"The achievement gap" is one of the most common phrases in TFA-world. We talk about it constantly. The achievement gap drives our every move. We are here to close the gap. Knowing the realities of the achievement gap is the justification for our early mornings and 14+ hour days. It creates the sense of urgency that we have internalized. We know the achievement gap exists and we want to fix it.
I knew the realities of the achievement gap coming into it, but on Friday, the day we met and pre-assessed our students, I witnessed it. It was too easy to compare my students at Fairview to the students here. Easy and horrifying. The majority of my Brain Train students are entering first grade at a level below the reading level that my LOWEST first grade frogger started the year on. First grade is really a relative term.
Friday made me realize the need and the injustice that students in this area are suffering. They go to school just as any other student in this nation, yet their education is so much less. I am lucky to be a part of turning it around. The staff and students at my summer school are phenomenal and they are very clearly on the path of improvement. TFA summer school is only a small piece of a much larger improvement plan, but I feel very lucky to be a part of this plan.
Meeting our students on Friday is a huge motivation to wake up tomorrow. Four weeks is not a very long time, but it is enough to make a small difference. I am here to make a difference and later this summer I will head to Nashville to make a difference--to impact my students' education on a transformational level. Regardless of my love/hate relationship with TFA, I do believe this organization is making a critical impact and will help me become a stronger teacher. They are helping me gain the tools to make a difference.
The only thing left? For someone to remind me of this when I curse my alarm clock tomorrow morning!