Part 1: University teaching programs
I loved my years at my university: the parties, sorority life, football and basketball games. Even then I was politically active, elected to the student senate and passionate to demonstrate against the Vietnam war. And oh those stimulating professors…not so much. I found nothing in my first two years of classes which related to my becoming an educator. In fact, I’m pretty sure I paid tuition to support random and sometimes obsolete required subjects taught by detached professors. By my junior year, more education pedagogy was included but I didn’t student teach until my senior year. Imagine my peers who discovered, too late, that teaching was not for them.
Fast forward to my 25 years of working with student teachers as a classroom supervisor. Initially the talent pool was remarkable and the passion for teaching discernible. But slowly, through the years, this all changed and not for the better. I was working with student teachers who did not have command of the English language, who possessed a poor work ethic and minimal skills in their major field. And then it got worse. One student teacher was a sexual predator and another really didn’t belong in a university teaching program. When I attempted to delete my stamp of approval for these student teachers, the university ignored my assessments and allowed them to graduate. So when year 26 arrived, I stopped working with student teachers. Do I believe my experience personifies what’s happening today in our colleges? No, I don’t. I think it’s worse.
I’m Paula Baack, the author of Rescue the Teacher, Save the Child! My fast exit from teaching, provided by a principal who needed to trade me in for a younger model, motivated me to address America’s educational issues. I was thrilled to receive an invitation to provide a multi-day workshop, based on my book, at a prestigious university, school district and school board. For several weeks, I researched what was happening in the schools, school boards and university settings. As I prepared my lecture, I purchased hundreds of materials to support my presentation. And then, without much ado, I was canceled. My guess? I do not hide my conservative point of view in my book. To God be the glory for giving me an incredible career working with the very best children ever.
When I approached my alma mater and offered to do a free seminar for their student teachers, based on the vast knowledge of a 46 year career, I received a tepid response from the department chair and two professors. When I tried to set a date, the final aggrieved response was no response. Before the pandemic, I reached out to 15 colleges and universities offering the same free seminar. Not one institution even bothered to acknowledge receiving my email. Oh wait, one department chair wanted to meet me for coffee in a couple of months, when things “calmed down.” I guess that counts as a response.
Those actions do personify exactly what is wrong with America’s teacher colleges: proven ideas, solutions and real world knowledge is met with scorn. What do I, a retired teacher, know about pedagogy? Frankly, pedagogy be damned. If a teacher cannot maintain a positive learning environment, deliver fair and balanced discipline, communicate with transparency to both admin and parents and navigate the highly technical internet grading systems, knowledge of subject area is moot. Why? Because the classroom is in chaos, entitled children are dictating policies and battles rage between colleagues and admin. And we wonder why our children are struggling in school.
By the way, if you are interested in a free seminar, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I talk for free-just need my travel covered!
TUNE IN TOMORROW. Here’s a tease What do the entitled parent, hostile email and spineless administrator have in common? They are the common denominator for teachers leaving the field in larger numbers than ever before!