Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Lots of screaming today

Had an even more leisurely start this morning; I didn't get to Brown until 11:30 a.m.

The first class I observed was a kindergarten ESL class. There were two Asians, two Hispanics, and, in a striking aberration, one blonde girl from Denmark. I enjoyed being there; they traced letters with their fingers, wrote on dry-erase boards, and read phonics readers. They were so cheerful and ready to learn. Indeed, you could have fooled me --- most of them were reading just as well as a lot of the first graders.

Then I went to a special ed room, euphemistically and sort of confusingly called the "Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities, Kindergarten." There were three teachers there and six kids. The head teacher read a long and rather complex rhyming book, went over the letter of the week (L), played a song about lollipops on the CD player, and read "Jack Be Nimble" six times (once for every child's name in place of "Jack"). Then there was another song about spelling, and then the kids jumped around a bit to a sorta rockin' song about jumping, and then took turns "reading" from a very short phonics reader. A couple of the kids left to go to mainstream kindergarten. After that, it was math time. The kids did patterns with manipulatives and continued their peers' patterns. The highest level kids were fairly adept at making ABAB patterns. One kid refused to work and sat screaming and crying in time out for about fifteen minutes. (He quickly did some work when he saw that everyone else got to play with a little Thomas train set.)

Another child there is so severely disabled that she's pretty much an infant, throwing things placed in front of her, tearing any available paper, and unable to speak. Instead, she screams. She's physically disabled as well: stunted, constantly twitching, and needing a walker. Her presence in what would otherwise be an only moderately low-level special-needs program is a good example of window dressing. I suppose good intentions are meant, but that room doesn't have the resources to meet that kid's needs (she perforce spends a lot of time just sitting in a chair, everything around her out of reach), and the other kids' learning goes slower because of her presence. And that's in what I consider a terrific room, with cheerful and energetic teachers. Inclusion: pretending everyone is equal, whether it helps or not.

The Lady kindergarten teacher from yesterday confirmed every bad feeling I had about her condescension. I saw her outside at the end of the day, thanked her for her time the day before, and said, referring to specific bit of correction, that I hoped I hadn't overstepped any bounds when I helped the kids out with their writing. "Oh, don't worry," she said. "That's just something you have to be told. You'll get it!" Gee, thanks. I smiled and waved, and then got in my turnip truck and went back to Hicksville Farm.


Went to my parents' house, did a very little cleaning, and heated up some soup for my dad, who's now going through withdrawal. He's apparently going back to AA/NA meetings now. Unless he's actually secretly meeting his pusher.

1 comment:

NYC Educator said...

That's one remarkable class you described. Thanks for confirming, once again, that it was a good decision to become an ESL teacher.