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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Revealing Meeting: Part Two

(If you must have politics, please keep scrolling)

As I indicated in "A Revealing Meeting: Part One," my former student R doesn't know where to turn and is under intense pressure.  She has been assigned an impossible task.  Also, various evaluators are filling R's employment folder with their critiques and calling conference after conference with her; in these conferences, no specific advice is given other than telling her what he is doing wrong.

Furthermore, R has only a provisional teaching certificate and is still taking education courses, thereby having even less time to devote to teaching her classes.  Worse, the content of these education courses consists mostly of theory nonspecific to teaching non-English speakers.

R is determined to help these students – no matter what all the hard work costs her.  Yes, she could throw in the towel and go back to her previous career.  But R has never been one to take the easy way out.

I gave her the following advice:

1.  Ask an experienced teacher in the department to point you in the right direction to help you choose effective materials from the files of resources.

2.  Understand that at least two thirds of what you are taught in education classes is useless theory.

3.  Choose no more than three goals for each assignment, and have the students focus on those specific goals.  See to it that the students meet those goals.  Then, reassign the same material with three additional goals.  Rinse and repeat, particularly if students have connected with that assignment.

4.  Teach grammar on the sly by getting students to ask you particular questions; if students ask questions about grammar, you are then – in spite of the no-grammar policy – permitted to answer them as part of "child-centered education."  Students, particularly non-English speakers, will never understand certain mechanics of writing without understanding specific grammar concepts. 

5.  Know that, no matter what, these students are going to know more after you have taught them than before you taught them.  Don't strive for perfection.  Instead, do the best you can in the time you have.

I will meet with R again in November or December. 


  1. Head shakingly unbelievable that she has to teach grammer on the sly. What utter nonsense!

  2. I hope R can take this advice and run with it! The best of luck to her, and I hope she does not become too frustrated.

  3. I can't wrap my head around the concept of teaching writing without grammar. R's assignment is insane.

  4. It sounds to me as if “R” understands the system, how it works, and understands she is walking a rough, but much traveled road. My best wishes to her. The teaching profession has one of the highest rates of attrition in the US … those of us with classroom experience understand why. “R” has to find her own way; if she is highly motivated, she will. The odds are stacked against her.

    She would be much happy joining your group of home schoolers.

  5. I think your advice was fantastic. If she follow your guidelines, she should be OK. Well, depends on what her supervisors/superiors say I suppose, when all is said and done.

    I wish her the best.

    Right Truth

  6. Mustang,
    Yes, the odds are stacked against R. However, she will do right by the students. So, even if she doesn't make teaching her life's work, she will still, in the time she's got, help these students to achieve their laudable goals, one of which is go to on to higher education.


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