10 October, 2007


Preface: These are my working essays for T4A; I am looking for feedback and help. I need to finish these in ~1.5 weeks. Please, please, please leave comments or email me (jendockter (at) gmail.com).

Why do you seek to join Teach For America? What would make you an effective corps member? (400 to 500 words)

10 Reasons I'd like to be a T4A teacher:
  1. I'm smart and I want to share my smarts with the children.
  2. To instill in children the internalistic drive and love of learning that my mother and early school teachers did for me.
  3. To give back to the educational system that gave so much to me.
  4. To gain my certifications and build experience to open up the possibility of moving back to MN and helping with poor, low-performing schools there.
  5. To impact positive change in and learn about communities that were once completely foreign to me (i.e. in "The South" that is North Carolina, or highly urbanized areas such as NYC).
  6. To serve as an example of someone who grew up poor and made something of themselves.
  7. I spent a fair amount of time griping about how poorly many public school systems in this country are run; this is my chance to make a difference.
  8. I want to be one of those teachers that kids hate while they have me, but love when they're done: namely one that teaches them and makes them do things the hard way so things are easier when they actually do get "tough".
  9. To teach today's kids to be critical, inquisitive and mindful.
  10. To help build tomorrow's effective leaders and workforce.

10 things that make me an effective corps member:

  1. Relatability: I've been there. Learning is hard, learning while worrying about whether mom's going to make enough money to cover rent and buy food this month is even harder.
  2. Enthusiasm: I face every day as an opportunity for new challenge and new learning.
  3. Range: I've been the bookish kid, the clown, the shy one. I can coax kids out of their shells; I can instill the difference between fairness and equality.
  4. Experience: I've done teaching projects back in the day through Bio-Earth club. I know how to cater to various crowds and adjust course materials accordingly.
  5. Nurturing Attitude: I care about today's youth. The world is a lot harsher today than it was when I was in grade school. There is a lot of competition for everything; kids today need a good deal of coaching to go along with the other skills for life that school teaches.
  6. Community Focus: I am primarily interested in working in small to medium sized schools, districts or cities as these usually have the least red tape in regard to inacting positive, large-scale community change. I feel many small communities have the ability to show what just a few people can accomplish and as such give example to larger urban and suburban settings; or merely the larger urban area surrounding.
  7. Attentiveness: I think in far too many cases, a lot of "problem children" are left behind or simply ignored. These kids often are looking for someone to reach out to them, and I would make it a point to make sure these kids find the help they need.
  8. Focus on Learning: I make it a point during lessons to not get distracted or go off on tangents because I feel this takes away from the learning experience as well as wastes everyone's time.
  9. Make it Matter: I will make it a point to tie the teachings to something that currently impacts the students because if there are situations the students can apply their learning to, it is more likely to stick with them in the long run.
  10. Cater to Their Abilities: Tying in with not leaving behind students who may struggle with the material, but also serving to let those who understand it get ahead; I will strive to work with struggling students to bring their achievement and understanding up to the level of the remainder of the class.

Describe a time when you encountered serious obstacles to success while working on a project. You may choose any academic, professional, or extracurricular project you have worked on during the past four years. Your essay should address all of the following questions:

  • What was the aim of the project?

To create the new Keller Williams North Texas real estate advertisement book. Redesigned from the ground-up. The largest book we'd had to date and have it publish and on stands by an early September date from its inception date of July 8th.

  • What were the specific obstacles that arose, and why did they occur?

      1. The core committee of realtors working with us on this book had a difficult time agreeing with each other on pretty much every issue dealing with the design of the book including:

      • The cover design. Kirsten (the other designer working on the book with me) and I made up 6 initial covers. The committee debated over them for a week, and decided they wanted to see 6 more. They continued to debate over the cover up until 3 days before the data download.
      • Whether to use "lifestyle" photos on their covers or actual real estate property from inside the book (this was a large factor in why it took so long to decide on a cover).
      • Whether or not the book should be in full colour, spot colour, black and white or have a single-colour spot and a separate colour section.
      • Whether they wanted red spot in their headers and footers or just black and white.
      • Whether to have realtors' photos next to their properties.
      • Whether to use our standard fill-ins for ads placed without photos, to have special fill-ins made for their book, or to have a separate section for ads that did not receive photos.

      2. The sales people were giving us either wrong or completely opposite information:

      • They told us (and our programmers) the realtors wanted the book in full colour when they did not.
      • Sales people informed the realtors that red colour folios (the part of the page that has the parent company's web information and page number, etc. at the bottom and date of the book at the top) as well as listing text would be "a good idea" (it's not).
      • The number of listings per page changed from their original book (the one they had with a different publishing house) to how many we were doing; we were not informed of this until almost a month into the project.

      3. Data issues; deadline issues; programming issues.

      • Deadlines for real estate submissions came and went with many of their realtors not submitting, resulting in botched test downloads and many angry calls
      • Little to no training of realtors on how to use our online submission and ad-building self-service device resulting in a lot of last-minute fixes.
      • Programming receiving too little information too late and having to scrap about a month's worth of work and do re-works with less-than-spectacular results
      • Missed September deadline due largely to unwillingness to compromise and inability to communicate effectively. Largely a case of too many cooks in the kitchen.

      • What was the ultimate outcome with respect to the initial aim of the project? Why did this outcome occur? (400 to 500 words)

      The ultimate outcome was a book that was released almost a full month after its initial agreed-upon release date. It was a lot of hardwork and headache on mine and Kirsten's part, but the book looked fantastic once all the bugs were worked out and we got realtors and sales people to agree on what would be best in regard to feasible design within the clients' budget and our own press's limitations. I would say this is a mixed, at best, result of about 3 months' work, but in the end, the customer (the realtors) were happy with their product, and that is all that really matters.

      While you should completely describe the obstacle(s) you faced, please do not focus your essay primarily on the obstacle(s); it is more important that you thoroughly explain your reaction and describe the steps you took in response to the obstacle(s). The experience you choose to describe may relate to any academic, professional, or extracurricular project.


      Mar said...

      Hey, lady. Did you already turn this in, or can I still make comments/suggestions?

      Jen Dockter said...

      No, I haven't turned it in yet.