Just like other professionals, teachers have to keep up their certifications to keep their jobs and we do that by taking graduate courses or attending workshops and getting professional development points (the sacred PDPs). In my district, as in many fortunate districts, I am allowed a certain amount of funds every 3 years to take such courses/workshops and I can go higher on the payscale as I do that.
All I need is a little carrot like more $$ and the course covered by district funds and I'll do whatever I need to do. It was kind of like a game at first, trying to see how fast I could move all over the ladder. Until I realized that eventually, I would be over as far as I could go and I would be up to as many steps as I could go and then it would just be taking courses to maintain my certification with no extra pay.
Since I still have one more step over before I max out, I'm still playing the game, although a little slower because once I get there, the next step is PhD. I don't think PhDs are allowed to play in the dirt and mow the grass.
Plus, once those initials are next to my name, people would assume I could solve math problems like this and I couldn't live with that kind of pressure.
And, since a teacher's PhD isn't worth the $100K+ that other PhDs are (at least when you remain a teacher in a public middle school) it wouldn't be as lucrative as it might seem. I'm pretty certain I've made it clear that I don't belong in higher academia.
So, all of that leads to how I am about to terrorize you into believing you have a test tomorrow and you didn't do your homework. Get ready to sweat.
Remember when you had that teacher who couldn't photocopy things the right way? There was always something crooked, or the margins were weird, or words were cut off? Or maybe you are of an age where things were mimeographed which was even worse because they were purple and often even more impossible to read.
If there's one thing I work hard to do, it's make sure that my students get clean, clear copies of whatever I am giving them. If I am
Who said that?
So, I'm taking a French cinema class online for some graduate credits. It's really hard to take a French class where I live because most are offered at colleges in the city and that's way too much of a drive to make one night a week. Sometimes there are weekend classes but they suck just as much. So, I found this one online and figured it wouldn't be too bad.
Watch 5 movies. Do some writing about them. Go to Blackboard, which is the source for most online courses, and write some comments in various threads about the movies. Get reimbursed by the district once I get a grade. Get my 3 credits and move one step closer to my last step on the ladder.
And then I received the information and had a heart attack and then some.
Watch 5 movies- all from the 80s. Because the teacher is about 80 and I think these are the only movies she's ever taught in her classes. And there's a handy book to use for the course and the book has chapters for, you got it, these 5 movies. If you took French in college or high school since 1980 something, you probably saw them:
Jean de Florette
Manon des Sources
Au Revoir Les Enfants
Trois Hommes et Un Couffin
Are you sweating right now? Having a French class flashback? It gets worse.
I did not see Au Revoir les Enfants or Trois Hommes et Un Couffin (and no, that is not coffin. It's the French version of 3 Men and a Baby) but I heard about them all through my studies and have almost watched them numerous times.
Do some writing about them- if you call 4 hours of work "some" then this is the course for you. She suggests 4 hours to do all of the pre movie paperwork and then some more time afterward for the follow up essays.
Go to Blackboard- well, Blackboard apparently erased all of what she had spent hours putting up there for us and was rejecting everyone, so she sent no less than a dozen emails causing me to panic that I had missed a deadline. The first set of work isn't due until March 18th, but she has been on a tear all week with minute by minute updates. I had planned to work on these on weekends and she got me so lathered at one point this week, that I logged into Blackboard at 10pm, long after the computer is supposed to be shut off, only to find that the online conversations are optional.
Get a grade and get reimbursed- had I known what this would entail, I might have not taken the class but since they have all of my money and I need that reimbursement, I am cursed with taking the class.
I realize it's a graduate course and I should expect to do work, but I would not say that this is the sort of quality paperwork I would expect in a graduate course.
See the poor photocopying? The drudgery of a million questions? Are you really flashing back right now? You might have even had that very same paper in your binder at one point!
And that's just the first page of the first set of documents for the first movie! We have to fill out vocabulary lists. And use words in sentences demonstrating those vocab words. And translate other sentences. Things that made me hate French and made me certain I'd never speak it again after high school. Things that my high school French teacher made us do but good teachers today do not do because it's drudgery.
What she should be doing is making us meet regularly on skype and actually use the vocab in real conversations with each other. Be all nerdy and actually talk about the movies as we speak French. We should have to write about the movies in the discussion groups online, not if we feel like but because it's mandatory. That should be the essence of the work we do. Not fill in the blank sheets on ancient photocopies!