We’ve reached the end of the chapter titled “Going back to school.” A year ago Transition to Teaching classes were just about to start in a hectic, packed summer session. We started the program with thirty-some students of various ages and backgrounds. There were young kids going through the program while getting their Master’s degree, middle-aged folks moving from a career that had failed them in some way or another, empty nester moms returning to school and there was me. We lost a few people on the way – the first left after the first week of classes, the last just before the program was complete. They left because they had better options or had decided teaching wasn’t for them. Some of us who stuck it out would have liked to have had better options but didn’t.
We endured intense seminars with heavy reading and writing loads on topics like the psychology of education, literacy, diversity, learning styles, assessment, methods for teaching our content area. There was 12 weeks of classroom observation and another 10 of student teaching. And then our last class – Issues and Problems in Education. This class was fascinating in the way a car wreck is mesmerizing. If it were all just a research subject it would have been my favorite class by far. Knowing that these problems and issues are going to be things I will have to address in my own life made it quite sobering (and not a little bit scary). If this class were offered in the first semester I suspect the program would lose half its participants! But it was a little too late for most of us to quit by the time we took it.
The program finished with little fanfare or ceremony. The last class ended with the teacher reminding us to get our policy papers in by the deadline during finals week and a “So long and good luck.” I suppose Interview Day was the closest thing to a rite of passage – the recognition that you had completed the learning and were ready to go out and use it. Passing the pedagogy test (which was a surprise requirement added when we were well into the program) was another hurdle of a sort, albeit a private one. Your educator’s license doesn’t come in a folder lined with red satin – it’s a pdf file that you can download and print. No cap and gown, no walk across the stage, no celebratory dinner, no acclaim or recognition of an accomplishment – just the turning of a page. And the next chapter?