Archive for the ‘University’ Category

A Plethora

Crowd Illustration

© Pavlen – istockphoto.com

     Plethora is one of those great words.  It has an interesting rhythm.   It means a superabundance or excess of something.    In the area where I live, there is a plethora of science teachers – despite media and government reports to the contrary.  Even teachers who live and work here remain under the impression that there is a shortage of science teachers.   Not!  In my graduate school cohort of fourteen teachers, eight have found jobs and two of those are less than full-time.

     When I started my program, I didn’t realize that the five schools of education in the area each had a large enrollment of science teachers.   This was made clear at a February conference where there were at least 30 pre-service teachers from other area schools.    At the end of the school year, the large, urban school district in the area laid off 120 teachers – add to that a recession in which teachers are neither retiring or leaving their jobs for other positions AND the result is a lot of teachers out there looking for work.  The other day, I sat in a room with forty other certified teachers hoping to substitute teach in one of the local districts.  Many had been looking for a job for years and all were trying to sub in multiple districts.   Sigh.   Next year’s class of science teachers at my university is 23 students, I really hope that most of them are planning to move out of the area.

     When I visited my parents in Connecticut, I took a look at job postings both in the paper and online.  The large, urban district near them laid off 1200 teachers and I found only two positions for science teachers – one for someone fluent in written and spoken Turkish;  the other for someone fluent in American Sign Language.  It was interesting to look even though relocation is not really an option for me.   A long commute – yes;  but not relocation.

     Despite all this, I have not given up.  Today, I applied for three more jobs – two I found out through connections and the other from an ad in the newspaper.   I am optimistic and hopeful that there is a school and classroom out there for me.   Hopefully, I’ll get some calls to sub soon and in the meantime, I’m still in high gear looking for a job!   Anybody know of one?


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Raking in the Starlight

My Neighborhood – Antique Streetlights by Starlight


     OK.  It’s not dancing in the moonlight but it’s close.   Earlier this evening, I was a little crabby.   The source of this foul mood was probably too many hours in the library over the past few days, but the result is progress on a mountain of work that needs to get done in the next two weeks, one way or another.   On top of that, the snow had finally melted, revealing a sodden mass of damp leaves that needed to be removed before the next snowfall, and there is potential for that tomorrow.    My most excellent leaf rakers are all on their way back from Connecticut so I was solo on this chore.   I kept thinking – I should be writing, or reading, or reflecting, or…  Where are those darn kids when you need them?

     Then, as I was raking – a meditative sort of activity – I finally took the advice of a friend and remembered to breathe.  I realized that I was feeling happier and more peaceful.    I was enjoying the physical activity.   The stars were showing clear through the breaks in the clouds.   It’s cold enough to snow.  It was beautiful!  I thought about the fact that before I started grad school; I was always outside.   I was gardening, hiking, swimming in summer, and always moving.   Now I am mostly inside and mostly sedentary – does anybody have any solid ideas for reading journals and writing papers while moving?

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Where I\'m spending my summer


the more they stay the same.     It’s great to be back at the U of R.   I am enjoying the learning as I prepare to become a science educator!  

     I never had an undergraduate course in Dewey Hall, pictured above, but did have a student job in the Simon School, which used to be located there.    It’s different being here in the summer – I never knew the Periodical Reading Room had a porch overlooking the academic quad .   Carlson Library, my home away from home, is in a new building with lots of glass, brick, and glass block next to Hutchinson Hall.   A new Optics building next to Carlson completes a complex of science buildings with a beautiful terrace and gardens.   In Wilson Commons, there is a Starbucks where the game room used to be!!!!  –  and the Rathskellar was a casualty of the rise in the drinking age.  Those are some of the changes.

     Other things haven’t changed a bit.    The parking is even worse than I remember as an undergrad and this is in summer when the campus is mostly vacant.   When I had a car, I almost always took a U of R shuttle from Park Avenue so I never dealt with daytime parking.    I now walk from Park Lot which is south of Strong Hospital – it takes longer to walk than to drive to campus.     Suzanne’s post shows that the power structure is still intact in the science departments which reaffirms my decision not to go the PhD route way back when.    I think power struggles and oppression happen anywhere there are people.    I got more comfortable with organized religion after I became active in several environmental groups that demonstrated that holier-than-thou did not require a church.  

     Hopefully, one of the differences that I will make as an educator is in addressing social justice issues.    Our readings for the last class focused on exclusion and the culture of power in science in schools.   I have sampled this as a female chemist and engineer.    I plan to find innovative ways to make sure that in my classroom, and to the extent I can – in my school, science is for everybody.   Chris’ post reminded me that none of it will be easy.

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