Institute can be a difficult experience if you’re not prepared for it. Start your teaching career and your TFA experience off right with these tips.
Tip #1- Buy a summer wardrobe
It gets incredibly hot during institute. You want to look your best and be comfortable. Buy breathable fabrics that are light but still professional. Target has some great and comfortable basic t-shirts that I’d always pair with a flowy skirt. For men, I’d go with some classic chinos and a short sleeve button down. You’ll have to be in business casual for most of your Institute experience.
Tip #2-Get a High Quality Water bottle and Snacks
You will go through (what will seem like) extremely long periods of time without high quality foods. If you’re like me and you get hangry, you’re going to need some high quality snacks to hold you over until you can eat a full meal. Go and purchase some snacks before you get too focused on the program and forget your self-care.
Tip #3-Don’t spend money on your summer school classroom
Your summer school classroom experience is temporary. Don’t waste money or a whole lot of time on it trying to impress you or your kids. Use the materials that are given to you at Institute. You’ll be going into your real classroom soon and you’ll be wiped out of funds if you deplete your resources in the summer.
Tip #4- Don’t cry in front of your class
Teaching gets really hard, but remember that things will get easier. Don’t cry in front of your class because you will lose control of them. Remember, your students are younger than you are and you are the adult in the room (whether you feel like it or not). This is the job you signed up for. Keep your composure. Cry in the bathroom during your plan time if you have to, but keep a straight face in front of your kids.
Tip #5- Talk to your master teacher
TFA will instill in you comrade among the organization, but it’s important to remember that you will also have non-TFA teachers at your school site and around you. Reach out to your master teacher for help. They are a valuable resource and can help you in times of need. They’ll be in the room every single moment you are (they’ll see you more than your MTLD), so reach out to them.
Tip #6- Bond with your Institute corps
Your institute corp will be able to help you for years to come if you know how to network and bond with them. Go out and have fun with your corp group. You’ll never get the same kind of time with your corp like you will at Institute. Remember, Institute is an experience so make it worth while.
Tip #7- Live with a roommate your first year
At Institute, it can be stressful to figure out your entire life. You’re in a new state, finding housing, learning a new career, and it’s a time for a lot of firsts. To help with the adjustments, live with someone your first year. It’ll help minimize the stress and you’ll have someone by your side during the tough times.
Tip #8- Sometimes, in order to maintain sanity you have to tune out
There will be a lot to take in during your Institute experience. New revelations will continue to boggle your mind every single day. However, it’s not worth the stress of trying to process that newfound knowledge all at once. Take some mental breaks, disengage, and keep to yourself if you have to. Just remember to recheck in and engage when your mind isn’t so clouded.
Tip #9- Work in the TFA Workroom
TFA will provide you with ample printing and resources for you and your classroom during Institute. Take time in that space to network and build relationships with your peers. Utilize what’s right in front of you and ask for help when you need it. TFA will provide you everything you need to be successful in the summer, it’s up to you to implement it.
Tip#10- Don’t take Institute seriously
Institute is a 6-week experience that will be over before you know it. Take your time, work hard, but don’t stress about the little things. You are just getting your first glimpse into your new career path. Keep your cool because before you know it you’ll be in front of your real classroom and be forced to deal with much more serious issues.