Thursday, June 26, 2008

The call came in



The principle from a near-by county high school called this afternoon (Thursday) to ask if I would like to interview for the open art teacher vacancy. The interview is on Mon. I had the pick of two times and chose 11:30 because the school is an hour away. I had actually seen the post about the vacancy a couple weeks ago, but was reluctant to call because 1) I had already sent in my application, so they should call me! and 2) It's an hour away! I couldn't say no to an interview for a job this coming school year, so I will be going to interview with a panel of three people on Monday morning. I'm extremely nervous.

I've been "asked" to interview for a job before. It was for the local arts council director of the school for the arts. I did not get the job because it was over a year ago and I was just gearing up to go back for my final 1.5 years of school. They probably thought I'd be too busy and hired someone already finished school. And really, that was fine with me at the time, just fine. I was nervous for the interview, but I'm MORE nervous I think this time because I want this job more than I wanted that other job. Actually I didn't want that other job at all, but would have taken it had it been offered. Not a great set-up. This time I really do want to teach. I'm not thrilled it's high school, but I will push myself.

I'll be talking with my sister tomorrow to prepare for the interview since she's been there. I need to decide what to wear, what to bring (lesson plans, portfolio, etc.), and think about what kind of questions they may ask.

If I do get this position I will be withdrawing from school AND applying for December graduation as expected. There's one question there: Will I be rewarded an education minor without student teaching? I lean towards no. That's okay, because I will get a provisional teaching certificate for this year, and by the end (maybe even after the first semester) I will be eligible for a full NC license. I was planning on getting a NC license upon graduation for the purpose of teaching here (maybe if something was open mid-year) but also for applying for my MD license. Teaching lateral entry shouldn't change my standing with getting a MD license.

Oh I'm excited. I need to focus on being excited rather than nervous. That is the reason I applied to teach this year rather than wait until I finish student teaching: I'm excited to start teaching!!! I don't want to pay to help another teacher out (though it probably IS a good learning experience), I want to BE the teacher and BE paid. Plus, after medical and taxes, the money I make will be saved for moving expenses next summer and to put towards the down-payment of the house. Am I talking like I already have the job? I shouldn't. If I don't get hired, it's still a learning experience and I will be LESS nervous the next time around, which may be for MD.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The B.S. of it all!

I'm posting this now because I can't do anything about it until tomorrow (Monday). On Friday I got my student teaching semester schedule, but didn't open it until today (Sunday). I am stewing about it because it is ridiculous. First of all, when we register for student teaching we also register for a non-credit, one-week Contempory Issues Seminar. I have known this since I started over a year ago at my University. Professors told me "It's the week before you start Student Teaching." Okay, so the semester doesn't officially start until Aug. 19 and that is what our schedule says from when we pre-registered last semester. Public school starts Aug. 25, however teachers start back on the 18th and apparently THAT is when we start our Student Teaching. Guess we get to help the teacher set up the classroom and really get to work on lesson planning. Then we get to experience the first week of school which I think is a really great thing because in the book noted in the previous post, new teachers really struggle without training on how to start the first week of school. (However, we do miss the first day of school). Probably we'll be mostly observing the first week of school and then jump in and start teaching our own lessons. Here is the kicker. Remember that one-week seminar class I have to take? Well, instead of starting on the 11th, one week before we start working with our teachers on the 18th, we are starting the class on Wed. Aug. 6. Then we have the weekend and then two more days of the 5-day class. Then we have 5 days off before we meet with our teachers. THAT is the B.S. Why the hell did they do that? Why don't we have it the week before student teaching like they said all along? I demand to know this! Plus, students not from the area now have to notify them if they need dorm accomodations which most likely means they will be set up in a dorm room only to have to move to their offical dorm room the weekend before school officially starts Aug. 19th. I'm sure most people have spent this weekend wondering these same questions. Also, WHY didn't they tell us when we preregistered we would be starting so early? The truth of the matter is, while I would be curious about the set-up if I didn't have plans, I DO have plans for the week the seminar starts! I am to be at the beach Aug. 2-9!!!!!! If's W's internship hadn't interfered, I may have worked for the public school system's summer camp or the Y's summer camp which would also have run into the week of the seminar. I hope there are other students who committed to working or who will be out of town or who just can't get back to school that week because of not being notified earlier. I am calling teachers on Monday about this and telling them straight out I will be out of town, I've already paid for my trip and cannot miss it. Maybe I could get the curriculum I'll miss those three days that Friday afternoon (I could cut it one day short) and study it myself over the weekend. I don't know if there are any tests involved or how they evaluate this class, but it's simply P/F. Also, the last Monday every month throughout student teaching we have Seminar, so I guess that's a continuation of it and we'll be passed at the end of the semester. Ugh. I hate having to call. And I can hear them now, "You miss any of seminar, you can't student teach." Come on, you gave us 6 weeks notice on starting seminar. We should have been told before spring semester ended. I pray they accomodate me and I also pray others will call and complain or say they can't make it as well.

Another book down

THE EMERGENCY TEACHER
by Christian Asquith
She was a newly 25 year old starting her first and only year of teaching in a bilingual Philadelphia middle school. She was fluent in Spanish, which greatly helped, and taught 6th grade English and Social Studies. She writes about her experience and all her realizations of how kids become trouble kids, how kids get floated along, and how paperwork holds up everything. While not surprising, the saddest aspect of her experience for me was her encounter with illiterate students and especially students who were illiterate in both English and Spanish, which is a problem for students who immigrate too early to have properly learned their native language and yet too late to properly learn English. Not surprisingly, the illiterate children never graduate even though they were floated along.

It's a good read if you are at all interested in inner-city Education.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hey all you Young, Fabulous, and Broke!

Suze Orman wrote a book for us and it is really great. It's affirming some knowledge and plans W and I already had and giving nice tips. I got it today and read the first half. The second half has all the stuff I really need to read up on because I'm not there yet: Retirement savings, investing, buying a home, and finances and marriage. Throughout the first half though, there were tips for already married Y,F&B, as she calls us. So, even though I'm not your typical 26 year old as I've been married close to 7 years now, have two children, AND live in a house for free while going to school, the book is still very apt.

A few tips I've learned:

1. Check ALL THREE credit bureaus. Earlier this year I checked one at www.annualcreditreport.com and everything looked good. They ask for verification of student loan account numbers and other loan account numbers and then you get a free printout. I'm not sure I can get a free print out from all three, but it seems you can. You DO have to pay for a FICO score. That's the number you want to be over the 720 mark. If you are applying for a loan for a car or mortgage, then check all three, but check one if not.

2. It's true what they say about not closing credit card accounts. Cut up the card if it's paid off and you don't want to use it, but keep the account open to improve a FICO score. Also, don't apply for too many loans or lines of credit at one time.

3. Being an authorized user on a parent's credit card affects your FICO score. That's a good thing if your parent's scores are good, but really bad if they are not. However, if your parents have hurt your score because of this, you can get it removed by having your parents remove you from the credit card and then contact the credit bureau to let them know it's been done.

4. If your interest on your credit cards is HIGHER than your interest on your savings account, STOP putting money in savings (take it out even) and pay off the credit card first. You may not want to give up the security of the savings account, but in an emergency you can use your credit card if it's paid down. Also, once it is paid off, you can easily start saving again.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Periodicals

I have learned that my university puts periodicals in the recycling bin when the new one comes in. They don't have any bound and shelved as one would expect. For a class last year I found an article online in Art in America. However, I couldn't find the entire article online, just reviews and blogs about it. I went to the library and asked for the magazine, which was only 3 months old. The woman working at the media desk looked for quite a long time for it, then told me "We don't have that one. I can't find it." Yeah, because you stood back there thinking what am I going to tell this woman? How about, "Check the recycling."

Husband is doing internship this summer at the library and actually worked last summer with the company updating the catalog system. A woman who worked with the company ended up getting hired on and works in the media area of the library. Hopefully W can get me some art journals or at least check with the woman to see if I could get in there and pull them out of the recycling. It's awful that the University pays for all these subscriptions and then they just get thrown away. Hardly ANYONE reads them. Most of them are probably NEVER read. I just happened to have an assignment to review journal articles for my art methods class. I had never actually thought to go to a library and read articles of magazines I would enjoy but wouldn't want to pay for a subscription.

Maybe one day I will review the name of my university--one day when we live far away from here and have jobs and possibly have started into masters' programs. I would be happy to see the university "fail" and have to be totally revamped by the state system, but I wouldn't want bad publicity about it all to affect me or W. Hopefully the school will not hurt our careers in the future.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I'm a fairly good house wife

59

As a 1930s wife, I am
Superior

Take the test!



I think the results are fairly "good" because I do like being married and I do enjoy being with my husband.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Substitute Teaching

Third to last day of school. I get a call to substitute for an art teacher the third to last day of school. First I think, art, yay! Then I think $68, yay! Last I think, oh wait, school is almost out for summer... they'll be crazy. Still, I accepted the job. I had met the teacher with my Art Methods class and I knew she ran a tight ship, so I could always threaten her wrath if the kids acted up. The kids LOVE this teacher. She is very affectionate... a hugger. It's middle school and even though they are maturing they are still kids who crave boundaries and attention. Middle school is rough. Kids are always making fun of one another and putting each other down... even when they are friends. To have a teacher that treats each and every kid like they are her own and loves them all is very special.

So, my day wasn't too bad. I'm really thinking maybe I should steer towards elementary school simply because I am still quite young and the students see me as very young. One young man asked my age and when some classmates jumped down his throat for being rude I explained that it isn't good manners to ask an adult his or her age. In reply he said "You look young." I agreed. I know I could handle teaching small classes of middle or high school students. Most of my classes today were 10 to 17 students. I couldn't imagine having 30-some students.

One student asked me if it's embarrassing to be a teacher because everyone is looking at you. I just said teachers have to be the center of attention at times. However it made me think about all the kids coming in and analyzing me. I mean they were looking me over head to toe and back again trying to figure out what I'm about. Mostly they derived that I am young and white and they had never seen me sub at their school before. Who knows what other conclusions they came to. I did okay with keeping the noise level down and keeping them on task, but I credit that mostly to their teacher having high expectations for behavior and work.

I did lose a student. During the change of classes for last period, two girls came up to me and said "So and so will be staying and helping us and won't be in class." I got the name, but amongst the chaos of students coming and going I did not think to ask where that student would be if not in my class. Not five minutes later the office called with a message for that student! Woops. Later the secretary called back and asked if the student had come to class because she wasn't in her previous class. For whatever reason she did not call her on the intercom as I would have done. So, I'm learning from my mistakes. It's very difficult to come into someone else's classroom and teach a group without having an established relationship with them. Substituting isn't something I'd want to do for long periods of time, though I do learn a lot and would surely improve.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Failed Praxis II

While this is not something I want to spread around, especially not to future perspective employers, I want to annouce it. I am only slightly ashamed. Mostly I'm astounded--seriously astounded. NC requires a combined score of 322 in Art: Content Knowledge and Art Making. I scored 311. I was just drop-jawed when I received my scores. Then, I looked up the MD qualifying scores. MD also requires Art: Content Knowledge with a minimum score of 159. My score is 168. Phew! Going into this exam and during it I thought I might have to take the Content Knowledge again because I am rusty on architecture and there were a lot of those questions. Not surprisingly that was my lowest scored area of the test. As for the Art Making exam, MD does not require that exam, but instead the other essay exam available for art teachers. Since I'm graduating from a NC school, though, my exams and scores need to be for NC. The Art Making is an hour long essay test. There are two five minute exercises which can be written or drawn answers and then two 25 minute essays about, get this, MY OWN WORK! I prepared for this test. I read the sample questions. I prepared responses for the sample questions. I thought about why I wanted to choose the pieces I chose. When I saw the two five minute questions I thought, piece of cake. Knocked those out and moved on to the essays about my work. The questions posed, unlike the sample questions, were VERY simplistic. The test has two pages for each of the three questions per artwork. I only requred 5-10 lines per answer and I finished right at the last second. I was not concerned about this test when I finished. I felt I had answered the questions to the point and very specifically. So, why, then did I effectively score a 50% on each of the two score categories?
Art Making:
I. Working knowledge of basic art concepts and techniques of art making: 6 out of 12
II. Documentation of personal art making: 22 out of 40
Not sure how scoring works, but that gave me a 143.

Looking at the sample answer given in study material, the scorers like a lot of bull shit and do not care about flow or sentence structure or even answering the specific question posed. Did I flower my answers with artists who influenced me? No, because that was not asked. Did I throw in a period of art history that my work could fit into? No, because that was not asked. Guessing I should have though.

Now I have a few options:

1. Pay $55 to have the score verified. This means someone makes sure the score reflects the scoring rules. That would probably just leave me back where I am now: failing.

2. Take Art Making again and hope I get at least a 154, eleven points more, to get the minimum 322 required.

3. Take BOTH the Art Making AND the Art: Content Knowledge (2 hour multiple choice test which I finished, along with many others, in 1 hour) exams in hopes of raising BOTH scores to get over the 322 minimum score.

I'm leaning towards option 3. The bad news is it will cost $200 to do that. Education is NOT cheap. The good news is I got a waiver the first time I took the Praxis and only paid $80. So, really I took the Content Knowledge for free the first time and now I'm paying for it like most people have to do anyway. In taking it again, I'll prepare even more and really review architecture and famous artists.

On my Praxis score booklet my Praxis I scores are listed. I took that test in April 2002. I passed each of the three sections (Reading, Writing, Math) for both NC and MD minimum score requirements. I was surprised at the time that my Writing score was lowest of the three. I'm not a superb writer, but I am organized and generally have excellent grammer. Is excellent too strong a word? I'm not sure where my test was scored or by whom. The scores came from Princeton, NJ. Scorers just don't think highly of my writing.

W is also planning on teaching, though he'll be taking an alternative route since his degrees are in History and Sociology and not education. He still has to take the Praxis I and II. The Content Knowledge test should be a piece of cake for him. However, the essay test, titled Pedagogy, is odd to him. Since he's never taken an education class he doesn't understand how teaching is viewed as a science. Well, it is. The essay test gives specific history topics, such as The Cold War, and asks the test taker to give the main topic he will teach and reasons why. Then it asks for subtopics and reasons why. I still think he should be able to do well on the test, because he knows history very well and can write well. Really, not having studied lesson planning might help him to just focus on the questions at hand rather than think about structure of lesson plans.

When I was a kid, I knew my husband and I would be teachers. Don't remember when I thought that, but I did. I will definitely branch out and do other "careers" in my life and I think W will as well. I'm pretty excited to teach and I'm starting to look forward to student teaching. It will keep me busy and get me prepared for jumping into a classroom mid-year (I'm praying) since I graduate in December. I have a few Ts to cross this summer, one being passing the Praxis. I also have to do a completely rediculous online education portfolio, though I suppose I will show it to school systems to which I apply. The last thing I have to do is make sure a couple classes are allowed to be substituted from other schools. For some reason teachers don't call me. I have to find them.