Tuesday, December 11, 2012

By the Numbers

I believe I've already established in this space the fact that I teach AP English Language. AP Lang, for short. To 11th-graders, average age 16. With three other colleagues. Between the four of us, we have approximately 230 students in seven classes.
Because Lang is hard as heck, we do some remediation from time to time. Study groups. One-on-one help both during and after school. Workshops.
Therein lies my dilemma. Quandary. Sticky wicket.
I recently conducted a workshop covering analysis. Close to 30 cherubs, not all mine, joined in the fun. I spent about 40 minutes going through the basics. I had a slide show. I taught the kids a few rudimentary tricks - nothing fancy, just the facts.
Well, I was sitting quietly at my desk yesterday afternoon, grading - you guessed it - AP Lang timed essays. I only had nine to go, and was looking forward to leaving school at the relatively sane hour of 3 p.m.
A cherub I didn't know poked her head into Room 215.
"Mrs. Scribe?"
"Yes, ma'am?"
"Hi. I was at your workshop. You know the one a couple of weeks ago? About analysis? You said we could come by any time if we had questions."
My normal response would be to refer this sweet angel to her own Lang teacher. I have 60 Lang cherubs to myself, you know. But I guess I did tell the workshop kids that my door was always open.
We sat down. She told me she'd been struggling. That I'd "opened some doors" to her during the analysis workshop. That "a light just went off." Yes, they even mix metaphors at such a young age.
"I'm just stuck on this one assignment. Could you please take a look at it?"
Against my better judgement, that's exactly what I did. We went through the three-page document, point by point. I scribbled down six or seven notes. The young woman shared a couple of ancillary materials. We worked for about 30 minutes before she had to scoot out of there to go to work.
I'm not sure about the protocol in other professions, but in teaching, helping another maestra's charge is one of the highest forms of sacrilege. Any minute I thought I was going to get caught. In a truly cringe-worthy moment, I imagined the long arm of the law sweeping in to take my certification away. Or at least my good name.
"Thanks, Mrs. Scribe. I think I get it now."
I dodged the bullet. No one caught me with my hand in the cookie jar.
I know. Mixing metaphors again. 


Queenie Jeannie said...

I can't imagine how helping a child is wrong, by anyone's definition. Too much ego, perhaps? Teachers today have one of the toughest jobs around and I applaud ALL of them! Thank you for being one of the great ones!!!!

Blond Duck said...

Why is it bad to help?

Melissa B. said...

Teachers have a little bit of "ownership" over their own cherubs. They get offended when a child goes to another teacher for help. I guess it's a reflection on their own teaching abilities?

Jeanie said...

"Thanks, Mrs. Scribe. I think I get it now.".......hopefully that is the bottom line to any territorial concerns.

HappyChyck said...

I think it's truly only sacrilege when you have absolutely no relationship with the student. She attended one of your workshops, and now you can share her with your colleague. :)

Mrs4444 said...

Maybe she went to her teacher first but didn't find her :) No guilt necessary.

Ashley Showles said...

I enjoyed reading your blog post. I do not understand why a teacher would become defensive if their student went to another teacher for help. As a student, I find it easier to go to certain teachers for help. I viewed the student's behavior as a compliment because she felt like you would be able to help her solve the problem she was facing on her assignment. I think it was great that you were willing to help this child.

Ethan Sumrall said...

Hey Melissa,
I am a student at the University of South Alabama in the EDM310 class there. I have read your blog and it has reminded as a future teacher I should always take my free time to be with and help my future students. Thanks for an awesome blog post


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