You Don’t Know What You Have Until It’s Gone
We have all heard that old saying, “You don’t know what you have until it is gone.” Delistray (2013) identified 11 things that we don’t appreciate until they are gone. Several, such as love in the time of youth, innocence, and our dreams, can be particularly poignant. Others, such as free/cheap/student-reduced pricing, we get to recoup once we hit our golden years. I would add membership with AACTE as an additional item to the list.
As a new assistant professor, I had the privilege of being one of the AACTE institutional representatives. As I continued with my career, AACTE was there. In all honesty, I am not sure I took full advantage of all that was offered. There were other things that garnered my attention, such as getting tenured and promoted, which required strong connections with my disciplinary professional organizations. I served in multiple leadership positions in several of those organizations and continued my progression as a faculty member and subsequently in administration. AACTE was always there, and I found myself taking advantage here and there when it suited me.
As time went by and educator preparation came under increasing scrutiny and critique, I became more aware of AACTE as an advocate for our profession as well as an organization that provided opportunities for professional development, leadership development, and support in assessment and accreditation. I took full advantage of the two complimentary online professional seminars on assessment (Building Quality Assessments and Using Data for Improvement) and looked forward to additional seminars on this topic.
Right about this time, I was offered the position of dean for the College of Education and P-16 Integration at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV), a new institution signed into legislation in 2014 comprised of two legacy institutions, the University of Texas Brownsville and the University of Texas Pan-American. As a new institution, we were not members of AACTE. All of a sudden, AACTE was not always there. I missed the next assessment seminars, and the webinar providing an update on the proposed teacher preparation program regulations, and the second installment on social media—you get the picture. I still received Ed Prep Matters updates, but that just reinforced the realization of all that I was missing—things that I had heretofore taken for granted.
I am happy to say that UTRGV is now a member of AACTE. Becoming a member was relatively easy; with that also comes the responsibility of being fully active in the organization so that it is still there when we most need it. My faculty are excited to get involved and take full advantage of all the benefits afforded by our membership. If I learned one thing from this experience, it’s the importance of not becoming complacent and taking things for granted. Truly, you don’t often know what you have until it is gone.
Patricia Alvarez McHatton is dean of the College of Education and P-16 Integration at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.