Back to School

No one likes to admit they are flawed or to admit to failure. Yet, one has led to the other and I find myself in need of repeating my student teaching before being certified. This is a crushing decision since it delays my ability to find paying work as an educator until 2013 and requires, in some ways, starting fresh.

My advisor, in association with my cooperating teachers, have concluded that the identified areas of weakness were not improved enough to give them the confidence I am ready for the classroom. The problems with my unit design and ability to pose three levels of questioning and differentiate highlighted a list of areas that require improvement.

How’d this happen? In discussion with my cooperating teachers, it was suspected that I needed a more rigorous program than the University of Bridgeport offers. The gaps in things not taught from orientation through graduation is staggering and yet they have a reputation for producing good teachers.

It didn’t help that my advisor and I butted heads and it took me a while to find the nuggets of helpful advice buried in the written observations. We never really established a dialogue or rapport and when I made suggestions about doing things different from the handbook I was told absolutely not, “case closed”. On more than one occasion I was told to just play the game and get through this – advice I never understand if the game/system is flawed.

In reviewing the list of weaknesses, some were brand new to me and others I vehemently object to but the process does not allow for detailed debriefing and discussion so the list stands in the record. The write-up also questions my passion for teaching English and commitment to teaching to all students, not just those college-bound and I am not certain where that came from.  But with that in mind, some interesting suggestions for alternatives to repeated student teaching were raised.

Still, I am committed to going forward with this and see it through, to obtain the certification that will bring me the widest variety of options. I now await word from UB regarding where I will spend 60 days come the fall.

In the meantime, I am on the rolls to sub in both Darien and Fairfield. This week, I have had a taste of the middle school life with one day with 7th graders at Roger Ludlowe Middle School. The rest of the week I am filling in for an old acquaintance at Fairfield Woods Middle School, teaching poetry and Ancient Roman history to 6th graders. Let me tell you, there are some vast differences between middle and high school and it’s a great exposure to that. The kids overall are sweet and willing to work, but find every excuse to start chattering at great volume.

It’s heartbreaking and dispiriting, but it is what it is and I just need to pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.

6 comments

  • Jen in Oz

    Dare I say it, Bob, but “been there, done that!” Many moons ago, I also didn’t pass my 12-week English teaching prac/placement and had to repeat it the following semester. It meant that everything got pushed back by a half-year, and while my friends were out in real teaching jobs, I decided to move across the country and finish my course by correspondence. In the meantime I got a job as an office clerk to pay the rent, and while I’m now (20-something years later) working in a school it’s not in a teaching position. Turns out that although I graduated (took me 10 years to get a 4 year degree due to various circumstances), to register with the local state teaching board would cost me much more than someone who had completed their degree locally. So I never bothered. I’m happy doing what I’m doing and where I’m doing it. And I think teaching has changed quite a bit since I studied the how-tos so I can’t really see myself going back into a classroom. Frankly, the idea of walking into a classroom of 9 boys scares me shitless. But of course YMMV.

  • Jen in Oz

    that should have read “year 9 boys”!

  • Mike Flynn

    Dispiriting and surprising to read this, Bob — but I also know you’ll not only overcome it but grow to shine in this profession. Just keep at it, and remember that we’re pulling for you!

  • I’m sorry to hear it, but I’m glad you’re dedicated to keep at it. You already are an excellent teacher.

  • Mike Pasqua

    This is bureaucratic bs! There are a LOT of “teachers” out there who have no concept of how to connect to students. To not be properly mentored seems to provide grounds of fraud since you didn’t get what you paid for. If you documented all of the things that were supposed to be done and didn’t happen, you may have a case to go after the school. It’s the arrogance of the “profession” that stands in your way-I have seen some of the most amazing colleagues that students would die for who were criticized by others because they didn’t follow the “program”. Jealousy seems to be a more honest answer. Mayeb we can meet in San Diego and touch-I was in your situation years ago with (apparently) a lot less hassle.

  • Bill Mulligan

    I suspect that this is a lot of, as mike says, bureaucratic bs. They are as determined to make every teacher fit a certain mold as they are the get every student to do the same.

    Play the game and get to where you need to be to teach the way you see fit–you are smart enough to see what works and what doesn’t and will make it work.

    Subbing can also be a good time to try stuff out, see what works. Too many teachers leave their subs high and dry without any good plans.

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