Sunday, November 03, 2019


We all suffer through Danielson and her nonsense to one degree or another. Some of us have supervisors who aren't crazy, and honestly you can't ask for more than that. All of us feel the pressure regardless. Then there are the grades and tests. Not enough are passing. It must be your fault, says the supervisor. Well, it isn't my fault. All I do is walk around and pass judgment on you, so I have nothing to do with what those children experience.

It's tough, though. You want to be kind to everyone. You want to be kind to the boy who doesn't feel Fridays are an appropriate day for school. When he shows up to one of the two classes you teach him, you try to pay him some attention. The topic is what jobs are worth having. He tells you it doesn't make a difference as long as you make a lot of money. You tell him what if you wake up every morning and dread going in? Wouldn't that make you unhappy? Wouldn't it make a difference if you had a job you looked forward to?

You see him thinking. You've made a point he will consider. But he'll still cut your next class, because that's what he does. It's your fault. Sure you've called the phone number the school has, but it's actually his number. It's not like you have anything new to say to him about his attendance, and it's not like anything you say will alter his behavior. He may wake up and decide to do something differently at any moment, but it's likely not one coming soon.

Then there's the boy who used to be in special education in his home country. Who knows what they do in special education in that country, but every paper he hands you is either blank or filled with random words, likely as not copied from somewhere in the room. You wait for months while they evaluate him, or look for someone who speaks his language to do so. When students work in pairs, you hope there's an odd person out so you can pair with him. You know no one will get any work done with him. You wonder what happens when you get observed and he isn't participating. Of course it's because you're ineffective. There could be no other cause, even though you haven't got the remotest notion about his abilities, and knowing almost no English, he can't show you. Still, you get along with him, and hope someone who knows better than you can help him.

There's the girl with the Problem She Won't Talk About. She functions. She gets good test grades. She smiles. But she's absent. She shows up with a social worker. You haven't got a clue. But she can answer questions. She has good grades. When she's around she does the work. She's excellent. You must be highly effective. But what the hell is going on with this girl? Likely as not, you will never know.

Teachers come up to you every day. "Oh my gosh, they put a new student in my class and it's NOVEMBER." You find that funny, because you get new kids each and every day, up to and including June. People don't move to a new country while planning for the school year. Go figure. Your class starts out with 20 and ends up with 34. If you have a co-teacher, maybe it goes oversize. After all, there are 2 teachers.

There are still great kids who have amazing advanced senses of humor, and however limited their English they manage to express it. You look forward to seeing them every day and encouraging and appreciating them. Of course, this won't get you points on the observation. Of course, this won't help them to pass the tests that measure nothing of value.

Meanwhile, the geniuses in Albany sit in their thrones and make rules. Their new plan to decimate English instruction is working perfectly. Not only do they need fewer ESL teachers, since they've declared direct English instruction to be unimportant, but the kids are all passing the tests! It's a WIN-WIN! Thank goodness they had the foresight to design tests that measure nothing!
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