The subtext of substitute work is always - "If only everyone could see what we see! Then they would understand how the usual conversation is such a vast over-simplification!"
In this vein, here is a peek at an extraordinary program taking place at P.S.20, on the Lower East Side. (Houston and Essex Street). I've always had an admiration for this school because somehow it has retained a wide diversity and acceptance in the true spirit of the immigrant history of the area. 15 years ago it had families from Puerto Rican, Middle Eastern, Black, White and Chinese communities - and it still does. Even then it gave me goose bumps to see a Chinese Mom chatting with a totally black-swathed Moslem Mom as they waited for their kids to come out. And to see each child recognize which black statue was theirs out of several standing together? Guess we all have our ways of celebrating what we love about New York!
So this week I was called for a 1st grade class there, covering for the Parent/Teacher conferences. Because there are two classes which switch between two teachers, (every child thus getting a report from both), regular conferences are impossible. I suspect that having chosen a dual language program for their child, these parents are going to show up en masse, and want a rather thorough meeting! The break-down of the class is about equally divided between native Chinese speakers and white, Hispanic and Puerto Rican children. The corresponding class is the same. As this is their second year (or 3rd if they attended Pre-K), the children are all amazingly comfortable with the language and the schedule. Imagine a fairly typical 1st grade day, (Reading, writing, word-work, story-time, Social Studies, Math) but in both languages on alternate days? Whatever degree of fluency these children achieve - and it will be pretty high!), imagine the advantages they will possess in tomorrow's world? Now, if you try to imagine super-imposing the current incarnation of the Common Core Standards on this unique and invaluable process - what will happen? How will these innovative programs fare under the evaluation rubric, or will they be exempted from certain features?
To share my experience - take a look at the slide show, I would have loved to include the children, but without photo-releases. . . I came away with a sense of admiration and enjoyment that is not always typical of a subs day!! Kudos to Ms Song (classroom teacher) and Mr Lee (P.S. 20 Principal.)