Teachin' For America

Thoughts and otherwise on one particular Teach for America experience.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Wouldn't You Know It

The day after I make the big promise about daily entries, I blow it and don't come up with one. I don't even know what I was doing yesterday.
I mentioned Ms. "Talley" in the previous entry. She has been in fine form lately, doing things that will serve as great examples to my readers of the kind of teacher she is. Yesterday, while chiding one of our quietest and meekest students, "Senora," for not having her homework, Ms. Talley told this child with special needs- and I quote- "You think you're so smart, but you're not; if you were, you wouldn't be in this class." I cannot immediately think of a more horrible thing to say to a child in a special needs class. While honesty is undoubtedly important when discussing the nature of the class of which we are all a part, demeaning remarks like that, which serve only to badly damage a child's self esteem, are so unbelievably unacceptable to me it hurts to recall the comment. Ms. Talley has been a special education teacher for 25 years and she still thinks this is an appropriate thing to say to her children. I will indeed be different when I get a classroom.
Today Ms. Talley had a child stand in the corner of the doorjam- that 4-or-so inches of corner between door and frame- for around 20 minutes. She stood stock still and stared at the blue paint. She being an engergetic young girl tended to fidget, at which point Ms. Talley questioned whether her feet worked properly. It was terrible to watch.
It has very often been difficult to keep in mind why Ms. Talley is in charge of molding me into the type of teacher she considers to be the best. It has often been very difficult not to speak my mind about what I see as the most egregious violations of our students' dignity and self-esteem. It has often been difficult to work with Ms. Talley.

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