Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Then I Met B, NYC DOE Cont.

Here is the happy part. Then, I met B. I was moved into the English teacher program. Here, I found a wonderful mix of people who were just like me. They all had interesting backgrounds. A few were gay. One had a Master's in music. One was a very grumpy guy from Vermont. They all loved books and were highly intellectual and strange and they all loved me. What really held it together was our mentor B. B was studying to be a principal and had had five years experience as a successful teacher in Brooklyn. He was nothing like Winny. He was our age, mature, gung-ho, and most of all supportive. The classes were fun. Despite this, I still had difficulty. The Fellows did not want to help me find a summer internship. So I found my own. I went to a school in Bed-Sty and convinced the principal to let me assist in a summer literacy class. This is an entire other story, but this was positive too. The teacher I taught under was so viverant and funny. The kids (largely Jamaican) were just wonderful to me. They threw a buig party on the day I left. But, the days were long. I had to be at the school in Bed-Sty at 8 AM and remain there until 12. Then (no lunch) I had an hour train ride to Brooklyn College for classes from 1-6. Then, another hour train ride home. In the midst of all this, I got the flu and was out a couple of days.

I made it through the summer program! Near Fall the trouble started again. We were all supposed to have jobs by the end of July (remember the Board was supposed to place us). In time, everyone had a job except me and one other person. As persistant as ever, I tried to find my own position. I was also persistant with the Fellows sending emails and phone calls on a dally basis to no avail. Meanwhile, school was rapidly approaching. I finally went down to the Director of the Fellows office. I didn't have an appointment. I more or less burst in her office. This was when I learned that she had had no teaching experience. Whatever judgements she was making on me were purely based on some mysterious philosophy. She was trying to place me in Alternate High Schools. The powers that be had decided that I wasn't capable of "handling" a full clasroom of 25-30 kids which is a "normal" amount for high school in New York. Their answer? They believed that I should teach in Alternative High Schools. Then, I would only have 10-15 kids. There is a catch. The Alternative High Schools are for students who are very low-functioning accademically and behaviorly. They are students who have failed or otherwise left regular high schools. Interesting concept. As a person with a disability I couldn't function in a class of 30 regular kids, however, I should be able to do well in a class with 15 highly difficult kids.

On the first day of school I was given a position. I was told that I was going to teach in 8Plus. This was a program the Chancellor devised as a helpimg mechanism for students who had flunked 8th grade. They could not be held back, nor promoted. In other words, it was 8th grade pergatory. 8Plus had different locations. I was placed in one near my house in IS 49. I

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