All educators have been taught the value of background information. It is the job of a bilingual educator, especially, to recognize that the background information that their students have received during their lifetime may be drastically different than the background knowledge necessary to understand the curriculum of the United States. It is with this mind frame that I feel compelled to providers readers with my humble beginnings and background as a teacher. Through that, people may begin to see this blog as I see it, as a tool to continue to grow as a person and educator, and hopefully to help others grow through describing my experiences (both successes and failures) to date.
It can truly be said that educators do not set about on their paths for money and glory. I was called to teach after a series of events shaped my life. From the very beginning I was a natural teacher (though some of my nearest and dearest may just call me bossy). As a child I would set up a small standing chalkboard, gather books and coloring materials, and line up two seats (sometimes three if my older brother was REALLY bored) and force my younger siblings to endure hours of "school" well before their time. Through this they learned the pattern of expectations involved in a schooling situation and may well have been better prepared to enter into a classroom years later. One day (later in life) my mom found a cassette tape with two voices on it, one being that of my younger brother trying to read a story aloud, the second being mine, guiding and encouraging him along. To know that some of his later successes may be aided by my persistence is a rather heady accomplishment.
In high school I was asked by a friend to go on a mission trip to build houses in Mexico with him and his youth group. I went on the trip knowing no one but my friend and having no carpentry skills to speak of. More importantly, I went to a country where I didn't even speak the language (having studied 4 years of French at that point.) What I found was a language and culture so rich and beautiful that I immediately fell in love with it. In my first year of college I enrolled in a basic Spanish class and never looked back. Since then I have studied and traveled to Mexico on as many occasions as my wallet has allowed and am hoping to branch out to all Spanish-speaking countries that my students represent.
Also around high school time, my mother graduated with her masters and became a bilingual teacher. As often as I could, I would go with her to help in her classroom. Sadly, what I realized is that, with our growing and changing climate in the US, bilingual education was not only completely necessary, but it had been neglected as a priority for too long. While bilingualism is considered an asset in almost every job in the world, there is a tendency for school systems to ask newcomers to neglect this essential attribute, and I began to realize on which side of the "English Only" debate I stood. After one year in college I switched majors AND schools in order to attend a teaching college with a major in Elementary Bilingual Education.
Throughout my schooling, I was offered internship experiences in varying grade levels and schools of varying socioeconomic status. I have worked in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grades at one point or another over the past 5 years. I have seen many aspects of teaching and have learned SO much from the educators that I have met on my travels. It is with this background and because of the support that I have received that I feel it is time to share my story with others who are pursuing or wish to pursue a similar fate.