Education Corner 25

In our last several EC editions we have been telling a story about a young man named Navarro Navarro. Some readers wrote and said they did not understand what was happening and did not the idea of this Navarro as the main character because he was not a properly trained teacher. That said EC should make another try with this Navarro. We explained that in teacher education we call educational stories case studies. These are when lifelike education examples are set up using student, teachers, parents, administrators, and others as actors to teach educational lessons. In fact case studies are more like plays than stories. We use case studies for critical thinking and student/readers think about questions and decisions. In case studies we look at behaviors and think about what the story is supposed to teach. Remember Navarro is a made up character dealing with a big problem—he has no teacher training. In these case studies we will always put Navarro in learning situations trying to figure out what he should do. For certain Navarro make mistakes—of course. He has not had teacher training. E C readers will observe the errors and see if Navarro corrects them—or improves.


The case studies begins many years ago (let’s say Trust Territory times) with Navarro accepting a 5th grade teaching position at a Micronesian Roman Catholic elementary school. He accepted the job on a Sunday morning to begin teaching the next morning-Monday morning the first day of school. But as all good case studies there is a good problem. In these stories the problem is this. Navarro has never had any teacher training at all. That is he never was taught how to teach. We do find out that Navarro was a good student when in school and he knows his history and geography; science and math; and he was good in English, perhaps even more fluent that is own Micronesian language. And then Navarro’s problem is compounded when he realizes he must teach ESL and he cannot even recall how he learned English. So we find Navarro sitting on the Sunday evening wondering what he would do the next day at 8 A M.
Next, as Navarro sat he decided he wanted to do a good job. But with no teacher training he did not know what to do to be a good teacher. Therefore he decided to recall teachers he thought were “good” when he was a student. He also picked some that he thought were fair to students. Here too he did not really know was “fair” was. Likewise he did not want to do a bad job so he recalled a teacher from some 60 years in his past a Miss Maupin. Miss Maupin was based upon a teacher dismissal case at a Longfellow Elementary School, Pasco, Washington, United States of America in 1957. It was used as an example of a bad teacher and in fact it was the worst we could find. We wanted a teacher that Navarro and all of us would recognize and use the term “bad”. We used Miss Maupin to highlight another education issue that Navarro will learn about—special need students. And we used Navarro so we can eventually show how Navarro learns all about special needs students. Our Community is so fortunate nowadays with our Special Education programs and parent participation. We are most fortunate that the College of Micronesia- FSM has great expertise in this area and new teachers are prepared for teaching students with different abilities. Today’s new teachers understand that all their students are special and therefore students with learning or physical disabilities are just students with different needs. And then these teachers learn different ways of how to teach. Indeed Miss Maupin was an extreme example and as stated, it was the worst example we could find. Most classroom teachers in those times were kind and did the best they could if student with disabilities were included in a regular classroom as we do today. In those days students with disabilities were separated and not included or treated equally with the respect all students deserved. With this said let’s go right to Navarro’s first day
Case Study: Navarro Begins
Navarro had found his first day with the fifth graders simply delightful. He was friendly but he knew he was not there to make friends. He knew he was the teacher and they were the students but that did not mean he could not smile, and joke a little. He even shared with the class that he was a real beginner at this teaching. He joked with them how he trained himself the night before and told them he wanted to be a good teacher but the class would have to help him. He promised to help them become good students if they would help him be a good teacher. The young man even had the students stand, raise their right hand and take a pledge.
I _________ promise to be the best student I can be and I promise to help Mr. Navarro Navarro become the best teacher he can be.
Navarro thought of the night before. He did not know what he meant by a good teacher so he wondered to himself why he chose the word best. He thought about his English. In English ... good ... better ... best was how it went. He should probably know what good and better meant before he used best student and best teacher. But that first day he pledged himself to his class; more importantly, however, he made a pledge to himself. And all of Navarro’s 5th graders took the pledge.
That first day Navarro found all of the fifth grade textbooks piled in his room and a nice copy of all of the books on the big desk which he assumed would be his—the Teacher’s Desk. He was happy to find that there was a Teacher’s Edition for English and grammar. Navarro had been a straight A student in high-school English and his college years in the States had sharpened his skills at reading, writing, listening to and speaking English. To be honest, Navarro was far better in English than in his own vernacular language. As a young boy he could count in more than ten (10) different ways and even understood “high words” used by chiefs. Now, English was almost his first language and he was actually happy that at Mt. St. Mary’s the teachers must teach in English. In fact, on the wall of his classroom he saw a sign that read “English Must Be Spoken At All Times While On This Campus— And This Means At Recess Too.” He noticed in small print that someone had added—in the bathroom too. Yes, he was grateful for that and confident in his own skills, but could he teach it? Somehow, he realized that teaching English was different. Certainly, being good at something did not mean one could teach it ... Navarro though of his brother who was well known as an expert carver. No matter how hard he had tried to teach Navarro a little of that skill, Navarro could not carve the likeness of a shark. And further Navarro considered himself lucky to have ten fingers on his hands when he finished attempting to carve. TO BE CONTINUED-