Does your college class count?

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There is a problem in today’s colleges. It’s not the so-called liberal agenda or indoctrination. (And seriously– try talking to a college student, or any student– they are often strong in their beliefs and convictions). Across the nation, the problem is money. Students are wasting money on courses, often called remedial or developmental courses, that do not carry any graduation credit.

In college, remedial courses are often focused in the areas of math and English, sometimes technology. Multiple remedial courses may be required, especially if a student has reading difficulties. A student could complete a full academic year of classes without starting a credit-bearing course. While all college courses have credits, a numerical designation of the workload, a “credit-bearing course” is one that counts towards the degree requirements.

Remedial classes do not count towards GPA or graduation requirements. Remedial courses are any course a student takes before taking a credit-bearing course. Remedial courses are often called developmental or pre-req(uisite) courses.

In the past, colleges had an incentive to offer these types of courses. These courses allowed students who would otherwise skip college to attend. This became especially popular with the passage of the G.I. Bill (the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944). Students were deemed lacking, and remedial courses would teach them the necessary skills.

The problem with such courses is two-fold: the course still costs (the full amount of) money and the student completion rate drops as remedial coursework is required. Remedial courses are not discounted and often requires expensive supplies (textbooks, software subscriptions, paper/pens, etc…). Students sometimes take loans to cover these courses WHICH DO NOT COUNT TOWARDS GRADUATING!

Not all students who start remedial education complete a degree, or even the class. According to Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness, 9% of students who take a remedial course complete a bachelor’s degree.

60% of community college students took one or more remedial courses

Center for the analysis of postsecondary readiness

In recent years, there has been a national and state-level shift in remedial education within colleges. Amid political pressure, some colleges no longer offer remedial education or offer shorter sequences (a single class versus a set of multiple). Some new state funding models (like that of Ohio) are based on students completing credit-bearing classes within a quick time frame (within the first 30 credit hours). Educators around the country are trying to explain what college readiness looks like to potential students (high schoolers, returning, etc…). In strong cases, there is even a push to “Just say no” to taking remedial courses.

Remedial education is a weird sort of limbo. The class doesn’t “count” yet is required because the student needs that particular skill/knowledge. There are no easy answers.

The sky is falling: ChatGPT in classrooms

What is ChatGPT? Depending on who you ask, ChatGPT is the downfall of education. (And man, haven’t we heard that before). Others believe ChatGPT (and other AI generator tools) are heralds of a new, more thoughtful education experience.

On a basic level, ChatGPT is an AI generator of text. The user plugs in a prompt word or phrase and the tool creates a text-based response. The tool uses a data set to create better (more targeted) responses. There even exists an AI generation tool in WordPress that people can use to (hypothetically) create blog posts.

How do I know I’m reading an AI generated text?

The following is AI generated using the WordPress feature:

It’s hard to know whether a text was created by an AI or a human, as they often share many characteristics that make it hard to distinguish between one or the other. However, AI generated texts are usually shorter than most human-written texts and they often lack subtle elements that can make a human-written text stand out, such as figurative language and complex sentence structures. AI generated texts are likely to have generic (non-specific) terms and may have inconsistencies in their use of tenses, voice, and other linguistic features.

Human again: While it’s hard, look for errors (grammar and syntax). Humans make errors that cannot always be replicated by computer/algorithms. I often misspell simple words on my writing instance; I spell because as “becuase” and have to go back to fix it.

What are the Limitations?

ChatGPT can create incorrect (nonsensical) responses. Sometimes, ChatGPT cannot create a response and does not respond to the same prompt multiple times (in the same chat space). The tool does not understand the user wants a different response and will reiterate the earlier given response.

Here is the second time I tried to generate a coherent essay:

“Sure, I can help you with an essay. In order to get started, I’ll need to know the topic you want to write about. Once you have a topic in mind, we can work together to create an outline for your essay, including a clear thesis statement and supporting evidence. From there, you can begin writing your essay, using your outline as a guide. I’ll be happy to provide feedback and guidance throughout the process. So, what topic do you want to write about?”

Ethical issues

The most important ethical issue for AI generation tools is copyright. This is a two-fold problem. First, what data set did ChatGPT use to create their generation machine? They say, “We trained an initial model using supervised fine-tuning: human AI trainers provided conversations in which they played both sides—the user and an AI assistant.” But realistically, this human input model could not account for the amount of potential topics required by live users. This input was combined with the “InstructGPT dataset”. How were instructor texts acquired? Did the owners of the texts give permission? For ChatGPT, the answer is hidden or obscure. For other AI generators, the answer is no (and lawsuits are already on the horizon).

The second copyright problem is ChatGPT can generate material that pushes the bounds of copyright (fanfiction). Fanfiction has always existed as a grey area. But now, with easier generation, we may see more legal action to protect works and brands.

The issue most educators are concerned with is plagiarism. Plagiarism is taking someone else’s idea and representing it as your own. Does using an AI generation tool count as plagiarism? This is a question that has to be decided by instructors and colleges. Many are already creating policy against such tools.

Will ChatGPT generate an essay?

No, it seems ChatGPT (the free demo version) will not generate a full, coherent essay. The tool will generate ideas and an outline. As a college English instructor, the proposed outline is good, really good. Other AI tools DO generate a full essay.

Below is the prompt I input with the ChatGPT response text.

User Input: textual analysis essay

Sure, I’d be happy to help you with a textual analysis essay. To get started, we first need to choose a text for analysis. This can be a literary work, a movie, a news article, a speech, or any other piece of written or spoken language. Once you have chosen your text, you can follow these steps to write your essay:

  1. Introduction: Begin your essay with an introduction that provides background information about the text and its context. This could include information about the author, the historical period in which the text was written, or any relevant cultural or social issues that the text addresses. You should also include a clear thesis statement that outlines the main argument you will be making in your essay.
  2. Summary: Provide a brief summary of the text, highlighting the key events, themes, and characters. This will give your reader a sense of what the text is about and provide a foundation for your analysis.
  3. Analysis: This is the main part of your essay, where you will analyze the text in detail. Depending on the text and your thesis statement, your analysis could focus on a variety of elements, such as:
  • Characters: Examine how the characters are portrayed and what their motivations are. Are they fully developed or are they more like archetypes? How do they interact with each other?
  • Themes: Identify the major themes of the text and how they are developed. What ideas or messages does the text convey? How do these themes relate to the author’s historical or cultural context?
  • Language: Analyze the language the author uses and how it contributes to the meaning of the text. Consider the author’s tone, word choice, sentence structure, and other literary devices such as symbolism or metaphor.
  1. Conclusion: Sum up your main points and restate your thesis statement in a new way. You can also offer some final thoughts on the text, such as its relevance to contemporary issues or its lasting impact on literature or culture.

Remember to support your analysis with evidence from the text. This could include direct quotes or paraphrases that illustrate your points. And be sure to use clear, concise language that is appropriate for your audience and purpose. Good luck with your essay!

User Input: twilight

Sure, I can help you with a textual analysis essay on the book “Twilight” by Stephenie Meyer. Here’s a sample outline:

  1. Introduction: Begin with a brief overview of the book and its significance. Provide some background information about the author and the genre of young adult paranormal romance. Then, introduce your thesis statement, which should clearly state the main argument you will be making in your essay.

Example thesis statement: “Through its portrayal of gender roles and relationships, Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ reinforces traditional patriarchal norms and reinforces harmful messages about women’s agency.”

  1. Summary: Provide a brief summary of the book, focusing on the key events, characters, and themes. This will give your reader a sense of the book’s content and provide a foundation for your analysis.
  2. Analysis:

A. Gender Roles: Analyze the gender roles that are portrayed in the book. How are male and female characters represented? Are these representations consistent with traditional gender norms, or do they challenge them? Consider how the author’s portrayal of gender reinforces or subverts patriarchal ideals.

B. Romantic Relationships: Analyze the romantic relationships in the book. How are they portrayed? Do they reinforce or subvert traditional gender roles and expectations? Consider the power dynamics at play in these relationships, as well as any messages the book sends about women’s agency and autonomy.

C. Vampire Mythology: Analyze the vampire mythology that is presented in the book. How does the book depict vampires? What does this depiction say about gender roles, power dynamics, and the nature of desire? Consider how the book reinforces or subverts traditional vampire lore.

  1. Conclusion: Sum up your main points and restate your thesis statement in a new way. You can also offer some final thoughts on the book, such as its relevance to contemporary discussions about gender and sexuality in popular culture.

Remember to support your analysis with evidence from the book, including direct quotes and examples. Use clear and concise language that is appropriate for your audience and purpose. Good luck with your essay!

Why I left K-12 Teaching

Now that I’ve been able to mentally and emotionally digest my circumstances, I want to talk about it. Specifically, I want to discuss why I left K-12 teaching. My story is not entertaining or confusing (for one of those, I’ve attached Rebecca Rogers’ Quitting video—YIKES).

Rebecca Rogers’ “Why I Quit Teaching” video. This is not a video by or affiliated with the Rhetoric and Teaching Witch.

Instead, my quitting K-12 teaching experience was quiet and, most likely, more indicative of what is occurring on a national scale in our country. I can say having taught at the K-12 level that I will NEVER go back. EVER.

I know the loss of one teacher (me) doesn’t seem like a concern in the public K-12 sector. But we are losing too many quality teachers. I am concerned. You should be concerned.

The world-wide thing which must not be named exacerbated flaws in an under-funded system. Staff (not just teachers) left in droves. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that “there were 270,000 fewer school staff” from January 2020 to July 20221. There is a 9.3 percent decline in K-12 employment since the Covid pandemic2. Schools don’t have the physical bodies to cover all essential duties. Your child may not even have a physical adult in the room.

I did not want to leave. I still feel guilt about leaving my students and peers. I was in a self-contained special education classroom. Administrators are particularly struggling to fill self-contained classroom gaps. These students need the most support and their behaviors are often a deterrent to new hires.

Work Load

The first reason I quit was the work load. Teachers work hard. Teachers technically have contracted work hours. My contracted hours were 30 minutes before the start of school (6:50 AM) until the end of school (2:20 PM). Other teachers at the same school had different contracted hours (7:00 AM- 2:40 PM). Administration had different hours; staff had even more different hours. Due to the discrepancy in hours, it was common to get meeting requests OUTSIDE of my contracted hours (with no additional pay- but that comes later in this post).

In my off-time, I had to create and grade assignments, complete professional development trainings, plan or supervise school events, and, you know, make sure I do the human things required to keep living (eat, sleep, shower). I also have and like my family. There was never enough time in the day, week, semester to complete all the things. So I learned to say no and things that were not priorities faded away. I feel that the best teachers do this (not that I am the best- 10 years into teaching and I learn every day). They learn to prioritize or else they burnout.

“But teachers have the whole summer off.” No, no we don’t.


I’m still salty about this one. The pay was horrendous. My annual pay was $46,000. While terrible, I could live with this amount. The problem came with the fact that I worked at a PUBLIC K-12 school. (This was not the fault of my individual school administration- Florida zones their schools by county and it’s a hot mess).

I had to pay for classroom supplies. I had to buy or provide copier paper. I had to pay for some state-mandated professional development trainings. If I wanted to continue my education (with advanced degrees), that cost would have come from my pocket entirely as there was no employer reimbursement program.

I did not receive a bonus or cost of living adjustment from one year to the next. I did not receive a retirement account contribution match (or any employer input).


I had a great support system in my fellow teachers. We shared resources, ideas, and lives. I miss them terribly. My administration were all kind and helpful, but they had too many duties to provide a sense of community or belonging to the teachers. While I was making my decision to leave, the people (at my work and my Baby’s daycare) were the one factor that absolutely made me want to stay.

Ultimately, I wanted a larger sense of community. I wanted my family and friends back. I moved back to Ohio to see them more often. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for us.


1 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

2 Bleiburg and Kraft.

Where have all the teachers gone?

When Googled, there are 26 MILLION search results for “teacher burnout”. The latest news stories discuss potential 4 day work weeks, how to manage stress, schools closing due to sick teacher call outs, and the high numbers of teachers looking to quit. This is not a problem. It’s a crisis. And for most Americans, it’s a silent crisis.

We’ve become accustomed to the “traditional” American school day. We get up early and make the children a nice, hearty breakfast before sending them to school on the bus. Our children’s school days roughly mimic their parent’s working hours. They go to school early and finish sometime in the afternoon (2:25-4:45 P.M.). It’s expected, and legally required, to school our children.

But we take the existence of a school for granted. Schools take a lot of money, manpower, resources, etc… to operate. Communities, and individuals within those communities, do not always see the value of a school. Many people think of teachers (and the services provided) as babysitters. They don’t want to increase their taxes or pay additional levees. This money often pays for things like additional teachers, more classroom space, new technology, professional development, and more. Working without these resources can be demoralizing.

Why are teachers burning out? There is not enough time in the day to be all the things that every student needs. Teaching now is more than just the course content. I have to be an advocate, a social worker, a role model, a mom, and a teacher all rolled into one.

Typical Teaching Day

My typical day starts a 5:30 A.M. with breakfast, commuting, etc… I have to report to my assigned “teaching” location at 6:50 A.M. Working in a self-contained Special Education room, I have to help my students get off the bus and supervise them in a safe location until we can walk into the classroom. The school day officially starts at 7:20 A.M.

Throughout my day, I teach: Math, Life skills, Science, and Social Studies. I also have to supervise my students in life skill tasks (handwashing, eating breakfast or lunch, using the toilet, walking from building to building to name a few). My students cannot be left unsupervised at any point in the day.

The students in the general education classes also cannot be left unattended at any point. If you do so, you are liable for any damage, etc… that occurs.

Self-contained Special Education teachers rarely get a planning period. We officially have a planning period, but student behavior problems, school schedule changes, inclement weather, etc…, often means our students stay with us during our planning periods. Planning period is supposed to be protected time that is used for making copies, creating lessons, grading student work, calling parents, using the restroom, or eating a snack.

The general education teachers do not fare much better. Their planning is often “voluntold” to cover teacher absences or duty spots.

The school day ends at 2:20 P.M. which means the start of more work. Any official parent-teacher conferences are scheduled to start AFTER our contracted hours from 2:20-2:50 P.M. (Because, of course, I want to be yelled at by irate parents while not being paid).

After any meetings, I need to start any work for CEUs (Continuing Education Units). To maintain our teaching certificate/license, we have to take specific coursework or professional developments. I have to attend face-to-face or virtual meetings, complete homework and assignments, and take tests.

Finally, I am human and have a family. I need all basic human necessities and have to care for my own child. This could be its own full-time job.

What can we do?

As a society, we need to make quality education a priority. These are children who will one day live, work, procreate. They need to be educated fully to be productive members of society. This means we, as a society, need to make some shifts in how we view school and teaching.

Teachers are being maligned as ‘harming’ children and are subjected to constant scrutiny (and even direct surveillance) by many parents, school administrators, and activist group

“Teachers to culture Warriors: stop treating us as enemies”. washington post, March 22, 2022

We want to teach. We want to help children grow and reach their full potential. Difficult political climates make this hard. I teach in Florida. Infamously, I can’t say gay. Books are disappearing from bookshelves. This helps no one.

We need more resources (qualified teachers, support staff, trainings…). We need flexible logistic thinking (like 4 day work weeks). We do not need more laws, more hurdles, more mandates.

As a teacher, it is up to me to protect myself from burnout. To do so I follow a few steps:

  • Recognize signs in yourself first. What does your anxiety look like?
  • Don’t work for free or after hours. Thats a fool’s errand.
  • Take a day off.

Teachers now consider:

When is it time to do something else?

Teaching Resources for the Special Educator

A resource is only as useful as the person utilizing it. That is, if you don’t know what/how you are using a resource, you will fail. You must have a goal or objective when lesson planning and using resources.

When you have your objective, write it down. Yes, create a lesson plan. I am a fan of backwards curriculum design. You should include the objective of each individual class session on your lesson plan. It is okay, and expected, to have remediation days—plan for them. On your lesson plans, write when/how you will use each resource. When using a resource, ask yourself “why this thing?”

If you are unsure how to implement a resource, check YouTube or ask a peer for demonstration of the (new) technique, worksheet, or skill.

If you have multiple students with different needs, planning for all of the different accommodations can seem daunting. What do you do? Where do you start? When planning for accommodations start with the most intensive needs and work to the least intensive needs. In a self-contained setting, the most intensive needs may require a completely altered lesson plan/delivery, while the least intensive needs may only require a small modification. Visualize how each student can meet the lesson objective and WRITE IT DOWN.

Reminder: always preview any resources before using with students.


Resource Coach

The best resource in the Special Educator’s arsenal is their district Resource Coach or Disability Coordinator. This person often specializes in accommodations, teaching techniques, and learning theory. Often, they can tell you how/why you should be using a special technique to improve student learning.


Teachers Pay Teachers

Teachers Pay Teachers is filled with great, teacher-created resources (worksheets, fonts, PowerPoints, etc…). TPT will take some time to navigate, just because there are SOOO many things. It’s best to use the filters to find exactly what you want or need. Some of the resources cost money, but TPT has a lot of free content.



While completely monetized, N2Y is a great resource for content across all major content areas (ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies, and Life Skills). The resources are leveled and often downloadable. The one annoyance is the materials are available for a set time period and then disappear for new material.


CNN 10

Completely free and only a 10-minute video! CNN10 is a daily news-briefing about current events that can be watched through YouTube or the CNN10 website. Carl Azuz includes targeted jokes at the end of each video that some students enjoy. The one downside is the filming schedule may not match with your break schedules.

Other great resources:

Sources marked with ($) charge a subscription to access all content. Sources marked with (%) charge to access some content.

Can we stop Karen?

Photo by Olga Lioncat on

If I see one more video or post with the title “‘Karen’ does _____”, I might go crazy. Don’t get me wrong, bad public behavior occasionally needs to be called out, but “Karen” is not the way. “Karen” and its variations are sexist and controlling.

In case you’ve not been paying attention to trends, “Karen” is a title placed on people (usually white women of middle age) who behave badly in public space. The title is accompanied by a photo or video and shared on social media and sometimes junk “news” websites. There is no standard for what makes a person a “Karen” beyond bad public behavior.

The main problem with “Karen” is that it targets women in public space. Women are already judged, harassed, belittled in public space through catcalling, stalking, etc… To be woman and in public is dangerous to our health and safety. Adding an element of public shaming, which is what “Karen” is, just makes it even more dangerous.

Additionally, social media makes it easy to share images and video in virtual form (Twitter has a popular Karen hashtag). These women don’t give permission to have their picture taken, but it’s taken and shared nonetheless. This act could violate state law, or at the very least the sense of common good which teaches to respect another persons body and image.

“Karen” targets WOMEN. Louder for those in the back: “KAREN” TARGETS WOMEN. You can make the claim that there is a male equivalent, but there is not. Men aren’t being called out in the media (or social media). WOMEN are.

Additionally, there is a low bar for what behavior is acceptable in public. One person was shamed for wanting mustard and mayo on her fries. Seriously?!? Yes, how dare she want condiments on her fries. Or maybe the problem was that she was eating in the first place. Another was shamed for looking at pictures on her phone at a concert. When people start to police and “Karen” (or share in a permanent way) others behavior, we start to devolve as a society. We need to feel safe and able to exist in public space… it is after all- PUBLIC.

So, please stop “Karen”. It’s not safe and sexist. Will we make the Karens wear scarlet letters next?