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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Tell me what you think

I want to know if I am over reacting or if my feelings are valid. I work for a brand new school district. I used to work for a small district where things ran smoothly and you could make a phone call and someone would call you back. Last year it was voted by the community that my small beloved district was to become a large k-12 district. So I now work for this big machine that is not well oiled and I am frustrated about what has happened. So I went to a in service training on Friday already feeling frustrated. The morning was spent at a high school with k-12 teachers discussing linguistics I guess you could say. The presenter was telling us that we needed to acknowledge our students vernacular but then teach them academic language. Well duh, I am still with you. Yes children need to know that there is a time and place to speak slang. I speak differently to my best friend than to my students. Occasionally when I feel passionately about something an F bomb may slip out. Shocking I know. So here is where the conversation got sticky and offensive to me. The presenter focused solely on "ebonics" and "spanglish." once again the presenters words and not mine. Instead of focusing on the academic language that needed to be taught so children coming from all backgrounds could be successful test takers it became directed at 2 subsets. It became like a translation from slang to formal English. I did not need to be told what "I be trippin" means but funny side note the stuffy presenter needed to know cause she thought the direct translation literally meant I am tripping. Anyways as a teacher I am asked to teach directly to my English language learners for a half hour a day and I can tell you children from all backgrounds are in this group occasionally even English only speaking children because they have not been exposed to language. and yes some of them are white American born children. What is offensive to me is that we still have to be having a race discussion instead of a discussion about children. The presentation could have been rich and taught me something about language that my first graders need to hear in order to be successful on the standardized test. And then language that they continue to hear throughout there schooling cause none of us as parents walk around asking our children what the sum of something is. We ask them how many there are? Or some form of that question. I think my role as a multicultural parent made me feel so passionately that my district had the focus of the discussion wrong and offensive. Because when my child enters the world she will be perceived a certain way for the way she looks and it makes me angry that in 2008 we have not moved very far from where we were 50 years ago. That fact was just dropped in lap thanks new district for given me a dose of reality I suppose. So tell me what ya think? Am I overly sensitive?


Mimi and Clyde said...

I would not say that you are overreacting. I also find it unfortunate that we are still directing our teaching inservices toward specific racial profiles as opposed to educational need. The two are not mutually exclusive however they are not directly related either. I have to admit that when these types of meetings/presentation come up I usually find some reason to avoid them (as a multi site music teacher I can usually scrape up a rehearsal/class somewhere that just has to be taught right then) because they are more angering that enlightening.

Rhonda said...

I don't think you were overreacting but what I find is that I am now MORE aware of the comments being made. I worked in the school district (clinic) for five years and I think people still have a tendancy to "classify" students based on many different issues. Though I noticed the comments being made before we adopted our princesses, now I HEAR them loud and clear and I do find myself reacting alot differently and "educating" more than I ever thought I would.

I still try to "educate" whether it is the school district employees or the general public!!!!

Best wishes and sending you a BIG HUG :-)