[NLA] Certification, etc. (long)
Maria Elena Gonzalez
maria at alri.org
Fri Jun 28 11:15:11 EDT 2002
Hi Art -
thanks for your comments but in hindsight, I don't think I made clear what I
was trying to convey which is that certification, or lack of, is not in my
view what makes a good or a bad teacher. There are a lot of other issues
that go into the mix.
In terms of the teachers my son has had, they have actually been all good,
but not all excellent. I am referring to his classroom teachers. Because
he attends a dual bilingual program, he actually has several teachers
throughout the day which is actually a good thing because he hasn't been
exposed to "bad" teachers for long periods of time. When I write "bad", I'm
thinking of his Spanish literacy teacher whom I observed in K-1 - she was a
terrible language teacher, in my view. But then again, I have a master's in
ESOL and I'm a teacher trainer. Which brings me to another point - as
educators, we are highly critical of how others teach. The other not so
good teacher that he had for part of the day in K-2, was an older lady who
was just waiting for retirement. A lot of parents had complained about her
because she didn't do enough "academics"...but you know what, the kids loved
her. She was nurturing which is what 5 year olds want and need.
As for "there may be more in there than you are personally aware of". I
practically live at that school, because sadly that's what it takes. And
you are right in that if I didn't have the education and the background to
ask the right questions and to expect certain things, my kid might be worse
off. But my efforts, and the efforts of other parents like us it's the only
thing that's going to make public education in the inner city better. I
find that often the harshest critics of the system are those who bail out
and send their kids to private school or move to the suburbs.
I'll tell you what really worries me about his schooling. It is the
perpetuating of a lot of "isms" which are a reflection of the society at
large - the subtle and not so subtle racism, the sexism, the homophobia.
But it's not coming from all of the teachers or the curriculum but the other
kids and their families. Do I have control of this? I don't but only
insofar as to the values that I impart to my son and the influence I may
have through the Parents' Council and from talking to his teachers. And in
some ways, it is important that my son be exposed to the reality of the
world around him because to us, his parents, education is not just about
academics but also about learning about other people and society.
Finally, I think all of us need to be very careful about how we judge
teachers in general. Recently, I was taken aback by a friend of the family
who was disparaging her daughter's high school teachers and made the comment
that "everybody knows people become teachers because they can't do anything
else". If that is the general perception out there, then heaven help us
because there is so much more that needs to be done.
Maria E. Gonzalez
Adult Literacy Resource Institute/Boston
SABES Regional Center
----- Original Message -----
From: "Art LaChance" <arthur at ellijay.com>
To: <nla at lists.literacytent.org>
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2002 8:14 PM
Subject: Re: [NLA] Certification, etc. (long)
> You make some excellent points, however; .......
> Since I appear to be the only one from GA here I must assume you were
> referencing my posts.
> My personal experiences with the local school system are not 'dismal', but
> me assure you that there are many children your son's age who are very
> definitely having dismal experiences in local school systems all over the
> that will affect them seriously for the remainder of their school history.
> his short tenure ....with some 'bad' teachers who never ....." Already
> hmmmm , sounds like there may be more in there than you are personally
> of. ??
> Your situation is different in the sense that you may be able to help your
> cope with the negativity of those situations. Rest assured that you and
> son are in a small minority, many folks are simply at the mercy of the
> and the resident administrator/board. They 1) don't know 'how' to teach
> child to cope 2) most parents of young children are intimidated by the
> 'professionalism' that stalemates them at the door and 3) "accreditation"
> false front.
> "Certification" is a lot like the situation where my wife took the car to
> "dealer" for maintenance on the brakes. The "professionally trained and
> accredited" technician took the brakes apart, put them back together and
> full day's work on the car, assured my wife that they were indeed
> Now because the car still doesn't stop appropriately (the original problem
> still there), we must assume that the problem is 1) the driver's
> expectations or 2) the car is simply faulty and there's nothing to be done
> except 3) assign it to the "special area" (junk yard).
> Good teachers are not 'born', they have to be grown into the position.
> sitting in an auditorium listening to people talk about their experiences,
> taking a multiple choice test, does not provide the "understanding" of
> nature that EVERY one of our primary school teachers must have IF we are
> a difference in our product.
> Think on this Maria. By the time your son gets to the 12th grade, based
> today's educational industry standards, over 45% of his classmates will be
> unable to pass the GED. Now go back to the "certification" paragraph
> tell me whose problem that is.
> Art LaChance
> Gilmer Learning Center
> Ellijay, GA
> Maria Elena Gonzalez wrote:
> > Like Andrea, I hesitate to enter into the fray here but I feel I must
> > couple of reasons.
> > 1)the trashing of K-12 teachers - ok, maybe that wasn't the intent and
> > only came from a few people who obviously have had dismal experiences in
> > Texas and Georgia. However, based on my own experience with public
> > education when I was young and my current experience with my son who
> > finished 1st grade, I don't think certification and state approval are
> > solely responsible for cases of bad vs. good teachers. In his short
> > in public schools, (since K-1), my son has had his direct brushes and
> > near-brushes (teachers of the same grade in another classroom) with some
> > teachers who never should have become teachers in the first place. In
> > case of those individuals, it's never been just one thing - in one case
> > was someone just waiting to fulfill retirement requirements, in another
> > was lack of preparation in language teaching, and so on. This year,
> > had a wonderful young woman who is one of the most gifted educators I
> > ever met. She had solid pedagogical skills and was involved in
> > learning herself through various programs that the school itself is
> > in. Most of all, she is as they say "a natural." But not all of us are
> > "natural" - some of us have solid skills but need to improve our way of
> > imparting them, or need to upgrade them to keep up with increased
> > in a particular area. I don't believe (and maybe that's why I'm in
> > professional development) that knowing how to teach is innate (perhaps
> > some people it is) but that in most cases it is learned. That should be
> > general intent of certification and dare I say it on this list,
> > for teachers. As I have just mentioned, they are far from being
> > but they are needed at the very least as benchmarks.
> > 2)professionalism of our field - several times on this list there have
> > discussions that centered on how devalued the ABE field is as a
> > Some people have mentioned those instances in which some state DOE's
> > run programs strictly by volunteer tutors (I'm not devaluing their
> > contribution by any measure), their assumption being that basic skills
> > be taught by anyone who possess them. We in the adult ESOL/literacy
> > know that it takes a lot more to be a successful ESOL adult/lit teacher
> > have spent many hours and our own money to learn and develop those
> > The devaluing of our work is also reflected on how much we get paid and
> > availability of sustainable employment in this field. So there are a
> > forces that either through ignorance or design are against the
> > legitimization of our profession. For me, that has been the impetus for
> > working towards an adult ed certification in Mass. I think that it has
> > tried to come up with "standards" that reflect what we know work in our
> > field. That doesn't mean that I'm totally happy or comfortable with
> > have in place right now. For example, the hours that an experienced
> > has to have in order to gain certification is very high because it's
> > on contact hours. This in turn is a K-12 model that assumes full time
> > employment with a classroom for at least 6 hrs. a day. And there are
> > pieces of the process that are still not in place so we don't know
> > they will work or not, but I believe it's a start.
> > I'm interested to hear other state's experiences with adult education
> > certification and whether it has in some measure, no matter how small,
> > increased the quality of the teachers who walk in the door and/or the
> > working conditions in the field.
> > Best,
> > Maria E. Gonzalez
> > SABES Coordinator
> > Adult Literacy Resource Institute/Boston
> > SABES Regional Center
> > 617-782-8956, X15
> > 617-782-9011 (fax)
> > ---- Original Message -----
> > From: <Awilderast at aol.com>
> > To: <nla at lists.literacytent.org>
> > Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2002 10:43 AM
> > Subject: Re: [NLA] Certification, state-approval, and the AELS
> > > All:
> > >
> > > I truly hesitate to enter this fray, but here goes. This is my own
> > > experience and observation.
> > >
> > > 1) I taught for 10 years in a private school without certification,
> > > wasn't required.
> > >
> > > 2) Then I got a master's in LD, also a certificate, this enabled me
> > teach
> > > in public schools and to teach in other states. I ended up in a
> > > Pakistan/American public school among other more local spots.
> > >
> > > 3) After my doctorate I worked as a consultant to a principal in a
> > > school, and picked up a principal's certificate, too.
> > >
> > > 4) Then I worked with over school age adolescents in court remand (I
> > think
> > > that's the term), then to adult literacy.
> > >
> > > Conclusions:
> > >
> > > 1) In MA there is a fair amount of coordination between requirements
> > > what might actually be useful in the classroom.
> > >
> > > 2) I was never impeded in any way by my ed courses and internships,
> > > helped me to my next positions.
> > >
> > > 3) My core experience came from my first position at the private
> > > that taught me what was possible without certification.
> > >
> > > 4) Now, that school is an official training site, state recognized,
> > > teacher training and certification. It accepts applicants for its
> > > training course based on having a liberal arts degree and experience
> > the
> > > field.
> > >
> > > 5) I think state certification is a good idea because it puts a floor
> > under
> > > applicants. It never hamstrung me from trying out what seemed best,
> > > would knock that argument out of the ring.
> > >
> > > 6) BUT there is Nancy with her volunteers, who she trains before they
> > begin
> > > teaching, I assume they don't have certificates and wouldn't volunteer
> > > certificates were required.
> > >
> > > 7) There may not be "one best way," there may be multiple ways. My
> > > was pragmatic, but I did learn a lot, and it opened up doors.
> > >
> > > 8) Education in this country has always been a public/private mix and
> > > certainly is today. This makes it messy.
> > >
> > > 9) If I wanted to give a billion dollars to adult education, I would
> > > the best programs--most organized, goal directed, clear outcomes, and
> > would
> > > expand them. I would also use some of those teachers/administrators
> > carry
> > > the news to other programs, or invite other teacher/adminstrators to
> > > apprenticeships and internships at the first batch of schools. Then I
> > would
> > > focus on a couple of experimental schools that were struggling but
> > > promising. Because I've only got a billion, I would figure out how to
> > make
> > > the programs self-supporting after I left the scene via links to
> > stte
> > > and fed authorities. Because I know that women in our country are
> > > appreciated and underpaid, I would insist (it's my billion) that
> > and
> > > its realization be central to literacy programs.
> > >
> > > This scenario comes from my own experiential learning, there are
> > > other schemes that arise from the experiences of others. Different
> > > experiences, different viewpoints.
> > >
> > > Andrea
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