Friday, October 23, 2009

This shirt is made of win.

I think I need this shirt...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What would teachers do without him?

Yes, I made that.  This site is fun.

Future Plans

Since I obviously didn't get hired over the summer (boo), I've had to re-evaluate my plans because, as I'm sure you can understand, I don't want to remain a sub forever. 

Initially I considered giving up teaching and earning my Master's in Library and Information Science.  I've worked in libraries before, and I love reading.  So why not?  So I applied and was accepted into an American Library Associated accredited program.  However, I didn't get any funding, and after completing an internship at a local historical library, I realized I wasn't ready to give up teaching.

My licensure is 7-12 History and Earth Science.  It's weird, I know, but after some drama early in college and switching my major, I decided to study the two subjects I loved most.  Unfortunately for me, Small State U didn't tell me I would be very unlikely to get a job in either of those.  Schools are looking for Integrated Social Studies and Integrated Science, which allows more flexibility in teaching assignments and covers high qualified status requirements from NCLB.  Plus, it is the sad state that most schools, when hiring social studies positions, are actually looking for coaches for their major sports, thus fulfilling the horrible stereotype of the football coach history teacher. 

So I decided that I needed to expand my certification.  However, the only way to become certified in mainstream subject areas is to go through a teacher education program in my undergraduate, so despite having all ready done that at Small State U, I'm going to have to go through another teacher education program.  This time, however, it will be a M. Ed. graduate program at Big State U. 

The idea of the M. Ed. (Master's in Education) program is that students complete all their content courses in their undergraduate program and then complete their teacher education program as part of a graduate program.  This is a foreign concept is certain states such as Michigan, where teacher education programs are integrated into the undergraduate degree.  There are arguments for and against the M. Ed. program.  The main agrument against the M. Ed. program is that students don't receive enough exposure to education classes and concepts, so they can get to the M. Ed. program only to discover that they really aren't cut out for teaching.  However, by having students focus on content in their undergraduate, they can become "experts" in their field and then focus on methods and education theory in their graduate.  My personal opinion, and the opinion of Hub and friends in the M.A. and Ph.D. education programs at Big State U, is that the M. Ed. is a joke and most M. Ed. students have inflated egos.  Earning a M. Ed. is not a true statement of "mastery" as those graduates are on the same experience level as the lowly bachelor's degree yet receive a pay raise. 

In any event, it works in my favor.  Although I will had to complete a second student teaching experience, I get a Master's for an eventual pay raise and increased certification.  Plus, additional methods and pedagogy classes can never hurt.

I am currently enrolled at Local Community College to earn the few content classes I need while I wait for my (potential) acceptance letter.  So that's the plan right now.  Hopefully by Fall 2011, I will have my own classroom and finally join the ranks of "real" teachers and bade farewell to my "sub" status.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

15 Famous People Who Used to Teach

If I ever get an actual salary (as opposed to this day-to-day schtuff), I'm going to subscribe to Mental Floss because I love their website.  Looking through their list archives, I found this interesting one: 15 Famous People Who Used to Teach.  My favs are Gene Simmons and Mr. T.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Portable Electronics & Students

Last week, I met a 5th grader with a cell phone.

Okay, I'm not that old, but I grew up in a time before cell phones.  Heck, I remember car phones.

I got my first cell phone at 20.  Now it seems every kid has their own cell phone, iPod, and whatever the new thing this old lady hasn't heard about yet.  I don't understand it at all.  I've asked students how they got them, and they say their parents pay for them.  That blows my mind!  My future children are going to hate me because I am not going to buy them the latest and greatest cell phone/iPod/electronic device with every feature and service imaginable.  I know I'm unusual; the only thing I use my cell phone for is to make telephone calls.  Okay, well, I sometimes play Tetris on it too, but these day everyone's texting and buying custom ringtones and surfing the Internet on their phones.  Kids can rack up major charges, and I can't understand any parent allowing it, let alone paying for it.

Electronic devices have major issues in education.  Okay, fine, buy your kid an expensive device and pay all of the associated charges.  Just keep those darn things out of the classroom!!  They're impossible to get rid of.  It's almost disturbing how many students I see with those things in the hallways and in the classroom.  Watching kids try to hid them is rather funny as well.  They try to hid their plugs by running the cord under their shirt and wear their big hoodies or they'll only put in the ear plug on the side facing away from the teacher's desk.  More than once I've seen cell phones in their laps as they text a friend.

One of the first questions I get after, "Are you the sub?" is "Can we listen to our iPods?"  I don't get paid enough to fight that battle, so despite my personal opinion that portable electronics is slowly destroying our nation's youth, I just tell them that as long as I can't hear their music, I don't care.  It's sad, I know, but when you're in a different classroom everyday and hardly acknowledged by the staff, it's hard not to be a bit apathetic.

One day... when I have my own classroom, all that will be banned, and if my students want music, they will have to pick something from my music collection!

Understanding NCLB: Dentist Example

If you don't understand why educators resent the recent federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), this may help. If you do understand, you'll enjoy this analogy.

No Dentist Left Behind

My dentist is great! He sends me reminders so I don't forget check-ups. He uses the latest techniques based on research. He never hurts me, and I've got all my teeth. When I ran into him the other day, I was eager to see if he'd heard about the new state program. I knew he'd think it was great.

"Did you hear about the new state program to measure effectiveness of dentists with their young patients?" I said.

"No," he said. He didn't seem too thrilled. "How will they do that?"

"It's quite simple," I said. "They will just count the number of cavities each patient has at age 10, 14, and 18 and average that to determine a dentist's rating. Dentists will be rated as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. That way parents will know which are the best dentists. The plan will also encourage the less effective dentists to get better!" I said. "Poor dentists who don't improve could lose their licenses topractice."

"That's terrible," he said.

"What? That's not a good attitude," I said. "Don't you think we should try to improve children's dental health in this state?"

"Sure I do," he said, "but that's not a fair way to determine who is practicing good dentistry."

"Why not?" I said. "It makes perfect sense to me."

"Well, it's so obvious," he said. "Don't you see that dentists don't all work with the same clientele, and that much depends on things we can't control? For example, I work in a rural area with a high percentage of patients from deprived homes, while some of my colleagues work in upper middle-class neighborhoods. Many of the parents I work with don't bring their children to see me until there is some kind of problem, and I don't get to do much preventive work. Also, more educated parents who understand the relationship between sugar and decay. To top it all off, so many of my clients have well water which is untreated and has no fluoride in it. Do you have any idea how much difference early use of fluoride can make?"

"It sounds like you're making excuses," I said. "I can't believe that you, my dentist, would be so defensive. After all, you do a great job, and you needn't fear a little accountability."

"I am not being defensive!" he said. "My best patients are as good as anyone's, my work is as good as anyone's, but my average cavity count is going to be higher than a lot of other dentists because I chose to work where I am needed most."

"Don't get touchy," I said.

"Touchy?" he said. His face had turned red, and from the way he was clenching and unclenching his jaws, I was afraid he was going to damage his teeth. "Try furious! In a system like this, I will end up being rated average, below average, or worse. The few educated patients I have who see these ratings may believe this so-called rating is an actual measure of my ability and proficiency as a dentist. They may leave me, and I'll be left with only the most needy patients. And my cavity average score will get even worse. On top of that, how will I attract good dental hygienists and other excellent dentists to my practice if it is labeled below average?"

"I think you are overreacting," I said. "'Complaining, excuse-making and stonewalling won't improve dental health'...I am quoting from a leading member of the DOC," I noted.

"What's the DOC?" he asked. "It's the Dental Oversight Committee," I said, "a group made up of mostly lay persons to make sure dentistry in this state gets improved.

"Spare me," he said, "I can't believe this. Reasonable people won't buy it," he said hopefully.

The program sounded reasonable to me, so I asked, "How else would you measure good dentistry?"

"Come watch me work," he said. "Observe my processes."

"That's too complicated, expensive and time- consuming," I said. "Cavities are the bottom line, and you can't argue with the bottom line. It's an absolute measure."

"That's what I'm afraid my parents and prospective patients will think. This can't be happening," he said despairingly.

"Now, now," I said, "don't despair. The state will help you some."

"How?" he asked.

"If you receive a poor rating, they'll send a dentist who is rated excellent to help straighten you out," I said brightly.

"You mean," he said, "they'll send a dentist with a wealthy clientele to show me how to work on severe juvenile dental problems with which I have probably had much more experience? BIG HELP!"

"There you go again," I said. "You aren't acting professionally at all."

"You don't get it," he said. "Doing this would be like grading schools and teachers on an average score made on a test of children's progress with no regard to influences outside the school, the home, the community served and stuff like that. Why would they do something so unfair to dentists? No one would ever think of doing that to schools."

I just shook my head sadly, but he had brightened. "I'm going to write my representatives and senators," he said. "I'll use the school analogy. Surely they will see the point." He walked off with that look of hope mixed with fear and suppressed anger that I, a teacher, see in the mirror so often lately.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Keeping It Cool

It amazes me how different 6th graders are from 9th graders. 9th grade have discovered their arrogance, their sense of omniscience and self-entitlement. Yesterday I was in the 6th grade student and let me tell you, they had those kids trained to a T. They didn't so much as breathe without permission. How soon they forget. Actually, how soon they lose the self-control. Their raging hormones and identity crises probably lead them to it. I just have to try to not let it get under my skin. Sometimes it's hard to stay calm and enforce discipline with compassion... to be the strict sub while secretly laughing on the inside while the students squirm. However, it's bad when I become a bit vindictive. You cut me, I bleed. I'm only human, but as a teacher you have to become super human and hold yourself a bit higher. It's going to take a lot of practice. A LOT.

Word on the street is that schools are starting to consider candidates for the next school year. That means I have to start updating my applications, but let me tell yeah it sucks. Good schools, please hire me!