Anyone who has ever taught anywhere, after going to college for that purpose, knows the message I am passing along in this blog. In a way, this blog is self-medicating. I have hopes that others will get the message. I have two areas of certification, mathematics and computer science. I had a great deal of preparation for mathematics; however, computer science may as well been shorthand or typewriting.
I constantly find myself saying to fellow faculty members that “I guess I missed that class in college.” There is nothing like experience in the field of education. It is great to discuss pedagogy, child psychology, child development, and schools in society; however, being put in difficult situation where YOU are the decision maker is really where the learning takes place. I remember during my junior/senior year of college, hoping that the year would just end because I wanted to actually get in the classroom. I believe that my thinking pattern is like an engineer, a problem solver. I am internally discussing ideas that no one ever teaches a College of Education student. Being a computer science teacher, I had literally ZERO training in any sort of computer lab situation. The saying, “I learn something new everyday” is absolutely the truth. (Like a Switch-Case statement)
Here are several situations that no one ever discussed…
- Number of Preps - No one ever mentioned to me the word “prep” until I was student teaching. This is a big issue for some and no issue for others. As in any workplace, there is priority given to veterans and coaches. I am not here to argue whether this is correct; however, I can’t believe how many second and third year teachers tell me that their first year was “the worst year of their life.” I find this comical, because it is the BEST year of my life. I finally get to act instead of passively listen to others.
- Changes in the Schedule, Staff Meetings, and Staff Evaluations - Each of these are obviously needed in a school. I certainly do not have a problem with any change in the schedule (testing, assembly, academic challenge, etc…) but it does effect the teacher more than the students. Staff meetings and staff evaluations are essentially just paperwork if you are doing your job correctly. Administrators seem to look for paperwork as a way to prove the certification and performance of the staff.
- THAT ONE KID - I am preaching to the chore on this one. Often, there is a class that has great students in it and there is that one bad egg. What do you do about this student? Do you make him/her an example early in the year? What if this student turns your orders into a way to be a comedian? I certainly have seen this situation and never really had any sort of all encompassing college course which discussed class discipline. During teaching interviews, I always pointed to “classroom discipline” as my weakness. That is because I DIDN’T KNOW YET.
- Computer Lab Classroom - This is something that most don’t have to worry about; however, having 4 of my preps in a computer lab, I was forced to learn quickly how to manage the room. My room is organized like a regular classroom with all monitors facing the back of the room. The students are facing a projector screen and whiteboard. Since my desk is in the BACK of the room, I can see nearly every screen while the students are doing work. That is not the problem. Early on in the year, the problem was when the monitor was between me and the student. I would see eyes go down toward their monitor and mouse movement. I am still not perfect with this issue, but I have a trained eye to this point.
- Extra-Curricular Activities Attendance - As a student, I remember seeing some of my teachers at different sporting events. I didn’t realize until I became a full time teacher, how much this really means to the students. This group of students instantly has a different type of connection with you. Perhaps they think you are actually human! I have attended volleyball, football, basketball, girls tennis, baseball, soccer, computer club, and coach boys tennis. It is really fun to use sports analogies during the class when I have several athletes in the class. The other students pick up on the analogy once I explain it further. Anything that is outside of the school grounds or school textbook builds rapport with the students.
Do I have the answer for the many College of Education buildings out there? Absolutely not. It is ironic that any field work in education can render teacher education courses useless during the undergraduate level. I understand that methods courses survey the students knowledge of the content, I have no problem there; however, acting as if this college course will MAKE a better teacher, that is foolish.