Jake's a smart guy, worked hard all four years on an interdisciplinary American Studies/ Sociology/ Econ degree he designed more or less himself. He can tell you a lot about the changing face of the American worker, and how film has reflected, driven, and (re)created our (mis)understandings of the American proletariat. Kid can turn a phrase, read and think, and play Beirut pretty well. Last summer, Jake did some volunteering at an outward bound program his girlfriend was all jazzed about. Her interest soon waned, but Jake stayed involved, and managed to work his experiences guiding the underprivileged New Haven youth through the rigors of proper campsite maintenance into many a classroom discussion and/or drunken pontification. Besides getting on everyone's nerves, this became the basis of the application essay he wrote for Teach For America, and one of the experiences he mentioned in his interview.
Jake's gonna report for duty at the TFA Los Angeles Training Institute sometime in the middle of June. He doesn't know how to diagnose, scaffold, or assess. He doesn't know what CELDT stands for and wouldn't know what to do with that information even if he did. Jake thinks objectives are something second-tier applicants put on the top of resumes and he's generally aware that standardized tests are badbadverybad, but couldn't really tell you why in any great detail. Jake has a vague notion that he'll be teaching reading and writing to some kids who don't do either one of those things very well, but he has not the slightest concrete understanding of what that will entail, or how to go about getting it done.
He's gonna work hard, though. They're gonna drill him on as much of a specialized skill set as possible, giving him enough to get moving, and relying on his passion, vision, and commitment to get him the rest of the way there. Let's hope Jake soaks up all requisite knowledge like a sponge, and arrives armed with some foundational understandings of the work. Let's hope he makes good use of the myriad resources thrown his way, and puts in the time to bring structure and organization to his efforts. Let's hope the smart-and-excited-trumps-experienced gamble pays off.
Let's hope like hell, cuz Jake or someone like him will be in room D2 next year, teaching my kids. I resign on Monday.