Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Student Teacher

I always allow student teachers and observers in my classroom. Generally, my experiences are positive or unremarkable. But I remember one in particular who really surprised me. This occurred in an English immersion class at a public university.

I was discussing the lesson on the phone with the teacher, whom I'll call Joseph. We'd been practicing using present progressive (She's washing her hair.) in everyday conversation. I told Joseph, as part of his lesson, to bring in some pictures, and ask the students to describe what was happening.

Joseph followed my instructions. He prefaced his talk by saying "These are very old pictures," then proceeded to show the class pictures of Jesus (He's healing the sick....)and others (They're kneeling before Jesus...).

I could not decide quickly enough how to deal with it--I felt if I'd stopped him, my class, 100% Christian, might determine I had something against Jesus.

When I told Joseph that he had no business bringing religion into my classroom, he suggested that my heathen ways were impeding his mission. I told him his mission would probably not be helped by his failing the course, which I assured him I'd recommend if the episode were repeated.

He seemed to understand that a little better. While my students found Joseph largely tedious, he did not do any further proselytizing in my classroom. He did stand outside the building before class distributing religious literature, though.

Last I heard, Joseph was planning to travel to a Muslim country with his wife and two daughters to convert the infidels.

-originally posted March 4, 2006
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