Got my first job! Working for Teach for America

This story was published in FIU News by Yenisleidy Simon Mengana. 

Name: Robinson Ospina

Hometown: Tampa, FL

Degree/Major: International relations; Global Learning Medallion graduate

Where are you working? Title? New Orleans/ Middle School Social Studies Teacher

How did you get your job? I got my job through Teach For America, who was my biggest support during the process.

What was your greatest fear going into your first job, and how did you face it or overcome it? My biggest fear going into the job was knowing that I lacked the experience. I overcame this fear by training really hard, attending various professional development workshops, and by actually setting foot in a classroom. I can now say from experience, that this is the best kind of training out there. No one can truly prepare you for this job. You just have to go for it.

What surprised you the most about your first job? What really surprised me most about this job was the amount of work it entails. In addition, I was surprised by all the laws and requirements behind special education.

What advice do you have for those beginning the job search process? Do your research and do something you’re passionate about.

What does a day on the job look like? My day begins early, 6 a.m. I usually arrive to the school by 7:30 a.m. At that point, I begin to prepare for my students. This includes a variety of tasks—from preparing myself with the curriculum to printing out any handouts and homework. From then on, I teach two periods of Louisiana history and two more on U.S. history. I end my day with a planning period, followed by homeroom where I get to build and strengthen my relationships with students.

How does your job connect back to your coursework? In my job, I’m constantly communicating both verbally and in writing. In addition, I gather, create and present a variety of data and information on social studies. In doing all of this, I’m also able to develop a cultural, political and global awareness. Therefore, I’m constantly building on the coursework I received with an interdisciplinary study such as international relations.

How was your transition from school to work? How do you balance your time? My transition from school to work was chaotic. As soon as I graduated, I only had two weeks to prepare for my Praxis, a test that measures the academic skills and subject-specific content knowledge needed for teaching. Following the test, I had one day before I was off to New Orleans for a week long introduction with Teach for America. Following that, I had 24 hours to get to Atlanta where I began my month-long training. This type of work is exhausting and time consuming; therefore, I had to organize myself quickly if I was going to succeed in this career. My planner was my lifesaver, it is the only thing that kept me sane and balanced.

What’s been the coolest thing about your job so far? Working with the kids. They are the best part of the job.

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