Saturday, February 20, 2010

See Through Me

Yesterday at the workshop it was easy to see that my colleagues had something to say to me that they were not saying. They were clearly upset with me, probably because I have been struggling with feelings of fear and exasperation about my parents and my responsibilities on that score and these feelings have come through in my work with students in the lab. It has never been easy for me not to say what I am thinking. I have more than a little of the problem Jeremy and my dad have of saying what is on my mind, consequences be damned. When I see a student whose English is very shaky, I tend to say so rather than just pretending everything is hunky dory. Mostly I do it because I believe that this person is not going to learn what s/he needs to in an English class. The resistance to ESL classes is not helping this person learn what s/he needs to know.
But teachers are getting upset about that, and truthfully, I need to learn to just leave it alone. Same thing with teachers whose prompts are confusing or garbled. I should just interpret the thing the best I can and shut up. But when I am more stressed than usual, it is hard for me to do that.
As much as I like and enjoy working with people, my neurological baggage sometimes gets in the way.


Lou said...

Gee, Robbi, what happened at the workshop?

Robbi said...

First thing was that people gave me an unusually wide berth. They didn't hug me as they usually do, didn't sit anywhere near me, and made pointed comments in my direction like, "Even if someone is in a bad mood, she still needs to be nice to students in the Writing Center." One person made a comment about encouraging students and told a story about how a person (most likely me because I have done this) told her student in the writing center that she was in the wrong class because her ESL problems were so severe (she didn't add that part though), and "crushed" the poor thing, who was already delicate.
The point is, that teacher isn't trained to work with a student who needs an ESL class. There was nothing I could do for her in 7 minutes and nothing her teacher could do for her either. She needed to learn about English verbs, diction, idiom, sentence patterns, etc. There wasn't one sentence in her paper without so many errors one couldn't figure out what she was trying to say. And another instructor told me she had already seen every teacher around in the Center.

Lou said...

Oh Robbi, the WR Center instructor could easily have been me or any one of my colleagues! We are all straight with ESL students, especially in the Center where we are not the instructor who evaluates.

Robbi said...

I guess the only way to know for sure is to ask. Were they talking about me? If so, I'd like them to say it directly to my face.
If it had just been that one teacher, I wouldn't have thought it was me. If Julie hadn't made that comment about the "bad mood," I wouldn't have thought twice, in addition to the markedly cooler way I was treated by everyone that day.
And, as Richard said, if this is a policy, it should be made official. How are we then to deal with such students?
I realize others are blunt too, but perhaps I am the bluntest of all. It depends on the paper and how busy the Center is.

Rebel Girl said...

I am pretty straightforward with students who have issues that interfere with the clear communciation of their ideas - which is the phrase I use.