viernes, junio 03, 2005


the surreal life

being a bilingual teacher makes you a very patient person. at my wednesday training, none of our materials were ready. we were told to take an english set and we could swap them for spanish materials thursday afternoon. thursday, we were told things still weren't ready. today we were given more stuff in english and supposedly our materials will be delivered first thing monday... but just in case they aren't, we should be prepared to use the english materials and translate accordingly.

first of all, our pre-written lesson plans are jam-packed and don't allow much flex time period, and certainly not time to spend translating things in written form as well as orally. secondly, these kids are taking the test in spanish and should be instructed using only materials in the spanish language. my off-the-cuff translations are not the same as the wacky "academic" (often Castellano) versions that they will be seeing and don't give the kids the practice they need understanding the test's very specific mathematical language. we have sixteen days before these kids have their last shot at passing the TAKS; my district needs to get its shit together already.

yeah, bilingual teachers get paid more, but we often find ourselves doing double the work and short-changed in terms of funding, services available (my school has neither special education, reading recovery, nor speech therapy for bilingual students, despite the fact that they comprise at least 1/3 of the school population), and materials and resources. our kids are subjected to more testing than anyone else. i'm not being bitchy, this is just the reality of the situation and it's pretty sad that me and my co-worker/friend are not the least bit surprised by the oversight upon oversight when it comes to our two bilingual 5th grade classes.

besides, if i wanted to be bitchy, i'd complain about how my classroom had no furniture and how one of the teachers is an old-school yapper who is already driving me crazy after just one day of knowing her. one of those always-first-to-give-a-suggestion-or-complaint-or-often-both types who likes to hog supplies and materials for herself when it is painfully obvious that we all have to share.

anyhoo. last night a teacher friend and i went out for a drink. there is an alcoholic phenomenon in texas that we call the mexican martini. this beverage is basically a glorified margarita that comes in a shaker and with olives, just a bit more potent as long as you demand a good tequila. which i did, of course, which led to me getting drunk (of course). in the midst of a heated conversation at the bar, i ran off to the bathroom. when i came back, my friend was chatting it up with a random old dude who had been sitting next to us in silence for awhile. this fella was talking about dubai, where several of my relatives and family friends have lived, so i jumped into the conversation immediately. we ended up talking to the old guy until midnight when my friend insisted we leave in order to be up at 6:30 for summer school. he bought us drinks, told us about his international travels and life experiences, and supposedly wants to hire me on for some paintings. i'm not holding my breath, but the characters you meet in bars are so crazy sometimes!

today at my professional dev. we got lectured again about LEP kids (your kids) being the lowest on taks and that we teachers need to really pay attention to this. i would love to copy off your blog entry and hand this to them. i don't think it's a coincidence that the test scores are flailing. and, news flash, it's gonna take more than "scolding" teachers who need to "pay more attention" to these kids.
i think it's really telling that my kids are still termed LEP: Limited English Proficient in all paperwork on a national level. from a linguistic standpoint, it's a very english-centric term that inherently suggests that these kids are walking into classrooms with a handicap because they speak another language and/or lack full proficiency in english (but may speak 3 or 4 other languages). but i guess that's the nature of american society to think that if you don't speak english, you can't possibly be all that intelligent. the term that more progressive individuals and organizations are trying to spread is ELL: English language-learner. pass it along!
I just discovered you're linked to me. With summer, I've got so much more blog-time.

I really want to get certified to do ESOL; but I grieve that I don't speak much Spanish at all. As I continue in education, both adult and secondary, I have noticed that even "native" speakers don't have a secure grasp of English. They don't have the "intuition" that everyone assumes. If anything, adult ESL students know more about grammar than I do. America is so arrogant about itself; thinking that people who don't know English are "limited," when most Americans only speak one language.
Wow, I love the comment above mine. I need to check out her blog! I totally agree about adult ESL (that's what I teach, and I LOVE it). My advanced level students are always asking me about things they hear native speakers say, and I'm constantly correcting them because the natives are wrong. This is why I always remind them that Americans are inevitably lazy, and it shows in our language skills (among other things).
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