52. TWP’S ADVICE TO “STUDENT-TEACHERS”, PROF. N COMMENTARY/TWP’S RESPONSE, & TWP YEAR 1 REVIEW

MEMO TO “NEV”: Thank you for your insightful observations. We at TWP are so flattered to hear from the other side of the “pond” aka United Kingdom. We are saving your comments for a future post due to space limitations on this post. Another U.K. professor is featured below on this post and is an interesting read -Check it out!

Dear Readers: As we move into August, things start to change for us. The upcoming staff inservice meetings at our school is a late summer milestone. Also the finishing of our graduate coursework and the acing of the final exams. (Some people still think we get grades for just “showing up”! Yeah…Right!) Of course, my (Renee) inservice meeting will be an administrative meeting just before the teachers have their inservices…And no, Jenny…It will NOT be held at the local golf club. (Giggle)

But as we start to think about the new year, we also recall the last step in teacher training that all teachers face: Student-Teaching. This is considered by some educators as the “pledgeship” of the profession. It is an unpaid internship in which teaching careers are made or destroyed in a few months. If we had our way, this would be a longer 1 year internship -But in most cases it is not. So, the following below is our advice to anyone about to start this Fall or next Spring as a “student-teacher.”

TWP’S ADVICE TO “STUDENT-TEACHERS”

We at TWP really wish that we had published this post at the start of summer. Why? Because of our first MAJOR bit of advice for a soon-to-be student-teacher.

MAJOR ADVICE: Never start student-teaching just before you graduate! By that, we mean for perspective student-teachers to avoid doing their unpaid internship in their LAST SEMESTER or QUARTER. If the last term is used for student-teaching, then you have NO fallback position if things go wrong or a bad match with a veteran teacher assigned over you.

A poor match with a veteran teacher was my (Renee) fate as a student-teacher in Clarke County, Georgia. At the start, I found out that I had no support from the veteran teacher or principal at the school I was assigned to. By that, I mean no backing as to classroom management and student discipline. I already knew that my authority was limited as to student discipline but the message was simple: You are on your own -Swim or sink. (If you are wondering about c.p., I never even considered it since I felt “other alternatives” were better at that time. )

But I had a “bail-out” option because I chose to student-teach in the Fall. I did not plan it this way but I’m glad I did! I just dropped the student-teaching for the Fall and registered for the last undergraduate classes I needed and did my student-teaching the following Spring. But had I ended up in the initial student-teaching assignment the Spring before I graduated, I would have had two choices (Both bad): Stay in a non-supportive assignment with the real risk of a poor professional reference or drop out of student-teaching and restart in the Fall later that year. With the latter, I would not have been hired as a rookie teacher until a year later!

So, you now know the MAJOR pitfall of student-teaching. What should you do next.

1) GET TO KNOW YOUR HOST TEACHER AND THE PRINCIPAL.

This goes w/o saying but it is true: The first thing to do is to get familiar with the teacher you work under and the school principal. Besides spotting a possibly “bad” situation like I did, building a bridge with the educators you will be working under will pay off in #2.

2) STUDENT-TEACHER/HOST-VETERAN TEACHER “TEAMWORK”

The next step early on is finding out to what extent the host-veteran teacher expects YOU to “manage” classroom discipline. When inquiring -Be specific because the students under you WILL test the limits of your authority. Also, remember that you are NOT a full-fledged teacher and your authority IS limited. (You may as well forget c.p. -No school will ever allow a non-licensed college student to do so.) Important: If you do NOT get a specific answer as to “backing up” by the host-veteran teacher, that is a MAJOR problem and leads to #3.

3) STUDENT-TEACHER/PRINCIPAL SUPPORT

My change from a Fall to a Spring semester student-teacher was because of my sensing a “bad situation” in which I was “out on a limb” with a high probability of failure due to a total lack of support from my host veteran teacher and the school’s principal. In other words, I was on my own but with little or no classroom authority. A situation like this is designed by some education misfits to “fail” the unlucky student-teacher who is unfortunate enough to be in it! If you sense yourself in this situation, GET OUT of it because too much time and $$$ has already been spent to waste your time student-teaching in a “mission impossible.” Also, remember that the professional references you need to land that first teaching job will come from your student-teaching experience -So DO NOT gamble with your future!

Now that you have established clear lines of communication and know for sure that you have “backing,” just follow what policies are outlined in your student-teaching manual. Every university does it a little differently so here’s a few basic tips:

1) Use seating charts so you will learn kid’s names faster AND LEARN WHO THE POTENTIAL TROUBLE MAKERS ARE.

2) Set clear rules and consequences at the start of your student-teaching. Be sure to make clear the threshold where a misbehavior will be turned over to the host veteran teacher and/or principal.

3) Always have lesson plans made out a week ahead -Never try to “wing it” w/o one because you will NOT be able to fool your students!

Finally, as to those “professional references”:

1) Let your host veteran teacher fill them out after at least one “good” week -Never a chaotic week!

2) Offer to take and mail all forms to various school districts you are applying to. That way you can “peek” and see how you were evaluated.

3) If you are required to sign away your right to review the references or the host veteran teacher refuses to give the completed forms back:

A. Make a “mythical school district” form with a P.O. Box number in your home town. (Example: “Jones County Special District”)

B. Give “bogus form” with several “legit” forms to host veteran teacher to fill out at one time.

I understand this is not completely honest but YOU are the one who needs to get a teaching job. A poor reference and you might as well get a real estate license because you will NOT get a teaching job! Doing the “bogus” reference is intended merely to give a “heads up” for a student-teacher who otherwise may never know what is being said on the “real” reference forms.

We at TWP will certainly catch “flak” for these last points but people who have studied for nearly four years in college should NEVER be required to sign away their right to know what others are saying about them. That is the worst part about entering the teaching profession and should be OUTLAWED! So there!

Best wishes to ALL student-teachers in the upcoming school year.

Sincerely: Renee, Wendy, Jenny, and Michelle

 

Prof. N COMMENTARY/TWP’S RESPONSE

The following was posted by a professor in the UK commenting in a thread titled “Teachers Who Paddle” on the Network54 website. It seems that TWP has an international fan base. WOW!

One of your links led me to the TWP website, and within it to their ‘good practice standards’ which they advocated, and reiterated last , I think in autumn 2008.This raised some interesting issues for me ..which cross relate to the once and only once I was seriously paddled American style about which I posted on the swats v strokes strand on the 27th June. . Amazingly the ex Texan VP who did this followed virtually every one of the recommendations on that website in 2008- not some, I stress virtually every one.( the only exception being that she used a paddle ( good practice size and shape) but with holes ( Spenser style). However even this is dubious breach as they were all bevelled ,varnished and smooth ( believe me I inspected that paddle very closely!) so as to ensure blistering and hot spots could not occur.In every other respect use of a brace position to safeguard against reaching back, using a 90 degree swing from the shoulder, keeping her free hand in the small of my back etc. etc. she measured up to the gold standard on every one. OK I got more swats than would be allowed today , but that is just a measure of time and tide. Even the ten I received ( twice the normal maximum today) did no serious damage when given in line with the good practice guidelines

Why does this finding surprise me? Because I am talking more than 35 years ago. So someone clearly back in the late 60’s taught this lady to paddle safely, yes , in the State of Texas of all places, , and to a standard which still according to the ladies of TWP is not achieved anywhere near universally today.

I know from my conversations with her over later years , when she returned to the South as a High School Principal , that she often felt paddling should be , as it now largely is , centralised and uniformly applied. Her main bete noire in this regard were the ‘Coaches’ (male and female) whom she found difficult to ‘regularize’ and manage effectively . Eventually, I understand in her school she withdrew their right to paddle entirely, because of the fact that some of them refused to comply with what she saw as basic norms of ‘civilized’ behaviour, or comply with requirements such as checking the student record .

She used to say that being a female Principal in the South in those days meant being tougher than the toughest man , and she may not have been far from the truth (Anyone with doubts about the problems with coaches. read the story , also on TWP in respect of the experiences of two senior girls on the receiving end to see how it shouldn’t be done, and, how nothing was done about it).

However this raises a couple of general points.

Firstly it shows the difficulty in a diffuse and decentralised state education system . It should not take 35 plus years to universalise simple good practice! Despite the efforts of TWP and similar , there still appears to be no adopted good practice code at any official level in this regard. Each State/ school board makes its own judgements, and some, as we have seen elsewhere don’t change much over time.

Secondly, and very importantly, as I have said in respect of the British failure to defeat abolition, this was due to two main problems. One the inability of the retentionists to mount a single clear coherent case based on modern transparent, humane and realistic criteria., which was backed by the anti abolitionist Heads. Two the problem that the retentionists failed miserably to recognise , let alone clean up bad practice where it existed in the sector . Some schools were light years ahead of others in theory and practice, but there was little attempt to cross pollinate and disseminate best practice.

If the South ( or, rather, the ‘red’ States) really believes in the value of retaining the paddle as an option in the future they need to wake up and smell the coffee!

No area of education stays stagnant…and if good practice hasn’t been universally adopted in 35 years……..Of course , to be devil’s advocate, if the teaching profession really supports those pictures of abuse we see from time to time paraded through the courts and on the TV , those pictures no one of sane disposition could support, then so be it . The end will be abolition, and a step towards the type of classrooms we see in large parts of the UK state sector today . . but if they wants to plough a different furrow, then we need to see modernization, and good transparent practice, that can be supported by parents, educators the community and even students themselves.

We at TWP couldn’t agree more. If readers will refer back to posts MISSION STATEMENT and IMPLEMENTS AND TECHNIQUES, these posts will outline what the contributors to this blog believe in as to “best practices.”

Our blog known as TEACHERSWHOPADDLE is a middle-of-the-road blog and condemns all abusive c.p. that occurs in U.S. schools. Where we differ with the anti-c.p. zealots is that we DO NOT consider all c.p. as abusive. Also, we criticize the insane labeling of teachers that use c.p. according to school board policy as “prostitutes” and “porn stars.” Much worse, we totally condemn the comparison of legal paddling in school to the violent criminal act of “RAPE” for which there is NO comparison.

As a moderate voice in the c.p. debate, TWP totally backs parental “opt outs” without precondition and disfavors the use of c.p. in secondary schools which have other options that elementary schools do not have. In addition, TWP does not favor students “choosing” c.p. in secondary school because we feel that a punishment “plea bargained” is not a real punishment.

Finally, as to the future of c.p. in school: We reluctantly favor the “decentralized” approach to policy making because of our distrust of politicians at the state and national levels. Consider this question: Who do you want making school discipline policy -The same ones who debate “economic stimulus policy” and/or the next highway construction project or a locally elected school board? TWP’s vote is with the latter because they are closest to their communities. Also, it doesn’t hurt that the anti-c.p. zealots lose more than they win at the local level.

But we at TWP are always open to new ideas as to “best practices” regarding the use of c.p. in U.S.schools.

TWP YEAR 1 REVIEW

At the publishing of this post, TEACHERSWHOPADDLE will be finishing its first year of existence. We didn’t honestly think that our little blog would be around for a whole YEAR! But as we kept putting out our positions, the feedback (positive and negative) convinced us that this blog could be more than just another rant on the ‘net. Special thanks to Colin Farrell of corpun.com for adding us to his massive list of links. But most of all: Thanks to you, our loyal readers who may not always agree with TWP but read it anyway.

Below are some rankings and numbers you readers may find interesting. (Note: All rankings/view #’s of posts are of older established posts published before May 15 of this year.)

TOP REFERRERS:

1) Corpun.com (100’s of referrers)

2) Network54.com (Over a 100 as well)

TOP POSTS OVERALL:

1) A TEACHER’S PADDLING: THE OTHER END 496 views

2) INTRODUCING A”ROOKIE” TEACHER TO THE PADDLE 446 views

3) HOW JENNY HANDLED A PARENT’S PADDLING COMPLAINT 415 views

TOP GUEST CONTRIBUTOR POSTS:

1) A TEACHERS PADDLING: THE OTHER END 496 views

2) A TEACHER/PRINCIPAL’S PAST AND PRESENT TROUBLES 96 views

3) A TEACHER TAKES A STAND 53 views

TOP EDITORIAL POSTS:

1) EDITORIAL: RED FLAGS TO WATCH FOR 272 views

2) EDITORIAL: INGRAHAM v WRIGHT 168 views

3) EDITORIAL: SCHOOL STUPIDITY 133 views

TOP “WHAT TWP BELIEVES” POSTS:

1) IMPLEMENTS AND TECHNIQUES 367 views

2) PART II: WHY TWP OPPOSES PADDLING IN SECONDARY SCHOOL 296 views

3) MISSION STATEMENT 164 views

TOP “INFORMATIONAL/FACT” POSTS:

1) Ingraham v Wright: THE AFTERMATH and WHY IT MATTERS 186 views

2) PADDLING STATES AND GRADUATION RATES: A FACT CHECK 112 views

3) LEGAL ISSUES AND DEFINITIONS 84 views

TOP “JUST US & THE PADDLE” POSTS:

1) MICHELLE GIVES HER FIRST PADDLING 275 views

2) WENDY’S WORST PADDLING 272 views

3) ABOUT US & YOUR FAQ’S 115 views

And of course these three were our WORST viewed posts. We PROMISE to learn from our mistakes and do better!

1) -Tie AN OPEN LETTER TO PRESIDENT BARAK OBAMA 29 views

1) -Tie I WISH… 29 views (We at TWP wish we had put more into this post!)

3) A DIFFERENT OUTCOME 35 views

So, there you have it dear readers: TWP’s Year 1 Review. And our new school year addition will be even better -WE PROMISE! What will be in the new school year edition of TEACHERSWHOPADDLE?

Y’all will have to wait until next week to find out! But one hint: The perspective of TWP will be like nothing else on the ‘net with an insiders view that the antis will never have -Because they are not educators and WE ARE!

 

COMING NEXT: RENEE’S REPORT ON ADMINISTRATIVE

WORKSHOP & A PREVIEW OF FUTURE TWP POSTS

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