The Trials and Tribulations of a Bilingual Coordinator

by multilingualmania on April 8, 2010

in Bilingualism, Personal Stories

Sometimes it is extremely frustrating being a bilingual coordinator.

On the outside I have to make it appear as if nothing is ever wrong, because I need to look strong and confident for the bilingual teachers that I work with. And I also need to maintain an outside appearance as if my feathers are not ruffled when I am around some of the other people who try to do everything in their power to undermine the bilingual program.

But inside I have started to become increasingly sick and tired of all the b.s. that I am subjected to on an every day basis.

Every day at some point there never fails to be a person who will send me a rude email or will blatantly tell me that they just “have a bilingual program on paper and are just doing English” -(imagine that-actually having the audacity as a school leader to tell the bilingual coordinator at the district office that you are thumbing your nose at the bilingual program design–yes, that’s how much disdain some of these people have for the bilingual program).

When I am not receiving rude emails or being told that they don’t have to do the bilingual program, I am constantly frustrated because I am blocked from other managers in the district who I believe hate the bilingual program. I am strategically left out of important conversations or I always find out something at the last minute, which always makes it appear as if my department is lagging behind everyone to catch up. I am too much of a professional to say, “No, these assessments came one month after the English assessments because the English language arts department didn’t even bother to tell me that they were changing the assessments until a week after they sent them out to you”. So instead I just work 60 hours a week and throughout the weekends on occasions such as this weekend so that I can wipe the egg of my face and try not to look bad.

Here’s another tactic that they love to use with me: I trust in my capabilities and sometimes I know that I am extremely knowledgeable about a certain topic. Yet when I open my mouth in meetings sometimes, I can see them blatantly rolling their eyes, snickering, and other such nonsense. Even some of the resource teachers and teacher coaches in other departments begin to talk to me in a very rude, disrespectful and condescending tone with me -even though I am a manager and am technically above them in rank. It’s not as if I am one of those school managers who believe that I am better than the teachers or the coaches, but I do think that their behavior is representative of a larger issue of people just having utter lack of respect for the bilingual department. Even some of the resource teachers treat my resource teachers like crap and act like they don’t know anything, although I am inclined to think that they are much more competent than some of the other teachers.

It’s starting to weigh down on me and I begin to question what I am saying, but then my boss loves to tell me that they are just jealous of me and try to make me look stupid because I am intimidating them. Pfft. Get a grip. I do think that is part of it, but I also think that when they look at me they hate me for what I represent-bilingualism and advocacy for latino, black and other underrepresented student populations.

In the meantime, my dear friend just bought me a book with a pretty provocative title, The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t. I’d have to say that this book is somewhat helping me maintain my sanity at the moment, and just might inspire an entire blog that my friend and I have been talking about creating regarding jerks in the workplace. Apparently we need the stress relief.

Yeah, well, there really is not a point to this post. It’s just a “feel sorry for me” and “I’ve got to get this out on paper before I explode and tell someone off” kind of moment.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marga Britto April 8, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Puedo sentir tu frustración y entender perfectamente la actitud “ignorante” de quien trata con desdén aquello que no alcanza a comprender, o para lo cual no tiene capacidad.

Te mando un abrazo! y gracias por compartir tu experiencia.

multilingualmania April 8, 2010 at 5:11 pm

Gracias por tu apoyo, Marga! Un abrazo!

Stephanee April 9, 2010 at 12:15 pm

I feel your pain. I have many of the same issues. I keep telling myself that I’m working for an evolution in understanding, but the timetable is driving me nuts. The principals all think I’m great and what I do is important, but any time I try to implement anything that they don’t agree with (from their very limited knowledge base regarding ELLs/bilingualism) they do an end run around me. It’s hard and I think that I have to remember that educating ELLs is often counter-intuitive to monolingual educators without training. Also, politically and pedagogically with have not been helped by the work of Reading First and the work of the National Reading Panel.
Somebody told me something that I’ve been thinking about in regards to my own leadership frustrations…”don’t be so far ahead of the pack that the troops mistake you for the enemy. You can’t do any good if you’re destroyed by friendly fire.”
Keep working and advocating for students and multilingualism and know that you’re not alone.

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