Suriving and Thriving in Chicago

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 04 2014

Where I pass the tests!

It’s been a while since I’ve done an update on here, but there hasn’t been all that much new to be honest.  The biggest piece of news, as you may have deduced from the title of this post, is that I passed my certification tests!  I’m pretty stoked about this, especially since it means that I don’t have to pay to retake the tests.  Those suckers can really add up to a pretty penny with all of the fees and things.

Since my placement is in Special Education, I took two exams.  One test was over special education techniques, pedagogy, etc. and the other was a general content test covering the four core content areas (math, English, social studies, science).  I scored pretty high on the SPED test and I had a good score on the general content.  I actually did really well on most of the areas for the content test, but my math grade was rather poor so it brought down my score quite a few points.  I was a little surprised since I didn’t struggle with the math problems while taking the test, so perhaps it was just careless errors.  Then again, I haven’t studied math in about six and half years so I guess I could use that as an excuse :)  I probably went too fast through the tests too.  I usually speed through exams in general, especially if they don’t have writing like this one didn’t.  I finished both exams with about half of my time remaining.  Anyways, I’m just happy that I passed!

With the placement front, I have decided not to go the April Interview Day.  It would just be too difficult with coordinating more time off from my current position, especially since I already did that with this last interview day in February.  Also, the flight tickets were a lot more expensive.  TFA does give us a stipend that we can use towards our travel, but since I live somewhat far from Chicago, I wasn’t really able to find a good deal on a flight and would’ve had to pay a good chunk of change out of my pocket to cover the whole thing.  So it looks like I’ll have to wait until summer to make it to any more in-person interviews.

I have had a couple of other prospects come up though.  Two other schools have reached out to me about interviews over the phone/Skype.  One is a traditional public high school on the South side that I’m really interested in.  They have a really unique curriculum that has caught national attention and it’s a pretty new school as well.  They initially invited me to an in-person group interview, but I was unable to attend since I live really far away so they agreed to a phone interview, but haven’t gotten back to me with a time.  I’m hoping that they will soon!  The other school is a charter middle school on the East side that did a Skype interview with me earlier this week.  I like the school and their philosophies and they are getting really good testing results, which is exciting.  I felt that the interview only went well, but it wasn’t stellar.  It was pretty brief, but you never really know with these things.  Regardless of the outcome, I love talking to these school leaders and learning about their school and the educational landscape of Chicago.  Since I’ve never been to Chicago prior to this year, it’s been really interesting to learn more about where I will be for the next year or two.

We did get a little bit of news regarding our summer training.  As I mentioned previously, our training is different than the traditional Institute that the majority of TFA regions go through.  This one is specialized for Chicago and Northwest Indiana.  We will be getting the first of our pre-work coming up soon, I think.  We were supposed to get it yesterday and maybe some did and I just missed the email, but anyways I’m really excited that it’s coming up.  I’ve heard stories about how the training is really difficult and time-consuming, but I’m still looking forward to that.  Plus the facility for where we will live is a dorm-style setting in the middle of the Loop/downtown!  You really can’t beat that location at all.  I think it’ll be good to live there with a bunch of other TFA people so we can have a little community going.  Some corps members are living independently with a stipend provided by TFA, but I didn’t want that option.  I wanted the community-style living so I could get to know people better and I didn’t want to have to deal with having to cook, shop, take difficult transit (everything is connected to the Loop), pay extra bills, etc. while going through training, especially if it is as intense as everyone makes it out to be.

So that’s what’s new in TFA world.  Oh I have to apply to the partner university, Dominican University, sometime too, but I don’t think I have to yet, since TFA is still working out the logistics with the new programming for special education corps members.  It’s getting closer and closer!  I’m just itching to get back into the classroom and the Midwest, and a big city!  I’m discovering more and more that rural life simply isn’t for me.  Oh well.  Just a couple more months now!

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A chronicle of my time teaching in inner-city Chicago

Special Education

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