Thursday, January 29, 2009

Enduring to the end

As I was shoveling the snow and using all of my strength to try and get Katie's car to move yesterday (I'm now sore and coming down with a cold, by the way) I couldn't help but think about the hell this year school year has been for me in so many ways. Going in it seemed pretty straightforward: go to school for a full, intense year, graduate, and get a job. Simple enough. But like just about anything in life, it hasn't exactly gone quite as planned and potential roadblocks still linger off on the sides. Not only do I need to successfully complete student teaching (which as I mentioned has gotten off to a fairly good start in my view, so I'm not too worried), but I still have to resolve the grade issue I blogged about in December. Now, I will start off by admitting that I waited a little too long to get back in touch with my professor in regards to meeting once break was over to come to a decision. It was mostly because I felt a bit overwhelmed with student teaching started, but even then I could have easily e-mailed her and set up a time. Well, as I started student teaching Monday my cooperating teacher asked me about an "outstanding assignment" (outstanding meaning incomplete) of mine that my professor, who is also in charge of student teaching for the School of Music, let him know about. So I had to explain what happened since I could tell he was somewhat concerned. I found out today she had said more as he had asked her if there was anything he needed to do. I e-mailed my professor on Tuesday, but didn't get a response back until today when I resent it from my account. This is what I said:

Hello [professor]-
I hope you had a restful and enjoyable break and are off to a good start this semester. I need to schedule an appointment with you to meet about the issues surrounding Elementary and Secondary Music Methods. I do not know what your schedule is this semester since I am only on campus once a week, so all I can let you know is that I am available after 3 PM except on Wednesdays as school is done at 2:25 and I need at least 20 minutes to get back to Kent.
Please let me know when you have available times in that timeframe or any other options.

I did send you an electronic copy of the article reviews back in December shortly after I realized I had failed to turn in the hard copies. Also, for future reference, I would appreciate you e-mailing me directly in regards to any class issues rather than going through [my cooperating teacher]. This is a private and internal matter and is none of his business.

After sending it again today from my KSU e-mail account (I e-mailed someone else on campus the other day and they said they never got it, so I'm suspicious) I got this response:

Hello Jon,

I can meet with you on Monday (February 10) or Tuesday (February 11) between 3:00-4:00 PM. Whether or not you student teach is indeed [cooperating teacher]'s business; we can discuss in person. Please be advised that had I recorded the grade you earned rather than the grade of Incomplete, you would not be out student teaching this semester. Courtesy on your part would be appreciated. Please make an appointment.

Rather than rattle off a long response, I simply stated that I would like to meet on Monday February 10 at 3 PM. There is so much going through my head right now. Am I wrong to feel like this is a threat? How bout the "grade I earned?" Earned? Earning would imply that I didn't do the work and/or didn't show a high enough level of comprehension to warrant passing. That is what a grade is for, to let the student and others know where they stand in their understanding of a certain subject. Unfortunately, as I mentioned in a previous post, many teachers, college professors in particular it seems, use grades as weapons; weapons of submission, power, and belittlement. Not only did I do the work in question, but after realizing I hadn't turned it in I sent her an electronic copy, which she has yet to acknowledge.

There are other e-mails that I received from my cooperating teacher in regards to this that he forwarded me. I don't feel like posting them all. I do question why he had to even know (and for the record he has been cool about it). True, there is a small chance I could be removed from student teaching if her grade would stand, but why concern him with something that isn't likely to happen? (And if I were removed from student teaching you can bet I would be taking some serious action.) I could tell he was concerned when he mentioned it, plus I have no idea how it has affected or altered his perception and/or opinion of me. I just want to graduate so I can move on with my life. It's just one thing after another on top of having no money and the house situation to add to it, hence enduring to the end and not blissfully gliding to the end!


Unknown said...

Sometimes there is a time to fight...and sometimes there is a time to kiss butt...I mean be "humble" Now is the time to kiss butt it sounds like to me. Get through it...give her what she wants and move on. In my recollection of college...some professors like power trips...You won't change anything by fighting with her and will likely be worse off. She has the power and she knows it. Do what you have to to get the better grade and go have fun with your student teaching with no worries.

Becky said...

Your professor sounds like a douchebag.

The only thing I would have changed in your original letter since you knew she'd be looking for anything to attack you with, is "I would appreciate it if you contacted me directly. I FEEL this is a personal matter and I DO NOT FEEL HE NEEDS TO BE INVOLVED. Knowing how much she hates you (if she doesn't she needs seriously help with her communication), I can see how she would take the phrase "it's none of his business" and make it sounds like you're being a jerk.

Good luck, just suck up like crazy. Just dig deep for those amazing acting skills and go for the academy award of B.S. so she doesn't screw over your future by screwing up your student teaching.


Anonymous said...

"courtesy on your part would be appreciated" ... huh. so, you have to be courteous but she doesn't need to be? what is that (besides rude)? she sounds a little "high falootin" to me. ggrrrr ... the "it's none of his business" could have been left out and may be what tipped her over the fence, but most of the note you sent was very professional and respectful. make sure you pray before you meet with her! yeowch! good luck! keep on a-postin' ... :) tina

Erica Woolf said...

Geez oh man, Jon. I wondered if this mess had been cleaned up. Answer - no. I can't believe she is talking to your cooperating teacher! I have learned tons lessons from my professors in this program, some of them have been what not to do.

So, here's my "hypo-thesis" on February 10th, you are going get to smile and be charming and bite your tongue. We have made it so far into this boot camp-like program, so don't say what you are thinking (even if said she deserves it). I know that this professor has earned some real "what not to do" points, but don't let her stop you from reaching the finish line. I must say, she is the "anti-thesis" of a good teacher.

See you Wednesday (unless we get more snow).

Oh, just so you know, the comment is going to say Mrs. Woolf because of my blog for my students, but you can still call me Erica.