- Why I Say “Yes” to Santa - December 9, 2014
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? - July 16, 2014
- Demo Lesson Tips - May 28, 2014
- Changes that Need to be Made in ESL - March 6, 2014
- Olympic Lessons - February 13, 2014
- Myths About Snow Days - February 6, 2014
- He Said What?! Funny things our kids say... - January 30, 2014
- The Dawn of a New Era in New York City Schools - January 22, 2014
- Push In Versus Pull Out Strategies for English Language Learners (ELL) - December 26, 2013
- Project Based Learning: Giving Up Control - October 29, 2013
Teaching in an inner city school has afforded me the opportunity to interact with many different types of students. All of these students have taught, and continue to teach me different life lessons on a daily basis. Sometimes what you learn about the students can be quite sad. When I first began teaching I was starry eyed and convinced I could “save” each one of my students. Within a week I knew that wouldn’t be the case. I realized just how broken the system had become, and how the regulations that were put into place to help these students, actually stopped real help from being given in some cases. I also learned that most of my students were not truly English language learners (as they had been categorized). I had special needs students that only spoke English, but happened to have families that occasionally spoke another language at home.
The system had failed these children. They didn’t need to have another pull out session away from their classes. They needed more time in their classes with teachers that had the qualifications to help them. But instead of what needed to happen, I had to provide the students with what was required by their designations: English Language education.
I needed to be more than a teacher, I also needed to be a sister, an aunt, a cousin and a mom. I learned a lot about where my students came from -- and I don’t mean what country. I learned that they needed someone to lean on and look up to--they needed love. Their home lives did not provide them with stability and someone to talk to. During my classes, I had to provide structure and I was never allowed to be late or miss a session for any reason. These students knew exactly when I was supposed to be there and if I wasn’t there at the right time they called me out on it. If I was home sick, I was grilled about my whereabouts and why I had forgotten them. Frequently I would hear, “Ms. M, why weren’t you here yesterday? You forgot about us.” Only to remind them that yesterday was Sunday and no one was at school and no one had been forgotten about.
These experiences have taught me a lesson that I was never taught in my undergrad or graduate education classes. Sometimes I might have to problem solve issues that are non-school related because Mom can’t or won’t help. Sometimes I will need to pack a school lunch on a field trip day because the foster parents are not able to provide one. And sometimes I teach kids just how to be kids because they have grown up incredibly too fast in the rough neighborhood they live in. I also learned that being strict is not always going to work. However compassion will always work. I may not be able to fix every student’s problems everyday, but by being more then a teacher to my “hunny bunnies” I can provide them with more than an education that will help them pass the test. In their world, the test is the least important thing there is.