Heather Wolpert-Gawron

Credential Programs: Give us your money and we’ll give you a classroom

By on June 9, 2008

In Education Week’s article, “Busywork 101,” Jay Solomon writes that the credential programs of today are a “seemingly endless journey through the abstract and the ridiculous.”  He also claims that these programs aren’t a conspiracy of arbitrary tedium.  I beg to differ.

They are programs full of teachers teaching methods they do not model.  They are programs that alter their requirements as you muddle through them with little guidance, stumbling on seemingly new requirement after requirement.  They are programs that demand that you buy the $200 textbook, only to never ask that you use it.  They are programs that believe more work must be rigorous work, and your willingness to go through with their requirements must mean you really want to teach.  I commented earlier on a Dave Saba article that was on a similar topic that you can read here.  

But I also commented on the Education Week article, saying the following:

 My teacher credential program had no classroom management class.  My Ed Psychology professor read his screenplay for a full semester.  Many of the teachers hadn’t been in a classroom for over 3o years; one actually had only been in a classroom for 6 months prior to his employment with the program.  I paid to go through arbitrary paperwork, sit beside candidates who had nothing better to do but who felt they might as well teach, and was taught by those who did not think that every child was capable of learning. 

 What I learned was on the job and with mentors who shared my philosophies of collaboration, management through both humor and rigor, and student-directed lessons. 

 My credential program collected my money and created more hoops every year, thus, adding to my financial commitment with each added requirement.  It was also run by turfy, mean-spirited people who couldn’t learn how to use the big red Hold button on their phone.

I spent two years working full time, tutoring on my weekends, and attending credential courses at night only to finally end up getting my real education once I was actually hired.

 It might not feel like a conspiracy, but with so many factors working against you, you begin to feel like a guerilla in the jungles of administrative hell swinging a machete of reason against the mosquitoes of wasted time.

But I did get my credential, and while I am grateful to have it, I now know that I didn’t have to be a good candidate to get it.  I could have been a mediocre one and even an atrocious one, so long as I had the perseverance to go jump through their hoops and the checking account that could withstand the never-ending requirements.


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  1. Linda F
    June 10, 2008

    Oh, Boy!

    The nonsense of meaningless requirements that constituted ed school is a pet peeve. Add to that – the one thing all teachers need, that is NOT taught, is classroom management.

    They need to chuck out the useless twits in ed schools, and bring in teachers with experience – recent experience – to do the teaching part. The twits can do the paperwork stuff, instead.

  2. tweenteacher
    June 10, 2008

    Absolutely. Look, teachers won’t learn real classroom management until they are on the job, but to not offer suggestions in a classroom setting, to not try to work through real scenarios, is a crime. Teachers who teach teachers must be top notch, not those who just don’t want to be in the classroom. They need to model the strategies they preach. They need to be evaluated. They need to also be willing to tell people that perhaps they should be considering another profession. Dance schools let dancers know that they “shouldn’t give up their day job.” Culinary schools will cut students who don’t make the grade. Why shouldn’t teaching programs also be bound to, with due process, increase their rigor and standard of graduate? Thanks for your comment, as always.

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