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Wed, Aug. 10th, 2011, 02:09 pm
mozartzbitch: My TFA letter of intent; state what you wish, but please try be constructive, not condescending

GO MOM!
My Mother rules! She has been up at 4:30 a.m. the last two mornings and will be up at 4:30 again tomorrow morning to help me with this essay. I love her so much, and can't tell you how fortunate I feel to have my parents like mine right now!

Anyway, so I am working on two application essays. I am applying to Teach for America's gradate students corps program and Claremont Graduate University's English master's program. So for those who to take a look at my revised TFA application essay, here it is. Criticisms are encouraged and appreciated.

Through Teach for America I wish to help guide today's youth to tomorrow's adulthood. I have felt insurmountable pride in growth between me and children and seek future achievments with TFA.

I wish to teach music for TFA to proivde students many essential values from arts education. I am dedicated to developing students' artistic abilities for its esential values and privileges. All children are inherently artisitc; but many lack opportunities to discover it. Arts classes should have concise goals for students with prompts from teachers, but should rely on students' creativity. Students should learn to apply creativity in fields within and beyond muic class. Students discover artistic abilities through progressively challenging activities through my approach. Each assignment teaches skills necessary for the next activity. When they complete everything, they receive the priceless reward of a product they knowingly created. This provides tangible proof of what diligence and effort earns. They aspire to future endeavors and attain a framework to model after. I benefited from this as a child was in choir. I infrequently trusted my voice to blend with other singers. As choral singing is a team effort in which each voice creates a unified sound, each sound is equally important. I learned to trust my own voice, making sure I always heard the rest of the choir and avoided oversinging. I learned the musical skill of blend; and core life skills in paying attention, teamwork, and self-confidence. The performances taught me what my efforts earned. Applying the skills beyond music, my general confidence in academic and social affairs greatly developed too. Modeling after such guidance, I hope future students grow equally from mine.

I base achievement on growth within a specific timeframe. I base goals on current needs relating to standards I work toward. Observing students' deficiencies, I diagnose errors from which to establish goals. I assess goals by how appropriately students currently understand the material and where they should be at such a point. Finally, I assess how accurately they understand all material. My rhythm exercises for instance, address content standards assessing notes students should identify and perform. These exercises also promote students' appreciation for music and appreciation for each other. First, I observe how well they understand the notes. Then, I observe which students need more help than others. I model examples as the class gradually corrects the material. The more students listen to each other, and me; the more growth they develop. By class's end, I assess reflect on what needs were there at first and how they fulfilled those needs in the time frame.

I hope to lessen education’s achievement gap by inspiring inner-city youth through my dedication to excellence. In today's necessity for effective teachers, I hope TFA lets me help fill this need.

Thu, Aug. 11th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
twirlynoodle

All in all I think you have some really good thoughts here and your enthusiasm for the subject really comes through. It does seem, though, that you are sacrificing clarity for an impressive vocabulary, which bogs it down and doesn't reflect well on your ability to communicate ideas plainly to children which, presumably, is the job you are applying for. This surprises me, as when you write a post or a comment you communicate very clearly – try approaching this from that perspective; you're explaining to a friend why you want this job and why you're a good fit for it. You can even try reading this out loud to see where the language feels funny.

Thu, Aug. 11th, 2011 12:18 am (UTC)
twirlynoodle



Specific notes:

I have felt insurmountable pride in growth between me and children

It's probably clearer to say 'I have taken great pride in'. While it may be technically OK, I'm not sure this is quite the right place to use 'insurmountable' – it comes off as 'look at the big word I am using.'

Also not sure what you mean by 'growth' here .. what is growing? Your relationship? The creative capacity of both you and the children?

I wish to teach music for TFA to [provide] students many essential values from arts education.

Maybe clearer as 'to provide students with the benefits of arts education.'

I am dedicated to developing students' artistic abilities for its [essential] values and privileges.

'Abilities' is plural, 'its' is singular. You may want to substitute 'their.' 'Intrinsic' might be a better word here than 'essential.'

The semicolon after 'artistic' in the following sentence should either be a comma or not exist at all. It might be nice to expand on this idea with how you teaching for TFA will help these children find opportunities to develop their artistic side, and why this is important.

in fields within and beyond [music] class

Music is a field; music class is a very particular time and place. Comparing a whole field to a class is a very lopsided comparison, like comparing 'Biology' to 'Invertebrate Paleontology 101.'

Students discover artistic abilities through progressively challenging activities through my approach.

Because you are using this sentence to introduce your approach, it might be better to rearrange it to start with 'Through my approach, students ...' That also keeps you from starting two sentences in a row with 'students.'

I benefited from this as a child [when I] was in choir.

I infrequently trusted my voice to blend with other singers.

Might be clearer to say 'I didn't trust my voice...' or, because you're introducing a progression here, 'At first, I didn't trust my voice ...'

Comma after 'blend,' not semicolon, as the second half of that sentence is not a complete sentence.

Modeling after such guidance, I hope future students grow equally from mine.

Grow equally from your what? Your guidance? You didn't talk about specific guidance in relation to your choir story, just experience. 'Experience' is probably a better word here, unless you want to go into how someone showed you how to blend, etc.

My rhythm exercises[,] for instance, address content standards[,] assessing notes students should identify and perform.

Perhaps this isn't an issue if you're talking to music teachers, but I am confused by this sentence. What are content standards? How do you assess notes? I have a mental image of a student 'identifying' a note in a score somewhere and 'performing' it, i.e. singing just that one note, and you nodding solemnly and marking down a grade. Is this what's actually happening? If not, you might want to find a way to word it more clearly.

The more students listen to each other, and me;

Comma instead of semicolon after 'me'

the more growth they develop.

Either 'the more they grow' or 'the more they develop'; as it stands now this is redundant.

By class's end, I assess reflect on what needs were there ...

Choose either 'assess' or 'reflect'; both words are trying to do the same job here and you only need one. Alternatively you could write 'By class's end, I reflect on what needs were there at first and assess how they fulfilled ...'

I hope to lessen education’s achievement gap

If this started a new paragraph explaining how musical education helps underprivileged students catch up to their competitors that would be fine, but in a concluding paragraph I feel like I've missed something important, because (as far as I could tell) that wasn't what your essay was about.

I hope that's helpful, and not too condescending ...

Thu, Aug. 11th, 2011 12:48 am (UTC)
mozartzbitch

"I hope that's helpful, and not too condescending"
Absolutely not, your observations are very much appreciated! Thank you so much.

I must say that many of the issues you cited, others have cited as well and infact, I find myself whole-heartedly agreeing. So you are absolutely right.

Honestly though, thank you so much. I will first of all however, return the favor by immediatley cracking on these to make your observations and efforts at least as worhtwhile as possible.

BTW mind if I friend you?

Thu, Aug. 11th, 2011 01:15 am (UTC)
twirlynoodle

Of course you're welcome to friend me ... I must warn you, though, all you're going to get is a whole lot of obsessing over doomed polar explorers and the occasional link to BBC radio comedy. :)

Fri, Aug. 12th, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)
mozartzbitch

Well that beats some of the ridiculously x-rated ranting most of the lj post I read from my friends are, which I'd feel uncomfortable revealing to a shrink.

Thu, Aug. 11th, 2011 01:11 am (UTC)
mozartzbitch

Please not that I am laughing at myself as I acknowledge your quote, "This surprises me, as when you write a post or a comment you communicate very clearly". Whehter it be your intention or not, you just nailed the greatet issue my essay suffers from, so THANK YOU. I mean seriously, when I post on livejournal, my blogs are all very relaxed and I am just thinking about expressing a point. I am not trying to impress judges with a bunch of red heirring, extranneous vocabulary, or teacher application application cliches.