Not Participating In Past Participles

| CT, USA | Learning | June 30, 2016

(This is the first year that my school has offered AP level Spanish V. One day, we are under observation to evaluate my teacher’s instruction practices. At this level, there are only five students that tested high enough to be in this class, and that we are basically forbidden from speaking English once the bell rings until the end of the period. Everything spoken below is in Spanish.)

Señora: “I just want to remind you today that we are under administrative observation today. She’ll be observing over here while we have our lesson today, so don’t mess it up, please. I hate this too and all of her notes go straight to my boss and to the city’s department of education.”

Student #1: *looks confusedly over at the observer after the teacher’s last remark* “Does she speak Spanish?”

Señora: “Err, no, not a word of it as far as I’ve gathered all day today…”

Student #1: “So how exactly—“

Señora: “Honestly, no idea. Well, let’s go. I’ve got a silly song for you that will help you remember your past participles because I know how much you hated the songs from Spanish 2…”

(Senora plays a song on the computer to the tune of the 12 days of Christmas that is essentially just a list of all of the grammar terms we have been messing up with lately.)

Student #2: “Christmas tunes are so silly.”

Student #3: “This is going to eat my brain!”

Señora: “Well, that’s the point. If you can’t forget the song you won’t forget your past participles. Don’t make me play it again.”

Everybody: “OH, GOD, NO! PLEASE! That was too silly! I can’t bear it!”

(Once we stopped laughing:)

Señora: “Okay everybody, Friday is debate day, so get out your notes. What topic did you pick for today’s debate?”

Student #3: “Animal rights.”

Señora: *writing the topic down* “Okay. [Student #4], I want you to lead today’s discussion. Equal participation today, please, and yes, I will be marking down EVERY TIME one of you messes up your past participles. You should know them by now after that song. Don’t make me play it again!”

(We spent the rest of the period with our chairs moved into a circle to have a very animated debate about the pros and cons of animal testing, vegetarianism, and other related topics we researched, with minimal input from our teacher. All said, we thought this was a very good and typical Friday class day. After Christmas break, my teacher receives her report, which she read us parts of:)

Report: “Today I observed Señora’s seventh period Spanish V class. There was a low attendance today, but the instructor seemed undisturbed, which tells me that she is used to students skipping out of the last period of the day. Seeing as Christmas break is just around the corner, the instructor played a Christmas song to get the students into the holiday spirit. Afterwards she allowed the students to talk amongst themselves about their pets. I am concerned about her disengagement from the instruction process, and I encourage further training and guidance from department superiors.”

(Needless to say, my teacher was LIVID. Our next observer was the department head himself to debunk this woman’s uneducated claims, and he demanded that all future observations be performed by administrators who are actually prepared for the classroom material.)

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