Well folks, I submitted it. I submitted my application for student teaching (Spring 2011). What a frightening prospect this is. Not because it will be a difficult job–which it undoubtedly will–but trying to figure out how to cope with working 40+ hours a week for free. Actually, not for free, for -$6000.
That’s right, I will be teaching ~25 youngsters in a public classroom and I will be paying a university for the privilege. Now I’m no stranger to the unpaid internship, I’ve had plenty coming from the entertainment industry. But student teaching is a little different. It’s not running coffee and giggling with professionals; it’s teaching. It’s accepting the full responsibilities of a teacher without compensation. This is the business of changing lives, people.
This is completely ridiculous. And also somewhat enraging. And the logistics of it for a non-undergraduate student are next to impossible. I’m among the lucky ones in my program; I don’t have children I need to support. I’ve got free room and board to help me float the five months of forced “unemployed employment.” I know a number of single moms in my classes. I can’t even comprehend how much in savings they’ll need to be able to survive that semester. I cringe as I discuss working tail evenings and weekends with the couple who are as lucky as me.
I’m angry. I love my job more than anything, and I’m angry that I have to leave it and it’s meager salary (let’s forget the fact that I’d be willing to do it for free). I’m angry that I have to leave my buddy for a minimum of 5 months, possibly after this year if that’s what his parents and the district think is best. I’m angry that there is no way I can do both. And I’m angry that I’m going to have fight high school students for minimum-wage part-time grunt work with evening and weekend hours. But that doesn’t compare to the anger that this havoc-wreaking institution is thrusting on my lives and those whom I work with. I could at least understand it a little easier if I didn’t have to pay out of my pocket for this “privilege.” I could at least justify it if I would receive some form of compensation beyond the promise of a degree in the future.
I don’t want to leave my job. My job is the whole reason I’m getting this degree. I just find it incredibly upsetting that the two are in conflict, a conflict that doesn’t make much sense.