Saturday, September 27, 2008

If I wasn't already irritated

Just when I thought I was nearing the end of the whole ordeal with me e-mailing the person in the Office of Graduate Student Services, WHAM! One of the things we had to turn in this summer was a prospectus-- a list of all the requirements for the MAT and when we fulfilled them or planned to fulfill them. Pretty much everyone in the program took care of that this summer, but because my advisor was out until classes started in the Fall, I haven't been able to take care of it until now. I turned it in yesterday after my advisor and I met several times and sorted through my requirements and classes I've already taken. I give my advisor a lot of credit as she has been patient and professional with me. I could easily fault her for not being up-to-speed on things, but my personal belief is that falls on the shoulders of the College of Education for not providing her with adequate information. From what she's told me, there are yearly meetings the College invites reps from each of the programs the MAT works with (like Music, Art, Science, Match, etc.). I can't blame her for not attending them much at all since I am the first music student in 10 years to go through the MAT. I tend to hate meetings myself, so I can totally sympathize!

Well, so my advisor and I pretty much came to an agreement that I won't have to take the choral methods and teaching methods classes this Spring, which would've conflicted with my student teaching. I did take what I felt was the equivalent of choral methods and teaching skills in three separate classes at BYU-Idaho, but my advisor, who is also in charge of all music educators, made it clear she doesn't feel comfortable with me not taking those classes even after seeing the course descriptions. Since she did not hear back from the assistant director of the School of Music, she reluctantly signed off. Again, I sympathize with her situation and position: if a student teacher is sent out and isn't ready, it makes her look bad. Part of the problem is she's never seen me teach choir before, so she has nothing to go by. The only times she has seen me "teach" have been in two short lessons in the class I currently have her for, that being the general music methods class where we are learning the Kodaly (pronounced KO-die) Method in teaching elementary and secondary general music. The Kodaly Method is something I am really not familiar with very much (I know of it, basically), nor did I have extensive experience with teaching it to kids, so I'm learning all that new with everyone else. I did have some experience in one class at BYU-Idaho for elementary music, but that class was more geared towards elementary education students including music in their classes, not music teachers teaching elementary kids. On top of that, having taught kids from ages 3-12 at church (almost completely by rote), I know it's one thing to teach a 4th grade lesson to a bunch of college kids, but entirely different to teach it to actual 4th graders. So no, so far my limited teaching experience with my advisor present hasn't been all that glamorous or encouraging for her.

OK, so getting back to the thing that REALLY irritated me today was yet another e-mail, this one from the director of the MAT. In her defense, she is merely the messenger from that same contact in the OGS. I turned my prospectus in this morning before coming home. This afternoon I received an e-mail that stated:

"Jon - [The OGS Contact] reviewed your recently filed prospectus and found that you need one more graduate hour to meet the required 39 grad credits for the program. Because your Reading course and your methods course are at the undergraduate level, you are still one credit short. I suggest you find a 1-credit graduate level workshop to complete your prospectus if you want to graduate in May."

Of course I'm irritated that I have to take another class since the ones I'm currently taking don't totally count towards my graduation since they are undergrad classes. That's not totally unexpected, though it is still frustrating since once again I am penalized for being in music. Because music rarely has people go through the MAT, they don't offer graduate versions of their methods and teaching skills courses, while many of the other content areas do offer them. What's more irritating to me is that I had brought this up in my initial e-mails roughly two weeks ago and it wasn't addressed at all; in fact, the response I got was almost insulting. I e-mailed the MAT director excerpts from my e-mails and the response I got back with emphasis added to illustrate this point. I had originally started to write more to include in the e-mail, but decided against including anything extra to avoid further miscommunication and misunderstanding. Here is what I sent to the director of the MAT this evening:

"I did notice that even if I took Reading in the Content Area, all the graduate level classes required from the MAT add up only to 38 graduate hours (13 Summer, 10 Fall, 15 Spring) since my content classes are not at the graduate level. Would that mean I have to take an additional graduate level class this semester or next so I have the required 39?"-- E-mail from Jon Ridinger to [OGS Contact], 2 September 2008, emphasis added

"I don’t what you are adding or how you are adding but you should get a total of 41 hours at the graduate level. If you do not need the Reading in Content Area, you should have a total of 38 graduate hours and then you would only need one more hour of graduate level course."
E-mail from [OGS Contact] to Jon Ridinger, 2 September 2008, emphasis added

" total of 38 graduate hours built into the MAT comes from not counting my fall methods course as a graduate class since my methods courses are at the junior (30000) level. If that counts as a graduate class, I have not been made aware of that."
E-mail from Jon Ridinger to [OGS Contact], 4 September 2008.

Note how the response basically acted like I was making a mistake in adding, even though I had explained in the previous e-mail HOW I got to that total. It makes me wonder how much of my e-mails these people actually read. Even the director of the MAT asked me personally how I got to that total and "didn't know" how I came to it, yet here we are and I was right, yet it took them how freakin' long to figure it out?

What I'm planning on doing at this point as far as classes go is sign up for two workshops as I have pretty much decided to drop my online class. I'm waiting to hear back from the Office of Continuting Education in regards to my question on whether the costs associated with these workshops are part of my tuition or are in addition to it. I REALLY hope they are included in the full-time tuition. As for the e-mail, I already felt like I had been dealt with in an unprofessional way, but this ices the deal. What I am planning on doing is contacting the associate dean of the College of Education and getting her take on this. She was forwarded my e-mails, so I'm assuming she is somewhat familiar with the situation. If she turns out to be less than helpful, I head up the ladder to the dean and then to the ombudsperson.

Still no word on student teaching. I have been told that my request to student teach at Southeast has been submitted, though I have no idea when I will know. In the meantime I have signed up for observations in the Southeast schools as part of my general music methods class. Should I be placed soon, then wherever that is will be where I observe. Speaking of Southeast, that was one of the positive things that happened today. I went down there this evening after piano lessons to watch the Roosevelt-Southeast football game. Roosevelt won 42-0 in a game that was already 21-0 before I even got there in the 2nd quarter. I took one of my piano students, who goes to Southeast Middle School, as it was Youth Football Night so he got in free. Of course I enjoy a win, but it was nice to see several people from church and Kent at the game on both sides and the weather was very nice. I will say Southeast needs to expand their football stadium. It's too small on both sides, but especially the visitor's side. It was very crowded and tight, in particular where the band was seated. There were WAY more people there than the seating could EVER hold. Anyway, now the buildup is on for the big rivalry game in the area when Roosevelt hosts arch-rival Ravenna next week. Both teams are now 3-0 in the league. Ravenna comes in with a pretty high-octane offense, while Roosevelt relies on defense. In their three league wins so far, Roosevelt has outscored their opponents (Field, Coventry, Southeast) by a combined 107-13 (24-7, 41-6, 42-0). Ravenna has outscored their three league opponents (Norton, Southeast, Crestwood) by a combined 128-83 (28-24, 52-34, 41-25) and both are fast teams from what I've heard about Ravenna and seen of Roosevelt. This year's game should be quite the exciting showdown!

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