|2 of 31 at Two Writing Teachers!|
I saw kids who felt marginalized and just wanted to be liked.
I saw students who hated reading and viewed writing as an unpleasant task to be completed for a teacher... or avoided altogether.
I saw language learners whose lives outside of school were dominated by their native languages, while their lives in school were flooded with difficult English and not enough support.
I saw hesitant teens unsure if their languages and cultures were assets or roadblocks.
I saw international students unfamiliar with using technology for learning.
I saw kids who were struggling through incredible emotional, academic, and economic challenges.
I loved them right away. And I committed myself to turning them into voracious readers, powerful writers, and enthusiastic learners. I resolved to encourage them to practice English at home while advocating for their unique needs at school. I vowed to give them a safe, supportive space where they could feel at home. For a first-year-all-over-again teacher, I did a pretty ok job. But changing a learning culture takes time and careful planning.
This year, I've had a variety of observers in my classroom, from graduate students getting licensed in TESOL to graduate researchers & professors. Their reactions to my classroom have encouraged me, kept my beliefs at the forefront of my thinking, and given me opportunities to ponder those beliefs even further.
They have seen a community of readers who whine when reading time ends, talk & write about books, set goals, and make plans.
They have seen courageous, expressive writers who seek strong words, choose unique details, and explain their craft decisions by saying that they don't want their readers to be bored.
They have seen learners engaged in real tasks for real audiences, aided by technology.
They have seen a multilingual, multicultural community that values and celebrates differences.
And they have seen students who want to come to ELL class and trust their teacher to take care of them.
So, even as we approach another season of testing, evaluations, and growth measures, I feel at peace. This week, my classroom will be filled with noisy, messy, enthusiastic learning as my students prepare to share pieces of themselves with the whole school. (More on that in future slices!) This month, I once again embark on a joyous and challenging month of writing with my students. We are centered around what matters and grounded by a common vision. We are readers, writers, and learners. We still have a long way to go, but we are doing it together.