8:56 a.m. - June 09, 2003
I always feel a bit odd going into these situations, especially when I see surprise register on their faces; Iíve yet to come across a single administrator who hasnít asked my age. Itís not that I look like a child or speak like a child, itís more that I need to develop more of a commanding presence, I think. Admittedly there are very few who do what I do and they know this, even if itís difficult for them to accept; who wants an outsider to come in, review whatís wrong (based on WASC and ACTFL) and develop/enact a plan for remediation? For me, itís simple: You donít offer ASL until the school site, school board, and school administrators know what theyíre doing. Yes, I know, itís the fastest growing language being taught in the country and people canít get enough, but that does not mean a site can grab any olí signer and label him/her a teacher and begin offering classes. Unfortunately a lot of schools do that and they always get slammed by WASC (or the other regionsí accreditation bodies). Two years ago I reviewed one siteís situation and found out the teacher didnít even have a bachelorís degree and was given an emergency credential to teach ASL; I rated this teacher a 1- beginner, meaning she signed worse than a student whoís studied the language for less than a year. She didnít have a clue what she was doing and unfortunately for her position, she didnít have a clue who I was when I came to observe her; she was terminated quickly. Itís always surprising to me to see the level of cluelessness demonstrated by those supposedly in the know. A quick run-down: ASL teachers should work towards and possess the national teaching certificate in addition to their home statesí requirements, be rated at least a 4+ on the language-skill scale, be proficient with ACTFLís 5Cs, well-versed in language modality issues and visual acquisition factors, as well as a) having the skill, motivation, and desire to teach, b) having a clue generally speaking.
It is my humble opinion that most foreign language teachers Ė at the high school level, mind you Ė should be axed as well as their programs because most schools do a terrible job of teaching foreign languages. Since Iíve yet to become emperor, I realize I may as well jump into the fray and make good money from it. And Iím coming into this meeting irked already; one of the teachers says she began acquiring ASL a decade ago. I want to shake her and have her repeat after me, Children acquire language, post-pubescents learn language, children acquire language, post-pubescents learn language. Basic linguistics, even more fundamental language learning. But hey, I can work with stupid people if their check is good.
Iíve no shame.
A mini-rant here: People, this is a journal, not a punditís box. My thoughts as disorganized, befuddled, and peripatetic are just that: Inchoate. Look it up and learn it before you send me emails saying Iím confused and just need to accept being gay. Why youíre so damn sensitive that someoneís checking out the party before dressing in drag and joining the rest of you queens is beyond me. You, you, and you (the trio emailers) would be far more respected were you a bit more like John who leaves thoughtful, limpid questions. In a way I understand where youíre coming from but how easy is it to proclaim self-hatred and self-delusion simply because Iím cautious? My choices or non-choices have nothing to do with you and trust me, if you had as difficult time having gay sex as I (mostly) do, then you wouldnít be such damn cheerleaders.
Nota bene: Email is far more personal than signing the guestbook. I should have thought about that before posting the email address, eh?