The Best BlogPosts About TeachFirst

TeachFirst is a bit like marmite. Those who know it tend to love or hate it. As a TF alumni who went on to teach participants for several years at the Summer Institute, I’m a big fan of the programme. At the same time I realise it’s not perfect.

For this reason I constantly try and balance my views by reading articles for and against it, and when I do hear complaints I try and think through ways TF can improve. The organisation is committed to improving too, and does listen. For two years I sat on the participant liaison committee and we bent their ears about ways they should improve (many of which happened). Management there will soon tell you that even after finishing the program I still bend ears when I can!

Below are the blogs which I so far think best capture arguments for or against the programme. I’m keeping an eye out for others and would like to expand the list. Let me know if I’ve missed any.

Advocating For

Managing Risk at TeachFirst – by Matt Hood, ex-Regional Director

Top 5 Myths About TeachFirst – by me, shameless self-plug

TeachFirst: Setting the Record Straight – interview with Brett Wigdortz, CEO of TeachFirst, over at SecEd

What We Can Learn from TeachFirst – Joe Kirby

Teacher Training: It Is What You Make It – newstateswoman

Advocating Against

4 Reasons Why TeachFirst Might Be A Good Idea (& 22 Reasons Why It Might Not) – Education State

Why I Didn’t Join TeachFirst – Musings of a new teacher

Learn to teach with TeachFirst and you are 5 times more likely to leave the profession after 5 years at ESRI Blog

TeachFirst, Repent At Leisure – by oldandrewuk on teachingbattleground

Why I Quit TeachFirst – Management Today

TeachForAmerica Apostates: A Primer for Resistance at truthout, admittedly this is about TFA, but it seemed relevant

6 thoughts on “The Best BlogPosts About TeachFirst

  1. Laura: My closest friend’s two eldest daughters are just completing their second year of TF. One has had a positive experience and the other quite a negative one. The first is in a school which has been encouraging and supportive, and she speaks positively about TF. The other’s school has seemed quite disorganised and she is quite critical of the scheme because she feels they haven’t done due diligence on the placement.

    I wonder how common that is – that participants’ views are very much coloured by the school they are in, rather than the programme itself? Just a thought.

    1. This is what my own experience of working with TF for three years and my research suggests. TF has many distinctive features, but when trainees get into schools the “TeachFirst-ness” of their experience is attenuated by the circumstances in whichever school they are placed, and the particular culture in that school towards mentoring, ITE and teacher development.
      Mentoring in TF is variable – this is no different to any other school-based training programme but it is more apparent with TF due to the typical profile of the schools, the intensity of the programme and the higher expectations placed on the trainees by the TF organisation and the trainees themselves.
      A possible solution is enhanced support for both trainee and mentors from the university tutors, and the mediating of TF’s expectations on the trainees by mentors and tutors.
      I haven’t written any blog posts about this as I don’t understand their new-fangled ways but I have a couple of conference papers and hopefully, in the spring, a PhD thesis about this. Anyone who’s interested can contact me for access to these or more details.

      I don’t see it as Marmite, more like cherry cola. It’s good, but it’s not to everyone’s taste… But at the end of the day it’s another option in a diverse portfolio of routes into teaching.

    2. Jill – As per David’s response, it is inevitably true that the overall experience is affected by what happens in schools. However, I don’t think it’s always the case that being in a difficult school environment makes you less enthusiastic about the programme. The situation I found myself in was pretty dire, for a number of reasons, but it was the unbelievable support I got through TF that made me such a ‘programme believer’ (if you will). Admittedly, I got a tutor reputed for being one of the best and I do believe *that* made an enormous difference. Some of the coping variations are also down to personality, with different levels of preference for types of intervention.

      David – you’re absolutely spot on that the type of environments TF often works in means there is a greater risk of participants feeling negatively when compared to other teaching routes. To me, a big responsibility for combatting that likelihood actually falls to the graduate recruitment team. People who sign up for TF know what they are getting themselves in for (or at least should). Over the years the recruitment team have become better and better at working out what to look for to see how well people will cope with the kinds of situations they might face. It’s not bullet-proof, but I do think that finding the sorts of candidates who will be proactive and manage what can be psychologically unhealthy environments is absolutely key. That, and as you say, the support systems outside.

      Cherry Cola is a much better analogy. Is it okay if I steal it?!

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