Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Teach Your Teachers Well

After spending a few hours yesterday investigating the teacher shortages in this country, I am incredulous that someone ostensibly employed to increase the number of available qualified teachers could be obdurate about how and where in Maine to take one of the five most popular teaching methods classes. These are classes without which one cannot teach; they are essential to certification.

After telling me there was no way I could take her program's course, this woman had no idea where, other than her program, one might go in the state to take such a class.

The feds display incredible duplicity when they say schools must hire highly qualified teachers and then not be fully prepared to help qualified teachers get more qualified. Nowhere in the Maine university catalog or online is there a social studies methods class this spring--except the one I am barred from because I am a certified teacher.

Undiplomatic may be the kindest way to describe the University of Southern Maine administrator who explained to me that there are no social studies methods classes for me to take. This woman, who helps run a program to train teachers, sounded positively imperious when she asked, "How did you get certified in the first place?" It was as if she could not believe I would want another certification.

Only after an e-mail that I thought clear enough, and about five minutes on the phone did she fully grasp that I am a teacher certified in two subjects, English and Phys Ed, with 12 years experience and great recommendations, who has spent the last five years replenishing teacher mojo in graduate school and work in other fields, who, gasp!, has the audacity to want yet another certification, this time in social studies. Because of my graduate work and because I am already an experienced teacher, all I need is a methods class. She replied finally, "We only offer methods classes to our students," meaning USM enrollees studying to be teachers.

Toward the end of our conversation she argued with me about how I came to know that her program offered a methods class at all. "They're hidden, our students can't even see them." I told her the class was listed on the Maine Street section of the University site, and still she failed to believe me.

Only when I pointed out that the school was missing out on my tuition and the school where I work would be missing out, did she even consider passing my e-mail on to another bureaucrat for further consideration. He declined the option, calling me a non-matric, sending me and my cyber inquiry packing.

All I know is it is a darned good thing I like obstacles.

(Image from Rousseau's "Emile")


Alna Dem said...

"If a car should obstacle your passage, tootle horn melodiously and proceed."

--Traffic tip translated from the Japanese

Hope this is helpful!


Anonymous said...

Very interested in hearing how this turns out. Bureaucracy rules!