Guest column: Re-evaluate guest teacher procedures

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Guest commentary

It is unfortunate when a news article appears about an educator who has abused his or her position of authority over the children under his care, that aura of guilt spreads over the entire academic community.

I want the general public to feel confident that the overwhelming majority of educators take their responsibility seriously.

As a classroom teacher and the previous owner of a tutoring clinic, Dyslexia Inc., in Michigan, I am acutely aware of how important the rights of each individual child are. I would never suggest skipping any part of checking a person’s background in the application process, or being casual about observing their behavior on the job.

I write after reading an article by Joe Landon of Collier County Public Schools about how the district needs more guest teachers.

Since I feel that the process could be made more efficient, I would like to tell you about my experience.

Since I had just retired from teaching in Collier in 2011 and still held my state certification, I hoped that the guest teacher application would include my pertinent information plus fingerprinting and an up-to-date background check. This is where my frustrations with the system kicked in.

First, I had to provide and pay for my college transcripts, which are already on file with the district. Continuing on, I had to pass several hours of online training. The application also asked for a detailed history of my teaching career in Collier County, plus a short paragraph describing a best practice that I felt was successful in the classroom.

The form that I filled out to become a guest teacher is the same one I would have filled out if I were applying for a full-time teaching position.

Apparently all of the applicants are lumped into large groups, regardless of experience, past affiliation with Collier County Public Schools and whether or not they are currently certified by the state of Florida. It took from early July until mid-November to complete the entire process, including many weeks in between where there was little or no communication.

If the school that I retired from had not intervened, I would have been required to spend a day shadowing a classroom teacher and another day learning about the technology used in the classroom.

Because my previous school called, the district did not require me to do the last two days of the training. I began teaching the following day.

It is apparent the district needs more guest teachers as many jobs go undone daily.

As a retired teacher, I was anxious to go back into the classroom and work with students. However, I ended up feeling more like a second-class citizen than an experienced educator. Valuable time would not have been lost had the district taken the time to do a little research and communicated with the other departments in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Administrative Center.

This process, especially for retired teachers from Collier schools, should be re-evaluated. Do not cut short the important parts of the process; just streamline it.

Experienced professionals who are willing to give their time to work in a classroom should be treated as valuable assets to the district.

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