I’ll be meeting with the Assistant Dean of Education this morning.

Part of the credential program involves this Web service called TaskStream. On TaskStream, we’re required to write essays. I didn’t take it seriously, even though theoretically everyone in the office actually looks at every TaskStream application. My University Supervisor — theoretically, he comes in the classroom every so often and observes — had looked at it.

Three weeks after I had everything submitted, I received an e-mail or two.

Got your voicemail.  Here’s the deal.  One of the last things the School of Ed does before recommending you for a credential is to look at Taskstream.  If you want a credential, I would recommend removing all comments such as “I hate these essays.  I don’t want to do this,”  “This is @#$%^,” and “Look at my blog at this link [which link I also recommend removing].”

I resubmitted all of the essays, making appropriate changes. For some reason, I still don’t take it seriously. There’s a good reason, and not simply that I reflect already in this blog.

Every teacher I talk to, without exception, groans in remembrance when I tell them I’m still in the credential program. Invariably, they respond:

The credential program doesn’t prepare you for the classroom. I learned nothing.

This comes from a wide sample of teachers, old and young, new and veteran. It comes from student teachers and master teachers of all flavors. No teacher I’ve ever talked to has ever suggested that any element of the credential program — other than strictly the student teaching elements — has ever even helped to prepare a teacher for the real classroom, and I’ve talked to a lot of teachers.

Whether it’s the mob mentality of succumbing to the prevailing teacher wisdom or whether this is some sort of sincere truth, teachers I’ve met are unanimous: the credential program is useless.

If I am dismissive, and if I don’t take what the School of Education says seriously, it isn’t because I think so. It’s because everyone else seems to.

After I turned in my somewhat edited and almost improved TaskStream essays, I got this e-mail.

The School of Education has called a meeting for Wednesday, May 21st at 8:30am to discuss your Holistic Proficiency, Teaching Sample Project, and linking your blog. … Please let your master teachers know that you will be away from the classroom for this half hour meeting.  Please also reply to this email so I know you received it and will attend.

After the initial shock, I’ve decided to not let this bother me, either. Why should it?

I have nothing to hide, and I readily admit that I don’t take seriously that which has the appearance of busywork, or that which every teacher I’ve ever met insists that the program helped them not at all.

Like some petulant child, jumping through hoops has never been my thing. I worry for myself once I get into the profession.

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  1. Sounds like the walls are nearly crumbling around you. Hoops stink. I am jumping through a bunch right now since I didn’t go the traditional route. Good luck.

  2. leotorio

    When there is no real accountability in a system, you get all sorts of nonsense. People who do not want to be in the classroom can teach credential program courses–if you don’t learn anything they are not accountable for the mushy mush mish mash of feely good things they tell you.

    For new teachers facing classroom discipline problems, I’ve written a manual called Classroom Discipline 101. I sell it (classroomdiscipline101.com) which puts me in the private sector, which means I am accountable–if the book sucks, you get your money back. This is why the public sector usually doesn’t work out.

    (btw, that’s what my whole discipline system is built on–making students accountable.)

  3. You need to do a better job of “playing the game.” If a program isn’t helpful (guess what, most of them in schools are not helpful- at all) and you have problems with it, just keep it to yourself, or find someone you trust and can vent it. It is really too bad your blog isn’t anonymous, because administrators can and will read your issues, and to them it seems to be making you look bad.

    I have a really good mentor, a 20 year veteran who I could talk to about these kinds of issues that invariably come up. She repeated day after day, “just play the game!” You are too smart to let that procedural stuff be your downfall.

    I was pretty lucky, I criticized things and wanted to make changes within the school, but the reality is with tenure set up the way it is, the district can really holds all the cards. You can’t change things as a new guy. The system is set up like that. You have to earn your stripes. Its really paradoxical, because by the time you get the power to change anything, it seems like you could get too comfortable.

    I think in every job there things you don’t want to do. It just so happens that in teaching there are TONS of them. Put your head down and get them done. The alternative is to raise issues and get labeled a trouble maker. It happened to someone in my district last year, and he doesn’t have a job anymore. It was a bad situation. He lost the political game.

  4. Q

    My attitude concerning these sorts of things is pretty different from most people I know, but as far as I’m concerned it’s the only way to fly. Jumping through hoops is very rarely difficult or distracting unless you make it so and thus there is little point in raging against them.

    Sure the stuff is pointless, but it’s also almost always quite easy to meet the expectations and go on your merry way. It’s like the teacher you probably had that demanded some ridiculously regimented format for essay assignments. You could either argue with them that their system is stupid, rebel against the system (and almost invariably lose) or just follow the system while still making kick ass arguments punctuated by flowing prose. Sure, the framework might be stilted, but you still get your message through and you get a gold star to boot (Not that I ever cared about the gold star. I simply found being the straight “A” student made it easier to do what I wanted to do then being a slacker or a subversive). Perhaps that analogy is weak, but I think you get what I mean.

    As a teacher (to be), I have no problem with the idea of jumping through every hoop thrown at me, all the while rocking my classroom like it’s 1999. Everybody’s happy and the students actually benefit as well. It’s so much easier than the alternative.

    But then again, I’m not the revolutionary type. I’d rather be the best teacher I can be, regardless of the circumstances, than fight a losing battle against the system (with my sanity a likely casualty along the way). Personally, I think if more good teachers shared this feeling, we’d have far less burnout, which would improve our schools by default, no matter how lame the bureaucracy.

  5. Mr. Jones: Thanks, and good luck, yourself.

    Mr. Temonello: Accountability is usually key, but I’m not sure how it could or should be applied at the state level.

    Mr. Cochran: I know I need to play the game. My goal during the TaskStream assignments was to play the game just well enough to pass, and exert no more effort toward this game.

    I didn’t pass one of the parts, so I was called to the meeting.

    Mr. Quigley: I’m still in my years of foolish, youthful blood-on-your-face-you-big-disgrace abandon, and it’s the prerogative of fools to speak truth to power. It’s also our prerogative to assume what we say is the truth, only because we’ve heard people say it.

    I know I should adopt your approach. I haven’t managed to, yet.

  6. Q

    Of course, sooner or later someone like you will hit em where it really hurts and maybe actually make a difference. Perhaps in some ways an unspoken premise of my attitude is that there are enough people out there sacrificing mind and body for the cause. I’ll certainly be grateful for whoever finally tips the boat over, even while I’m sitting quietly in my seat all the while.

    I guess I’m not really a reach for the stars kind of guy, but I will say that it makes happiness much more attainable and sustainable, at least for me. But then I very well may be an aberration. Lucky me.

  7. I’ve never reached for the stars, or tried to tip over the system-boat. I’ve never had grand or grandiose goals like that. Just looking out for myself, and my best interests.

    Not really doing a very good job, am I?

  8. Teachers aren’t unanimous. I loved my credentialing program.

  9. Until 11:05 a.m. on Wednesday, May 21, 2008, the teachers I’ve asked or heard talk about their credential program were all complaining. After 11:05 a.m. that day, there was one voice of opposition.

    What made you love your credentialing program?

  10. You are a brave man. I don’t know the first thing about getting credentialed in your area, but here – well, it’s a smaller area here. But if you get on their radar for something like this here, you will NEVER get your credential. I have known some extremely talented educators-in-training who were forced out of the program because they didn’t take the hoops seriously or because they in some way irritated the people in the credential-giving offices.

    Did you work in the private sector at all between school and student teaching? The problems you are facing seem common to many student teachers I know who went straight from college (and college jobs) to student teaching – you aren’t playing the “professional” game. This isn’t a college job – it’s the real world workforce, and you have to kiss a lot of feet and swallow a lot of words to make it. In fact, you need to be COMPLETELY CLEAN – something that you haven’t really been worrying about, it appears. I am actually considering doing my MA project on this sort of thing. Too many student teachers don’t know how to dress, act, interview, write resumes, etc..

    To make a long comment longer, but hopefully with a point, I hope that this meeting goes well and that they are kind. People in HR and whatnot often don’t have much of a sense of humor about things like this, so best wishes to you.

  11. Q

    Gotta admit I was erring on the side of didacticism.

    You mostly seem like someone who doesn’t like dealing with stupid crap. Nothing wrong with that, except that it’ll drive you nuts.

    Incidentally, I have high hopes for my own program. Mainly this is because of my department head (I’m in a MAT program), who is a) vaguely disdainful of education as an academic subject b) nevertheless committed to perfecting the craft of teaching history c) a strong believer in subject mastery as an integral ingredient in good teaching and d) committed to cutting through as much red tape as possible on behalf of his advisees. And he’s wicked awesome to boot.

    I’ll be reporting on my own experiences soon enough.

  12. Let us know if an actual employer looks at your TaskStream. (None looked at mine.)

  13. Ms. Bees: Not brave. Probably foolish.

    I say that because I’m exactly that sort of guy. I’ve never worked in the private sector, and I harbor special disdain for the professional game in teaching.

    Mr. Quigley: Let me know when your department has an opening. I want to work there.

    Mr. Dyer: I’ve never heard of an employer looking at the TaskStream stuff. As I hear it, it stops working after your year’s subscription ends, at the very least.

  14. No one looked at anything I had in TaskStream. After three years of work on it.

    My professors admitted to me that it was something they made us do so the university’s program could get accreditation. Isn’t that lovely?

  15. likesmath

    I went to another local college (private) for credentialing and UG and I have to say, loved the credential program. Honestly, the only way I was able to afford it was due to the APLE program, which I realize as History you may not be as lucky… but yeah. I still hear from professors from there and feel I can email them at any time and they’ll answer quickly and with compassion. Also colleagues from there grew tight as any regular college buddy because the classes were often subject-specific. I’m growing to like BTSA because it forces me to reflect more than I like to.

    It was nice seeing you out at State today, but now that I know the circumstances I can only wish you luck. For what it’s worth I’ve heard people speak highly of your teaching back at the Ranch. I’m looking forward to doing SS with ya.

  16. Ms. Jackie: Certainly lovely. I don’t think my program is as bad as all that — but it still isn’t an exciting experience.

    Mr. D: For what it’s worth, I appreciate the compliment. Unfortunately, I do not feel, nor does anyone else, that whatever quality my teaching has is reflected in these TaskStream holistic proficiency projects.

    My initial view is that the reason I have done relatively well in the classroom is because I haven’t worried about TaskStream or credential classes. It’s because I’ve heeded the advice of those around me and focused on the classroom.

    The opposing view, naturally, is that I would be doing much better had I taken the TaskStream essays seriously. I’m not at a point where I can assess how much water that theory holds.

  17. mr_windowman

    i should have added that i have no idea what taskstream is… assuming it’s what it sounds, where you upload your essays into something people can look at (ala flickr’s photostream).

    i don’t think credentialing classes made me a better teacher, but did help provide perspective and “oh, so that’s why this law makes us act this way…” kinda thing. And just exposure to former teachers who had been through it all before.

    my biggest mistake as a second year teacher is doing too much. i do say no a lot but say “yes” to myself a lot. however now official tasks are down to teaching, sports commitments cut in half, and having a girlfriend. no evening events other than tuesday night for myself.

  18. As far as doing too much:

    Isn’t that an expectation of first- and second-year teachers? Isn’t there some understanding that you’re supposed to do as much as you can, and that if you don’t this year, you won’t have a job the next year?

  19. Not necessarily. Depends on where you are.

    In your first and second year you’ll be spending a huge chunk of time just lesson planning and hanging on to your sanity with classroom management issues.

    Some places understand that and won’t get all grumpy if you don’t sign up to run three clubs at once.

    Some places don’t and are tailor-made to drive new teachers into the ground.

  20. I’ve heard many, many horror stories, even as a student teacher.

  21. Tim

    So what happened at this meeting? Will you fill us in? Your leaving us hanging, my friend.

  22. I’ll write a retrospective once it all boils over.

  1. 1 Is All This Trouble Really Worth It? « On the Tenure Track

    […] tasktream, teacher, teaching, the, tort, ultimatum I’d fill you in on the details of the meeting that decided I was to redo — depending on how you view it, do in the first place — the […]




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