I attended a "student teaching orientation seminar" today. Needless to say, I came away somewhat irritated. Granted, I was in a crummy mood from the time I got up in the morning... probably because I knew I had to go to the stupid seminar.
I should have a better attitude about these things, right? After all, I'm gonna be a teacher. In theory.
Here's the deal. The woman from the U of Phoenix who's in charge of the student teaching program is very "old school." That's a nice way to say it. You could also say she's a "rich bitch from Hawaii Kai." She had to mention, during her opening remarks, that she lived in Hawaii Kai. She told a "humorous anecdote" about the first time she was exposed to a school setting outside of Kahala... laughing as she told us it had never occurred to her that not everyone drove BMWs and Cadillacs like the middle class.
Gosh, somehow I always considered myself middle class, but I've never owned a BMW. Yes, I've owned Cadillacs... none of which I ever paid more than $600 for... not the kind of Cadillacs she was talking about.
As an aside, the next time you hear a teacher whine about being underpaid, I strongly encourage you to step outside with your handy Swiss army knife and slash the tires on their BMW.
Anyway, she got started on the "hair" thing. Now, out of 25 student teachers there are only two males, and one of them, who isn't me, has a shaved head. She started talking about "professionalism" and having hair "off the collar." She also mentioned "no bare midriffs" for the women.
Now, I already knew this woman was like this. And yes, before I begin my classroom work, I fully plan to get a haircut.
But, like, I don't think my hair is really all that long right now. Certainly not so long that I should be singled out in front of all the student teachers, cooperating teachers, and teaching supervisors. And, "technically," my hair doesn't touch my collar... it just sticks out sideways like Larry of the Three Stooges.
After the introductory remarks, we met with our cooperating teachers -- whom I'd already met. In fact, long hair and all, I attended a two day reading seminar with these people (and about which I have some things to say, believe me), I attended the parent orientation open house, and I attended the first day of school. No complaints or comments from the faculty or staff with whom I'll be working about my hair. They don't care.
But anyway, the university student teaching supervisor assigned to monitor me and the other student teachers at Momilani Elementary met with us. She actually asked me directly about my hair. She was kind of polite, but specifically said, "I hope that won't be a problem."
I curbed my tongue. I said, "yes, it's been brought to my attention by the coordinator when she visited our class. I'll have it trimmed before I start in the classroom."
"Oh, thank you," she whispered, relieved.
"I can see you'll have some fun with us," I added. "You got the long-haired guy and the bare midriff girl." The woman with whom I will be co-student teaching, and who has been in all my classes from the beginning, and who will make one of the very best teachers to come out of our class, had apparently come from the gym right before the meeting, and was baring considerable skin. Yet, somehow, SHE wasn't singled out for a special reminder.
What I really wanted to say... to SCREAM, actually, at this woman, and at the director, was: I'm glad you're all so concerned about appearances. Too bad you're not equally concerned with developing teachers who have a clue about teaching. Where were you last Thursday when our course instructor posted this question: a 64-ounce Double Gulp from 7-11 is equivalent to how many twelve-ounce cans of soda? Our instructor was having us play a little game, and the other "team" got the question. They sat there. They discussed it. They argued. They fussed. They rummaged, all six of them, through their purses to find a calculator. It took them four minutes to come up with the answer: "five-point-three-three-three-three," they said.
Okay, so they got it right. After four minutes of discussion among six people and the use of a calculator. Although why they didn't just say, "five and one-third..." well, okay, they didn't say that because THEY DIDN'T KNOW!
Then the intstructor wrote the "correct" answer: 5.25.
"That's not right," I blurted out before I could help myself.
"I know it's not exact," said the instructor. "I rounded it off."
So here's what I learned from my introductory student teaching seminar today: IT'S NOT WHAT YOU KNOW, IT'S WHAT YOU LOOK LIKE! AND YOU'D BETTER HAVE A BUZZ-CUT, BOY!
Personally, I'd tell the guy with the shaved head to lose about a hundred pounds, because it sets a bad example to have FAT teachers. The same holds true for most of the women teachers, only they could get by losing 30 to 50.
And I'd make all the would-be teachers pass a decimals and fractions math test before they could set foot in a classroom.
Oh, wait. That would mean the only qualified teachers would be the long-haired guy and the girl with the awesome abs (she's a personal trainer and has started training for body-building competitions; this woman is buff, as well as smart -- former silicon valley tech person).
It's a running joke amongst elementary school teachers about how many times they had to take the PRAXIS test because they couldn't pass the math section. "You don't really need to know that stuff for elementary school anyway," they always say.
No wonder Hawaii test scores are the lowest in the nation.
I'm pretty burned out already, and I haven't even finished the program. At this point, I'm thinking the whole teaching idea was a big, expensive mistake. This is probably just a passing mood.
Whatever. I'm going to Spain next week to throw tomatoes.
Four and a half months. Get a haircut and get through the program. Put together a resumé and portfolio and get hired. Then teach the kids some stuff, and ignore the rest of it.
Oh yeah, one more thing. The teaching supervisor asked me directly, "do you have children?"
"Uh...no," I replied. But the unnecessary question annoyed one of the cooperating teachers, who said rather bluntly, "that's kind of a personal question. I don't understand why you'd ask that."
"Well," said the supervisor, "I know he lives farther away from the school, and if he had to drop off children on the way in, it could affect his being available on time."
This irritates me so much, I'm thinking of complaining to the university authorities. I am one of two people in my class who has no children. Yet I am the only one that this particular supervisor asked about kids.
I have learned, however, that complaints in an academic setting generally impact only the student who raises an issue, and generally in a negative way. So for now, I'm gonna try very hard to keep my yap shut. 'Cept here on LJ.
Get a haircut, and get through the program. Four and a half months. Eighteen weeks.