Friday, December 31, 2010

Schools and salespeople

While I’m waiting to ring in the New Year, I thought I’d write an update about my search for an online Education program.  As I said in my last post, once I’m in the UK, I’ll be trying to get into teacher training there.  But that won’t start until Fall if I get in.  I won’t be able to be in the classroom working (for school or otherwise) until then.  I need to take online Education program classes to keep my teaching certificate in Florida up.  But without access to a classroom, I can’t take any kind of courses that require field work or a practicum.

I was going to go with GCU, but after Christmas break, they called me six times a day, trying to get me to sign something that was “urgent.”  Since I’d already read bad reviews from them where it was said that they hound you to get a hold of your Financial Aid money, then dash off, never answering the phone or helping you again.  I guess they wanted me to sign off that they’d enroll me in classes on the 30th and have me give them money (which I don’t have now to attend class anyway).  But a normal school would just leave it up to the student.  If you sign up, fine, if you don’t pay, you’re out of the class.  The fact that GCU hounded me so much like telemarketers and salespeople, I really knew it was best to steer clear of them.  Plus, there were problems with the program:  I needed to complete a practicum and I couldn’t take more than 60 days off a couple of times while I was attending.  Just not a good vibe about the whole thing, so I ditched out of it even though a “supervisor” called me and “needed to know either way.” Strange practices that school has.

So I still am thinking about Liberty University except for the problem, again, of having to take a practicum by the end of the program.  Now, if I do get into a teacher program and get into the classroom in the UK, that’s fine, I can so something for Liberty.  The problem there is though, they want 120 hours of practicum.  Not entirely sure I’ll be able to swing that but at least I have 5 years to complete the program in total.  By then I’ll be teaching somewhere I’m sure.

But my latest prospect is Tiffin University’s online MEd program.  Their classes are 100% online and I don’t need to be in the classroom to finish the program.  That’s a major plus right there.  Second of all, it’s set up to match Ohio state standards which makes it a credible program.  My other option I had looked into was staying at TWU for their MEd in Reading program.  It’s listed in the online degree programs and I filled out a new application for it because I’d like to just stay put at a school I know I like.  Trouble is, after digging deeper, I found that the program isn’t 100% online and about every class needed some kind of field work with it.  So I guess all I can do is wait until later to get my Reading Endorsement under my belt.  After talking to a Reading teacher on Twitter who really enjoyed her job, I think it would be really beneficial to have that kind of range in my capabilities as an educator.

While I’ve mentioned before that this did start out as a blog about librarianship, I find that I have to add in my teaching endeavours as well.  It’s all steps to my dream job as a School Librarian.  I have straight As for the Fall term and a GPA of 3.6.  I think I’m headed in the right direction.

Oh yeah – Happy New Year, everyone!  I should be across the pond in about 21 days now.  Hooray!  Steve and I plan on having the best Christmas-in-January ever.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

School, school and more school

While this site is predominately for my library studies information, I have a lot of education that will branch of and tie into the library career plan.  So while I say this is a site about my endeavors in librarianship, I still need to discuss my steps toward teaching.  As I said before, I hope to get into a school library but with 0 library jobs available in my new town, my only option is to go back into teaching.  With that said, I have two conundrums to work out.  First, for my FL Professional Teaching Certificate I need 6 credit hours to keep my certificate from expiring within my 5 years if I’m not in the classroom.  While Brevard County Schools said for me to just take a couple of non-degree seeking classes at University of Phoenix. After thinking about it, if I can help it, I’d rather take a couple classes toward an actual degree instead of tossing out $1000 to keep a certificate (in one state) up to date. 
What it’s kind of confusing, and maybe a bit disappointing to me, is that colleges seem to be like car lots these days.  If you show any interest in their program, they jump on it full force and will call and email relentlessly.  No, I don’t want to chat, I want information sent to me in the mail so I can look over the curriculum.  If I want to ask questions I’ll email or call.  I’ve had tons of messages left on my voicemail (over things that can be addressed in email, mind you).  When I went to interview for a position as a college recruiter for a private college in Daytona Beach a while back, they were interested in people who had business and sales backgrounds.  Granted, the kind of schools I want to get into are not the ones who chase you down, so I’m glad to have found reviews about the school I was going to sign on with.  What I had a hard time with is that advisors not only call constantly, they email the exact same information.  I was asked to apply 3-4 times.  Both GCU and Univ of Phoenix said that I had to reapply with my new, married name, change my degree plan, etc. with a whole new application form.  That means a bunch of application accounts and major confusion on both my and the advisors’ parts. 
The other thing that got me was their insistence that I apply for Financial Aid.  I explained to them that I already have my financial aid application tied in with TWU and I wouldn’t jeopardize messing that up for anything, especially since I’ll graduate after this coming term.  I contacted FAFSA about GCU saying to just add their school code so they could “see where I’m at.”  FAFSA said that I could add the school code and tell GCU not to do anything with the application because you can only get Financial Aid from one school at a time.  I didn’t trust some random school I didn’t know to not do anything with my financial information if they already knew I had no intention of taking out loans.  Still, the school continued to say, with every email enquiry about my application, that I had to apply (for the 3rd, 4th time) and fill out the FAFSA information, including Promissory Note for them.  When I finally flat out declined to do so they said, “Oh, no problem, you only need to do that if you’re going to take out a loan with us anyway.  Um…so why did they keep pressuring me to do that when I told them I wasn’t going to take loans out ahead of time?  Major red flag.
After all this back and forth stuff, I finally stumbled across Pitt Online which has an MEd in English program. There was no pressure to apply, maybe an email here or there from an actual person who had answers to my questions.  I found out that they are ranked #64 in U.S. News and World Report for 2011 and I would way rather have a state college on my transcript than an all-online school that seems a bit dodgy to begin with.  I talked to an advisor this morning and she was very helpful and talked to me about both of the Education programs that were available online.  The only hitch is some of the classes may require fieldwork or being in the classroom to utilize the course assignments but I may very well be doing that soon. Plus after NU got me to take classes and then claimed I was at my limit with financial aid until the very end (they’re tricky fellas) I can’t get my transcripts to them.  
Aside from all of this, yes, I still have to work on my U.K. Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).  I had mentioned before that the first school I applied for wanted my GCSE exam scores which, of course, I don’t have because I graduated from an American high school.  I was denied flat out for not having UK test scores.  The second school, however, was invited me for an interview in January.  I emailed the professor in charge of the PGCE whom I will interview with and asked if my lack of GSCE UK high school test scores is a problem.  I got an email back saying, “as far as I can tell, you're eligible, which is why you've been called for interview.”  Awesome news that made me very encouraged to go ahead and try to get to England sooner than I’d planned (by a week) and get to that interview. 
With all this stuff in motion, I’m thinking of making, yet another, blog to document my teaching endeavors.  I still have another term for the library studies, and I still plan on ending up as a school librarian but on my way to getting my dream job, I’m going to have to jump a few hoops.  I’ll want to document that too.
UPDATE: Turns out being hornswagged by National University means that UPitt won't accept me. I'll have to go back to GCU after all since it is a MEd degree I seek (not a Master's of Arts in Teaching or something similar.) Here's hoping it ends up okay.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Until Spring 2011…

I’ve finished my courses for the term, officially.  I just submitted a Pathfinder for Information Sources (Reference Librarian class) on American Southern Cooking.  It was really tricky since it had to include almanacs, yearbooks, handbooks, encyclopedias, directories, indexes and the like.  With cooking you basically have magazines, books, television programs and some websites.  But I dug through and found enough things to list so tonight I just added a few more sources, annotated what I had and submitted it.  I was only one day and 15 minutes late on it too – that’s not too bad. 

I ended up with a 950 out of 1000 in my Children’s and YA Literature class as well so my grades should be pretty good.  I want to apply for membership to Epsilon Omega Epsilon (EOE) in January.  I missed the deadline this term so I want to make sure to join before I graduate in May.  I’ll be able to use the insignia on my cover letters and mention my membership in my resume.  Not too shabby.

Knowing that I’ll be graduating in May next year makes me very relieved.  I honestly am not going to be interested in getting into another college program now that I’m a married woman with a life to live.  Before it was just me and trying to get whatever head knowledge and skills I could to get put into some kind of career that I could stay in.  Now that I’ll have my Professional Teaching Certificate in Florida and my MLS degree I will be armed with the tools I need to get into a School Librarian position, should one come up.  Granted, as I said last post, there are stipulations for becoming a teacher in the UK that differs vastly to the requirements from state to state.  That’s one thing I may have to get into – more teacher training.  But no more Master’s degree programs for me for a while at least, until I really have to get one.  I just hope I won’t end up needing an IT degree – I don’t know if I could deal with that much techy coursework.

Now, again, the thing I don’t love about the library degree is that it’s just a lot of fact-finding.  That’s the main reason why I’m glad it’ll be over.  The course work offers little for creativity.  Granted there is some when we have to create pretend events or new programs at the library.  But just talking about the surface of the book and not analyzes the contents and how we can use them is dull after a while.  Now, the Children’s and YA Lit class really gave me the room to read, analyze and discuss how I’d use the books in library or school situations.  That’s what made me really think I wanted to work at the School Library.  It also means there won’t just be a public service vibe to my job.  I understand that it’s more than that, but when I was volunteering I just felt like I was back at Winn-Dixie again, ringing up people’s groceries and giving them money for their returned items.  Plus, when it’s public domain you get the odd balls whom, yes, I sympathize with, but I don’t want to have situations again where I have to call the police because some random person stole some random item off the shelf.  I’ve done that way before I had an education and I’ve no interest in going back there.  (Even though I probably will when I have to gather up some experience at the public library next year.)

Anyway, so Christmas break for me is here and I couldn’t feel less Christmassy.  There’s a slim chance I’ll get an approval email on my Visa next Monday or Tuesday but if not, that means I won’t be going over to be with Steve until after the holidays.  Complete bummer.  If this were April or something and there wasn’t much going on aside from Easter, I wouldn’t feel as bad but Christmas is a biggy and we still have not spent our first Christmas together as a married couple.  Again, major bummer but by going over after the holidays the flights and delays and crowds will be less of hassle to deal with so there is a bright side to this after all.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

End of Fall 2010 Term

Next Monday I’ll have my final project, a book trailer, submitted in for my Children’s and YA Literature course.  I’ll also have to finish up my Info Sources project, a Pathfinder on Southern Cooking, by Thursday.  For the most part, aside from a few discussion board responses, that means I’m done for the term.  I’m totally relieved.  I’ve really had a rekindling of love for the library and I know I want to get into the school or academic library (later on if I get some experience and a PhD under my belt).  I’m a bit over it with the courses though.  Burned out I guess you could say.  I’m ready to have a week where I don’t have to think about what homework I have to do.  Saying that, I’ll probably have to do some teacher training courses once I move, but I’m not really unhappy about that.  Hands-on experience and doing something for my career puts you in a different mindset than just sitting and a computer all day typing up papers.  These projects have been killers but get me the head knowledge and the grades I need.  It’s a whole different world from the English/Writing/Education field I was in before.  It’s a lot of fact finding and opinions based on fact rather than creative ideas.  Not that a librarian doesn’t have to be creative, it’s just that there’s a whole science to how the library runs, just like a court of law.  There are ways to do things and the librarian just has to know these ways (and get better ideas for different ways by studying other libraries and librarians.)

I hope that soon I can write more detailed stories of my time at the library.  I’m working on it and I know I’ll get there soon.  May 2011 will be the month of MLS magic!