Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sign Language Update

I've been sitting on this for a week. I wanted to make sure that I didn't write about something that happened just because I was upset. Now it's been a full week and things are as settled in my head as they probably ever will be. Last week in class Steve, our teacher, blew up. He got frustrated during class and took one of the more advanced students out into the hall and talked to just her for about 5 minutes. He was laughing before he came back in, but he still wasn't himself. Then when class ended he said, "from now on there are new rules, there will be no more food, no writing notes, and no talking" Everyone was floored. I only know this because after the shock wore off we sat around and talked about it. At the time, I had no idea what anyone else's reaction was, becausee I was in so much shock that I couldn't see anything. Everyone tried asking him why he had the sudden change f rules and what the specifics of it were. His only response was that he is getting old and that taking notes makes him have to slow down and wait which is frustrating to him.

Everyone was shocked and pissed. Personally, I can't go to sign class without my pop, and half the class grabs a snack at breaktime and munches on the chips during the second half. And we all were mad about not being able to take notes. Steve complains that the book is wrong all the time and that he'll teach us the right way, ignore the book. But now the new rule is that we are supposed to study the book and practice it for a week, and then get told that we are doing the sign wrong when we get to class.

I stewed about it for a week. Erin was ready to quit the class, I was showing up in class with my notepad and pop and he was going to have to physically kick me out to be rid of me. I practiced the signs for the next unit and practiced arguing against him for my notetaking, which included me calling him a grumpy old man. Thankfully, I never broke down during class and had to call him a grumpy old man. I was ready to fight, it was a bad day, I was going in there and it may have come to throwing punches. Ok, I really didn't think it would ever come to punches, but mentally, I was as charged up as I could possibly be.

Instead, this week, sign language class was quiet. Nobody wanted to press his buttons. We showed up for class 5 minutes early and the students there were all signing and not talking. Everyone was afraid of what he may do when he walked in. Then we started reviewing words and going through the new words. He used the sign "finish" which can mean "just" as in "we are just friends". and I asked if you always sign "finish" when you want to mean 'just". He got into this tirade that the sign has two meanings. Then the next sign was a single handed sign for "finish" and his example was, "The two of you are talking FINISH", as in "shut up". And he pointed right at Erin and I while doing it. Class had lightened up just a bit and here he goes practically accusing us of being the problem. I can sense Erin getting tense next to me, and I'm starting to zone out a little because I'm mad and distancing myself from what may happen. Then class moved on and everything was fine.

Finally it's time for class to end, and Steve stands up and says he has an announcement. He's quitting. December 12 will be his last day. That's the last day for sign 2. He will not be continuing with Sign 3 in January. Currently the school does not have someone lined up to replace him, so I have to wait and see if I even get to continue with sign 3. My anger turned into shock. I'm upset that he's not going to be there to keep teaching, so I can learn more sign language, at the same time, I'm not too upset, because he had changed from the beginning of class to now. He may just be getting to be a grumpy old man, maybe, he is burnt out, maybe he's just being himself now, and I was getting a show at the start, but for whatever reason he's moving on. I'm very hopeful that the school finds another teacher, but on such short notice it's probably going to be very hard. There is a group of people that get together at a restaraunt on Monday nights to practice sign language. Either way, we will probably try going to the practice group on Monday's. The extra practice will be good for us.