Teach for America Scholarships

Discuss various money matters here. Loans (federal and private), scholarships, lottery winnings, or other school finance related information and queries.
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ccs224
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby ccs224 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:24 am

Oh, I love TFA arguments. As a alumni of another, slightly more selective (FUCK YOU TFA :wink:) alternative certification program, I can say that TFA and the like are a mixed bag. TFA succeeds in that it gets highly qualified grads into high needs schools. This is great, as teachers are generally not the brightest people our nation has to offer (the generally enter college with SAT scores below agricultural majors and have average GPAs below most other majors, even given the fact that teacher education programs are widely criticized as not being as rigorous as other programs). That said, most of the few studies done show that teacher effectiveness begins to peak/plateau between the fourth and sixth years of teaching, about the time teachers have 'mastered' their specific curriculum and the learned to adapt to the needs of their students. While there's many burnt out teachers who couldn't care less, and there's many entering teachers who are equally unprepared or less than TFA'ers, the vast majority of TFA participants don't stay in the classroom for more than two years, and therefore don't do much for their students. TFA works as a stop-gap measure. It gets generally over-qualified graduates into the classroom in areas that are often difficult to staff with such teachers (though not impossible, as many school districts are facing teacher overages right now), but it's failure to keep them there counteracts the possibilities that the program touts. For people who are interested in doing just a few years of service, I've always suggested other routes; there are plenty of areas where you can make a difference that don't involve playing with students' futures, don't require as much expertise, don't lead to such burn-out and which may have a greater impact. City Year and the like would be a good example of this.

As for scholarships, I don't know boo. I've always assumed that if it said TFA, it was for TFA.

efelleman
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby efelleman » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:38 am

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Last edited by efelleman on Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dynomite
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby dynomite » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:52 am

To bring it back to the original topic -- how do you apply for these scholarships? I see that it varies from school to school. Anyone have any experiences to share?

Vandypepe
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby Vandypepe » Wed Feb 17, 2010 11:08 am

ccs224 wrote:Oh, I love TFA arguments. As a alumni of another, slightly more selective (FUCK YOU TFA :wink:) alternative certification program, I can say that TFA and the like are a mixed bag. TFA succeeds in that it gets highly qualified grads into high needs schools. This is great, as teachers are generally not the brightest people our nation has to offer (the generally enter college with SAT scores below agricultural majors and have average GPAs below most other majors, even given the fact that teacher education programs are widely criticized as not being as rigorous as other programs). That said, most of the few studies done show that teacher effectiveness begins to peak/plateau between the fourth and sixth years of teaching, about the time teachers have 'mastered' their specific curriculum and the learned to adapt to the needs of their students. While there's many burnt out teachers who couldn't care less, and there's many entering teachers who are equally unprepared or less than TFA'ers, the vast majority of TFA participants don't stay in the classroom for more than two years, and therefore don't do much for their students. TFA works as a stop-gap measure. It gets generally over-qualified graduates into the classroom in areas that are often difficult to staff with such teachers (though not impossible, as many school districts are facing teacher overages right now), but it's failure to keep them there counteracts the possibilities that the program touts. For people who are interested in doing just a few years of service, I've always suggested other routes; there are plenty of areas where you can make a difference that don't involve playing with students' futures, don't require as much expertise, don't lead to such burn-out and which may have a greater impact. City Year and the like would be a good example of this.

As for scholarships, I don't know boo. I've always assumed that if it said TFA, it was for TFA.


This seems to assume that 1) teachers can only do a lot for their students after having been in the class room for two years 2) TFAers all reach their only peak after two years 3) students and schools can't and don't benefit from two year teachers 4) the gains made by TFAers who stay in the classroom are less beneficial than the negative effects from those teacher who leave 5) students can only be served by people in the classroom 6) the impact of TFA alumni in positions of power who held students (I'm thinking superintendents and whatnot) doesn't matter 7) all teachers need 4-6 years to master a curriculum and 8) non-TFA teachers all stay in the same grade for 4-6 years to master the curriculum. I disagree.

I don't think TFA is the best program out there, and I don't think that it would be better by being more selective (as you see fit to passively suggest). However, I don't think making illogical arguments truly illustrates the point that TFA could be more effective.

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ccs224
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby ccs224 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:58 pm

Vandypepe wrote:...


You seem to be speaking in much more absolutist terms than I ever used. I'll point out that I never said that TFA was an abject failure but that it, and similar programs such as the one I participated in, are "a mixed bag" and are generally given more credit than they deserve. My main contention is that TFA, with its focus on putting high quality applicants (though not necessarily high quality teachers and certainly not highly trained ones) in a classroom for two years does not offer a real solution to the problems it seeks to address. For people looking to devote a few years of their post-grad life to serving "the greater good," there are plenty of other options where there skills may be used more effectively.

I'll go through your points one by one.
This seems to assume that 1) teachers can only do a lot for their students after having been in the class room for two years

Where did the only here come from? Or in fact, all the following? I don't believe I used an only in my post at all. What I did mention is that research on student performance and teacher effectiveness has shown that teachers become most effective between their fourth and sixth years in the classroom. Yes, some people will enter the classroom as great teachers but these will be rare exceptions, rather than the norm. Teaching effectively is a skill that requires awhile to develop, not only in terms of understanding curriculum, standards, and effective instructional methods, but also learning the particular, often cultural, needs of your students and how best to address them; more than anything, this is accomplished through experience.

2) TFAers all reach their only peak after two years

Where did this all come from? Anyway, all I can say here is that if you are only in the classroom for two years, you will peak within that period. Your peak will most likely not be as high as teachers who remain teaching for longer periods.

3) students and schools can't and don't benefit from two year teachers

Again, I don't know where you read this in my comments. Students and schools can of course benefit from beginning teachers, and many do. They can also be harmed by teachers whose inexperience keeps them from advancing their students a whole grade level over the school year. Again, I would argue that schools are better served by teachers with experience or when teachers who they have invested in through training and development stay long enough to reach their full potential. I would also point out that teachers who stay within a school (not just within the educational system) longer, generally develop stronger bonds with the school community, through establishing relationships with students, families, involving themselves in extracurricular activities, etc (things unlikely to happen as a beginning teacher who may be struggling with workloads or completing their masters during their first years). High needs schools often lack the sense of cohesion that the above activities create, and a cohesive school community can be an effective tool at keeping at-risk students involved with their education.

4) the gains made by TFAers who stay in the classroom are less beneficial than the negative effects from those teacher who leave

This is debatable and, I would wager, dependent on the percentage of transitory or beginning teachers at a school. I would say that if students went through several years in a row with first year teachers, then yes, they would be at a loss. At the same time, having an engaged but inexperienced TFA'er can certainly be more beneficial than having a burnt-out horror show of a veteran teacher.

5) students can only be served by people in the classroom

Again, where? In fact, I would argue, most of the "educational" problems people often lament are reflections of larger social problems and real "educational reform" can only be fully realized by addressing the social and economic crises that manifest themselves partially educational settings.

6) the impact of TFA alumni in positions of power who held students (I'm thinking superintendents and whatnot) doesn't matter

This would be interesting to find out. I would be curious to see what percentage of TFA alums remain in the educational field and how their impact could be rated against those in similar positions who entered through other means. Unfortunately, there's rarely empirical studies conducted around education, so if you want to get your PhD in educational policies, this would make a great dissertation topic. Just be sure to credit me somewhere.

7) all teachers need 4-6 years to master a curriculum

See above. The four to six year window for becoming a highly effective teacher is a general trend based on research, not an absolute requirement. At the same time, becoming an effective teacher requires much much more than a mastery of curriculum; it involves learning how to best relate to your students and how they relate to you, learning to identify their specific needs and learning styles and responding with effective teaching practices, developing engaging lessons and practices, learning what particular academic skills need to be cultivated for students at whatever level and how best to do so, etc. This, again, is not something you can pick up in a summer training and not something the vast majority of teachers, whether TFA or other, will be able to do in a year or two.

8) non-TFA teachers all stay in the same grade for 4-6 years to master the curriculum.

The characteristics mentioned above are largely applicable across related grades and subject matter.

I disagree.
[/quote] Awesome. You seem to be disagreeing with statements of your own creation however, and without any explanation of your reasoning or expertise.

To the current TFA'er who mentioned that new teachers may not be perfect but are certainly better than other mainstream teachers: this is a common sentiment, and certainly one I shared for my first year or two of teaching. I remembered being horrified by the general lack of knowledge and drive of the "veteran" teachers at my school, their use of prepackaged, rote curricula, bad attitudes, etc. After awhile, I learned to respect some of their experience a bit more and separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in my judgements of them. There are, of course, some astonishingly bad teachers out there (I particularly remember the alcoholic, semi-crazed teacher who shared my same last name and who came in probably only 30 days over the course of a semester, taking unpaid absences the rest of the time, but who filed a grievance against the school when they attempted to take her classes away and put her on desk duty somewhere - she's still with the school, 'teaching' full time). Some schools have more of these than others, but I've yet to see one entirely filled with them. I work for an educational nonprof now, a job that puts me in a lot of different classrooms in schools all over, and I would say though, that out of the teachers I've seen, there tends to be a pretty even split between the truly struggling beginning teachers and the totally given up older ones. Again, the best I've seen tend to be those who have been at it for awhile and have not lost their commitment to effective teaching.

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radical4peace
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby radical4peace » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:35 pm

In terms of applying for TFA scholarships, it varies by school. Most automatically give you the scholarship if you are an alum, some consider TFA one of the many experiences that qualifies you for a "service" type scholarship (which is why other people with similar non-TFA backgrounds shouldn't throw in the towel on these), some have special paperwork or need a signed letter from TFA. From my experience, TFA qualified me for a general scholarship from Northeastern that I could have received for doing a lot of other types of service. It also earned me a scholarship at Loyola-Chicago that was pretty automatic based on my TFA status. There were a few schools that required a signed letter but I can't remember them off the top of my head. Some schools (ie Loyola-Chicago) have selective programs (like Child Law) that TFA alumni receive special consideration for, but it's not just a green light. Anyone interested in TFA, TFA scholarships, teacher loan forgiveness should feel free to PM me. :)

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s0ph1e2007
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby s0ph1e2007 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:49 pm

ccs224 wrote: As a alumni of another, slightly more selective (FUCK YOU TFA :wink:) alternative certification program


TFA would not consider itself an alternative certification program... and sorry if you're just joking, but what in the heck are you talking about?

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ccs224
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby ccs224 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:11 pm

s0ph1e2007 wrote:
ccs224 wrote: As a alumni of another, slightly more selective (FUCK YOU TFA :wink:) alternative certification program


TFA would not consider itself an alternative certification program... and sorry if you're just joking, but what in the heck are you talking about?


You're right, TFA doesn't call itself an alternative certification program. I'm not sure how it works everywhere, though, but in New York, you a required to have an educational degree in order to teach, and sometimes to have or be in the process of obtaining a masters in education if your bachelors is in your content area (vice versa if your bachelors is in ed). It's been awhile since I've worked through certification requirements, but generally, for traditional initial certification you need to have completed a degree in ed (usually your bachelors) and a semester's worth of student teaching, along with different entering tests and a background check. TFA members and the like, mainly the NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach NYC (not sure about this - I don't know if TeachNYC actually places teachers) circumvents this slightly by not requiring an ed degree (instead, they place participants in subsidized Masters programs as required) nor as many hours of student teaching and preparation. As a participant, you begin with what is called a Transitional B teaching certification. These programs are referred to by pretty much everyone in the ed community as alternative certification programs here, even though neither advertises itself as such.

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s0ph1e2007
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby s0ph1e2007 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:13 pm

ccs224 wrote:
s0ph1e2007 wrote:
ccs224 wrote: As a alumni of another, slightly more selective (FUCK YOU TFA :wink:) alternative certification program


TFA would not consider itself an alternative certification program... and sorry if you're just joking, but what in the heck are you talking about?


You're right, TFA doesn't call itself an alternative certification program. I'm not sure how it works everywhere, though, but in New York, you a required to have an educational degree in order to teach, and sometimes to have or be in the process of obtaining a masters in education if your bachelors is in your content area (vice versa if your bachelors is in ed). It's been awhile since I've worked through certification requirements, but generally, for traditional initial certification you need to have completed a degree in ed (usually your bachelors) and a semester's worth of student teaching, along with different entering tests and a background check. TFA members and the like, mainly the NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach NYC (not sure about this - I don't know if TeachNYC actually places teachers) circumvents this slightly by not requiring an ed degree (instead, they place participants in subsidized Masters programs as required) nor as many hours of student teaching and preparation. As a participant, you begin with what is called a Transitional B teaching certification. These programs are referred to by pretty much everyone in the ed community as alternative certification programs here, even though neither advertises itself as such.


Thanks for the response.
also curious what 'slightly more selective' alternative certification program you're talking about.
I've never heard of a similar organization to teach for america.

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ccs224
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby ccs224 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:27 pm

s0ph1e2007 wrote:
ccs224 wrote:
s0ph1e2007 wrote:
ccs224 wrote: As a alumni of another, slightly more selective (FUCK YOU TFA :wink:) alternative certification program


TFA would not consider itself an alternative certification program... and sorry if you're just joking, but what in the heck are you talking about?


You're right, TFA doesn't call itself an alternative certification program. I'm not sure how it works everywhere, though, but in New York, you a required to have an educational degree in order to teach, and sometimes to have or be in the process of obtaining a masters in education if your bachelors is in your content area (vice versa if your bachelors is in ed). It's been awhile since I've worked through certification requirements, but generally, for traditional initial certification you need to have completed a degree in ed (usually your bachelors) and a semester's worth of student teaching, along with different entering tests and a background check. TFA members and the like, mainly the NYC Teaching Fellows and Teach NYC (not sure about this - I don't know if TeachNYC actually places teachers) circumvents this slightly by not requiring an ed degree (instead, they place participants in subsidized Masters programs as required) nor as many hours of student teaching and preparation. As a participant, you begin with what is called a Transitional B teaching certification. These programs are referred to by pretty much everyone in the ed community as alternative certification programs here, even though neither advertises itself as such.


Thanks for the response.
also curious what 'slightly more selective' alternative certification program you're talking about.
I've never heard of a similar organization to teach for america.


Yeah, there are a lot of TFA-inspired spin offs. Many major districts have their own version (I know of Teach For Dallas, for example, and LA has some sort of similar program). The Teaching Fellows is slightly different, in that it was started by a TFA grad and originally focused on brining career-changers into teaching and places a lot more emphasis on teacher longevity. Over the years, they've seemed to run out of career-changers and have become much more similar to TFA in taking a large percentage of recent grads, though the "cohorts" still have a good percentage of older participants. They also stipulate that if you quit teaching at any point before the completion of your masters, you are required to pay back the amount of money you have received as a subsidy (they pay for 60%), though I know a good handful of drop outs and have never seen this enforced.

efelleman
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby efelleman » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:10 pm

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Last edited by efelleman on Mon Jan 02, 2012 7:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ccs224
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Re: Teach for America Scholarships

Postby ccs224 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:21 pm

efelleman wrote:I also want to mention that while NYTF can rightly be called an alternative credentialing program, TFA is no such thing. My credential was neither provided nor subsidized by TFA, and comes from a state school (and not a very good one) which I selected and applied to myself. TFA will assist with the credentialing process, but providing credentials has pretty much nothing to do with their mission or operation. This is a pretty common misconception.


Yeah, these things all vary from state to state, so I can only speak from my NY experience. I'm not sure how it works in CA, but in NY, you either have to hold a degree in ed or be in the process of obtaining a Masters in Ed. From the TFA kids I've spoken to here, it seems that they are all enrolled in Masters programs and that these are subsidized through TFA, in a similar fashion to the Fellows.

Also, I want to reiterate that I'm not calling alternative certification the goal of any of these programs; that's simply the lingo used around here in discussing the different types of entering teachers (probably because that's all that legally differentiates them).
Edit: Continuing problems with homophones.




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