Thursday, March 19, 2015

What To Consider

Today our fourth and fifth deadline applicants learned if they had been invited to join the 2015 corps. While some applicants will confirm our offer right away (welcome!) other applicants will take time to process, ponder, and weigh other options. We know that there’s a lot to think about when deciding to confirm and the deadline to do so is right around the corner (April 1). Below you'll find some insight on what to consider as you’re deciding to join the corps.

What’s your vision for classroom success?
We talk a lot about “vision” at Teach For America—but what exactly do we mean by this? It’s not literally being able to see; 20/20 vision or not, you can still do the corps.

Leading kids to life-changing outcomes in a classroom (and, arguably, leading anyone to do anything meaningful) requires knowing where you want to go, why you’re going there, how you’re going to get there, and how you’ll evaluate your progress towards your goal. That’s vision. When considering your offer to join Teach For America, I’d encourage you to think about your vision for your own classroom. At the end of two years of teaching, what do you want that classroom to be like? What will the kids know, what will they say, and how will they think about learning?

The special kind of “impact” a teacher can have
Next to vision, “impact” is another classic word of the Teach For America lexicon that has a slightly different connotation here than in many other contexts.

We believe that our teachers are called to make academic progress at a pace that puts their students on a fundamentally different life trajectory; often this means making two or more years of progress in one academic year (it can be done!). Of course, this isn’t just ensuring students understand content (although it’s that too), but we also take it as our responsibility to help kids see the value of an education, the ways it can empower their lives, and how to cultivate a genuine “love of learning.”

So, yes, I’m literally telling you that teachers change lives. Not even in a cheesy “cue delicate piano” way. According to quantitative and qualitative evidence, Teach For America teachers meaningfully change people’s lives. That’s what we mean by “impact.”

Given that, the questions for you to consider are: what kind of impact do you want to have and how does it align with how Teach For America thinks about impact?

There’s something special about your region. Find out what it is.
Every region we serve has a unique character and story. Educational inequity looks different in different regions based on local context, and this will manifest itself in your classroom in different ways. It’s worth starting to get to know that local flavor and consider how you can contribute to the struggle for justice as a member of that community, whether you’re brand new there or you’ve lived in your assigned region for decades.

Teach For America as the “path of least regrets”
Something you’ll hear Teach For America’s founder Wendy Kopp say from time to time is that she believes that Teach For America is the “path of least regrets.” I think there’s something to that. Consider what compelled you to apply and what you shared during your final interview. How will you feel in five years if you don’t join the movement to end educational inequity now?

Ultimately deciding to join the Teach For America corps is a deeply personal decision that requires reflection, so its critical we ask ourselves the tough questions. I wish you the best of luck as you consider your decision!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Preparing for Your Final Interview!

Next week our fourth deadline applicants will head to final interviews and the following week fifth deadline applicants will interview. It's hard to believe the Admissions season is moving so quickly! If you're preparing to interview in the next few weeks, read on for our best blog posts to help you prepare. Also be sure to listen to our online event recording from last week to help you prepare!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Phone Interviews Do's and Don'ts

We know that phone interviews can feel a little awkward at time--the pauses, the lack of eye contact, the fact that you might be conducting it from your couch. But really there's no need to be nervous. Read on to find out some interview do's and don'ts. Be sure to check out the other great posts we have more great posts about preparing, and if you missed our online prep event yesterday, you can check out the recording here.

Do schedule an interview as soon as possible
Our interview times are available on a first come, first served basis, so it's important you sign up as soon as possible. If you need to reschedule your interview, no problem. Just log on to the Applicant Center and select a new time.

Don't panic if your interviewer doesn't call
Although most interviews will happen just as scheduled, occasionally things do pop up that we can't control. It's possible your interviewer may have an emergency or issue that prevents them from calling you at your interview time. If after 15 minutes you still haven't received a call, just log on to the Applicant Center and sign up for a new time. We know it's not ideal, but rescheduling is easy and is the quickest way to ensure you're able to have your interview.

Do be prepared to talk about your resume and application
We recommend that applicants review their resume and their application before the interview (you can review your application by clicking the "View Application" tab on the Applicant Center). It's helpful to know exactly what you put down, and what your interviewer will be using to guide their questions.

Don't be modest
While generally we think modesty is a wonderful trait, during your interview we want to hear about just how great you are. Don't be afraid to talk about your accomplishment and achievements. We want to know about the work you've done and the successes you've had.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our 5th Deadline Is Here!

Yep, you're reading that headline right, our fifth application deadline for the 2015 corps is this Friday at 11:59 p.m. ET! This is the last deadline when all 52 of our regions will be open to all applicants, so if you'd like to be considered for all regions be sure to submit by Friday!

While we have one more deadline for the 2015 corps--March 6, 2015 to be exact--because this deadline is later in the year we already know that we will not place any 6th deadline applicants in the following regions: The Bay Area, Los Angeles, Metro Atlanta, Sacramento, San Diego, and Twin Cities. So if these are regions you're interested in, apply by January 30!

So if you're ready to start and submit your application, check out tips below!

Friday, January 23, 2015

Final Interview Time!

It seems like just yesterday we were opening the 2015 application, and now it's time for our fourth deadline applicants to attend their final interviews! If you were invited to a final interview, congratulations! We're excited to learn more about you and meet you in person. To help prepare you for your interview, check out some of our helpful tips:

Come back to the blog for more tips and advice on your interview day!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Phone Interview Survival Guide

Over the next few days our fourth deadline applicants will be conducting their phone interviews. We understand that for many of our applicants, this may be their first phone interview. Read on for our tips about how to prepare. We also hosted a webinar on Friday with advice on the phone interview and Online Activity. If you missed it, you can hear the recording right here!

If you are invited to a phone interview, the first thing you will need to do is sign up for one. Just log on to the Applicant Center and click the "sign up for your phone interview" link on the Status page. While this process is pretty clear and intuitive, there is one step that could get tricky: your time zone! Make sure you select your time zone and mark the date and time carefully in your calendar – you don’t want to be an hour off! Another thing that sometimes throws people for a loop is a.m. vs. p.m. We offer interviews as late as 11:30 p.m. ET (8:30 p.m. PT) for our West Coast applicants and night owls. That 11:30 p.m. has been known to trip people up. It’s no fun to think no one called you for your 11:30 a.m, interview, and then feel a little foolish when you realize it’s actually scheduled for 11:30 p.m. Fortunately, if you do make a mistake when signing up for an interview, or if an emergency arises making you unavailable during your scheduled interview time, you are welcome to reschedule your phone interview on the Applicant Center.

Ok, so I’ve signed up. Now what?
Well, now you can start to prepare yourself, mentally and physically. Yes, these tips are already on the Applicant Center, but they’re worth repeating:
  • Review your resume and letter of intent. Your interviewer is going to be interested in getting to know you and why you want to join Teach For America.
  • Familiarize yourself with who we're looking for.
  • Find a quiet, comfortable place. If you’re in a place where there’s a lot of background noise, it’s going to be difficult to have a conversation.
  • Another reason to find a comfortable place? So that you can relax. Take a deep breath and go to your Zen place. Trust me; I understand that it’s easy to feel anxious. Interviews can do that to people. However, it’s important to remember that your interviewer is on the phone with you because they are genuinely interested in you, and what brought you to Teach For America. Sometimes it helps to know that the person on the other end of the line wants you to succeed. I promise; we don’t bite.

Good. Now I’m prepared, but what IS a phone interview? What is it going to be like?
It’s actually not that scary. On the day and time you signed up for, you will be contacted by an interviewer who will be a Teach For America alumnus or staff member. The interview should begin at the time you scheduled so make sure you are ready to start on time. Phone interviews typically take around 30 minutes, though they can run over. You should set aside an hour just to be safe. Sometimes life happens, and your interviewer may call a few minutes late. Don’t worry; you will still have 30 minutes for your interview. While I can’t provide you with the specific questions you’ll be asked, I can tell you that your interviewer is primarily concerned with getting to know you and hearing more about your experiences.

It is true that phone interviews can be awkward at times. You may find the conversation going very quickly, or your interviewer may stop you because s/he has already gotten the information they need, or there may be pauses while your interviewer catches up on taking notes of your conversation. This is just the nature of phone interviews. Don't worry about it! We want to make sure you are able to answer all of our questions, and it is important to us that we respect your time.

Good luck to everyone on their interviews and don't forget you'll be notified if you've been invited to continue in the process on January 16!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's Next?

As our third deadline applicants wait for their admissions decision on January 8 there are undoubtedly a lot of questions about what happens if you are invited to join the corps. Will you be assigned a specific subject? What’s summer training like? When will you meet your regional team? Read on to find answers to some of our most frequently asked questions!

On January 8, some time after 8 p.m. ET, you'll receive an email from Teach For America letting you know your admissions status is available on the Applicant Center. When you log on to the Applicant Center you'll be asked to complete a short survey before finding out your regional and subject assignment. Once you’ve found out your assignment, take some time to find out more about your region, think about what it means to join the corps, and talk to someone from Teach For America (you’ll be contacted by a staff member in a few days). Remember, you don’t have to officially accept your offer until January 21, so take advantage of your time and learn as much as you can!

Your Regional Assignment
Other than your actual admissions decision, your regional assignment is probably something you’re thinking a lot about. We put in a lot of time and effort in figuring out your regional assignment. We look at a variety of factors: first and foremost we look at what our regions need, then we of course look at your preferences and what you’re eligible to teach based on your coursework and regional requirements. While we do our best, we are not always able to match preferences with placement. Teacher placement is ultimately designed to maximize corps members’ impact on student outcomes. If you aren’t placed in your most highly preferred region we encourage you to learn more about your assigned region and be open-minded about the possibility of teaching there. Your regional team will be your best resource for answering your questions about certification, hiring, testing, and institute.

Your Subject Assignment
In addition to your regional assignment, you’ll also be given your subject assignment. Your subject assignment will be fairly general, such “elementary” or “middle school math.” We can’t tell you more than that because your subject placement won’t happen until you are actually hired by a school. Once you’re hired by a school your principal will tell you what exactly you’ll be teaching, such as 8th grade world history. To find out more about the difference between your subject and your placement, read our post from our assignment mastermind Caroline Charrow.

Your School
As I mentioned above, you will not be placed in a specific school on January 8. It will be up to you to interview and be hired by a school in your region. Your region will help in sending your resume out and setting up interviews. You’ll then interview during your regional induction, institute, and possibly during your regional orientation as well. Your region will work with you throughout the summer to ensure you’re hired and have a classroom waiting for you in the fall. Once you’re offered a position from a school, that’s your placement! Accepting your first offer from a school is important to our relationships with schools, districts, and principals.

Summer Training
The first part your corps commitment will be your regional induction. This will be held in your region and it’ll be your first introduction to your regional team, your new community, and your fellow corps members! From there, you’ll head to institute, which may be held in your placement region or may be held in a different region. If you haven’t you should read more about your summer training institute. You’ll live at your institute site, teach a summer school course at a local school, and take classes for these six weeks. After institute you’ll head back to your region for your orientation (if you weren't there already), and then it’s on the classroom, where the fun really begins!

Remember, if you’re invited to join the corps you’ll receive a lot more information about your region and institute. For our third deadline applicants, be sure to register for our upcoming online event, RSVP links can be found on the Applicant Center!