For the last year and a half, I have thoroughly enjoyed being stretched and enriched by teaching graduate level classes. They were a perfect fit for me because they involved supervising students who are doing internships in the field. Ninety percent of my students seem to have thoroughly benefited from having me as their professor, but it was really me that got the most benefit. They have been like sponges and it has been most gratifying to build relationships with them.
Supervision involves providing feedback and answering questions on tough cases. We did a lot of role-playing and I would usually use actual client situations (with names and other identifying factors changed) to provide examples. It is one of their licensing requirements that the students provide actual recordings of sessions they have done when possible. Sometimes that couldn’t happen because clients have to give permission for such recordings. Anyhow, I grew to really value this part. Students would watch each other and learn how to give helpful feedback- compliments as well as criticisms. It is a vital part to them honing their skills.
With advances in technology, more and more colleges offer classes on-line. There are programs that enable students to check in via computer and you see a small picture of them on your screen as you are teaching. I am comfortable somewhat with this concept on general class instruction. But with supervision in particular, I find it nearly impossible to conduct such a class on computer. The interactions and non-verbals are crucial to teaching clinical skills. When I was initially hired, I was told participation with on-line students was optional. This year that changed and we were told it was a mandated part of our position.
The problem is, when you view recordings (which are also mandated) the program will crash. That is an impossible situation. Mandated computer participation with mandated recordings that crash the program. Impossible. When I asked what we are supposed to do about the dilemma, I was told to watch their recordings on my own time and then give the feedback to the entire class. Well, that adds a lot of hours to my duties without compensation, but much, much more important than that, is that the benefits to the student is severely diminished. The quality of their education is being stripped away in my opinion.
I hate sometimes, that I am that person that has to speak up. I remember glancing around the room during that initial meeting and thinking, did I misunderstand? Did they just say if we do the recordings it will crash the program? How come no one else is asking what to do about it? I had to ask for clarification. And I had to say that I was disappointed in the shift because it hurts the students’ quality of education. By the way, I was not tactless or disrespectful. I just felt it was important enough to open my mouth.
I didn’t get hired back this semester. At first I didn’t feel bad because I prefer not to work in the summer anyhow. But then I did some digging and realized that I might not ever get hired back. The program is trying to hire all doctorate level professors. With that being the case, I don’t feel badly because I don’t have any desire to get my doctorate. But I also know there are probably some politics involved. My reluctance to do the on-line stuff is an issue.
I hate the word consequences because it implies punishment for a wrong doing. I truly don’t think I did anything “wrong” per se. But I do feel very, very badly. I loved teaching. I may not be able to make changes on the level I would like to, but I could make an impact on the students I was involved with. Now that opportunity seems to be gone. I don’t have any students at all. I’m really struggling with whether I regret my position or not. If I could do it over, would I just sit there like everyone else? Maybe. I would still have my job. But then I don’t think what is happening is good for the students or the profession at large. Was it important enough to lose my position over?
That is the question. I have no idea how to answer it.