Monday, April 16, 2012

Reason #1 Why Student Teaching Sucks

The high school I did my student teaching at had recently experienced tragedy and embarrassment at the hands of a student-teacher.  A year or so before I arrived, a male student-teacher had taken a student out somewhere for sex.  Drinking was involved and the student was killed when the student-teacher got into a car accident.  As a result, this school became extremely particular about who was working with their students.  Just to work their for free, I had to undergo an extensive interview.  I also had to promise not to have a job so as to give a full commitment to being a teacher.   I agreed.

Student teaching, as far as I can tell, is about the only unpaid internship that still exists.  As an administrator, I (usually) love having the free labor on hand.  It really sucks to go through it though.

When I agreed to the terms put forth, I had, I think, eight dollars plus some loose change.  When they told me I couldn't get a side job, I was initially pleased.  My excuse not to work had arrived!  The problem I discovered after I believe, if I recall correctly, one day, was that I still liked drinking beer.  The people who traditionally had this beer (bar tenders, liquor store owners, my buddy Frank) typically did not give it away for free.  That eight bucks wasn't going to go very far.

Never in my life have I had zero dollars other than when I student taught.  I don't even remember how I paid for gas.  My parents lent me money from time to time (my father recorded everything I borrowed during that time, from a stamp to a twenty dollar bill, in a 'little black book' that he took great joy in waving in my face).  I charged some stuff.  I drank Busch Light.

Mind you I didn't need a lot of money to get by.  All college kids are poor.  I survived on about 50 bucks a week in college happily, but there's a big difference between fifty and zero.

I was at home one night grading papers (translation- watching television) when I got a call from a market research company.  Every now and then they'd call me up and have me come in and taste some product Taco Bell was considering or answer questions about my chocolate buying habits.  It would take about an hour and they'd give you twenty to thirty bucks for your time.  Their timing couldn't have been better.

When they call, they go through all sorts of routine statements when you tell them you are interested ("HELL YES I'M INTERESTED!).  I wasn't really paying attention as I was already day dreaming about what I might do this weekend and how I wouldn't have to give my father the satisfaction of another entry in his book.  Then the woman on the other end of the phone said the most gorgeous thing to me that's ever been uttered.

"We'd like to invite you to come in to participate in a test sampling beer."  I peed a little in my pants out of joy.  But it got better.

After going through a few more procedural things to ensure I was 21, she informed me that this study ran in the evenings over the course of the next two weeks.  I would need to be available all 10 nights.  At the end of the study, I would be paid $250.

I've never won the lottery, but now I know what those people feel like when they check their tickets and realize they'll never need to work again.  This market company was going to pay me to do what I was going to be doing anyway!  They weren't just going to pay me- they were going to pay me 250 dollars!  I don't think I'd ever seen 250 dollars in the same place.  Did I even need a teaching job?  I was getting 250 dollars! $250!!!

"Again, to qualify for the study you need to be available every night of the study.  Is that going to be a problem?"

Of course it wasn't going to be a problem.  I left school by 4:00 every day, didn't coach, and of course, didn't have a second job.  "I'm good to go...err... um, I actually am realizing I have one minor conflict."  It hit me.  I had parent/teacher conferences one night over the two week window.  My cooperating teacher was a real prick and would no way let me out (not to mention, I needed to be there).

I begged.  I told them my sob story.  I promised to drink extra, come on weekends, anything...  It was no use.  I wasn't a candidate.  I needed a fucking drink.

I will forever have bad memories of student teaching & parent/teacher conferences, as well as general bitterness towards our profession due to the loss of my own opportunity to paid to drink beer (ok, perhaps I'm being a touch dramatic).  In the end, I went out the and got a weekend job for the remainder of my student teaching.  Screw em'.

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