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Author Topic: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?  (Read 2662 times)

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Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #25 on: March 14, 2012, 08:53:27 PM »
The question was never asked; I just assumed she, and some of my other classmates, thought a secondary ed. English degree would be a soft option-- you know, make mummy and daddy happy by graduating, get an extra certificate, and do whatever to pay the bills afterward.  I simply stared in disbelief while she complained about professors and homework.

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Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #26 on: March 14, 2012, 09:09:34 PM »
Ah, following the whole 'Those who can't do, teach' misconception.  Personally, I wouldn't mind teaching, but I'd have problems getting certified at this point.   When I was in college, there were psychology requirements.  So not my field - I can make numbers make sense to people, though.

(Sorry, I read 'almost' as 'actually' in your earlier post.)

Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #27 on: March 14, 2012, 09:26:00 PM »
Yeah, my certification track required Psych 101 and Adolescent Psych.  The extra classes, I didn't really mind, but the tests are ridiculous.  A few weeks ago, I took a literacy/communication exam, and two weeks ago, I took my subject matter test.  I find out in a week if I passed the first one, and I have to wait until April 6th to find out if I passed the second.  It's frustrating because the material is so random; everything written since Gilgamesh is fair game for the English subject test.  >__<

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #28 on: March 14, 2012, 09:55:59 PM »
everything written since Gilgamesh is fair game for the English subject test.  >__< can works whose original tongue is not English be fair game for an English test?

Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #29 on: March 14, 2012, 10:48:02 PM »
It all falls under the curriculum we teach.  There were even questions about The Bhagavad Gita and The Tale of Genji!  These aren't exactly typical texts for the classroom, but the state likes to keep us on our toes, making sure we know everything before we're allowed to do our practicum.  It's silly, really.

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #30 on: March 14, 2012, 10:54:07 PM »
I still take ontological offense at the people who designed your curriculum :P

If it's not a work of English lit then it shouldn't be on an English test. Maybe a world literature course or humanities course, but English should be restricted to...well, English.

Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #31 on: March 20, 2012, 10:12:45 AM »
Okay, I visited Salem, MA on Saturday and sketched out a basic unit plan!  I visted the Witch Museum, and it was absolutely horrible!  The presentation was just Hollywood sensationalism, and my husband called it Orwellian history re-writing.  What bothered me most was the portrayal of the Puritan lifestyle.  Essentially, the presentation was about, "Graar!  These were ignorant bastards who hated women and murdered a bunch of people!"  Yeah, the witch hysteria was a very bad thing, but ignorant and misogynistic?  Tell that to Anne Bradstreet, an educated woman and the very first published American writer.  Anyway...There were a lot of problems with the museum, and I'm sure a lot of the other attractions in the town have similiar issues--I wouldn't know because almost everything else will be closed until April or later.

My unit will start with readings of Anne Bradstreet, talking about the implications her poetry makes about colonial life; then, we'll move on to reading Jonathan Edwards's sermons and journal entries; and there might be some readings from Cotton Mather and what he really had to say about the witch trials.  After the readings, there will be a field trip to Salem.  I ordered a guidebook about the museums and things I missed, so I can put together a hypothetical itinerary.  At the Witch Museum, the students will take notes on questions and concerns they have; when they get back to school, they will select one specific issue from their list, research it, and compare their findings with the museum's version of the facts.  The short papers will become letters of complaint to the museum.

I presented this to my impossible-to-please Methods professor, and she liked it!  She said my final assessment (the letter) sounded "authentic."  What she means by authentic assessment is that I didn't just assign busywork--a quiz or a conventional essay--but I assigned something real or practical.  I think the best part of it was that I had answers to every question she threw at me.  I have a bit of a rep with her for being disorganized and not thinking things through; I think she expected me to say, "Oh...I'll have to think about that some more..."  But no!  She asked me if it was an "Anti-Crucible" unit, and I said, "No.  We're not even going there.  The Crucible is an allegory written about McCarthyism through Puritans; we're reading stuff specifically by actual Puritans."  Then, she asked how I was going to sell that material to the kids, so I told her, "I'm targeting my alma mater, an all-girls school.  The witch hunts were primarily a female issue (though several men suffered as well).  As a hook for my first lesson on Anne Bradstreet, I'm going to ask, 'It's 1692, what expectations in terms of tasks and behavior do you think that you have to live up to as a woman?'  And then start clearing up some stereotypes and misconceptions."  She was so pleased!  I nearly cried.

Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #32 on: April 06, 2012, 09:01:24 AM »
The unit plan is going very well.  My pre-practicum hours, though...not so much.  I love my cooperating teacher; she's great, and she lets me help out a lot in the classroom by grading and co-designing lessons with her.  On Tuesday, the kids in her Folklore class gave presentations about the differences and similarities between traditional faerie tales and their Disney counterparts.  I'm not going to lie, for juniors and seniors, these presentations were horrendous, especially when they got to the real analysis part.  They were supposed to look at cultural context, but each group had the same line, "Disney changed the stories so they would be more politically correct and wouldn't frighten children."  That's nice, but what about the cultural background called for these changes?  So, my cooperating teacher was disappointed; instead of penalizing them, we got together and designed a lesson about the cultural implications of the Disney films they presented on.  It was all about critical thinking skills; though the execution was a little rough, critical thinking happened in that room.  I was so proud!  It was a good morning.  However, in the afternoon, my cooperating teacher sent me to another classroom because she was administering a test in her own; this is standard procedure for pre-prac students so that they can see as much action in a classroom as possible.  So, she showed me my options for the period, and I chose another Folklore class taught by another teacher.  I wish I had gone to the other Sci-fi/Fantasy class.

Anyway, one of the first things the unfamiliar teacher said when we went into the empty classroom was, "Welcome to hell."  Honestly, I don't like it when teachers are negative about their students.  They can be hard to keep in line, but if you're not doing anything about it or asking for help, you should be embarrassed about all your bitching and moaning about it.  I wasn't really all that put off by the statement because my last pre-prac had been at an inner-city school that was pretty out of control.  The line is, "You can't scare me; I've been to (insert urban school name)."  Usually, when I observe, I sit behind the teacher's desk or in a corner--somewhere out of the way.  She placed me in the center of the back row; this would have been fine until she explained why.  Apparently, there are some "warring factions" in this class.  A student on the left side of the room accused some students on the right of bullying him/her.  She said I could be a wall.  That was a little unnerving, but I did as I was told.  That instruction alone should have been a hint that I was in a bad place.  When a class starts, the teacher takes a few seconds to explain the presence of their student teacher; this is how not to do it: the teacher got up in the front and said, "We have a visitor today.  Officer (insert name) from the (insert nearby urban city) Police Department."  At first, I thought it was a mildly amusing joke, and I played along for a little while.  After the first ten minutes, though, students were confused and worried, and I realized that this teacher intended to keep the "joke" running.  I told the few students on either side of me that I wasn't a cop, but whenever a student piped up that I was a student teacher, she insisted that I was under cover.  It wasn't funny anymore.  Impersonating a police officer is a felony, and I wasn't going to get pulled into that.  She was using my presence to establish some semblance of order in her class; she even went as far as to imply that I could bring about some form of consequences if they misbehaved.  It was a disgrace.

My time at the school was supposed to end right after that class, and I had my own class to attend on my campus.  So, I had to rush out, turn in my visitor's badge, and meet my husband so he could take me to my next engagement.  I told him what happened, and he encouraged me to report it.  Our worry was that a student would go home and tell his/her parents that they had a cop in their E-period class.  I reported it to the vice principle's office to cover my own ass by making sure they knew what was going on before it got back to them through someone else.  I don't think they're going to do anything about it.  They kept insisting that this teacher is a known joker, but I told them that she seemed pretty serious and the students couldn't really be sure if she was kidding or not.  The new worry is that I'll come back on Monday morning to an English department that will be looking at me like a dirty snitch.  >__<

Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #33 on: April 15, 2012, 08:24:14 AM »
I came back on Monday to find that my ordinary cooperating teacher was miffed that I hadn't come to her first.  She had me sit down with the other teacher and talk it out.  Turns out she was reprimanded by the office.  I said I was sorry and that I should have talked to her and/or my cooperating teacher first.  A bit of a lie, really.  I'm not sorry for what happened.  I did what I thought was best at the time; I didn't have the opportunity to talk to anyone, and it was right before a 3-day weekend.  I figured that wasn't a good enough excuse for them, and I was right; my cooperating teacher took points off my final evaluation in the category "Relations With Staff" and put it in her letter to my Methods of Teaching English professor.  It's going in my reflection report, and we'll see what happens.  If you ask me, that lady needed a wake up call.  Her class was out of control, and she tried to use a student teacher as a bandaid solution.  I don't care how often she jokes around with her students; I don't kid around when it comes to matters with the police.  It's disrespectful to their office, and it's confusing for the students.  It was an abuse of power that she didn't even hold.  When my cooperating teacher talked to me about it, she just looked to me like an English teacher trying to cover another English teacher's ass.

That incident was the last straw.  I quit my certification track.  I don't feel comfortable in the public school system for a number of reasons, including the "mini teachers' union" I saw at that school.  I've only had 90 hours in the system--30 of them being relatively pleasant--and I can't stand it.  No matter how many times my professors try to teach us how to reach "resistant learners," I just can't grasp it.  I guess I was too much of a nerd in school to have any empathy for those students.  I don't necessarily quit teaching; I just won't be continuing to practicum and state certification.  I'll have my degree in literature, work to support myself, and just maybe I'll find a place at a private school (hopefully my alma mater).

Offline Shjade

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #34 on: April 15, 2012, 08:54:36 AM »
It's always troublesome when incidents get complicated by crossing between doing what should be done and doing what the folks above you might prefer you do instead.

For what it's worth, I might have confronted the offending teacher directly first in a 'wtf' fashion, but given the time constraints I'd have probably just ended up mentioning it to the office on my way out the door, too. Sometimes timing can't be helped.

Hope things turn out well for you regardless of this bump in the road with the whole certification thing!

Offline movieswimfreak

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #35 on: July 15, 2012, 12:59:24 PM »
Siren - I just honestly hope you still get to teach in any way possible (hopefully your Alma Mater works out!). Reading your plan and seeing how you stood up to the teacher politics and didn't lie to the kids in the classroom - honestly we need more of that! I would have loved to have my high school english teacher do an assignment that fit in perfectly wit the text I was reading. I hope it all works out for you!

Offline Chelemar

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #36 on: July 26, 2012, 01:54:45 PM »
Songless Siren,

I hope you do go back and continue your certification.  No matter what position you take, there will be politics.  Learning to deal with it is not easy. EVER! 

Speaking for experience having taught in a private school, all girls, I can attest that you will also have students who are difficult to reach, have some sort of learning disability, or who simply do not want to learn. Also, your pay grade could be effected by thousands.  Though a teaching certificate is not required to teach in private schools in many places, many schools dock a teacher's pay for lack of one.  Again, personal experience speaking here.

 Reaching all of your students can be even more rewarding than you would think, even if it's in a small way.  Seeing someones eyes go from dull to shining with that inner light is amazing.  And don't forget, they will be your students then, not another teachers whom you are aiding.  It will be your lesson plan--your room. 

One of the best pieces of advice I received as I was about to take on my very first classroom was about how to establish classroom rules (I called them guidelines to make it seem less harsh, and if for any reason a rule needed to be broken...well it's simple to break a guideline).  I didn't make the guidelines myself but allowed the students to come up with them, with the caveat that they had to be reasonable and doable.  We wrote down the suggestions and those that were reasonable and doable we kept, those that weren't, were discarded.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that first time that the kids knew which rules they wanted...and they were more strict on themselves than I would have been.

I wish you the very best and hope that you please do keep to your dream. 



Offline Songless SirenTopic starter

Re: Suggestions for an Aspiring Educator?
« Reply #37 on: July 28, 2012, 01:16:27 AM »
Thanks for all the advice and support, but I don't think the classroom is the right place for me at this time.  My education has been a bit of a rollercoaster, calm and easy with a gradually building tension during the ascent, followed by a harrowing plummet.  I have always achieved mostly good marks, but there are some issues from past experiences with teachers (academically and socially) that I need to deal with before I feel comfortable and confident with my own teaching philosophy.  Currently, I've been talking with my husband about resurfacing anger about my underappreciated dedication to my academic career from an early age (let's say around 10).  I guess part of my reasons for wanting to teach in the first place is because of lingering hatred for my own teachers at my Christian middle school.  I wanted to be better and actually give a damn about the students who put in the effort.  I'm still incredibly angry at my middle school teachers.  It's been over ten years, but I'm still quite bitter about it.

Anyway, long story made short: I don't recommend telling an 11-12 year old girl that she should pray for whoever's picking on her at school and just leave it at that.  At the moment, I am under the tutelage of a very skilled baker at a local restaurant.  I assist her in baking for the restaurant and special events held on the premises (wedding receptions and other parties).  I love my work with her, and I'm learning a lot about baking.  I don't know where this is going, but I'm having a lot of fun on the way.  So, baking experience and training?  Check!  Next: get my ass in gear on those writing/research projects!  >__<