Today's spotlight is John Falke! John is currently a corps member with TFA teaching middle school math in West Dallas. While at UT, John studied Business Honors and Supply Chain Management; however, his long term goals are focused on educational policy. As such, at UT he was heavily involved with the Undergraduate Business Council, Student Government, and the Senate of College Councils.
John became aware of educational inequity while he was a student in high school. 'Seeing the disparity in higher education access between students of color and white students made me want to do something about the intersection of race and opportunity in this country.' After changes in the political climate during his time at UT, he realized he wanted to direct attention to the topics that impacted people the most. 'People don't view education as importantly as other issues in this country and that’s really problematic to me because educational inequity is the number one issue that we're facing as a nation right now.'
John is teaching around 120 kids in 6th-grade math. He says the hardest part has been classroom management. 'I feel comfortable with the content and the pedagogical aspect of teaching, but managing over hundred students is not easy.' He strives to not only push these kids academically but also personally, working his hardest to create a personal connection with each of his kids and ensure that they have everything they need to be better people as well as better students. 'At the end of the day, I’m trying to give them a rigorous course so that their thoughts are challenged and so they have the skills to go to college and become productive members of our community.'
Despite the struggles, John says that every second has been worth it. 'I'm pumped every single day to go to school.' His favorite part is seeing the kids want to learn and actively engage in the classroom. 'It's incredibly rewarding and there are always new challenges to face.' His recounted to me a tale about taking a student that he saw potential in and helping him transfer into a higher level of workload with more difficult courses. 'This student is going to have a completely different trajectory because he's going to have access to the academic rigor of pre-AP classes that he needs and craves. That was the most rewarding part of this week.' In addition to teaching, he's also coaching the cross country team. 'I wanted to be a leader in another part of these kids’ lives. There's a difference in the coaching and teaching relationship. It's fun for him, and he enjoys getting to lead the athletes in practice every day after school.'
For students that are considering TFA or are going to be doing TFA, John says to make use of every resource that is available to you. 'Talk to the other veteran teachers at the schools about every topic. The people around you are the best resource that you can get. Our teachers are like a family and we know each other very well.' He emphasized that part of the learning process is working with others. 'You cannot be an island otherwise you will drown. Soak up all the advice from others because everybody is there to help you.'
John is entering his second week of teaching this year and we're excited to see all the great work and impact he's having on these kids. If you're at all interested in helping others and educational inequity, please feel free to reach out to us on our facebook page, the contact page above, or email our primary recruiter, Jorge Galan, directly. He can be reached at Jorge.Galan@teachforamerica.org.
See you next week!