Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Co-Teacher

My job is pretty straightforward, which is one thing I really like about it: I design and implement a lesson plan to improve English speaking and listening skills for high school sophomores and juniors--one lesson for each per week.

I do not do assessment, except in an informal fashion (to improve my lessons), I do not sit on any committees, run study halls, make curricular decisions for other people, decide budgets or any of those other tasks that used to impinge upon my teaching back home. It is, in a word, luxurious.

Contrast that with the lot of Miss Lee, my main co-teacher: in addition to assisting me, she does three lesson plans per week with her classes (she does have the advantage of the textbook and attendant materials), has something to do with library acquisitions, something else I don't remember, and is responsible for creating and/or proofing all the school's English communications.

In that role, she came to me today for help with a teacher recommendation form for the graduate school at Columbia University. A recent Young-il graduate is applying there (along with NYU and Yale) after finishing college somewhere in the States. This boy was number 3 in his graduating class, so I wonder if he has set his sights too high.

Anyway, her role was to translate for the actual recommending teacher, and she didn't understand a few things, like how cumulative GPA is different from graduating GPA, and what weighted and unweighted GPAs are. And in what "capacity" the recommending teacher knew the student. It just reminded me how much I don't miss all that paperwork crap.

Then, during sixth period, she doesn't show up until halfway through the lesson--completely unlike her. Actually, unlike any of my co-teachers. It's not that big a deal, since we're mainly watching "How the Grinch Stole Christmas". After class, she explained. The mother of this same student came to see her and was "very demanding." I nodded in sympathy--very demanding mothers are the same everywhere.

The irony, I pointed out to her, is that if that mother knew the co-teacher was being kept away from a class with her child in it, she would be upset about it!

Her eyes flared. "Yes, that's it! You understand!"

Indeed, after twenty years in American private schools, I do.

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