Sunday, July 01, 2007

Induction: Day Five (End)

I've arrived at the end of Induction with the same feelings that I had during Hall Staff Training:

To paraphrase a quote that was said, we cast our bread along the river so others who hunger downstream can feast. We’re simply expected to trust that our initial impact and interactions over a year [with our residents] will be enough to afford such a change at a later date, requiring inordinate amounts of confidence with the issues and with ourselves.

The rush we get—I get—from knowing our efforts possess the possibility to engender powerful change in growing minds, is amazing. The progress afforded can be so grand that it is simply worth the wait, so to speak.

Our director reminisced earlier about an inspiring moment he encountered during our Induction. At a meeting with a school district, TFA corps members were greeted by district officials and products of its education system, hand-picked students from different schools asked to meet and greet new wide-eyed teachers. Many of these students came from backgrounds that stifled motivation and achievement, be that through the effects of bad influences or simply low expectations. Yet these students standing there achieved in areas that many of their peers had not. What had happened to these students that changed their life prospects for the better?

What had been a key moment in these students' lives was their interaction with inspiring teachers, teachers that did not run away from the challenges of cultivating a college-going culture, teachers that did not forget about the innate potential of all young adults. Their teachers taught with passion, with urgency for achieving grandiose learning goals in very little time. Their teachers worked relentlessly, and demanded high expectations with respect and humility.

But what really pulled at his heartstrings, our director continued, was hearing the names of these students' inspiring teachers. He was awestruck when he recognized each and every name from his own memories--it was because the teachers they named were Teach For America corps members from years past, teachers who made indelible impressions earlier in their lives, and in turn created new opportunities for their success. The students reminded our director of how significant our work as educators is, both in the short- and long-term, and of what our TFA movement is capable of.

I'm beginning a month-long journey through training to learn how to cast my bread along the water as an educator. I can only hope to one day be able to give these opportunities to my students.

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