When I left, I told my students (and myself) that if they invited me, I’d find a way to come to graduation. It wasn’t a surprise when a current sophomore asked at the beginning of April if I was still planning on coming. I told her I would if a senior invited me. Bought my plane ticket when one of them sent me a message through Bebo.* Close enough.**
This post isn't about graduation though. It's about a conversation I had with my girl, the sophomore who pestered me into coming. We were waiting for the the ceremony to begin, when she asked, "Cannon, do you think any of the TFAs will still be here when I graduate?"
I don’t know. The people currently teaching through TFA may leave next year. "Is there anyone you think might stay?"
She named a couple of teachers. One's new, so I had no sense. The other taught with me. She's staying for a third year, but she's floated the idea of applying to grad school. I tell my student as much, encouraging her to tell the teachers that she wants them to stay. My students started trying to convince me to stay after the decision had been made. Maybe their guilt trips can be better timed.
"It sucks that you are just getting to know people when they leave."
Yeah. Sorry about that.
"You know what you can do to change that. You can become a teacher. Come back here and don’t leave."
She doesn't want to do that. My girl likes her science. We talk majors and possible careers. She wants to follow her sister's path and be pre-med. And then she comes back with, "I might do TFA though."
I try to cover my surprise. Hadn't we just talked about the downside of TFA? Critics talking about the TFA turnover is one thing, but my girl has lived it at least since she hit middle school. Teachers who she could have for multiple years leave on her time and again. And it's pretty clear that she wouldn't be joining for a life-long career.
"Really? Would you come back here?"
"Where would you want to go?"
"I don’t know. Maybe Kansas."
I’m not the biggest TFA proponent.*** But you better believe that in 4 to 6 years, I'll be telling recruiters to check in on my girl. In the mean time, TFA, you want to work on opening a region in Kansas? Or should we hope that Kansas City, MO is close enough?
*It's like Facebook, only it's the one that my students were on last year.
**Plus, it was my last chance to visit Anne in SoDak.
***Though I hope I'm not a big opponent either.