Special Ed: dispatches from graduate education programs

My 3.5 year old is perpetually entertaining, however my memory and brains are shot so I forget every cute thing she does about 15 seconds after I am done laughing.  That’s a lot of forgetting!  After a long day of forgetting all the things I am supposed to do, forgetting all the things I am supposed to remember, forgetting about places I was supposed to be and what I was supposed to bring…I am really ready for a nap.  It exhausts me just to think about it.

In an earlier post I mentioned that I had been schooled.  And then a friend of mine mentioned the misery of her grad program for teaching.  Zhenya, this is what I can contribute to your current situation.

I think teacher ed. programs could be amazing.  For me, the experience was summed up in the physical building that my classes were mostly held in.  It had been renovated, and was one of the originals on campus.  However, it had a cyclone fence around the siding, ostensibly holding it together.  It did not have clocks in the rooms and no elevator and it was always very, very cold.  It stood in contrast to the Engineering building, which was an amazing work of art, very new and beautiful.  Sometimes, that is how I felt about teacher ed. programs.  They were held together by some strong components, a lot of work on the parts of the professors sometimes, but often didn’t get to the heart of the profession.

Now, I did get some stuff out of all those classes.  I am a fervent believer that you get out of education what you put into it.

But truth be told, it was a 15,000 dollar piece of paper that gave me about 500 to 600 dollars worth of information.  It could have been condensed into a summer.

Uh oh, my “I am the bad student muttering in the back of the classroom” side is showing.

Perhaps.  But, I have sat through classes where teachers would only call on guys, teachers who admitted to organizing the papers as to who they thought would get A’s at the top,  teachers who did nordic dances on the table tops, teachers who drew little cartoon sunshine’s on the test and teachers who criticized me for touching the whiteboard with my finger (it leaves grease smudges!!!)

To be fair, there were good profs.

My favorite grade was the grade that I got in my counseling class.  I was amazed by this class because the real professor couldn’t come and so he or she had a high school counselor teach it instead.  Then the high school counselor couldn’t make it a couple times, so they got this kid who worked at the bagel shop to come in and show us videos.  I kid, but only about the bagel shop. Then, after doing all the work (which was easy and fun, were it not that I was also working 2 jobs, doing a fellowship and student teaching all at the same time) and showing up every class, they gave me a B.  For “Intro to Counseling” where I wrote about “my vessel” and what it contained (?) and I practiced listening (not kidding). I paid my personal money for it.

One class I learned quite alot from.  It was about the law and education.  It was a good class because it was online and the teacher made no bones about us parroting back what we were supposed to learn.  I learned that it was not okay to be a Christian in a public school, nor was it ok to indicate any other religion.  I was a “state actor” and represented the government which paid for education.  Therefore, it was inappropriate to exhibit any religious preference.  Most people I told this too had never heard this before.

After teachers pay their personal money to do work that it will take years to pay off their student debt, we have declarations that a merit pay system be in place to oust crummy teachers. Punishing schools with low standardized test scores by saying they are “failing”.  Teachers are all different, granted, and I have met some astonishingly tired teachers who were hanging on to get their well-earned PERS retirement.  But the lot of them just wanted to teach kids.  My point is, rather than blame teachers, can’t we assess how we prepare teachers and shore up the content and rigor of all the logistics that really go into teaching, like GRADING, and WRITING GOOD TESTS and GOOD COMMUNICATION techniques and LOTS of practicum.

I have learned many good tools for my teacher workbag, but by and large they weren’t in my ed program, unfortunately.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Zhenya says:

    This is hilarious. I cannot believe what you wrote about your counseling class. How dare they gave you this grade! Maybe they had that kid give out grades by who tipped him the most:).

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