I have a difficult teacher. We don’t see eye to eye on a lot of issues. Mainly, we don’t agree on a basic philosophy about education. Today that difference became the focal point for yet another communication conflict.
A student was having problems spelling a word on the board. I was helping him sound out his mistakes when the difficult teacher started screaming at him in Georgian. When she finished, I asked her why she was screaming at him. She told me that the homework was for these simple past forms of the verbs to be memorized. She then had another student come up to the board and finish the work.
I would like to blame my next actions on it being Monday morning and not being entirely awake yet. But, in reality, it was more I couldn’t stand not saying something directly about this issue to her. I’ve gently hinted and pushed at it before. My patience only lasts for so long. I should have waited till after class to bring it up. I was just afraid that she would once again ignore me in the hall or teacher’s lounge because she was “busy” or it was too “noisy” to talk.
I told her flat out that I didn’t think we should yell at students for making simple mistakes. It was our job as teachers to guide students into discovering knowledge and help them gain confidence in their language skills. She was shocked. She didn’t understand why I wouldn’t yell at a student. “It’s the rule” that students are punished when they don’t do the work. I explained my philosophy that all children can learn and our talented class just needed some positive reinforcement to fulfill their potential. Screaming at children is not, in anyway, positive. Of course, my co-teacher just turned around saying she didn’t understand my problem so it wasn’t important.
I’m frustrated when I work with this co-teacher. I don’t know how to help her see that her actions make students fear or mock her. I don’t know how to help her be open to learning new material. I don’t know how to help her students when she refuses to allow me any room to show by example what the class is really capable of.
The students understood far more of our conversation than I think my co-teacher realizes. They were smiling and laughing at us. (Frankly, even I knew how ridiculous having the conversation in the middle of class was. Not one of my best moves.) They work hard when I get to do a lesson. The shy students actually participate when I get to do an activity. We could do so much for these students if she’d just be willing to compromise a little.
There is a very evil part of me that hopes she doesn’t pass her teacher exams (part of the new educational reforms) by 2014. Then no other student or co-teacher will have to deal with her attitude.