Tuesday, December 2, 2008


I am here to vent my frustration.

The frum school system has come a long way in the past decade as far as providing services for children in need. These include - reading help, math help, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and on and on. Our school, like many others, is affiliated with yeled v'yalda and we have a whole slew of therapists and proffessionals who work full time at my school.
Over the years I have come to know, associate with, and become friendly with the therapists who frequent my classroom, and I generally carry a pretty good relationship with them. One of them "Mrs. A.", a speech therapist, has an especially outgoing and lively personality.
Well here's where the problem began.

Episode 1
Mrs. A. walked into my classroom in Elul and saw that the students were learning about tekias shofar. She quietly walked over to me and asked me if she could just observe the child instead of pulling her out because she did not want the child to miss an important lesson. I agreed. Well, Mrs. A. did not just stand quietly, observe the student and write some notes, Mrs. A. stood near the child's desk and 'helped' her follow along. This lasted a full 15 minutes.

Episode 2
Mrs. A. came to school on Friday - teachers don't like to send students out on such short days, so she usually uses Fridays for paperwork. My Friday schedule usually looks something like this:
9:00-9:30: Tefila
9:30-9:50: Kriah
9:50-10:45: Chumash
10:45-11:00: Recess
11:00-11:50: Parsha
11:50-12:00: Pack up
12:00: Dismissal

For some reason that day I had decided to switch my parsha and chumash lessons and so I was teaching parsha at 10:15 when Mrs. A. walked in. She told me that since she had missed a day of work that week she was making up the session by observing "Ahuva" in class. She stood in the back of the classroom as the class came up with some titles summerizing the parsha. I wrote our brainstorms on the board and asked the students to copy them down on their parsha sheets. It happened to be that I needed to stand somewhere for no more than 60 seconds while they were writing and I partially blocked the view of the board from some students. I was aware of this and I apoligized to my students, told them I would move in less than a minute and then they would be able to see. Within 10 seconds of this announcement Mrs. A. was at my desk asking me if I could move over so that the kids could see. I moved as soon as I was able when I did she said to - "Morah, the students really couldn't see the board!"

I then continued my parsha lesson during which she interrupted me twice to give her own examples of what I was teaching. After that I gave the students a few quiet minutes during which they would illustrate points from the parsha we had learned. During this "quiet time" Mrs. A. circled my classroom while commenting and talking to the kids she passed about what they drew. Suddenly 25 kids ALL wanted Mrs. A. to come see their paper and she was hopping around the classroom. Needless to say, there was NO quiet time involved over here.

Episode 3
One of my last classes before Sukkos. I had such a creative lesson planned about the 4 minim. Right as I was starting my lesson Mrs. A. walked in. This time it was to ask me about a schedule change. She tried to ask me her question while I was teaching and I told I couldn't talk right then. Well, she decided to stay - again with the reason that she was observing "Ahuva" and "Racheli."
She interrupted me countless times to 're-explain' what I was saying because "some of the students didn't catch on the first time." She stood near the board and wrote down what she thought would make things clearer for the students. She was showing them motions to help them remember what they were learning - while I was teaching!!

I dismissed the class to recess 10 minutes early.

I've better 4 minim lessons in my teaching career. Way better.

Episode 3
6 weeks passed without an incident (2 of them were Sukkos vacation).
Today she came into my classroom again. She wanted to ask me about a schedule change that she had asked me about at least 5 times this year - I did not approve, it was not a good time for that particular child to miss class. Then she stayed. She stood near "Shani." Shani is not a student she works with. Shani has an extremely difficult time following multi step directions. Shani's visual comprehension is also not good and worksheets are very hard for her. Shani also has poor handwriting. She does not have a speech problem - she never leaves class to see Mrs. A. I know all this about Shani - I know her weaknesses and strengths.
Mrs. A. stood near Shani's desk while we did a chumash worksheet. She helped Shani the whole way through. The entire class had their eyes turned toward Mrs. A. wondering what she was doing and wishing she would come help them.
Then Mrs. A. came over to me - in the middle of the chumash lesson - to ask me if I knew that Shani had some issues. I was not willing to discuss it with her so she went to my desk, rummaged around to until she found a paper to write on - and wrote me a whole note about Shani.

How many red flags have you seen in these stories?
They are all true, they all happened this school year with one Mrs. A.