The Final Stretch: Preparing for the Last Semester with TFA

This post was originally published on TeacherPop.

Pro/con analyses have gotten me through some tricky situations. They’ve helped me move forward with things that scared me—joining TFA, applying to the Peace Corps, being in a long-distance relationship, etc.—and have pushed me to be brave.

The process gets much more complicated, though, when children are involved. As I near the end of my two-year commitment (side note: when did having 25% of a commitment left mean that I was near the end?), I am filled with too many thoughts, in and out of my own head, to make sense of it all.

“You don’t have to do anything for anyone. You’ve already given enough.”

“What would your school do without you?”

“Having a gay teacher—closeted or not—is a huge deal for your kids.”

“When are you going to have time to be a 20-something?”

“Mr. Mishleau… are you going to quit?”

Over the last few months, the following next steps have entered my mind at some point:

  1. Stay at my school a third year and revolutionize the support that ELLs get (HA)
  2. Move to a charter school where I can comfortably be myself
  3. Teach at a district school and have some restriction of the amount of work I’m demanded to do
  4. Go on a six-month road trip with my bestie
  5. Move to NYC (or Chicago, or Milwaukee or Hawai’i) and work for TFA
  6. Join the Peace Corps
  7. Move to NYC with a suitcase and a dream
  8. Work in retail for a bit to numb my throbbing brain

This is in conjunction with attempting to be a halfway-decent teacher, a full-time graduate student and an at-least-remotely-socially-active human being.


Mixed in with all of this is an overwhelming sense of guilt. A teacher with a traditional license doesn’t usually have the same choose-your-own-adventure expectation after teaching for just two years.

Why should I? Is it because of the culture around TFA? The fact that, in every conversation I have with CMs, they ask, “So. What are you doing next year?”

Or is it because, aside from a few fleeting, “Yay teaching beyond two years is great!” comments, I’ve had no pressure to stay at my school or in teaching directly?

I suppose what I’m asking is for someone to make the choice for me, which will never happen. I’m thinking I will, however, follow the very sage advice a co-worker gave me. “Don’t make any choices until you have to. There’s a moment every day where I feel like quitting. The next moment may make me feel the exact opposite.”

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