Posts Tagged ‘grad school’

Back to School

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

Well, two important things happened this week. Potter and Andrea were married, and I started back to school. Since I started school on Monday and Potts and Andrea got married on Tuesday, first things first.

(Why do we say “got” married? Like we go to the store and pluck a married off the shelf? Anyway.)

It’s my first semester working on a graduate-level teaching certification. I have mixed feelings about it. I’ll admit that there was a little bit of despair at the beginning of the week (no surprise there; despair has sort of been my middle name for the past few weeks). The coursework is not something I am passionate about in the same sense as I am literature and writing.  I am depressed by the fact that we have “homework” assignments … yes, homework, like a bunch of middle schoolers. I haven’t had homework in more than ten years. Oh, yes, there are assignments and journals, but never homework.

Then one of my textbooks didn’t come in. Cue more despair. Bobby ordered it … six weeks ago? So he ordered me a second copy with two-day shipping. And, of course, the first copy arrived the next day.

Having now done most of my reading for the week (because I was hampered by the lack of textbook and aforementioned despair), I can say that it’s interesting to see these things put into words and to have terms to discuss the concepts … but it’s all so intuitive. I’ve been doing many of these things for years, from the time I was a trainer at The Piece till now, when I teach my web-design class.

I am trying very, very hard to maintain a positive attitude about this. If nothing else, I am not called “Hermione” without a reason: I can launch into schoolwork whether I like it or not, and the process of working through a list of assignments is itself rewarding to my well-conditioned brain. I am really hoping, though, to get a good amount of value from these classes. I don’t want to just go through the motions but to feel inspired to think and act on what I learn.

*sigh* I was spoiled by being a literature major where just about every class left me wanting to learn more, read more. Which I have tried to do in my break and am a little resentful that I won’t be able to continue doing now.

On a positive note, lifting the despair a bit is the fact that I feel like I’m finally working towards something tangible. Yes, last year I was too, but it didn’t feel as real. I applied for a classroom-observation internship with Carroll County at the start of the week, and then it felt real. Yes, it will take two years, but moving forward one week at a time is far preferable to the feeling of stagnation (and despair–there’s a theme here!) that has plagued me since school let out in March.

So my classes this semester are the introduction to teaching course, educational psychology (which looks like intro to psych from the PoV of a teacher), and secondary teaching strategies. The last is probably the one I look forward to the most because it seems like I might really get something out of it. Educational psych … well, like I said, it’s like PSYC100 for teachers, and I have a degree in psych. So while it will be interesting to see concepts that I learned as pure theory or in a clinical context applied to educational settings, then I expect that most of the major ideas will be a review … a much-needed review, but a review nonetheless.

I’m on the fence about the intro class. Bobby had this his last semester, and for one, the syllabus is rather confusing with a lot of conflicting information (always annoying), and it required a textbook about Microsoft Office, which thankfully Bobby didn’t insult me by buying for me. I suppose it is reflective of the fact that I more or less grew up with computers that I feel like schools and workplaces shouldn’t cater to people who haven’t managed to figure out how to use basic software programs yet. It’s not like Word and Excel are cutting-edge programs anymore. I had coursework in MS Office when I was in the ninth grade. I’m kind of scornful of having to pay for graduate credits to learn MS Excel.

Oh, and two of the classes require groupwork. Groupwork?! I told Bobby in a rather rantastic moment on the way home from work on Monday that teachers/professors who base one’s grades on groupwork have obviously never been one of the smartest kids in the class who inevitably get stuck in a groupwork setting and end up doing all of the work because, otherwise, the project will be shit. So it’s between choosing to break one’s back to get good grades for one’s peers or doing one’s part and accepting the grades for the mediocrity of one’s peers. I can certainly understand cooperative learning (although as a shy kid who got picked on a lot, I am cautious of over-relying on that), but grading a single student based on group efforts is distasteful to me. So I’m seriously, seriously hoping that these group projects don’t fall into that category. Because, based on what Bobby’s told me about the effort most people put into these education classes, I do not want to be stuck again sharing the rewards for my efforts with a lot of deadweights.


To borrow a cliche, I guess the jury’s out at the moment. I am going to try my best to eek whatever value I can from these classes, but I must admit that I wish I was still studying literature right now!