Quick Update: TFA Final Interview

A quick update from Wednesday’s adventures. I can’t give too much detail on the format and content, due to a non-disclosure agreement, but here were some qualitative observations.

It was a very rigorous process for the final interview day. First up was the sample lesson.

The revised lesson plan went fantastically well, thanks to those who provided feedback. Making the geometric (instead of the mathematical, as I had originally intended) argument for Kepler’s 2nd law was much simpler to explain and much more intuitive. Everyone got it, and by my own (possibly biased) judgement I would say I was one of the top two lessons in the room.  Thanks for helping me to make that as strong as it could be!

We then went to a group activity, in which they set up scenarios for everyone and we were observed for our team interaction, leadership, and conflict resolution skills… after NASA FIRST this was a comfortable challenge.

Next up were two former corps members who spoke very frankly and openly about their experiences in TFA, after which there was a Q&A session. As usual I asked some pretty blunt questions (who invited *this* guy?) and was pleasantly surprised at how forthcoming and honest the answers seemed.

Lunch. Got to know the fellow “subjects” a little better. All very talented, motivated, positive, and idealistic. I felt kind of old though… the majority were undergrad freshouts, and a couple were masters students nearing their degrees.

Final one-on-one interview lasted about forty-five minutes. It was mostly asking me to expand on responses I had given to the online activity a few weeks back, clarification and expansion on my letter of intent and experience, and also a role play testing what I would have to term “improvisational persuasion under fire”. Kind of fun actually.

All in all, about a 5 hour process… ended exhausted but feeling great. My impression was that it went very well for me.

What’s next:

The TFA process is done, but they take quite awhile to process the whole ordeal. If accepted, they will let me know of assigned region, subject, and grade level on January 17th, after which I will have until January 30th to accept or decline. I did go in and change my assignment preference form to indicate that teaching physics or chemistry was more important to me than my geographical preferences. I hope that this action will further ensure that I am placed in a region of actual and high need should I choose to take the TFA route (if accepted).

I am still under consideration for the early admissions track into the Boston Teacher Residency. I will find out on December 14th if I made it to what they call Selection Day, which will be a similar day-long interview, sample lesson, team/leadership observation, reflective writing, etc on January 11th in Boston. A final decision will be sent out January 20th. BTR is without question the better alternative teacher preparation program, so I am still holding this as the preferable option.

I still haven’t decided completely on whether to do either, but I can say I’m very excited about the prospect of both. It’s been a strange and life-changing journey, often dipping into the highly personal in terms of what I value and my beliefs on the nature of education and society. The whole thing would be impossible without the support, feedback, letters of reference, and advice from several close friends, mentors, and colleagues throughout this whole process.

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