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OK it is now official – that state of teacher certification in the US is officially (or as officially as I can make it) a mess. I read this entry in the CSTA blog yesterday. I know of at least one other teacher at a private school who is fighting a difficult battle to get a teaching certificate. We’re talking about people with years of practical experience who have demonstrated over several years that they are really good teachers. And yet the hoops they have to jump though are getting in the way of their hiring options.
So this is a bit of a rant I guess. I see the teacher shortage, especially in computer science, math, sciences and related subjects as a national concern. We need every qualified teacher we can find, hire and retain. But the state boards of education, and sometimes teacher unions, seem to be doing all they can to make it very difficult for second career teachers to enter and stay in the field.
Now private school teachers, especially in schools run by religious organization, can and do often get teaching jobs without state certification. As one principal said when he hired me “I care more about qualification than about certification.” Sure principals take a chance when they hire a teacher with no classroom experience. But once someone demonstrates that they know the material and can teach it well shouldn’t it be relatively easy to get a certification? And I’ve seen certified teachers who were horrible teachers.
One of these days I hope to find myself with a classroom again. I’ve got 9 years of teaching under my belt (8 in a high school, in two elementary/middle schools), a graduate degree in the field and several published textbooks in the subject. Yet in many states I’d have to take a year or more of additional course work to get a teaching certificate. There are a lot of people in the high tech field who would like to finish their work years (10-15 of them often) teaching. The money becomes less important to them and they want to help society. With a lot of practical experience in both subject matter and in training younger employees many of them would (and some will) be great teachers. But we need to find ways to certify these people that involve helpful and necessary training and verification. Plus of course experience actually teaching should count for a bit more than it seems to today.
Did you ever want to have your program respond to voice commands? I found this article on how to write a Visual Basic program to understand you when you talk to it. Looks interesting. Now all I have to do is find time to try it out. On the other hand if you have students looking to do something out of the ordinary you may want to point them here.
I found a second article on voice recognition at Coding 4 Fun. It's about Windows Vista and so you'll want to explore beta software to use it. But it is an interesting read.
Recently I was asked about some features in Visual Basic 2005, specifically around the My namespace. One of the things I did in reply was to write a short article on using the My namespace to add sounds to a Visual Basic program. You can find the article (it is a PDF file) on MainFunction.com. I'm hoping to write a series of articles on the My namespace. In the mean time if you want to learn more about the My namespace there is a lot of information (here) that includes sample code and all sorts of articles and documentation.
Also at Coding 4 Fun is an article about adding music to your programs. You may want to check that out if you want to really impress people with the sounds of your life.