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Aug. 26th, 2003

a month or so ago i was thrilled to get a call from the school board, out of the blue, offering me a certified GED teacher. i'd been teaching GED in the evenings and it had become quite time consuming. i don't mind teaching and i am good at it, but ideally i want to be in my office working while other people teach. i have volunteers teaching citizenship and computer classes. i had an awesome volunteer teaching ESL. he just left for the peace corps. i hate to teach ESL. i would teach anything, but ESL. don't think this strange of an english major. ESL is a whole different game. i just don't like it and i don't like the time it takes to get the curriculum in order. the school board offers me an ESL teacher too. i'm excited. the new superintendent is big on adult education and this suits me just fine. the teachers will be on the school board payroll and at my disposal for monday and wednesday evening ESL and GED classes. awesome. or so i thought.
first GED class was last monday. 6:30. 6:45 rolls around and i have 19 students and no teacher. i call the woman in charge at home and explain to her how this is not really a good start. looks like i will be teaching this class for now. i absolutely hate to teach without being prepared. always have. i had a few students from my previous GED class and some new ones. fortunately PBS (thank you!) had just given us a license to use an internet based GED virtual classroom so i used the time to get the students set up. still, i am not a happy camper. i had explained to the woman from the school board how critical it is that my teachers be on time and be prepared. not a lot to ask, eh?
last night 2 teachers showed up an hour early. mass confusion followed. there was an older african american lady who brought her husband along "for support", whatever that means. she also brought with her a vietnamese man who was to teach ESL. ut oh. now, i don't claim to have ESL experience, but i do believe someone teaching english as a second language should have english as a first language. these two came into my center with an attitude and a plan to run the classes their way. i am trying to be friendly and accommodating, but they made it quite difficult. i explain to them that i want, no offense, an american to teach ESL. the woman explains to me that she is also teaching the ESL class. i am standing there, looking at her with raised eyebrows, shaking my head and trying to figure out if this woman has an ability to clone herself during these two classes or some other magical ability to be in two classrooms at one time. her plan, you see, is to go back and forth between the two classes, teaching the GED class and assisting Mr. P with the ESL class. not cool. not cool at all. one of my volunteers commented to me that she thought something was wrong with this woman (whom i will call Ms. O for overbearing) because she didn't seem to understand anything i was explaining to her. but that is not it at all. Ms. O hadn't the ability to listen. this is one of my pet peeves....a person who is unable to listen to what someone is saying because she (or he) is too busy formulating the next response in her mind to really listen to what the other person is saying. i cannot tell you how many times i had to repeat things to this woman. i finally threw my hands in the air and went into my office. whatever. i will call the school board and explain to them that i do not want this woman back.
meanwhile, her husband is just sitting in a chair in the reception area, twiddling his thumbs. he remained there the entire evening.
classes begin and sure enough she is running back and forth between the two classes. i overhear Mr. P explaining to the ESL class that he is changing the schedule from 7:30 class to 5:30. at this point i am sitting at my desk totally in awe.
"we were hea at five tirty and no one was hea for cass." i hear him tell my students.
deep breaths.
i poke my head in and tell him, for probably the 10th time, that this class was scheduled for 7:30. i smile sweetly at the students as i tell him that everyone here was on time.
"why were we skeduled for five tirty?" he asks, in a heavy vietnamese accent.
i shrug my shoulders, smile sweetly again and tell him that now is not the time to discuss this. i close the door.
then comes the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
a woman brings in her 16 year old son for the GED class. Ms. O turns him away! she tells the mother that he is too young and should be in school. hardly able to get a word in, i am trying to tell her that a 16 year old can leave school with parental permission and that he obviously has parental permission. Ms. O tells him he can only come back with a note from school.
what the hell????
i am furious now, but i will not make a scene. i retreat to my office and wait until Ms. O finally shuts up. but she doesn't. she is arguing with the mother.
really deep breaths.
out i go again. i tell Ms. O that she needs to get back to her GED class, especially considering that a few of her students have left because they have nothing to do. she flat out ignores me.
unbelievable.
fuck this. i will teach the class. i go back to the classroom and proceed to do just that. aha, this got to her. she returns and, naturally, takes right over. i hurry to catch the mother, give her my card and tell her to call me in the morning, that we will work it out. i tell her son to come to my office after noon and we will get him started because he should not be sitting home all day if he has left school. the mother looks grateful. i feel better. a little.
what a mess.
today i will call the school board and tell them thank you, but no thank you.
anyone want to teach ESL?

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
hislittlepony
Aug. 26th, 2003 09:04 am (UTC)
Is that a banana in yo' ear?
You should write a book---if I'd never met you, I would think this was truly comical. Since we've met and I like you--you have my condolences. The sorts of people some universities give diplomas to is quite amazing! Too bad she can't be forced to take a class on listening, professionalism and social skills...
mysticknyght
Aug. 26th, 2003 10:50 am (UTC)
this woman sounds like more than one tenured teacher i've had the misfortune to encounter in my life...

ESL really needs to be taught by a foreign language teacher rather than a straight English teacher. You know, someone who is certified English/Spanish (or like me, Social Studies/English/German)...the catch is, if you have multiple certifications, you're usually teaching one of them rather than ESL...
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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