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I am finished with internships forever

I just counted.

I’ve been an intern 9 times. 6 of those without pay. 3 of those for more than 40 hours a week.

In college because I was an elementary education major, internships or practicums were part of the requirement. As I rushed between classes and fulfilling the 20 hour practicum requirement, I was frustrated by the number of tickets I received finally explaining to the campus police that there was no feasible way that I could mark in my assigned parking lot and make it to class and to the classroom for my internships. No day passes they explained, but I could change my parking sticked permanently if I wanted, so I did and walked half a mile to my campus apartment everyday so that I could complete my internships.

When I was a senior and my fellow seniors were enjoying their last days as college students with their light loads and tons of free time, my cohort and I were driving sometimes 3 hours a day to work as teachers. 40 hours a week, plus commuting, plus grading and planning and class. In addition, to pay for the gas and food I had to take on a tutoring job and work as a RA for my apartment building. There were many nights I would close the RA office at 12 and wake up at 4:45 am to get to school an hour away on time. There was one week I slept 18 hours for the whole week, so that I could complete my internship.

When I went to work as a English Teaching Assistant in Germany, the story was the same. Many hours. Set stipend. Add more jobs. All so that I could complete my internship.

When I returned from Germany, I worked as a UELIP intern in DCPS. I paid rent and bought groceries and paid for gas even though I wasn’t earning a cent in my 60 hour a week internship. I remember walking in my first day and my supervisor saying, “Thank goodness, the summer interns are here. We can actually get caught up.” Great for them, but overwhelming for me. But I did it, finding extra jobs all so that I could finish my internships.

You get to a point where you begin to question whether the idea that if you get a good internship, you will get a good job and be promoted because of the experiences and the connections you have made can in any way be true.

Then, I decided to switch tracks and pursue ministry. In other words, all those internships, all those hours, all those oatmeal meals, counted for nothing. I was going to have to start all over.

I’m two internships into this career path and I’m finding the same thing to be true. When you are labeled “intern,” people just expect that you can add items to your to-do list because you received a stipend. You’ve been paid, so what’s the problem? The problem is this. I’m going to school full-time, working another job and working this internship and still have to take out student loans and use every bit of credit I can find to make ends meet. Even though you don’t understand that and don’t see me, I will still do my best work even if it’s more than we initially agreed upon and way, way more work and time than you think it is, all so I can finish the internship.

And so that I can finish internships forever.

Are schools the next big market?

It’s not surprising to find that education is a huge market:

The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.

I’d be wiling to bet that teachers aren’t going to get a cut at all of this.

Teacher Affiliates

In a recent board meeting, I heard the phrase “teacher affiliate.” Having been to Affiliate Summit, my ears perked up and I wondered if my worlds were colliding.

Here’s how this works in the teaching world:

There are national professional development groups.

These groups need teachers as members.

Therefore, they national professional development groups form state affiliates.

These state affiliates are responsible for recruiting members and holding state conferences.

And the national professional development group.

Simple enough, right?

Well, if you have a background in performance marketing, then yes, but if you don’t, then it’s like stabbing in the air hoping that you land 75 members every year so that you have a budget for the following year.

But, then again performance marketing and teaching are separate fields. They don’t pertain to each other.

Synergistic Experience

I’ve been on enough runs that I know a good one within the first couple of steps. I know whether my breathing is labored or whether it feels like my legs are stuck in molasses. When either of these things are off, then I know that the run is going to be one that I just have to make it through rather than one that I enjoy.

But when my legs aren’t heavy and my breathing is syncing with my steps, then I experience a synergistic experience that allows my thoughts to clear and my creative juices to begin to flow.

As I have been going back and forth with other educators via Twitter about the impact of Common Core, I can’t help but wonder if the fall holds more expectations to abide strictly by CCSS, which will weigh down teachers are they try to foster creative curators in their classrooms.

Can CCSS really be a synergistic experience that includes individuality and digital literacy or is it laboring our classroom time with an atmosphere that makes it hard to catch our breath?

Marketing Shift

New forms of labeling students like Common Core, don’t change the underlying assumption:

In education, as in society, holding individuals accountable for their actions is a powerful paradigm within a meritocracy. If all is equitable, then human choices and behaviors are more easily assigned in a causational way to individuals. Political and public discourse as well as social and education policy work within an accountability paradigm based on the assumption that the U.S. is a meritocracy.

And therein lies fundamental errors in claims about equity in the U.S.: Accountability without meritocracy is not only flawed but a mechanism for entrenching inequity.

Education reform, then, must reject the accountability paradigm, and then embrace an equity paradigm as a reform strategy seeking the possibility of achieving a meritocracy.

Common Core isn’t a paradigm shift. It’s a marketing shift, so that teachers will stop complaining.

If we want our students to be critical creators, we too have to analyze what’s being marketed as “good” teaching.

Regulate regulations

Really, Congress can’t regulate? Maybe not directly, but certainly indirectly they have!

To backtrack: the Common Core State Standards are not federal standards. After all, the U.S. Constitution gives Congress no authority to fund or regulate schools or control curriculum, standards, or policy. But at its annual fall meeting in 2008, after previous informal discussions, the Council of Chief State School Officers—with input from some state governors—formally decided to come up with some uniform standards to get more low-performing students into college courses without needing remedial courses once they got there. What’s now known as the Common Core is a set of standards that its supporters, including the Council and the National Governors Association, think will better prepare k–12 students for college and careers.

Yes, because the National Governors Association certainly knows how to better prepare k-12 students.

Better PD

Isn’t it sad that we can all identify with the chart paper PD?

That’s right.  This isn’t just your average “show up for a few hours and write on chart paper”-type training event.  ”Apple Cores” as we call them, are put through an intense experience of collaboration, sharing, and even….*gasp*…failing.

This is one that so many PD sessions forget to include:

4. Treat them like professionals.

This one is the easiest to do, but actually might take a little bit of budget, which we are all short of.

Maybe it’s not the subject of your PD and maybe it’s not the place of your PD that is causing it to fail. Maybe instead it’s the attitude that your PD trainers are carrying into the session. You know the one where they have something to coach teachers on. The one that makes teachers feel even more undervalued and invisible than the current educational context makes them feel.

Maybe it’s that attitude that you know what teachers “need” that is making your PD session irrelevant.

And maybe instead, you should actually ask teachers what they need.

Teaching Meritocracy

Not a bad idea with election season coming up:

The program to reward high-performing teachers with salary stipends is part of a long-term effort by President Obama to encourage education in high-demand areas that hold the key to future economic growth — and to close the achievement gap between American students and their international peers.

But this won’t increase student performance or economic growth. This will only reinforce the idea that the government knows teaching best and that government officials are the best judges of good teaching.

If, as teachers, we buy into this teaching meritocracy, we are buying into a our worth being determined by someone else.

Is that what we really want to be teaching students?

We’re missing the point

In teaching my second set of students in the Social Media conference, I encountered two unique situations.

The first was that another adult entered the classroom and told the students that they needed to put up their cell phones and pay attention. It took me a couple of seconds to respond, but then I looked over and said, “This is the social media conference. They are actually responding to a survey using their cell phones.” To which, she responded, “Oh.”

The second was when one of students made began to text in her purse and I said, “You know you can take that out of your purse. We are going to be using them all class.”

She looked at me with a confused expression and then literally said out loud, “I feel free.”

If adults are responding to Social Media by limiting access and students who are invited to use Social Media in the classroom are acting in a completely different way, then there’s a disconnect.

We’re missing each other.

We’re missing the point of Social Media, which is to connect to each other.

How to connect student to student via Twitter

Sometimes, I feel like the conversations about Twitter center around the impact that it can have on professional development too much. I certainly value it for that reason, but I don’t think that students will use it in the same way.

Although I have heard that some teachers are exploring with Twitter in the classroom in ways like back feeding class notes or tweeting as a character from a book, I have not settled on whether these are the best use of the technology. While I can see the benefits, I still think those “integrations” are forced and trite.

Twitter was created with community at the center of purpose.

To connect people.

To connect ideas.

To connect.

So, how can we show students how to connect via Twitter with other students?

Are we connected enough with students to even know where to begin?