...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Teach for America

October 24, 2007: Edited to add: if you're finding this page through a Google search, be sure to read my follow-up post. Good luck!

It occured to me that I probably shouldn't talk too specifically about my final Teach for America interview, or at least not on my blog, since it seems like they try to keep some of the specifics about the activities and the role-plays under wraps. I don't want to be Dooced, especially since I haven't even been hired! So, I'll just say that the final interview day down in Eugene went well, and at times very well. I felt like my personal interview was excellent, and that I had súper buena onda (good rapport) with the woman interviewing me. The most nerve-wracking part was the five-minute lesson: all TFA candidates have to prepare a five-minute lesson for a grade and subject area of the applicant's choosing, and then teach that lesson to the TFA staff and to the ten or so other applicants. I chose to teach a 3rd/4th grade general science lesson about the constellations, and how to find Polaris. I was nervous, but I think it went well. It wasn't the best lesson presented, but it wasn't the worst, either. It was fun seeing what other people came up with: one kid (who was also from LC although I didn't recognize him) taught us some Kiswahili phrases, and another kid did this lesson about the arrangment of atoms in different phases (?) of matter. The best one was designed for an ESL class and was about "sneaky silent letters." One girl did this lesson about similes and how to identify them, which I thought was kinda lame since that's the example they give on the Teach for America website.

The whole process reminded me a little of the International Baccalaureate exams, actually. Everything was carefully timed and regulated: "You have one minute to read through the instructions for the group activity. Your reading time begins now." "You have one minute preparation time for your lesson. Your prep time begins now." There was also a document-based question to determine whether we could read and interpret data, just like on the IB exams.

I suppose that I was lucky the final interview was in Eugene: since I'm from there, I could just stay at my parents' house, and it's easy enough to get down to Eugene from Portland via Greyhound. Several of the other applicants were from either LC, Reed, or Portland State, but there were also applicants from Whitman, Whitworth, and even Boise, Idaho; they probably had to take several days off from school or work to make it to Eugene for the interview.

Thanks to all of you who wished me well or who prayed for me! Overall, I think I represented myself accurately, and my strengths came out. I find out Teach for America's final decision the afternoon of February 27th; I don't know how I'm going to be able to wait.