Wednesday, July 16, 2008

21: Summative Assessment, Part II: Lessons and What To Do With Them

I have learned a lot this year as a teacher. I expect every year to be somewhat similar. For this blog I'm focusing on the stuff I've learned that's related somehow to bilingual education and development. These are goals I hope to implement in the coming year.

1. Establish more stringent and clear rules for communication. When I showed up at my school last year, I assumed the school would take the time and trouble to work with the students at establishing communication rules. I didn't think it would differ from classroom to classroom, but it does, and students become confused and frustrated. Even in terms of interpreters, there's disparity - Deaf teachers work without interpreters while hearing teachers have them.

2. Achieve a target level of 10% inclusion in my English classes. By this I mean including stories and poetry by Deaf writers, comparative works in ASL, films about Deaf people, and maybe finding ways to include signs for vocabulary words. I want 10% of my class to show support for the bilingual goals of the school. I did some of that this year, but it was hard to get students to 'buy in' to the concept without having more support from the school overall.

3. Create a suggested reading list for each of my classes with ASL or Deaf related topics. I could also connect these books with works about other minority groups, women, etc. I want students to get the idea that discussions about identity and means of empowerment go on at all levels.

4. Discuss comparative literary elements. I won't test my students on these, but I want them to become aware of, say, the concept that metaphor exists in all languages. I wish I knew of good examples in Spanish too, and a few other languages. It strikes me that it would be ever so powerful, especially for a diverse classroom, to give an example of a metaphor and show all languages have them, then ask the class the question, "Why do we use metaphors?" and conduct an investigation for four weeks.

5. Behavior issues do come up with a bilingual classroom. I'm very concerned about cursing. It was hard for me at first because I believed my deafness was responsible for the surfeit of cursing in my room. I caught some of it, but not all of it. Later I had the opportunity to observe hearing teachers, and they also had to deal with cursing in the classroom. I have to find my own solutions in my own way, but it does feel good to know that... cursing is the ground state... of the ten year old... I don't like the way the sentence is going, but you get the idea. I think a modified Curse Jar concept could work, so I'm going to try that.

See how well I do at achieving these goals. At least I have a plan...

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