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Learning from Counternarratives in Teach For America

Moving from Idealism Towards Hope

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Sarah Matsui

Grounded in the belief that hope comes from a place of reality, not necessarily popular ideology, this book explores the gap between designated and actual narratives within Teach For America. TFA founder Wendy Kopp stated that there is «nothing elusive» about successful teaching; people simply need to «work hard» and be «disciplined». Taking an inquiry stance, Sarah Matsui surveyed and interviewed 26 of her fellow corps members in the Greater Philadelphia region. Their counternarratives collectively problematize this standard reform rhetoric. Many are working hard, yet their stories and challenges are complex, elusive, and commonly self-described with the words «shame», «failure», and «isolating». Corps members reported experiencing new levels of fatigue, alcohol dependency, depression, and trauma during their two-year service commitment with TFA. Learning from Counternarratives in Teach For America utilizes multiple frameworks to analyze the depth and range of corps members’ experiences. Relevant to helping professionals and people working to address constructed systems of inequity, this book ultimately advocates for a more honest, contextualized, and egalitarian approach to reform – one that openly addresses both individual and systemic realities.
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More advance praise for: LEARNING FROM COUNTERNARRATIVES IN TEACH FOR AMERICA

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More advance praise for

LEARNING FROM COUNTERNARRATIVES IN TEACH FOR AMERICA

“In this book, Sarah Matsui deeply captures the experiences and struggles of teachers who enter the teaching force through Teach For America. Matsui’s thoughtful exploration of corps members’ stories and experiences, along with her own, helps us not just understand the challenges particular to teaching in TFA, but also the challenges and struggles of teaching in contexts, macro and micro, that under-support and deprofessionalize teachers. From the carefully analyzed self-reports of corps members, we learn so much about the personal and professional struggles that they experience. From this deep, contextualized look into their insider experiences, which Matsui examines using multiple interpretive frameworks, can come vital learning that is hopeful and promising for teachers and those who educate and work to support them.”

—Sharon M. Ravitch, Senior Lecturer, University of Pennsylvania

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