We have all these students who speak Spanish at home. We should be teaching them to read and write Spanish as well, starting at the elementary level. Too often, we push them towards English and don’t take advantage of their natural facility with Spanish.
The truth is that we should be moving toward dual-language programs for all of America’s children. Spanish is the second language of the United States. It’s profoundly useful for employment nowadays. There’s also research suggesting that learning a second language can help stave off dementia in later life. Languages lay new pathways in the brain.
We ought to begin dual-language programs in kindergarten or first grade, whether the language is Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Polish, French, German, Italian or something else. Learning a language is vastly easier at six years than at sixteen years of age. It’s likely to be a lot more fun, too. The curricula for high school language classes can be very demanding, while studies indicate that the actual learning process has become more difficult due to structural changes in the brain.
Treasure meditation is supposed to be 10 minutes of visualizing and experiencing my life after I have my greatest desires. My personal meditation includes no school and no students, interestingly enough. I go to empty ocean beaches, I go to a small lake nestled in fir-covered, green hills. I see myself holding a yard of beer in a crowded Irish pub. My consciousness avoids my school.
When it does enter the school hallways, it looks sadly at the fragmented, shattered staircase they just repaired. It’s worse now than it was, more dangerous than before. They fixed it less than a month ago but the gray tiles on the front of the risers are shattering, whether kicked by students or simply unable to bear the weight placed above them. The shards of tile are slipping hazards. I keep throwing them to the ground below for some custodian to spirit away.
Since I described the computer lab situation last year, perhaps I should throw in an update on the Computer Lab in 2012:
We now have spiffy laptops although no printer that works as yet. The computer lab has never been officially opened but I am going there anyway. So let’s say the lab opened in mid-March. People find me there and say, “Oh, is the computer lab open?”
I’m kind of amused to discover I don’t want to tell anyone that it’s open. Right now, the only people who are competing with me for the lab are the special education teachers who have their IEP (Individual Education Plan — the special program for students who need extra help) meetings there. I told one colleague who works near me. I can share the lab with him. I told a special education teacher. But mostly I’m keeping quiet.
For one thing, it’s cool in the lab. When the class goes above 85 degrees, that lab is a welcome refuge. As of this date in mid-March, the only student work saved on the disks in the downstairs lab comes from my classes. I don’t know what if anything is saved on the upstairs computers. We’re working downstairs because that was the only working lab on the day I started our PowerPoint projects. Since we are saving to specific machines, we’ll stay downstairs for now. I need to buy a flash drive so I can back-up student work.
The problem with this blog is that I approach it like I approach Facebook. I don’t want to put in personal truths because I wish to keep a light cyber-footprint. So I remain cloaked for the most part.
I have a lot of truths to tell and a lot of issues to get on the table. But I don’t want to lose my job. Contrary to what is often presented in the public, it’s absolutely possible to fire a teacher. It’s not as easy as it is in the private sector, but I have seen teachers fired.
It’s also possible to drive a teacher to quit. I watched as one long-time high school employee was moved to the middle school to teach material she hardly knew, then moved again into another subject in another room, isolated from the rest of the staff. She lasted out that year, but I never saw her again after that.
Eduhonesty: It’s difficult to fire a tenured teacher. Unions often can and do take care of their members.
Districts are more likely to drive unwanted teachers to quit and they have formidable powers at their disposal. That 3rd grade teacher who angered her Principal may suddenly find herself teaching 7th grade science in another building, if she has the endorsement, with a planning period at the tail end of the day and a sweltering room over the kitchen.