OT? Thoughts on teaching part time at local tech school
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  1. #1
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    Default OT? Thoughts on teaching part time at local tech school

    I have been kicking around the idea for a couple months about teaching part time at the local tech school. We have been less than thrilled with the quality of students that are coming out of the program. So I was thinking maybe if I could get in there part time I could shake things up a bit and get students to question how they are currently being taught. We currently have two students that are enrolled in the program and two that have graduated from it in the last two years. One of the graduates is currently an apprentice under me. So I feel I have a grasp on how I could help train better. I have about 11 years in the trade and my Journeyman's. It's not an overwhelming amount of experience, but is more than enough for that program(I graduated from it 9 years ago).

    I am looking for some insight from people who have done this. What did you struggle with? What advice can you give to make the transition to teaching easier? The main concern I have is I don't deal with people not listening/screwing off very well. Which I know there will be more than a few students doing. How do you handle it professionally in a school atmosphere? The way I want to handle it in the moment is not always the best, so I take a breath and walk away(Not sure if you can do this when teaching). Then come back when I'm calm.

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    You might have more of a problem with the administration than the students.

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    You say you are not thrilled with what is coming out now. You need to define these problems and formulate a plan to correct them.

    Tom

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    Just because you're an expert in the subject matter doesn't mean they'll want you. You might need a four year degree to qualify to teach.

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    Friend of mine did it

    loved it

    Last I spoke to him he never went back to machine work

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    Teaching is its own art/skill/talent; someone who is an expert in any field may or may not be a good teacher, and a superb teacher may or may not be an expert in the field (though it helps).

    IMHO, the key to teaching well is a combination of creativity and the desire to help people learn. Just presenting information is not really teaching - it is simply an information dump. Figuring out how to help someone understand, how to help students learn, how to motivate them to learn - that is true teaching. If you get a thrill from seeing the "aha" on a student's face when they finally "get it," then you likely have the aptitude for teaching.

    Of course, as you note, it makes a huge difference whether students want to learn - but that's where the creative ability to figure out ways to motivate learning comes in. Note that effective motivation, IMHO, is not found in games and prizes and glitz; it is found in drawing the connections between the information and what students care about. Very few students are motivated purely by the excitement of acquiring knowledge (there are a few, but only a few); for most students, there needs to be a sense of why this knowledge matters to them. Of course, there will always be some students who will not be motivated no matter what you do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mhajicek View Post
    Just because you're an expert in the subject matter doesn't mean they'll want you. You might need a four year degree to qualify to teach.
    Expert I am not. I don't feel I will ever be able to call myself that. However my Journeyman's card does give me the ability to teach at a tech school.

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    If this is a post high school tech/trade program I don't think lack of motivation with the students will be much of a problem. At that point most of them are there because they want to be there.

    Remember the old adage: 'Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach'.

    Its a joke, relax. True enough in some fields though. In any case, as awake said, effective teaching is a skill, and it requires certain personality traits and communication skills. One of those traits is patience. From your own description, sounds like you might need some 'learnin' before you get to the teaching.

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    You might try to test the waters first. Talks to the current instructor()s and administration and offer to do a "special class" now and then. Or maybe just a short 1 or 2 credit course. Perhaps focused on what you think they're not getting? That way you can see how you like it and how you do.

    Since you're hiring a number of students already, the admin is likely to listen. The other instructors? Some will be happy to bring in others. Others will see you butting in.

    FWIW, around here the kids are motivated. Bigger problem is the pay is so low (just by the hour, and a low hour, not including prep or travel time). So, it's hard to keep good instructors. The good ones use it to make some connections, and move on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by converterking View Post
    You might have more of a problem with the administration than the students.
    If it's anything like the high school I volunteered at for twenty years, I guarantee the admin and any full time teacher will be the biggest problem. :-(
    ...lewie...

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    Many moons ago (1970's) I was a repair shop owner and certified by NAISE (now ASE) as a Master Automobile and Light Truck Technician. I was attempting to hire technician that had gone through the local technical college program. Much to my disappointment I found the school's cubiculum was woefully outdated. The last manufacturer to switch to electronic ignition was GM in 1974. However in 1976 & 77 I couldn't hire a technician that had any training or experience on the subject.

    I talked to the administrators on several occasions and voiced my concerns. In the end they asked me if I would be willing to become a part time instructor and teach potential technicians on that subject and a few more. After considerable research and negotiation I finally had to decline. At the time the minimum work load for a part time instructor was 3 class periods per week. I didn't feel I could keep my business going and devote the time I felt was necessary to do an adequate job as an instructor.

    That was over 40 years ago and hopefully the requirements for part time instructors has changed. Be sure to check out the time commitment and curriculum before making a decision.

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    I don't know about elsewhere but here to be any sort of "Teacher" you need a degree in Education. From the results of the last "Shop Teacher" I worked with it must not matter what subject the person studied as long the degree was "ED". :-( Bad experience, couldn't even take the whole year with him, Hung it up in March. Really hate to see the shop turn into a junk yard but that is what is going to happen.
    ...lewie...

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    Quote Originally Posted by AARONT View Post
    ...We have been less than thrilled with the quality of students that are coming out of the program. So I was thinking maybe if I could get in there part time I could shake things up a bit and get students to question how they are currently being taught....
    Your goals as stated above don't strike me as a very good fit with what I see as the role of a good teacher in a tech school.

    For one thing, the quality of the students coming out of the program is likely a continuation of their quality going in. Remedying this might be more a matter of getting out in the community to see what it takes to identify and recruit the kind of students you want than a matter of helping to "train better". For another, I wonder about your goal of getting in there and shaking things up a bit, as you put it. It's not exactly the way I would characterize the goal I would seek if I were hiring a teacher in a tech school. Finally, in the same vein, it doesn't strike me that a teacher is in the best position to get students to question "how they are currently being taught". Not only are you setting up a conflicted situation, but the apparent assumption that student complaints about teaching quality are bound to be valid is, to me, off base. I know that it is fashionable to appear caring about student input on teaching quality, but I have recoiled against this approach since day one. Students seldom are even close to being able to make sound judgements about teaching quality, and more than one teacher or program has suffered in a major way and unjustifiably as a result of things like student evaluations. The students are there for you to call the shots, not the other way around. If you want to know if your own day to day teaching is good, get a qualified peer in to observe. If you want to know if the program is effective, bring back some graduates who have been out working in the real world. It's amazing how opinions can change with maturity, experience, and time spent reflecting. It's pretty common for some of us to think back on teacher or program experiences which at the time seemed dumb and a waste of time, and realize with gratitude how valuable those experiences were.

    -Marty-

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    I think we may be mixing up different requirements for teaching in a high school setting vs. in a college (community, technical, or university) setting.

    In many (most? all?) states in the US, to teach in a public high school or grade school, you have to have a teaching license, which generally requires a certain amount of education courses. But many (most? all?) states allow "lateral entry," where someone who has qualifications in a given field can come in and start teaching, and work on the licensure over a given period of time (say 2-3 years). Many universities offer "teacher licensure" programs specifically for such folks, with just the education courses needed to get the license.

    But in a college setting, a very different set of rules apply. In general, to teach at an undergraduate level, you must have at least a master's degree in the discipline; to teach at a graduate level, you must have a "terminal degree" (which generally means a doctorate, though that depends on the discipline) - again, in the discipline. IOW, at the college and above level, it is not enough to have a certain level of degree; it must be in the discipline which is being taught. Someone with a PhD in physics cannot teach an English course, or vice versa.

    At least not in general. But there is provision for colleges and universities to hire someone to teach who lacks the proper degree (or the proper degree in the specific discipline), so long as they can justify it (show why that person is qualified to teach that course at that level) to the accreditors. Typical justification would be demonstrated years of experience, and/or publication in peer-reviewed journals or other qualified publishing in the field, or so on. Other certifications would also be a way to make the justification.

    All that to say, I would not be the least bit surprised if a journeyman's certificate, with the years of experience that go with it, is not sufficient for teaching at a community college. Actually, I would be surprised if it weren't!

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    Well...hmm.. if OP is really interested in helping (and this is a genuine thought here), maybe offer to volunteer every other Saturday for hands on training, or something .. ? Of course in today's sue happy society you might have to initiate some sort of release of liability and such and such

    When I took my apprenticeship classes, I think most of the teachers were actually working machinist/toolmakers, etc. Matter of fact I made friends with our jig and fixture design teacher that lasted for many years. He was not a teacher (no degree I mean, he was a toolmaker), he just 'taught' the class for a couple semesters for part time income. I imagine just talking to someone is the best way. No need to get the cart before the horse as they say.

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    I currently have 4 friends, including one ex-employee of mine, who teach full or part time in the welding departments of 2 different community colleges. I dont think any have teaching degrees. My ex-employee runs his own fab shop full time, and teaches most semesters, usually a night class, or the intro classes. One of my friends worked in industry for 20 years or so before taking over the welding department at a very good tech school- she is retired now, but her industry experience was much more important to her being hired than her college experience. She was a very experienced pipe weldor in the oil refineries, and that was what counted. We have 4 refineries within an hour of the school, so training for them is a priority. Another friend of mine runs the welding department at a different college- her experience is in fab and sculpture. Her job placement numbers are great- I have hired a good half dozen of her grads, and they are some of the best weldors, and employees, I have seen, having employed weldors since the late 80s. Obviously, the school really likes this.


    So I would say it completely depends on the school, its administrators, and their desire to improve their program and get their graduates hired. If their primary purpose is training and placing graduates, you have a good chance. If they are of the model that is primarily trying to do as little as possible until retirement, then they will turn you down, or make things difficult.
    You need to go and talk to some of the other instructors, you will quickly see what the prevailing situation is just by listening to them and their attitudes.

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    I broke this post out into multiple quotes, even though they flowed together nicely. I think each point is very important and well stated.

    Quote Originally Posted by awake View Post
    IMHO, the key to teaching well is a combination of creativity and the desire to help people learn.
    Figuring out how to help someone understand, how to help students learn, how to motivate them to learn - that is true teaching.
    ^ I believe that statement is very important...

    If you get a thrill from seeing the "aha" on a student's face when they finally "get it," then you likely have the aptitude for teaching.
    ^ This.. You need to feel good when they do good(and its an awesome feeling). If your world revolves around win/loss, where you always have to win and somebody else has to lose, you will be a SHITTY teacher (and a near 100% probability a shitty human being).. But if you FEEL GOOD seeing others do good, even without your help.. Then you can understand the teaching mentality, it feels even better when YOU helped them do well..

    Of course, as you note, it makes a huge difference whether students want to learn - but that's where the creative ability to figure out ways to motivate learning comes in.
    This really isn't that far off of being a manager/supervisor/owner and getting your people to do their best.. Its PURE manipulation.. Finding the one thing that is going to fire off the spark in that employee or student and let them shine...

    Note that effective motivation, IMHO, is not found in games and prizes and glitz; it is found in drawing the connections between the information and what students care about.
    I'll agree 99% with this.. But sometimes.. Games and prizes are needed. Some kids really 'need' it. My better half is a teacher, and there are some that really "Needed" it.. And occasionally they get it.. And sometimes it works out where everybody wins, and sometimes.. See the quote below.

    Of course, there will always be some students who will not be motivated no matter what you do.
    And those are the ones that make you sad. you TRIED, and TRIED, and threw every trick you knew at them.. And..... NOTHING..

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    Thanks for breaking that all out Bob. That is all very good info.

    Thanks to everyone else for the thoughts.

    As for talking to current instructors. I am familiar with all but a couple of them. I do talk with a couple of them a couple times a year and one of the part time instructors monthly. There is definitely an internal rift between the two main teachers who are just trying to coast until retirement and a couple other teachers that want change, but they don't have enough voices to force it. Unfortunately the two that are coasting are rubbing off on what used to be a good teacher and another shop aid. The main teachers that are coasting are happy with just filling classrooms and passing students to make their numbers look good instead of passing qualified students. I'm well aware if I did get a position there that it could very well be short lived.

    A little more info... We do get out to a couple job fairs for high school and middle school students per year and talk to them about potential future careers in manufacturing. This is in hopes of drumming up interest in kids that don't know about this as a career(much like myself). On top of this we have worked with local high schools in offering paid internships. I also offer my free time to all staff at work, if they want to come in on their own time for additional training/discussions. On top of this I'll buy pizza and drinks if they want to try to make it a little more worth their time.

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