Friday, 17 October 2008

Ranting and Raving

I need to rant and rave. My job at work has almost no job satisfaction and is one of the hardest at the university. I have to find Secondary Schools for these students to undertake their teaching rounds at.

Sounds easy, yes? Well it is not. First of all each student has two teaching methods which can be; English, Humanities, Media, IT, Maths, Science, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Psychology, PE, Health, HomeEconomics, ESL and LOTE and the school has to have both of the methods. Secondly the majority of the schools don’t want the students. Also in schools new teachers now are paired up with experienced teachers so they have some one to mentor them which has resulted in a lot of experienced teachers not taking student-teachers as they are already looking after beginning teachers. Thirdly the pay for the supervising teachers is crap and hasn’t changed since the 1970s.

Dispite this the majority of student-teachers get placed in schools quite quickly, however the final 10% takes a long time. You can be on the phone, email and fax machine all day everyday for months tring to find a suitable school for them. And when you are not phoning, emailing and faxing I have the poor worried students in my office calming them down, explaining that I am doing everything that I can and that I will call and email them as soon as I know.

I find schools for three programs of future secondary school teachers, the first two programs are run by the university faculty that I am located in, and I keep everyone abreast of my progress. The last group I find secondary schools for is run by a different university faculty which is located up the other end of the university.

The academic incharge of the program, I will call Crowley, (Named after a likeable devil in a book by Neil Gaimon and Terry Pratchett, and also an excellent teacher that taught me at highschool). When the students finished their teaching rounds I noted a problem and asked Crowley what was going on here. And I got a reply that said: “this was an outcome of my frustration with what I saw as a lack of movement in the placement of the last 7-8 of our students last semester”.

Now Crowley, I was on the phone every day calling up and begging new schools to get on board. I was emailing other schools with whom I have built up a great reputation and who I know to be prompt with emails. And when I wasn’t emailing and telephoning I was faxing further schools. Now schools cannot and do not get back to you within an hour. The coordinator at the school has to find suitable staff to take the student teachers, then the coordinator often has to cajole the staff into taking them, sometimes they have to check with the principal to make sure it is okay. This does not happen immediately. And I have a policy of leaving no more than one phone message on a coordinators phone per day. I can not afford to be seen as badgering or nagging the schools or they will not take any students.

You state that you gave me the names of two schools who will take two students each and that I did not contact them. I contacted them every two days for weeks without getting a response. Then when you make decisions you need to keep me in the loop.

I like you Crowley, you're a good man, and a excelent teacher. It is great to see your interaction with your students and the care and love you have for them. However we have a problem. We have to talk better, to communicate better. This includes answering emails and if a decision needs to be made, making it together. Prehaps dropping by my office more often.

There are days when I want to quit from this job - usually when I have been called incompetent. But in two years only four students have not been able to start their teaching rounds at the right time. Three of the students started one day late, and the fourth two days late. When other universities have scores of students not placed after three weeks from their supposed start date, there must be something that I am doing right.

My predecessor had a sign on her door saying that it was normal for students to start weeks late. I have never used that sign and never will. I want our students to become excelent teachers of my kids, and my friends' kids who will become the leaders of the land. I care for all of my students and want them all to suceed.

Yours sincerely,
Out of the Minds of Andrews

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