Saturday, December 17, 2016

You have no IDEA

Sue and I on her last day of class for the university students.  The cake reads You have no IDEA how great you are!

Forty years ago I signed up to work as an assistant teacher in the preschool program run by the psychology department at Binghamton University.  The woman who was the head teacher (actually only teacher outside the unpaid assistants-we received college credit instead of salary) became a friend for life.  Our careers mirrored each others in a see saw- funhouse mirror kind of way- She was an early childhood specialist, I was an early childhood special education teacher, she became a special education teacher in the middle school high school, I became a middle school /high school special education teacher in the middle school/ high school, all this over a period of four decades. of course in the end she earned her Ph.d,  I retired- sort of.  She teaches at the university where we met and last week she invited me to talk to an intro special education teacher's program class about my experiences. Before class the students gave her the above cake, which says you have no IDEA how great you are.  The pun is that IDEA is the acronym for Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act- the legislation that makes special education- special education.

So I figured I should write something of my experiences down. I am too wordy.  This I know.  But I figured I should write everything I could think of and then glean a meaningful presentation out of my verbosity.  Whether I accomplished that, who knows, I do know that I wrote way too much for a 45 minute presentation, or even one blog entry, but I thought I would stick pieces into the blog, a few memories at a time.

There comes a time in every course, when I am hot into some very important topic – undoubtedly-gleaned from the course curriculum, aligned with both state and common core standards, structured restructured and tweaked again to showcase the very best current teaching practices and then I notice someone waving his/her hand from the back of the room enthusiastically.

My immediate response- "just take the pass and go!"
Often that satisfies the hand raiser, but there are times where that is not the response the hand raiser wanted to hear. This is what follows -͞ "No, I just wanted to ask you a question.͟"

Okay- if I’m having a good day I remember to say, ͞ "Is this about algebra, (the French Revolution, the stages of Mitosis….etc.)?"

But if I don’t , what I get is a question that goes something like this, "Miss- have
you ever dated a Black man?" Or "Do you really like teaching?"

Both questions and a thousand variations of them have the same purpose, to derail the lesson. My
response is always this, " I’m teaching math, (or history, or science) now, but if you are really interested come see me at 3:00 pm- there is nothing I like to talk about as much as I like talking about myself."

 Except maybe writing about myself.

A few years ago I was teaching summer school at a new fully air conditioned state of the art high school. It wasn’t our school but we had located there for the summer along with several other programs from the hot steamy brick buildings of the regular year. I got on the elevator with a couple of my students.

They fancied themselves thugs or modeled themselves after their favorite rap singer at least in
appearance. They weren’t, of course, they cried when their girlfriends broke up with them, trembled
with fear when I called their mothers and smiled happily when I drew a happy face on a perfect paper.

But the image was definitely gansta. Most of my greetings started with the phrase-͞ "pull your pants up.͟"

We got on the elevator one day, and we were joined by a student from a much more restrictive environment, program than ours, (code for more handicapped, or even just obviously not quite right). The young man looked at me and then volunteered the information that he liked to
look at inappropriate websites. I looked at my gansta look alikes and waited for the guffaws. But they
didn’t come.

One of them leaned over and addressed the young man in a loud stage whisper. ͞ "Dude, so do we, we just don’t tell the teacher.͟"

And the young man got off at the next floor. Then, my companions cracked up. I complemented them for their restraint and added, "that laugh if you may but it was the kind of program the young man attended, that I imagined myself teaching when I decided to become a special education teacher."

"͞But instead, you got us," one of them replied.
The door open, and I got hugged as we left. ͞"Don’t touch the teacher, don’t touch the teacher,͟ "I

“You know you love us,” they reminded me as we all went off to factor quadratics of solve systems of  equations.

No comments:

Post a Comment