I have been a teacher for a long time. To some that is a declaration of incompetence. G.B. Shaw famously declared that “those who can, do; those that can’t, teach.” I’m afraid that is the view of many, and perhaps you might have your own negative views to throw onto the pile. I admit that I have met and taught with some so-called teachers that would have been far better off training Dobermans, with whom they shared many personality traits. For myself, I have always found teaching to be the most intellectually rewarding thing I do, and far more challenging than most realize. I have also continued to push my own intellectual boundaries as far as I have been able. Taking an additional qualification (AQ) course through OISE at the University of Toronto this last term has been part of that push.

Frankly, I would just have soon put this off until another term. But I am in the midst of looking for a new job, and I needed to show that I am keeping current. So, like the other two courses I took this term, with Fuller and AOIC, this one turned out to be unavoidable. It also turned out to be hugely demanding. It the first place each forum post – and there were two a week – required an enormous amount of reading and viewing, probably in excess of three hours each. Then you had to post your reflections on this material and respond to your colleagues’ posts.

Given that there was a cohort of 50 students each posting their reflections and including their own suggested readings and videos, it all got to be too much. By the time the course was over there were three thousand posts to read and respond and watch videos and read articles from. And that was in addition to the readings and assignments of the teacher, who has been doing this for years and had a incredible rich treasure trove of resources to rely upon. Then there were the assignments, only one of which I will post on Google docs in case you are interested. See https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5hmBgyBYRnfXzNIYjcyZWFsRVU/edit

In the middle of all this work, I got really, really sick, and as a result of that illness and stress had an accident. You might think that the result of all of this would be that I hated this course. Not so; in fact I loved it and would willingly take another if it were offered. It was great to be reading solely about educational materials again, and there was a certain synergy among this and the Fuller course I was taking that expanded understanding in both areas.

While recognizing that a cohort like this is a skewed sample, as only the motivated take these courses, there was a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight being offered and I was greatly inspired by my teaching colleagues who represent some of the finest examples of practical pedagogy anywhere in the world. Barb Knechtel, who taught the course, is a veteran like myself and still completely committed to excellence in all its forms. I learned a tremendous amount from her.

But I must confess, all of this took its toll on my health and ability to concentrate on just keeping myself safe in what can occasionally be a dangerous city. I am willing to admit that I failed to sufficiently count the cost that all these courses would have on me, and I was about to pay the price. In more ways than one.