Tuesday, July 31, 2007

New York State Teaching Bureaucracy

In the past couple weeks I've been trying to apply for a teaching certificate. Each state is different in its teacher requirements, but if you go through an Approved Teacher Education Program (either as an undergrad - like what I did - or as a grad student), these are the basic requirements, at least in going through Stony Brook University; I have each of these things to my name:
  • Taking extra year of coursework, which includes 5 extra teaching classes; 100 hours of classroom "field experience" / "observation"; and 75 days' student teaching
  • Passing 3 exams: The Liberal Arts & Science Test (LAST); the Assessment of Teaching Skills-Written (ATS-W); and the Content Specialty Test (CST)
  • Sitting through 3 workshops, basically on how to spot child abuse, substance abuse, and violence at home
  • Getting fingerprinted
  • Getting institutional recommendation
When I was student teaching in fall 2006, N.Y.S.E.D. finally announced their online web site: Teacher candidates could update their contact information, see what their progress was, and apply online for a certificate. It was an effort to streamline everything, make things easier, and eliminate paper waste. All good things.

In order to get a copy of one's teaching certificate, one goes through the online application process. The system won't let you apply for a certificate until the state had all application information, which was individually bullet pointed and had a green check mark appear next to it when each piece was individually received. Green check marks appeared next to each item, indicating that all my stuff was received, except for my fingerprints, which was odd, because this was done more than a year ago.

I sent N.Y.S.E.D. an e-mail (I like written records of things) and I was told that the "fingerprint" check mark does not appear until all other items are in the state's hands. At the time of this e-mail, this was fine because I still hadn't taken the last exam. After having taken and passed this test, still no green check mark appeared next to "fingerprinting." More e-mails went back and forth; apparently, this lack of green check mark is a glitch that they're not planning on fixing because various administrators could see that N.Y.S.E.D. has all my stuff and that I have completed all the requirements.

Then how, might you ask, can I apply online for a certificate? I sent them an e-mail this afternoon asking just that, and await their answer.

In the meantime I stood by for half an hour on the phone to talk to a very helpful fellow who said, did you try this; did you try that; and what did they tell you? At which point, finally, he said he was printing out the paper forms and will send those to me. I'm still very interested in how N.Y.S.E.D. would have me apply online for a certificate, though.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

More Family Bonding, Irish-Style

Last day in Dublin today - heading back to Arigna for pretty much the rest of the trip.

After having come back to the hotel for a few hours, Mom, Dad, and I went out in search of food and stopped off at a pub, after which we quite accidentally wound up coming across Patrick, Meghan, Anne, Bronwyn, Ciara, and Aidan; took a rather lengthy walk (again) on the Dun Laoghaire pier. Exactly what I was hoping would happen.

Quiet morning this morning; Mom and I attempted to go to Mass at Our Lady of Victories in Sallynoggin but missed the first 20 minutes or so because of the wrong information given by the hotel; we managed to get most of the important parts anyway - all of which (except for the Homily) were said in Irish, which was neat although a bit disorienting.

It'll be quiet for the rest of the trip; my Internet access (which I'll miss) will be sporadic at best.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Streets Broad And Narrow

Yesterday was the day of walking around Dublin. Dad and Justin have been really stressed out and made driving (and traveling in general) unpleasant, to the point where yesterday was a continuation of the past couple of days and my not wanting to be involved. I am still generally irritated with how they have been handling themselves, but it looks as though things have started to calm down a bit.

In any case, it was an okay day; Mom, I think, just wanted a day of the four of us wandering around Dublin, which we did for an hour or two after Justin had run off and explored a bit on his own. We walked down Grafton Street; and into the chamber of the Irish House of Lords, which is now part of the Bank of Ireland in College Green. We could walk into the Bank of Ireland and wander into the House of Lords room itself, which was neat. We walked over Ha'Penny Bridge, where we were rained upon (again) so we decided that it was time for a break, and found a crêperie. (Yum, so good! Mom used to make crêpes for Lent - plain, with butter, sugar, and lemon juice, which is the type I had.)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Some Things I Noticed...

These are things I have either come across in the past or are not necessarily surprised to have come across, but even though I've been to Ireland several times, I forget or learn something new:

* The cows come out to greet you in the middle of the street; they do tend to wander out and occasionally hang out until someone goes "Shoo!" The cows are completely unafraid of cars and will mosey on past at their leisure. I've been tempted to bring along a milk jug and take advantage.

* There was no hairdryer in my hotel room (I had to ask for one because apparently not all rooms come with one, and even then it took time to scrounge one up), but there were accessories for tea - including an electric kettle, tea cups, tea bags, sugar, and (hopefully will turn out to be) D.H.T. milk. Tea is more readily available than coffee, so easily, and it's so nice.

* I noticed this when Chris and I were in London last April - the impossibly high tub that (in the case of our London hotel) had tub walls that were higher than my knees and was really difficult to get in and out of; not so with the hotel here, although the tub walls are higher than I'm used to. (And at least there are several conveniently located hand rails, more so than in our London hotel.)

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Am surviving more or less intact in Ireland, with few complaints. Got picked up from the Dublin airport Monday morning by Mom and Gertrud, then survived a longer-than-two-hour drive back "home." (Almost made it all the way back without falling asleep, too!) Hung out with Dad and Willi, and then napped before spending the rest of the day noticing how inhibitively rainy it was being... and proceeded to be all of Monday and Tuesday, during which time a proper mattress was delivered (the air mattress had sprung a leak and was such that getting out of bed in the morning wasn't so much getting out of bed as it was rolling out of bed onto the concrete floor, conveniently located close to my knees), as well a wardrobe, which Dad and Willi spent the rest of the day assembling (due to apparently horrible pictorial instructions).

Yesterday, being Willi and Gertrud's last day, we decided to go to the Belleek Pottery factory, which was pretty neat. Long drive, though, so by the time we got home we had decided not to do that much. Dad's and my plans to get to the Internet cafe, previously dashed because of the wardrobe, were revived.

We left early this morning for our foray back to Dublin, dropped Gertrud and Willi at the airport, ate together, and then had slightly stressful driving adventures to our hotel, where I've locked myself away, happily having taken a very long nap from which I happened to awaken only because Mom knocked on my door to ask if I wanted to join her and Dad on a walk around Dun Laoghaire. Being really out of it, though, as well as feeling a strong need to be alone, and people's formerly slightly unpleasant behavior made me decide to stay put, at least until this evening.