I’m also a “Plan B” teacher, but I went the NYC Teaching Fellows route. Got all “trained” in 7 weeks of garbage classes where I learned what to do if a student is being unruly and laughing at me because I have chalk on my butt. Yeah, that was really important to learn (I had chalk all over myself on a daily basis – I like to lean – my response to my students was “Yup, you’ve seen it everyday, nothing different this time.” I don’t remember what the “correct” response was supposed to be). I also learned that I have to accept other cultures, but I am not allowed to ask for insights into said cultures. I have a garbage MA degree that I learned nothing except that many of my fellow ‘fellows’ are ruder students than my 7th graders I was teaching at the time. I also learned that many of my fellow teachers are terrible writers. I had a 3.9 or so GPA. The class I actually attempted to learn something in and really do the big project is the only class I didn’t get an A in. I stopped trying and wrote most of my assignments in the hour between my work day and the class at grad school. Finally, I learned that if I can slack off that much in a grad school course, taken with a bunch of people that have already recieved at least a bachelor’s degree, then it’s no wonder our school systems are a mess. I worked harder in my high school and for my BA than at anything I had to do to get a Master’s degree in Special Education.
I complained that first summer that I didn’t feel they had told me anything useful to take into my first classroom and I was told (not kidding) that “Isn’t it great that you’re going to get to learn it hands-on?”. I came into teaching after 15 years in theater. THEATER!!! I was an assisntant wardrobe supervisor and a stage manager – not an actor and never wanted to be. They assigned me to Special Ed. (Again, THEATER and ENGLISH MAJOR from Hamline) I thought they were insane, but the reality is, that’s where they needed teachers. I had the upper hand in the job search. First, I had spent years as a freelance employee so I was used to being unemployed. I didn’t jump at the first school that offered me a job but took my time and found a school that didn’t make my skin crawl (true story: that first job offer came from a principal that gave me a really wrong feeling and that November there were huge protests from parents, students and teachers trying to force him to quit or be fired). Second, I didn’t have the same attitude as many of my fellows – I didn’t want my OWN classroom. I loved the idea of being in a CTT setting. That way, it would be sort of like student teaching, but not really. It was the smartest move ever, for at least the first 6 months (long story, short: my co-teacher was great, until about April, then she checked out. We watched Rush Hour 2 oneday in class and it was the day my advisor was coming to observe, so my co-teacher whipped together a worksheet about friendship and working together based on Rush Hour 2. Yup.)
So, here I am. Three years later. Two years of 7th grade CTT and a semester of 11th grade Theater and 11th grade Science CTT under my belt and I moved back to MN because I couldn’t take the charter school or NYC anymore (11 years there). I found out that I may actually be a good teacher, someday. I am really good at the Special Ed thing and I am even better at the Aspergers thing. I moved back home during giant budget cuts to look for a specialied job like teaching Special Ed and working with ASD kids – preferably at a middle school. Am I crazy? Probably, considering it’s 330am and I am typing an e-mail to a complete stranger, but Kat was right. I could have written some of your blog posts almost verbatim. Reading them last fall when I was so miserable in the charter school that I quit a job for the first time in my life wouldn’t have made me stick it out, but it’s nice to know sometimes that the bad situation isn’t always “just me”.
Thanks, and don’t hold my insanity against Kat. She will not torment your wife as much as our school administrators and professional developments torment us.