Dr. Kennedy: And how do see your place in this family?
Dewey: Well, I’m the favorite. You know, the one everybody loves the most. The cute one, the one everybody looks out for and gives presents to. And sometimes they even make the birds sing to me or the clouds spell out my name.
—Malcolm in the Middle, “Clip Show” (4/28/02)
If you have a license to teach in Maryland, and you’d like to keep that license, the state requires that you take some courses in Reading every now and again. With all the time I spent working on my Administrator I endorsement, the reading courses fell by the wayside. In fact, I completely forgot about them until I submitted my paperwork for the Admin I. It came back with a note, telling me that I couldn’t get the endorsement because I hadn’t completed my Reading requirement. What’s more, my license was about to expire. But, no worries: the State has magnanimously given me a two-year extension to get the reading coursework done.
Cool, says I. I’ll take them this summer and all will be well.
Then the other shoe dropped. While the state was willing to give me two years, the City wasn’t. My boss told me that, according to Human Resources, I needed to have that coursework in-hand by July 1 or else I was going to lose my position. Nothing personal, it’s a city-wide requirement for certain level positions. The really bad news was, I learned all this in early January, so I not only had to get registered for class, I had to register for TWO similar classes for the same semester.
I started calling schools but kept running into obstacles, most of them related to the fact that the first week of January is a pretty crummy time to call a college. CCBC, Morgan, Coppin, BCCC, and a couple of others all added up to nothing that day. Either nobody was answering the phones, or the people I needed to talk to were unavailable. (To be fair, two of them did call me back later on but neither one could help me this semester.)
For whatever reason, I’d been avoiding calling the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, perhaps because I’d just finished there and just wanted to go elsewhere. I like the idea of going to different schools as a means of keeping one’s education from getting too inbred. But after all these No-Go phone calls, I caved in and called CND. Naturally, they answered the phone AND the person I needed to speak to was right there.
Bonus points: the courses were both open and, because I’d last attended in May, I was still considered an “active” student. So, no application fees or any of that rigamarole. However, CND is a relatively pricey school and the courses were going to be about $1200 each. I went in to register, and the registrar’s office, under the impression that I’d get a 50% reimbursement, took $1400 off my hands (including a couple of unavoidable fees) and let me attend the classes. I did get some reimbursement, but I also got a bill for $900 in the mail a couple of days ago. Booger.
Now, over the past couple of years I’ve heard complaints about these courses, about how they’re a waste of time and such. Not surprisingly, these complaints are coming from the same people who paid $75 to take the course on the fast-and-dirty track. I’m actually doing some work here, baby.
I’m not a shy guy in class. I do like to particpate and I’m one of those folks who actually enjoys going to school. But in one of my classes, most of the group is pretty quiet, so it sometimes seems like I’m the only person who’s participating. The teacher asks relatively simple questions and they all look at her like it’s a trick question. So I’ll pop up with the (obvious) answer. Lately, I’ve noticed that I’ve become the teacher’s “go-to” guy for answering some questions. She’ll ask the class as a whole, then call on me specifically. Tonight I got that feeling like I was monopolizing the conversation, and finally started burying my face in my notebook, taking copious notes which did little more than parrot the handouts we’d just been given. (This sort of activity helps me remember things, but still.) No eye contact means maybe I won’t be the guy who drags the rest of the class into the conversation.
At the end of the class, as we started to break up, the woman who sat behind me called me back to her. I leaned in to see what was on her mind. She asked me, “Have you had Dr. X before?”
I said, “No.” Then it hit me what she was getting at, so I added, “I don’t know why she’s calling on me so much, either.” She smiled. “I don’t know!” I repeated.
Just a few more weeks of class, and then…I don’t know. I need to figure out my next steps, educationally.