I was reminded yesterday about a funny incident when I was teaching middle school. For four years I was a Special Education “Inclusion Teacher.” That means different thing in different school districts, but where I worked it meant that I was assigned to a teaching team, and one of my duties was to work with teachers to modify their lessons and help them meet the needs of students with disabilities.
Well, one year I was working with a new 6th grade Social Studies teacher. She was someone who had decided to become a teacher “later in life,” which meant there were a lot of things she felt she knew, that she didn’t have a clue about. To her credit, she was usually open to my suggestions, and she really did have her heart in the right place. She understood that people learn differently and that if I could help her reach more students — without too much extra work — she was generally agreeable.
But we didn’t always have time to go over every lesson, and she would put it together all on her own. Such was the case when we were studying Latin America. As was customary, she wrote a “drill” that the students would complete when they came into the classroom. The drill consisted of a set of latitude and longitude coordinates which they would need to locate on an atlas and write down on their drill sheet. On the face of it, a good idea. I hadn’t reviewed it with her, though, so as I circulated around the room to help “my” students and anyone else who needed help, I looked over their shoulders to find the answer quickly so that I could better help them find their way to the answer.
Imagine my surprise when I located the coordinates given to this class of sixth graders: Lake Titicaca.
You can imagine the whoops and hollers that arose as the students began locating the coordinates. It was especially fun to hear them sound it out.
Sometimes, I do miss teaching.