If I ran into you in the teacher’s lounge, I would tell you that I spent most of yesterday in a courtroom. It was one of those painful family cases. I would also tell you that I am lost in the world of judges and attorneys. I did not know I was blasting the court recorder’s ears as I moved the microphone to my lips (until she asked me to back off). I started to answer several questions that the judge asked attorneys, not me. If I were caught on film, you would see my hand covering my mouth as I choked off several responses nearly in time. The biggest problem I faced was my desire to teach instead of testify. Everyone was extremely patient with me, but it was a nerve-wracking experience. I had to switch my educational jargon into plain English. I could tell that folks didn’t understand Response to Intervention, various surveys, and reading instruction. My job is to teach, right? Not in court, although I was granted “expert witness status” based on my own summary of my resume and certification. (No, I did not perjure myself.) But by the time court was adjourned, I felt like a limp noodle.
Imagine you are a student thrust into a strange environment, the classroom, where one person challenges and talks at you all day. Imagine having your words corrected and your responses misunderstood. Imagine that you speak a language or dialect that is misunderstood. Imagine that despite your very best efforts, you fail to perform well. Imagine that you are desperately trying to understand the rules of conduct, but they seem to change unexpectedly. Imagine that you must address people by specific titles and that your movement is constrained by rules which are not made clear. Imagine that you are given feedback based on criteria with which you were unfamiliar. I couldn’t help but think that many of our kids on the autism spectrum, those with ADHD, and our English Language Learners must experience at least some of these conditions daily in a classroom. When kindergartners first arrive to the world of school, they are often as lost as I was yesterday. I think my courtroom experience was a good reminder of how teachers must look at our “familiar” world through the eyes of another.