Share them!
Our Philosophy: Teaching As Leadership
- Set Big Goals for Student Achievement
- Invest Students and Families
- Plan Purposefully to Achieve Students’ Goals
- Execute Effectively and Adjust When Needed
- Improve to Accelerate Student Learning
- Work Continuously to Overcome Challenges
As a teacher, you want to give your students the same opportunities and choices for the future that are available for students in higher-income communities. To do so, you must develop a goal that students and their families can rally around. Setting big goals and having high expectations for students’ abilities to achieve them provides the motivation and focus needed to overcome obstacles on the path to success.
Jenee Henry (Metro Atlanta Corps '09), who taught fifth grade, spent time before the beginning of the year researching the middle and high schools that her students receiving special education services would enter. Knowing the graduation and academic performance statistics of those schools, she researched the top-performing magnet schools and their entrance requirements. She then set a goal with kids to ensure that every one of them would gain admittance, which would require well over two years of growth in their reading levels and their abilities to pass a rigorous math entrance exam.
Successful teachers break the cycle of low expectations faced by many students in low-income communities. They show students that if they work hard, they can and will achieve. They help students believe in their own abilities, maintain high expectations for themselves, and pursue goals that are important to them.
Julia King (Chicago Corps ’08) held meetings at the beginning of the year with students and families to determine where her kids wanted to be in two years, five years, and 10 years; then had a frank discussion of what would need to happen in order to realize those aspirations. Over the year, she called and texted parents with daily updates. As one father said, “She makes me feel like I’m in class with my daughter!” Each week, Julia sent home student work with sticky notes for parents to add comments. When they were returned to her, she laminated the comments and put them on the wall to keep her students proud and motivated.
Teachers who are most successful in the challenging environments of high-need schools begin every endeavor by asking: “Where are my students now versus where I want them to be?” and “How can I be most effective in helping them move forward?” These teachers consistently plan backward with a goal in mind and think about how to efficiently reach goals in all aspects of their teaching.
Before the year began, Julia King (Chicago Corps ’08) organized learning objectives into units and ordered them logically across the year so that the skills built on each other and the school’s calendar were taken into account. For each week’s unit plan, Julia looked at the objectives for that unit, then wrote five assessment questions per objective, and only then planned her lessons.
Strong classroom leaders make sure that all their actions contribute to the goal of student learning. They consistently monitor student progress and adjust course in light of changing realities. They offer students consistent and caring leadership, and constantly look for ways to maximize the amount of time students have to work toward their goals.
According to Megan Brousseau’s (New York Corps ’08) instructional coach: “From the handshake greeting at the door when you first enter the room to the high five you receive on the way out, Megan is consistent and clear with her rules, procedures, and lessons. Her kids know what to expect from her and are excited on a daily basis by what she has in store for them that day. She puts 110 percent into every lesson she teaches, and her students have grown to love science as much as she does.”
Strong leaders are their own toughest critics and search constantly for ways to improve their skills. The most effective teachers use data to diagnose issues and improve their teaching so that students make the most progress.
Meg Stewart (Bay Area Corps ’08) routinely videotaped her morning classes and reviewed the footage that day, critiquing her instruction and tweaking lesson plans for the afternoon. She also spent a day each month analyzing her students’ performance on assessments and writing projects, determining their strengths and areas for growth, and adjusting her plans accordingly.
In many low-income communities, schools with the fewest resources serve students with the greatest needs. Our most successful teachers go above and beyond the traditional role of teacher and do whatever it takes to help their students reach their big goals. They refuse to allow inevitable challenges to become roadblocks and work hard to overcome them so that their students can succeed.
Maurice Thomas (Metro Atlanta Corps ’08) made it his personal mission to do everything humanly possible to help his students on the path to college. He offered tutoring during lunch and after school every day except for Tuesday, which is reserved for faculty conferences. Maurice also ran a Saturday school from 8am until noon.