I suppose this photo is upside down because I shot it on my iPad and since I'm left-handed, and the iPad can be used in any direction, I tend to use it with the home button on the left which probably makes the photo upside down in the traditional sense. Anyhow, I just spent 4 days in training that I'll talk about below, and from the first morning I made the point of announcing to the instructors that I doodle compulsively, and that if I'm not allowed to doodle my mind will wander instead. (I didn't want them to think I wasn't paying attention. I was.) This doodle was opposite the agenda in our binder of materials, so I returned to the doodle every day. Here it is right-side up. Sorry I don't have the agenda right-side up too!
My 4 days of training were spent in Albany, NY at the NYSUT building. (That's the NY State United Teachers for those of you who don't recognize the initials.) I was training with the ELT program which is their education arm, the Education Learning Trust) for those (most) of you who wouldn't know this. This training was for new instructors, to introduce us to the program. There is another week of training in August, held in Lake George, where instructors are trained in a specific course that they will be eligible to teach. Each year, instructors attend this training and take/add another course to their repertoire.
You might have recalled my talking about this opportunity here.
The concept of ELT is that teachers are teaching teachers; who would be better? ELT provides a menu of offerings including graduate classes for graduate credit (through several universities) or for inservice credit; and also seminars, workshops, and more. Courses are offered at locations selected by the instructors, who operate as independent contractors. So they can be offered in your own school district for example, and thus make it easier for people to get courses they need without having to travel. Courses are also available online and on CD.
However, I would not be eligible to teach courses for graduate credit, because, ironically, I do NOT have a masters degree (though I have 36 grad hours). Certification regulations did not require it when I became certified, and I didn't live in a location that had access to a degree program that related to me, so I never pursued it. Big mistake maybe, but too late to fix now.
Back to my week. We talked about adult learners versus the kids we usually work with, we learned about the structure and hierarchy of the program, the types of classes offered, how to schedule and drum up students for your classes, the portfolio expectations, the grading rubrics, and more. The small group of trainees (9 of us) spent all our time together and worked together nicely. The program ended Thursday with each of us demonstrating our presentation skills with a presentation of our choice that incorporated technology, and a subsequent private evaluation with the instructors. We had been asked to bring something with us that we could use.
Everyone knew, going in, that I was different from the rest of the group. I do not have my masters degree. I have not taken a grad class in, um, DECADES. I have never graded a written portfolio. I have taught many adult workshops but they were about stuff like how to use papier-mache with kids or how to fold a trihexaflexagon. So this was a smidgen out of my comfort zone. But I consider myself an intelligent and articulate person and I was told they were looking for a new voice for the organization that included the arts, since they currently have nobody.
But the class ended oddly for me. Each person went in for their evaluation and came out knowing what course they would be taking in August. I was last because I had the shortest drive home (45 minutes) and some people had drives of 4 to 6 hours, so I exited to an empty room. I had done my presentation using a PowerPoint on altered books. I thought it went very well. (Two of my classmates have already emailed me about it. One, a retired math teacher is going to make an altered book out of an old math textbook, and another a high school English teacher, is going to incorporate making an altered book into her course curriculum next year! Cool.)
So I was a little stunned when the instructors said they had something a little 'different' planned for me. They thought my PowerPoint was lovely, but wished that I had involved the class more (I guess I should have brought them each a book to fold? Keep in mind, we only had about 10 minutes and my presentation was culled from a former 50 minute workshop, so I didn't think there was time for a more interactive element.) It as clear the instructors didn't know quite what to do with me. The courses I am most suited to teach (Multiple Intelligences, and anything that has to do with the brain, which REALLY interests me) are taught ONLY for grad credit because of the universities involved, and therefore I am not eligible to take/teach them. I cannot teach courses such as data management, or reading in the content areas, or beginning literacy, or other offerings, because they do not think it would be appropriate.
I've got to say, I'm a little upset and angry. I have spent years reminding people that I am a TEACHER first, and art just happens to be my subject area of choice. I was my local union president for 10 years and in positions of leadership for many more. I have taught workshops to other art teachers for the past 9 or so years and have gathered a following of workshop 'groupies'. I am a freak when it comes to spelling and grammar and often have been called upon to edit what others write. As I said before, I consider myself to be intelligent and articulate. But here's what it comes down to. I guess I'm still 'just' an art teacher. Grrrr.
They want me, as a retiree, to help present workshops and seminars in schools. In other words, they want me simply because I am retired. Active teachers can't do workshops in other schools during the school day. In August, the others from my trainee group will arrive to take their class from Sunday through Thursday, and then head home. On Thursday, as they head for home, I will arrive and participate in a two day training. None of my wonderful trainee group will be there. I do like the idea of presenting workshops and seminars, but am appalled that they don't think I am capable to take/teach a course. I was always an excellent student academically (other than learning French) and I feel quite rejected, diminished. I also feel that I was misled. I had been through the requisite application process. I had gotten a recommendation from an administrator in my building who used to be an ELT teacher. I had completed the interview successfully and was no more nervous about the training than any of my other classmates in the program.
I had only just retired the week before, yet I sat all week in training rather than celebrating my first week of retirement. I could have been out on the lake in my kayak instead of learning to use the online class management/grading system. I could have been sitting on the dock with a good book rather than learning the grading rubric for the courses I would not be allowed to teach.
I emailed my classmates to let them know I would not be seeing them in August and some responded that they were surprised and disappointed; I provided a "piece missing from the puzzle".
I guess now I need some time to process this and decide whether I even want to go at all in August, or whether I want to back out of the whole thing. I think I could provide something unique, but if they are having trouble seeing where I fit in, maybe I don't really belong at all. The big irony is that I did NOT seek this job; I was contacted specifically BECAUSE, I was told, I offered something they were currently lacking.
I guess that's enough for now. Next on my list of things to accomplish today is submitting my workshop proposals for my state art teachers' conference in the fall. At least I know that they want me!