Friday, July 12, 2002

Sistra is in super-high-contrarian mode today, granted, but when the freaking superintendent drags us to an un-ac'd middle school in the Bronx at 8:15 on a hot Friday morning in July and serves us up generic Entemmanns and cheese squares for breakfast, the training should at least be good.

The problem started with the fact that "FAKE THIRD GRADE TEACHER"/Trainer was a Human Being Promoter more than an educator. Her Mama told her lots of parables about things like glossy shines on floors and seeing your reflection. Fine. Hardwork. I'm not down on Mama, truly. It's just that after she modeled reading a children's story aloud, reading every page, every word, for thirty-five straight minutes, allowing us not one stitch of input, reading it flatly and slurring words ("teacher" was "tisha"), all the while walking around the outer edge of the room in full circles, again, again, again (i didn't follow her with my eyes once), I got angry. I resented her for the shower I skipped this morning so that I could get there ontime (which turned out to be 45 minutes early. they lied to us). I resented her for the hot check my old job wrote me, which I had to re-deoposit a hundred blocks south and then a hundred blocks back north to get back to the afternoon session--all during my lunch hour. I resented her for the sleep I always seem to be thirsty for.

But that wasn't it. That I could have swallowed without too loud a grumble.

When Fake Third Grade Teacher was almost finished reading the story, she stopped. Her voice broke. There was silence in the room. I knew what was up, although I wasn't quite ready to see it. The freaking story about the little girl who couldn't read, and then learned to read because of her elegant and tall teacher, Mr. Falker, got her. Her eyes were red. Tears were dripping from her cheeks. She walked around the room again as if a different vantage point would allow her to finish or maybe just put her in more classmates' views.

Is teaching about crying? If we are so touched by overcoming an academic handicap that it chokes us up, will that make us good teachers? Apparantly this morning my class thought the answer was yes. So you know what they did? They started crying too. One woman spoke up and shared, "I was the little girl in the story." No, the story is fiction. It couldn't possibly be you. Is this group bootcamp? Come on people. Buck up. Stop crying! It's not sad. It's really not. It's a happy story. Kids do not know how to read. That's why they go to school. That's where they learn. Pretty cool, eh?

Call me crass. Call me contrary. I still say there's no crying in teaching. At least not at IS makebelieve # during a mock lesson on a hot July morning with no ac.

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