The Fat Lady Sang

Posted on: 26 January, 09

As a substitute teacher, I pride myself on being able to wing it in just about any classroom.  The only two classes I avoid subbing in are music and physical education, two areas in which I have no aptitude or knowledge.  Other than that, I feel pretty comfortable dropping into any class and figuring it out as we go.  Today, I subbed for the English as Second Language teacher.  In one of the classes, I was asked to work on MacBeth with the students.  Seriously.  These particular students are quite new to our country.  They can barely say “May I go to the bathroom, please?” and I need to explain Elizabethean England to them?  I am not trying to slam the students in any way.  They are great students.  They want to learn and give 110%.  I can’t even blame the teacher.  It is the state requirement that they be given the same material as other students while they are trying to simultaneously learn English.  It would be like dropping me in the middle of Italy and ask me to learn to sing opera. 

I did some pantomime and some ridiculously bad drawings.  I have no idea what those students got out of that lesson, other than I am a nut case.  It was a waste of their class period.  I felt so useless. The only good thing that came out of this was a renewal of my respect for our ESL students.  I cannot imagine going through day after day in a school where almost nothing made sense.  How they manage to learn anything is a testament to their perseverance and intelligence. 


3 Responses to "The Fat Lady Sang"

Now that sounds like an adventure. But maybe not the good kind.

The fact that you even notice this tells me you are a great teacher, and that not you but the system needs some tweaking. I have alot of teachers in the family, and they all tell me stories that make me gasp. Teachers do not get enough money for everything they do. Especially when they care.

I really feel for the kids! My children are going to school in a second language (French) and my daughter learned little to nothing in the first year, resat it and learned not much more the second time round. I sometimes wonder if the people who set the requirements have ever tried to get by in a country that doesn’t speak their language! It does wonders for your miming though!

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