Sunday, December 7, 2014

Theory Connection #3

Theory Connection #3
My next theory connection is about something that happened during one of my service learning visits that I felt related to both Rodriguez and August, so I did a connection piece to both!

“Without question, it would have pleased me to hear my teachers address me in Spanish when I entered the classroom. I would have felt much less afraid. I would have trusted them and responded with ease” (Rodriguez, p.34)

Explanation: Rodriguez didn’t have a classroom that suited him and his abilities. As an ESL student, he had no way to use Spanish and English in an appropriate and successful way – which is a huge aspect in teaching multilingual children. He was forced to use only English which made him uncomfortable and as he says in the quote afraid. One simple thing his teachers could have done to make him feel more comfortable was just simply greet him in Spanish.

“Educators can, however, create inclusive and safe classrooms”(August)
Explanation: In August’s “Safe Spaces” she stresses the importance of a safe classroom where everyone can feel comfortable and can be themselves without being judged. She says that teachers are the ones who can create safe classrooms – they set the tone for the students. If they create an environment that is safe and inclusive, the students will most likely be more open and inviting to people of different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs.

Practice Example
Every time I go to my service-learning classroom at Charlotte Woods Elementary School, I get the chance to work with ESL students. During one of my visits, there was a boy who was trying to get through a math problem, but his language got in the way. The head teacher asked him a question in English and he tried so desperately to answer but could not because he really had no clue she was asking. As he was struggling and quickly turning red, some of his classmates who can speak some English began laughing at him. They looked down at this student because he was Spanish and didn’t understand how to answer the teachers question in English. While I was standing there watching this encounter, I grew increasingly more frustrated. I was so upset that these students who spoke the same language as that child felt like they had reason to laugh at him just because they knew a little more English than he did. The last thing that I want to see is a student feel embarrassed because of his culture. Because the teacher wasn’t doing anything to diffuse the situation, I stepped in and I told the student he was doing great and told the other students that instead of making him feel bad, they could help him through interpreting. The kids wound up feeling really bad about laughing at the boy, and were then eager to interpret and help the boy through the problem. After the question was interpreted, the boy was able to answer the question successfully.

So What?

Going back to my quotes, this student in my service learning class began to feel the way that Rodriguez felt – uncomfortable and afraid to speak. As an educator, I know it is my job, as August points out, to create a classroom that is safe. In that moment I could tell the child did not feel safe, so because the teacher wasn’t doing anything, I felt as if it was my duty to step in. It is sad to see students feel afraid to speak because of their language and a teacher not doing anything about it to be proactive. I’ve been in this classroom for a total of 19 hours now and not once have I seen the teacher speak Spanish, I also have never seen any posters or material around the room that connected with the culturally diverse students.  There’s nothing in her classroom that promotes cultural diversity. The one thing she does is let students interpret for other students which I definitely think helps in creating a safe space atmosphere but it doesn’t really go beyond that. The quote that I chose by Rodriguez explains his feelings about being an ESL student in school and could probably explain the feelings of most ESL students in this classroom. I think that by the teacher doing that one simple thing (greeting the students in Spanish) it would help in creating the safe space that August argues every classroom should have and the space that Rodriguez lacked. August says that educators are in the perfect position to create an environment where everyone is welcome, and comfortable. Just by simply greeting the students in their own language could make a world a difference. The students will feel more comfortable and will feel like they can relate to her more. They wont feel as pressured or ashamed when they don’t understand some of the things she is saying.

This video is a video on strategies for teaching ESL students in a manner that promotes academic success and a safe learning environment

Theory Connection #2

Theory Connection #2

Quote & Explanation – Throughout this course, I have been able to connect many theories we have
discussed and read about in class to my service learning experience. Along with my main connection – Collier – I can also connect an experience I had in my classroom to Lisa Delpit. In Delpit’s excerpt, “Other People’s Children,” she has five aspects of power that she proposed. Her fourth aspect is “If you are not already a participant in the culture of power, being told explicitly the rules of that culture make acquiring power easier” (Delpit, p.25). This quote means that if you are not apart of the culture of power - if you are not a white person - being told the rules and codes of that culture make it easier to attain power. In my case, the culture of power is being a teacher. If you are a new teacher at this school and you do not know the rules and codes that the school follows, learning those rules and codes will help you become a respectable teacher who is part of the culture of power.

Practice Example – On my first day at Charlotte Woods, I was not introduced to the children or briefed by the teacher on how she ran her classroom or what kind of rules she had in place. Because of this, I felt as if I was a student. I felt like I couldn’t even talk to the kids and tell them what to do because I was new and who was I to tell these kids what to do. I also didn’t want to overstep any boundaries Though, according to Delpit, I am a part of the culture of power just by being white, I was not in this case.

So What – Even though I was not introduced as a teacher, the kids still knew to address me as Miss. Though they didn’t know my name or why I was there, they knew that I was white and was of power. This brings me to Delpit’s fifth premise, “Those with power are frequently least aware of – or least willing to acknowledge – its existence. Those with less power are often most aware of its existence” (Delpit, p.26). Even though I felt like I had no power, the children whom are all either black, Hispanic or multiracial, knew I had power. Coming in as a white woman, I already had established authority and power to them. On that day, though I felt super uncomfortable doing it, I was able to go around and tell the children what they needed to do. I told them and they immediately listened not even knowing me. This goes to show that even as fifth graders, they know the rules and codes of powers not only in school but in society.