Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Field Placements

I am quite excited about my field placement assignments. Tomorrow I will begin observing in a high school in Queens for this semester. In the Spring I have been selected to student teach in the suburbs not far from where I live. I can't wait to be in the classroom. I'll admit I am learning all kinds of interesting, thought provoking ideas and subjects in college but the real education begins when I get out there. I am so looking forward to this!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Human Rights Education

Human Rights Education
On Friday and Saturday I attended a Human Rights seminar/workshop hosted by the university I attend. It was two full days of eye opening, jaw dropping education that I will probably never forget. Various representatives from such organizations as the American Red Cross and Human Rights Educational Resources Associates participated. As an American, I live a pretty good life: I have a nice house, a car, food, clean water, and freedom. I am free to do or be whatever it is I want- in my case a teacher. Sometimes that bubble I live in is very comfortable and I don't look outside it as often as I should. This workshop helped me learn not just about myself, but how I will teach my future students.

When I was growing up, I don't recall getting much of a human rights education. We touched on the holocaust in social studies and discussed civil rights in English. Today with the help of technology we have access to all kinds of resources to educate our kids. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to matter. Here in the states we can't even cover the basics properly let alone human rights education. Regardless, I promised myself to work hard to incorporate this important subject into my curriculum. Learning to be a decent human being is just as (if not more)important as learning read and write effectively.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Cafe Bustelo

I finally spoke to the field work coordinator. She gets two thumbs up for calling me on a Saturday. Seven grad students have been assigned to her to set up for observations at a Queens High School. So far three (me included) have contacted her and she is trying to set up a day for us to meet. In all likelihood it will not be this week but the week after which is fine with me. She already has several other students already at the school observing and student teaching. They meet every Wednesday. Apparently it's only 1 full day per week which is awesome. I was worried about not being able to get to my classes at 4:30 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

The coordinator told me she was an English teacher for many years. She was happy to hear my major was English Ed. She said she would have lots of ideas and practices to share. I found her enthusiasm delightful. Finally, someone who is positive and happy about school like I am! On my coffee scale she rates a Cafe Bustelo :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Regular or Decaf ?

So the person I contacted seems to be a coordinator for the school, not the teacher I will be working with. So far I am the only student who has reached out to her. Apparently there are several grad students in her 'group' and she wants to meet with all of us at one time. Makes sense I suppose, but why should I have to wait if other people don't contact her promptly? I should be used to this by now. The pace of the education world is decaffeinated. I am still a double espresso.

Tonight we had a guest speaker in my Human Rights class. Her name is Cheryl Baldwin. She founded a non-profit group called Camp Hope for Girls. The group mentors impoverished teenage girls currently in Rwanda and Mississippi. Ms. Baldwin is currently looking to expand into New York City and Canada. It was refreshing to hear from someone who works in education and is clearly not decaffeinated. She is making a difference in the world and it's inspiring. Imagine if all educators had that kind of passion?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Field Work Placement

I finally received my field work placement packet. I will be observing in a high school in Queens. I am so excited! I can't wait to start. I have contacted my teacher/mentor via email and I hope she gets back to me today.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Responsibility in the Classroom

As the semester progresses I am learning some very valuable lessons. First off, life in academia is a lot different than the world of business. When I was employed and working on my MBA things were much different. Many of my professors were successful business people. They were organized and transparent-in a good way-They posted all of their course work (syllabus, power point presentations, notes, ideas etc) online before the semester even started. You knew exactly what to expect and could plan accordingly. They read their emails promptly and answered. They not only gave you their office phone number but their cell phone in case of emergency (i.e. you would not be making tonight's class). They also took your contact info (home, office cell and personal email because the school's email wasn't always reliable). Education professors are a different breed.

Since I started my Master's in Education a year and a half ago, only ONE professor has posted any course information online. Almost none utilize technology. No smart boards, no timely emails, no over head presentations. Just lecturing and handouts. One professor had jury duty and missed several classes without even notifying the whole class what the heck was going on. We would all show up on time for class and wait around to see if she (or any professor) would show up. After 2 missed classes she managed to email some of us (not me) to let us know what was going on. This made me very angry to say the least.It also gave me food for thought: If education professors are allowed to behave so irresponsibly is it no wonder the teachers they educate go out into the workplace and behave in the same manner?

A few days ago, a new movie "Waiting for Superman" was released. The movie is about the state of the education system in America. I haven't seen the movie yet but it seems that it's about the plight of charter schools. Parents in poor neighborhoods do not want their kids to attend public schools because of the failure rates so they turn to some successful charter schools such as the Harlem Children's Zone founded by Harvard educated Geoffrey Canada. It paints a very positive light on Charter education: no unions to deal with, longer school days and a longer school year. I know there are some great public schools out there. Unfortunately most of them are in richer neighborhoods where there are high taxes to support school districts. What little I have seen of the movie makes me like charter schools and makes me leery of the teacher's unions. They seem to protect the problem employees. I know this was the case when I was a union employee in another industry. I came to work every day, did my job (and did it well), only called in sick when I was sick and held myself accountable for my work. The union seemed only interested in saving the jobs of the idiots who didn't want to come to work in the first place. It was frustrating and sad. To think that children's lives are being affected by such shenanigans makes my stomach turn.

I have already made up my mind as to what kind of teacher I will be regardless of where I get to work. I will work hard and be honest. I will do everything in my power to understand my students and how they learn. I will then determine the best way to teach them so they understand. I know it won't be easy. Some parents will not be on board. I may have little or no support from my administration or peers. Somehow I will make it through because my students will be depending on me.