Two Teachers 1 :: Overview

• The activity, “Two Teachers,” provides integrated practice in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It is based on an online video, “Occupy the DOE,” which was made at a public meeting of the “Panel on Education Policy (PEP),” the governing body of the New York City, Department of Education (DOE). The interest of the meeting lies in the fact that it was taken over by a group of teachers and parents many of whom were connected with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. The focus is on two teachers, Joffer Smith and Marcelle Good, who spoke at the meeting and, later, were interviewed on sidewalk outside.

• Four introductory pages follow this one: “Occupy Wall Street” (background of the whole movement); “Occupy the DOE” (background about the DOE, the PEP, and the teachers’ and parents’ complaints about the ”Common Core Standards.”) “The Video” (a summary of what the video shows about the meeting); and “The Activity” (detailed suggestions for a classroom lesson based on the video). This page contains a link to the video and instructions on how to find the four segments that are focussed on. It also contains links to transcripts for each of those segments.

• I believe the video has general educational value first, because it shows that there are people within the Occupy movement who have strong, carefully thought-out views on important social issues and who also have enough passion, energy, and verbal skill to express themselves persuasively; second, because it shows how the movement has developed, in a short time, effective, anti-hierarchical organizational techniques.

• I also believe the video has real value as ESL material. The two teachers speak in a straight-forward basically simple way but they say a lot in a short time and as a result, their speeches are rich in useful vocabulary, some of it quite formal and some of it colloquial. Moreover, although the issues discussed at the meeting are local — or at least American — the application of the “business model” to education (mentioned many times in the meeting) is a world-wide phenomenon which should be of interest to students and teachers.