I arrived at this school early Tuesday morning to sub for a 2nd grade class. The office secretary took one look me and said “You DO know this is a bilingual class, right? Do you speak Spanish?”
I said something like: “Ahhh, that would be..No!. That wasn’t indicated under special notes from the teacher”. At the same time I’m thinking “OOOHHHH….SH*T!!!!”
She hesitated a little before saying: “Oh, I’m sure you’ll do fine”. (Did I hear a little chuckle as I left the office?)
I get the room key and head off to the classroom. In the window of the classroom are a few signs that looked like “Welcome to Ms. S’s class”. At least that’s what I thought it said because I CAN’T READ SPANISH!!! NOT A GOOD SIGN HERE!!! “OOOHHHH….DOUBLE SH*T!!!!”
Entering the classroom, I notice that all the signage and posters on the walls around the classroom are “ALL SPANISH!!” I’m feeling overly warm now and my leg starts twitching.
There is a nice older lady writing on a pad at the teachers’ desk and we introduce ourselves. She is the teacher in the room next door. SHE is writing this teachers lesson plan ON THE FLY!!. OMG!! AN ALL SPANISH CLASS AND NO LESSON PLAN!!!. I am in REAL DEEP DOO-DOO HERE! “OOOHHHH….TRIPLE SH*T!!!!”
She asked me if I was bilingual and could read and write Spanish. (I’m about to bolt out the door at this point, but I stick with it.). I guess I look like I’m a mono-lingual type of guy, of which I AM!!
Reacting to my negative response, she starts crossing some things she just wrote on the lesson plan. I guessed she’s revising the schedule to adjust to this Anglo sub sacrifice that’s about to happen.
I pick up the math book that’s open for today’s lesson. All the instructions are in Spanish. I browse the kids “fun” reading books the kids can use during silent reading time. At least half of these are in English, the rest are, of course, in Spanish.
This nice lady teacher from next door then tells me that she and another teacher will drop in when they can to see how it’s going. She then addresses the 22 kids waiting at the door to explain where their regular teacher was, who I was and informs them that I don’t speak any Spanish.
If that bit of news fazed them, it didn’t show.
With a little trepidation we began out day together with a “Good morning, children!” and I get back a chorus of “Good morning, Mr. Perry”’s
What I discover, is, that ALL these 7 yr olds are truly bilingual enough to deal with me in English and can help each other out when I had a few problems communicating with some of the newer kids.
They are really a bunch of great kids! What a surprise!
While, their reading and writing skills aren’t at the usual level of an all English class, their verbal skills are great in both languages.
I did have teacher visitors, and even the principal at one point, check in from time to time. I could honestly tell them that things were going great.
When reading a lesson story to them in English, I’d stop a few times and ask them a few questions to make sure they understood ok. Occasionally, I’d ask how to say some of the things we were reading about, like lizard, turtle and mouse in Spanish. They got a kick out of my remedial Spanish pronunciations.
When I returned the room key to the office, the secretary asked “How did it go?”
With a self-satisfied smug, I told her “Great!”
…and it WAS!