Sunday, April 7, 2013

Teacher Comments - Part 3

My Comment to Dr. John Strange's "Dr. John Strange's Strange Thoughts" Blog
Subject: How the World Helps Me Teach Pre-Service Teachers - In Less Than 24 Hours! 
  Dr. Strange wrote about when one of his students last year left a comment on a teacher's blog asking how their post that the student said was full of "flutter" and "opinions" was going to help him be a better teacher. The student then left a comment on his own blog about what he left on the teacher's blog but then stated that he did not understand how this was going to help him. He was asking anyone out in the world who found his blog if they could explain the importance of this class and what the benefits of reading and writing on the blogs was going to help him. In less than twenty-four hours he was given comments by sixteen people from New Zealand, Canada, American and all but three were either teachers, administrators or IT directors. They explained why in their own terms and using their own experiences to say that what he is learning is important not only as a teacher but as a person who is getting prepared for a world that is changing everyday. They all worked to help the student understand why they needed to stay in the class and Dr. Strange was very happy that it was other bloggers, others who were connected by technology, who showed the purpose of his class and now he uses this to help others understand too.

  I commented saying that of all of the assignments we have done for the class the blogs by teachers have helped me the most because they are presenting what they have learned over the years so that others can learn and not repeat them to other students. They are full first-hand knowledge by those who are on the "front lines" and live everyday what we are getting read for; we need their help. When I had to do a paper on the Gulf War I asked my Dad because I knew that someone who was there would have more to say and that the information would be more creditable than what I could get from a book. That is what the purpose of commenting on the teacher's blogs: to get us to see what is coming, what we need to do to get ready, skills that we should begin to master and projects that the have found taught better than only from a book. We all want to be "good" teachers but in order to do that we need to see the real world and then start working on what is coming.

My Comment to Dr. John Strange's "Dr. John Strange's Strange Thoughts" Blog
  Dr. Strange discusses what it took for him to be certified by the SACS (Southern Association of Colleges and School) which is the regional accrediting system that gives teachers and professors the "OK" to teach their subject. The process in theory is very simple: print out all that proves you are qualified to teach your subject and, if the SACS approves, you can teach it. However for Dr. Strange all that he had to do to be approved was as far as "simple" could get. First the policy for giving proof that a professor is qualified to teach their subject has not been in place for many years and he was given the news to get all of his paperwork to his chairman within one week. He was told on December 3rd so needless to say he was in a frenzy getting ALL of the paperwork he could get but that is when the next "bump" happened. When he sent everything in he was then told that it was rejected because it "summarized activities and lacked specifics such as dates and places of speeches, etc." so he had to write and rewrite again. It was not until he finally obtained a copy of the requirements by the SACS was he able to send in the final version of his qualifications. It was "13 pages long, contain[ed] 4,261 words, and is highly specific" and for the second time it was rejected. FINALLY, after he and others worked over 2,000 pages of material did he send it in again. This 5 1/2 inch high stack of paper was finally approved....but with a twist. Everything he wrote needed to be in a .pdf document. Anyone who has taken his EDM310 class knows that it is "Green" meaning that everything is online so it made him very upset that fist he had to print it all out to them and second he could not simply e-mail it so that the SACS was not wasting paper. So after he and several secretaries rushed to complete the latest demands of the SACS he concluded five parts by both the University and SACS need to fix in order for this fiasco not to happen again:
1. The SACS places a great burden on the University to gather all the information needed to approve a professor. If they were to explain, clearly and in a manner that everyone will understand, what they need then the process would be easier to begin and end.
2. The University waited too long to request the information from the professors making the task an impossible challenge at best. If the SACS stated that they were going to be approving the professors in my University one week before they came I would all that I could but I would also explain the unnecessary burden they are placing on us. And if I knew that they were coming, regardless if it is next term or next year, I would inform the professors early so that they can get all of their materials in on time.
3.) The SACS needs to state what they want from what they need in terms of material from a professor to state their qualification. If the class is about technology it is "absurd" to state that everything must first be in print and then in a . pdf document.
4.) It seems odd that after teaching the same course for 25 years the SACS is now looking into his works and education to see if he is qualified to teach; to me this seems to be the perfect example of the bureaucratic problems that plague the school systems.
5.) The SACS policy states that a professor must show the degree they received to teach their subject but, as in Dr. Strange's case, that degree might show nothing to do with their current field  His Ph.D from Princeton might state that he is approved to teach political science even though he is teaching more so in terms of teaching in the classroom with technology.

  After reading this post I stated that I was very grateful that, even though both the SACS and the University made the process very difficult, he kept going to prove that he had what it took to teach. As much as I despised  even hated this class at the beginning I know see why it is so important because it is not about how to make movies or blogs but instead about changing how we tackle a challenge. The reason for the class is to show that problems that we had with our own education system when we were children and what we can do to change it for our own students. What if my classroom was given a new set of computers or a SmartBoard? Before this class I would have used it to play games or to show PowerPoint. I would not know any other way to use it but now I cannot give such an excuse. We have been shown many, many different ways to use what both our students and we know to teach them and different levels that will help them now and later. A child learns to type, then to blog, then to comment on other blogs and by the time they enter college not only has their confidence in their writing skills improved but they now know where to go to ask questions to those who know the field. In my parent's time they looked in a book, we looked on Google but now this generation can go everywhere. Thanks to Dr. Strange we can now go into the classroom showing how to get this information.

1 comment:

  1. "As much as I despised even hated this class at the beginning I know see why it is so important because it is not about how to make movies or blogs but instead about changing how we tackle a challenge. " I like the way you say this! Thanks.