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Topsy-Turvy, Roller-Coast-y

January 8, 2013

I began the year with three courses.  Two of the lower-level reading courses that I have taught consistently, and that study skills class that I told you about.  I also began the year knowing that there would be a posting for two permanent positions in my department beginning next fall.

On Wednesday, I decided I should check out the posting.  There were many directions:  Go to the government site, fill out that application, go back to the college site, fill out that application, write a letter of interest, submit a resume….  But, something caught my eye under requirements for application.  It said that those with elementary licensure needed 4 graduate credits of adult education.  Shit.  That is ME.  I didn’t know I needed that.  So, I began to search.  I googled “adult education” and got hooked up on how to learn how to read if you are an adult.  No, don’t need that.  So, I began to go to college sites.  I found something at the University of Minnesota, but it was a night class, and I can’t be away from my kids two nights a week.  I decided it needed to be an online class.  Which I couldn’t find.  I went to bed without a resolution, but determined to figure it out on Thursday.

On Thursday, the study skills class still only had three people registered for it, and it suddenly disappeared from my course load.  I figured that this would happen, and I was relieved because I had not done any planning of this course…Nada.  But.  Still.  I lost some income there that I was excited to have.  (Really the stress out-weighed this point.  I was relieved.)

I moved on to try to find a class.  I began calling colleges because every ding-dang college has a different way to navigate their website.  It was taking too much time.  Then, I remembered an email that I had saved from last spring.  It was asking the opinion of which “program” was the best….so I went through my email.  I had A LOT of emails.  I began deleting them as I went.  Finally, I found the email, and went to check out California State at Fullerton and University of Cincinnati.  I couldn’t find the phone number for Cal State, so I called UC.  They got back to me in the late afternoon and their program sounded amazing.  It is a post-secondary literacy certificate.  It would involve reading and writing, which fits my philosophy, and I specifically asked if it would qualify for my adult education credits…yes it would.  The problem was that class was to begin on Monday, January 7.  I was given the name of the person who would help me register, and I emailed her, and then waited.

That same day, I got an email from the chair of our department saying that one of my courses was on the chopping block and she would be talking to the dean and letting us know what was what.  So, I emailed her back saying that the study skills class was already gone and asking her if my day class (that only had 6 or 7) was to be cut as well.  She didn’t know that the study skills class was gone, and she wasn’t sure about the other class, but she did inform me that if one of the permanent instructor’s 8:00 AM class was cut she would be taking my day class.  I was not expecting this.  I don’t think I am ever expecting Spring Semester Woes, but they happen every year.  That 8:00 class only had 6 people in it as well.  I knew that a noon class had a better chance to fill than an 8 AM class, so I knew that this would happen.

When you teach at my college, in order to be on the pay scale, you must teach at least 5 credits.  Each of our classes for developmental reading is 4 credits.  If you are below 5 credits, you get paid by the credit.  I don’t know how much per credit, but it isn’t much.  Many people won’t even do one class because it “isn’t worth it” you are working for free.  I run out of money by the end of the summer anyway, and with a significant pay cut, I would probably run out of money before the end of the semester.  I was devastated.  It was around 5:30 when I found out, and that was not a good time to process this and grieve.  Kids were under-foot, and I was making dinner.  I was teary and upset when Jeff got home.  And, of course everyone was trying to make me feel better, but I wasn’t ready to feel better.  I was upset.

Once we got the kids to bed, I went to bed too.  I got caught up on Gray’s Anatomy and Nashville online, curling myself around my laptop, with my headphones on.  I needed to sit with this.  To be sad for a little while.  I went to bed with prayers to find peace, and fell asleep.

Friday was much better.  I began listening to the good parts of this.  I wouldn’t have money, but I do have credit.  I have 12 credits in the fall, so I would just have to be as careful as possible with my money and stretch it as far as it would go.  There were some good things about one night class:  Days free.  I could focus on my perfectly decorated–Architectural Digest-like–home!  I could really tighten up my class, curriculum-wise!  There would be TIME.  I could maybe read books for fun.  This could be a really good thing!  I could focus on this job application.  I could focus on my classes!  I could go on spring break with my family…the whole week!

I had a holiday breakfast celebration with my wonderful reading department in the morning, and I heard  from the person at UC who was set to get back to me sometime that morning by phone.  I emailed her and let her know when I would be home from my breakfast.  Breakfast was so much fun.  I love the people in my department.  I brought everyone a book called The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore.  I wanted to give them a book, and this one sounded good.  I hadn’t heard anything about it, which is good…because that meant that nobody would have read it…but bad because what if it sucks?  Time will tell.   I am hoping we can have another book club together with this book.  They all seemed happy about the choice, so there is that.

Of course, we ended up talking shop for most of the breakfast.  I didn’t say much.  I am a little bit worried about Developmental Education in general.  I am sure you haven’t heard about the controversy, but there is one–nation wide–about the effectiveness of developmental classes.  Students don’t like to be put into these classes because the credits don’t count toward any degree.  Time and money are issues for them which makes retention is an issue for us.  If students can’t (or won’t work to…) pass a remedial class, often times they quit school all-together.  This could be a whole post, so I am not going to go further, but it worries me.  The direction that my college is taking is one that may revolutionize the whole thing.  They want (from what I understand) to figure out how to module-ize our program, and have developmental classes that are linked to specific majors.  So, if you are going into law enforcement and don’t read at college level, you would take my class but my class would be tailored to law enforcement in terms of vocabulary and content.  And, if you only need help in one area…fluency or comprehension, vocabulary or decoding…you would only have to take those modules.  This may or may not be perfectly accurate, there were a lot of people talking and there were many opinions.  I haven’t thought enough about this in order to form a good opinion.  I think I like the tailoring curriculum part.  Students would be more engaged for sure.  And the modules have merit too, then people aren’t wasting a whole semester.  But something doesn’t sit well.  I just can’t pin-point what that is yet.  I left feeling uneasy about the whole thing.

When I got home I had a link in my inbox for the application to the Post-Secondary Literacy Certificate.  I filled it out immediately.  It was short and easy.  I then drove to Jeff’s work so he could fax it for me.  I got home and thought I would have to wait two business days to get my ID and my username in order to register for classes.  I got both within an hour!  Yippee!  I started figuring out how to register and got registered.  I decided to take two courses to make sure I had 4 credits…each course was 3 credits.  I went through all of the hoops got registered and then clicked on “see my bill” so I could pay for this new opportunity.  I clicked.  I saw:  Total:  $8,400.  Or something over $8,000.  My heart STOPPED.  I UNREGISTERED.  Oh, I was bummed.  There is no way on God’s green Earth that I could afford that.  (Or be willing to pay that!)  I wrote a nice email to all the people who helped me so much thanking them, but no thanks.

The one thing that was going well…crashed and burned.  So I went back to the Cal State certification.  This one was only four courses, which I didn’t realize…unlike UC that had 6 courses for certification.  That is a saving of time and money right there.  These courses were specialized to reading only.  It is called the Post-Secondary Reading and Learning Certificate.  I kind of liked that it was specialized.  And?  The prices were RIGHT THERE.  I also found a phone number embedded in the text.  So I called.  I left a message.  I had hope.  I also called my mom.  Moms help during times like this.  Especially MY mom.  She always agrees with me, which is exactly what I needed.

In the meantime UC had gotten back to me.  I was supposed to get the “professional rate” but since I filled out the quick and dirty application it didn’t apply.  I was supposed to fill out a different application.  I was so happy!  I began filling out the application as fast as I could, I wanted that thing faxed ASAP.  Then, I stopped and emailed them back asking exactly how much the “professional rate” was.  They had said “half” in the email, but that was still double what I was willing to pay.  They got right back to me:  $335 a credit.  Just over $1,000 a class.  That was comparable to most graduate level classes.  Whew.    I flew back into the application.  This one was easy too, but a bit longer.  I got done!  I called Jeff to tell him I was on my way!  He had left.  And, as I hung up the phone he walked in the house.   I started dinner, and decided I could fax it after dinner.  As soon as those words came out of my mouth, the phone rang. It was Cal State.  I talked with such a nice woman for about a half hour.  So.  Nice.  Now, what was I going to do?

UC had been jumping through hoops to get me able to begin on time.  But Cal State didn’t start until the end of the month.  Way better.  I had to get ready for my own class!  For which I had done NOTHING.  The money was still an issue.  Cal State was $275 a credit.  That is a big difference for someone with only one class this spring.  Remember I would be taking 6 credits.  I was leaning toward Cal State, but feeling obligated to UC.  So I called my friend.  She set me straight.  I chose Cal State.  I filled out the application, wrote the essays, and got all my ducks in a row.  I submitted it on Monday morning.

Right after I got done submitting that application, the chair of our department called to tell me that I lost my noon class.  I already had grieved that.  It was fine.  But.  She then went on to tell me that my friend had emailed her and had given up one of her classes for me.  I really have no words.  I was amazed.  I felt weird.  That is a lot of money she was giving up for me.  I wasn’t sure if I should accept this or not.  I was told that she was adamant.  So, I accepted.  Gratefully.  I called her right away to make sure she was okay with this.  She was so kind and I only can hope that I can pay this forward some day.

A little while later, I was accepted into the Post-Secondary Reading and Learning Certification Program.  I immediately called and registered.  I also began the process of buying my books.  I still have to wait “three business days” until I can buy one because I have to sign in with my ID and Username, but it takes “three business days” to get me in the system.  The rest of the books I got from Barnes and Noble.  I used all of my Christmas gift cards, and then some.  Books are expensive!  But, they are on their way to me now.

So far, 2013 has been a wild ride.  I am ready for the Lazy River for a little while.  Maybe for today.  I have already begun the long climb with getting my syllabus done last night.  I will start on my course schedule next.  Life is good.  Who doesn’t love a roller coaster?

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4 Comments
  1. January 9, 2013 3:52 pm

    Good lord what an up-and-down story! You weren’t kidding about the rollercoastyness! I used to love roller coasters but now they make me sick. How sad. I am excited about all your possibilities!

  2. January 15, 2013 9:26 am

    I still love roller coasters, but I cannot go on the spinning rides…oh. No. I am sad about that too. They used to be my favorite. I hope roller coasters don’t follow their lead.

  3. January 17, 2013 2:24 pm

    WOW, what a roller coaster indeed. The program you landed on sounds great though! I look forward to hearing more about it. And the generosity of your friend is inspiring.

    • January 18, 2013 9:08 am

      I have shared the program with my department so I think there will be more people joining me in my endeavor. I am still sitting with the awkwardness of this section that was given to me. But I am so grateful.

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