HI-Q vs. haiku 9:02 a.m. 2005-01-21

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Last week, an ESOL department meeting was held - all of the teachers in the system met at our campus to talk about what the future will (might?) hold. While there, I took some time to ask about making up Writer's Workshop - they seemed to say "don't worry about it for now..."

We'll see.

During that meeting, it was mentioned that the high school ESOL teachers had been told that, according to the new NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND standard, they would have to achieve certification in English - Language Arts and Reading. I already had heard about the ESOL Subject teachers in the International Academy having to get certified in Social Studies, Math, or Science if they were teaching the ESOL versions of that subject.

The reasoning behind this is that these teachers are responsible for assigning grades to ESOL students that will count as credit - especially the high school teachers. I was also introduced to a new term: HI-Q. HI-Q stands for Highly Qualified, and means that you are not qualified to give a grade in those subjects unless you went to school to learn specifically to teach them.

BTW - a haiku is "a Japanese poem composed of three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. Haiku often reflect on some aspect of nature." Here is a haiku I composed this morning:

The sun is setting
Margarita time is here:
On the rocks, no salt

See how I worked nature into that? I love haiku.

HI-Q is another matter. I understand the reasoning behind it - really, I do. But it is just one more example of the "surprise!" mentality that is rampant - if not just in my system, but in education today. Surprise! You have to take Writer's Workshop - NOW! Surprise! You may have to go back to college and become certified in Language Arts by July 2006! OH, surprise! We weren't going to hire you back anyway next year...

No, no one has said that. It's just a feeling I get - this whole deal makes me jumpy. It is as if, having retrieved that ball one more time, it is thrown out again!

This gave me a lot of things to think about yesterday, and I spoke about it to my therapist. I realize that my whole career "path" has been a game of "catch up" or "keep up." I fell into education by accepting a job teaching French in Monticello. The principal arranged for a "quickie" certification and was just as quick to get me out of there when they decided to change the whole curriculum to Spanish.

Disenchanted, I took jobs at the mall - mostly working for high-end toiletries shops like Crabtree & Evelyn. At the same time, I lived on a horse farm and worked for my board. At the end of two years doing this bit, I jumped at the chance to go to graduate school on my Dad's nickel.

I did not complete grad school, but accrued enough credits to renew my teaching certificate. I re-entered the world of education by accepting a position in the Atlanta area to teach French and Spanish Connections - a 6th grade course designed to give them a "taste" of foreign language.

Five years later, "safe" in my routine, I actually was able to read the signs that the winds were changing and that my program was being eliminated. I went to my principal and we decided that I should get the ESOL add-on. Thence, I became an ESOL teacher.

Now, this is my fourth year teaching ESOL, and the bar is being moved again. Do I really want to stay in teaching, with no specific plan - and with the fact that tenure and security are a thing of the past?

I am going to talk to our system consultant next Friday, and we will see if I can be qualified by some points method called "House." If not, I will need to make a plan.

If I can approach this juncture as an opportunity to grow - and not just react out of fear - I think things will be okay. I love my students, and enjoy trying to be their Pied Piper of learning, but the red tape and paperwork and so on make it a tough profession to love. Here is my Free Will Astrology for the week:

Bibliophile Anne N. Marino loves the "welcoming mysteriousness" of those buildings where large collections of books are housed for public use. "Walking into a library," she wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle, "I'm filled with a sense of belonging; my mind becomes clear, my heart rate slows; I can think." Your assignment in the coming week, Leo, is to identify the places that make you feel like that, and then spend as much time as possible inside of them.

Wow! Very profound! I am definitely giving that some thought!

By the way, an very talented artist friend (wife of my trusty therapist) had finally put her website up. Go to The Fine Art of Virginia Sorsby Fergus to see her bright and lovely watercolors, and her hand-painted and assembled collages. They will make your day!

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