“Resource” is a Four-Letter Word

OK, this is a bit of a rant. I am now just over a month into my position. I really enjoy the position, but there are aspects to it that I didn’t even consider, nor found myself prepared for. It’s not like I didn’t try to do some research on what an “ELD Resource” teacher does…I went online, even asked around. But no two positions are exactly alike, as most people in education will attest to, any more than any two classrooms can be alike from year to year. I knew this. And yet, when I went from “classroom teacher” to “resource teacher”, more than my job description changed. Everything changed.

Teachers already wear many “hats”. Here are some of mine:

  • English Language Development
  • Bus monitor
  • Substitute teacher
  • Office runner
  • Schedule maker
  • Liason (for school to parent, school to language acquisition department, language acquisition department to school)
  • Early Childhood educator
  • Artist (I really don’t ever mind this one)
  • Entertainer (Sometimes)
  • Student (Constant Professional Development)
  • Test Proctor (and there are A LOT of tests)

Many of these are a given. But little did I suspect that I would become even more of an outsider among my colleagues, than I was when I was a regular classroom teacher. Let me explain: I am charged with supporting other teachers in teaching their English Language Learners, using a curriculum and testing method that is not the same as theirs. My plans are done online, and my focus is on acquisition of the English Language. I do not teach Math, or Science, other than when it is integrated into the scripted lessons. I do not teach PE, or Music (although I do have movement and songs in my lessons), or Art (although I integrate it whenever I can).

Therefore, I am most times at odds with what the teachers are doing. So then, I have to create a schedule that does not impact theirs too much. Is this possible? Almost never. Do I run into static about it? Most assuredly.

Here are some of the comments I have received in response to my responsibilities and scheduling needs:

“The previous ELD teacher was a seasoned professional. She knew what to do (about scheduling, etc.)!”   Yes, I had to follow the act of a retired teacher of many years.

“Why does (student name) have to attend your class? His English is fine!”   Yeah, except said student cannot pass the state test for Oral Language, and is “Pre-Emergent” in Grammar skills.

“He cannot miss (Computer, Music, Math, PE)—I am accountable!”  Wow—so am I! And let us not forget–they are getting “support”, because the student comes first!

“Why does the parent need an interpreter? (Student Name) speaks English well enough!” Well, that might be so, but their parent doesn’t. Students cannot provide interpretation at their own conference–nor would I wish this on them if it were OK.

On checking e-mail, responding to queries about the student, parents, or related: “I’m pretty busy, I’ll get back to you on that.”      Chirp-chirp-chirp…all I hear is crickets, people.

My supervisor is very supportive, but I live in fear that she will think I am a major complainer, or a hugely inept collaborator, at worst. “I know, it must be tough to be new…you are doing a good job!”  She is so encouraging, it is hard not to believe her. So I go into “overachiever” mode, and she gets a blow-by-blow of everything I am doing. Then I have to be careful not to over-step my boundaries, or inadvertently make anyone else look bad.

Then the students start to see the cracks:

“Ms. H used to do that too. I miss Ms. H!”       Uh-oh.

Ms. H let us play games more.”      She was also about to retire, kids.

“Do we have to (write, read, practice)?”    Ummmm…Yes. Yes, you do.

“Can we have candy, or stickers again?”    OMG, I’ve created a monster. Rewards aren’t doled out every time you do something I ask!

In the end, I guess I should have expected it. I am a “new” teacher, as well as the “odd one out”. I pretty much always have been. I must like this, because in my almost eight years teaching, I have managed to put myself in this position time and again. I love to teach. The other stuff surrounding it drives me to distraction. But I carry on, because I love to teach kids, to learn, and share knowledge. That’s all that matters…right?

When did “resource” become a four-lettered word?

Guess I better start looking at the glass as being half-full for the remainder of my career, or just replace the glass!

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