Monday, June 1, 2009

Tuesday, June 24, 2003
Ugh. That is all I'm sayin'. Ugh.

Ok. That is not all I'm sayin'. So here I am in this program that is invested in helping underserved children learn. But right now I feel like they got rid of my kids "real" teacher in order for me to experiment on them. I walked into my very first class on Monday, ready to change the world. And man are these kids great. Quiet, obedient, hanging on my every word. I am on top of the world, feeling like I am really doing something. No more slinging latte's for me. No more pouring whiskey into the mouths of alcoholics or selling Harry Potter books by the dozens at a bookstore. No, these kids had their eyes on me and they were concentrating.

Very quickly, however, I realized they were looking at me so intently not because they were rapt in my lesson. No, they were trying very hard to figure out who I was. They were concentrating intently on why the hell I was there. They were focused on figuring out what the hell I was saying.

Yes, it's true. My class speaks barely a word of English. They are level one ESL. Which, for the record, means they didn't have any idea what I was talking about when I said, "Please take out a sheet of paper". Imagine my shock when I made this simple request and the kids all turned to each other muttering in Spanish and, in one case, Vietnamese. I suppose Lang Li was just muttering to herself.

I'm not gonna lie. I don't know what to do. I am in part shock, part panic. I spent the morning with them as they stared at me with a look that seemed to say, "What are you going to do? Do something". They were polite with me, but I swear they were disappointed by my lack of experience.

So my first day of school ending with me coming home and sobbing for about two hours. I have begun to question my whole idea about why a person would do this. I thought I was providing a service. But now, I am wondering if I am not another way that these kids are being disadvantaged.

I have to go and write lesson plans. I barely learned how to do that and I certainly don't know how to do it for these kids. I want to teach them something, but I have never learned about ESL. This is not like the books. Probably everyone says that.

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