My friend Steve Marshall has been promoting my blog as one with "regularly updated content", which hasn't been very true of late. As I announced earlier, I have had real-world things to take care of. However, it is Saturday, and I can't make a liar out of Steve, so here goes:
Looking around the blogosphere, it seems that mention of the Fast is virtually obligatory on any blog operated by a Baha'i. I have talked about it before in previous years.
As I've mentioned before, I find fasting difficult, and while I recognize its spiritual significance and all of that, that awareness doesn't make it less difficult. It is actually easier this year, since I'm working with a single student. I virtually *can't* fast if I'm under the stress of taking care of a whole class; I'm afraid that hypoglycemic irritability will cause me to blow it in a major way. For a regular teacher, a bad day is just a bad day, and you can start over tomorrow, but for a substitute teacher a single bad day can mean that school district doesn't call you for the rest of the year.
But I've been fasting, and taking care of my little autistic guy. Any mistakes I've made, I think I would have made even without low blood sugar. As always, the disciplinary aspects are the toughest. The regular classroom teacher thinks I'm not tough enough; the resource teacher who works with him thinks I was too tough -- so what's a person to do? Mostly, it's a matter of finding what works. I feel like I've been too busy to really have the spiritual focus that one should have this month. I could use a little meditation space.
I've been enjoying the classroom we're in. My student sits in a regular fourth grade classroom; I just stay at his side, keeping him on task most of the time. I've been absorbing some Spanish; this teacher mostly teaches in English, of course, but she explains things in Spanish for her limited English students -- and I know enough that it's not all just gibberish to me. What I'm finding interesting is her mistakes in English. Her native language is Spanish, of course, and her English is not at all bad or inadequate -- after all, she went to college in English. But there are certain subtleties that she doesn't really grasp. It really points out just how difficult learning a second language at an academic level really is; that's the reason why professional translators are told only to translate into their native language. Speaking two languages doesn't appear to be a big deal -- my autistic student is bilingual, although, of course, he doesn't do a whole lot of communicating in any language. You don't need super-high intelligence to learn a second language; you just need to be in a position where you must use it in order to communicate. (Without that, learning to speak a second language is pretty difficult.) But it takes 5-7 years for a child to reach a level where he equals his peers in being able to read academic material. The fact that a kid "speaks good English" is deceptive. Literacy in a second-language is a much more complex skill.
The kind of mistakes this teacher makes, I think, are based upon her familiarity with spoken English. For example, in a lesson on object pronouns, she said that it was proper to say "she called Enrique and I". Well, this is a mistake folks make in spoken English all the time, and she was a bit taken aback to find "Enrique and me" in the teacher's manual. She also didn't understand the use of "peoples" to describe several different cultures or nations. Another one was she talked about the use of "homo" meaning "same" (as in "homophone"), and brought up "homo sapiens" as an example. Of course "homo" meaning "same" is Greek, and "homo" meaning "man" is Latin, and the two aren't related at all. Ironically, she is making such mistakes because she's trying to be a good teacher and explain these things to the kids. And, she *is* a good teacher. I'm just finding it interesting because of what it says about bilingualism, and the difficulties of operating in a second language, even for an educated person.
Virtually every elementary school teacher I've ever observed makes factual mistakes in the classroom. We're expected to know everything about everything, and nobody does. All teachers who have to tackle all school subjects have some areas that are weaker than others. Not only that, but we're on stage all the time. Make one spelling mistake in a classroom newsletter, and you have parents shaking their head at the teacher's ignorance and the sad state of American education. It's a high-pressure situation. I tend to fall on my face in math, particularly in the upper grades. I don't always have time to look over the material beforehand, and refresh my memory on a subject which I've never done that well in anyway.