Wednesday, October 15, 2008

True Calling?

Today I get to go teach ESL and I'm very excited and it makes me wonder, is this my true calling?
From when I was very young, I always enjoyed school. Even before I went to kindergarten, I already had my little backpack ready and full of books. The year later when I actually went to kindergarten in Ms. Sharp's class at Bridlemile, I was in for a shock.

You mean, my mom can't stay? Who are all the strangers? I don't know these kids? Oh a sand pit, Mom, I'm going to play in the sand . . . oh look Mom, there is a play house . . . Mom? . . . MOM?? Where's my mom?

Before I knew it, my mom was gone and I was abandoned with strangers (felt my 5 year old self.) It took me a while to recover. I wouldn't sit on the magic carpet with the other kids, I wouldn't talk, I wouldn't socialize. I was painfully shy. Then one day, Ms. Sharp came to me and told me in a warm but stern voice that it was time I sit with the other kids. So I did. And thus started my love for learning and teachers.
Every year, I found something to love about my teachers so I showered them with drawings of me, of them, of my barbies, of my cabbage patches and they were always so grateful and appreciative. In first grade, Ms. Horowitz taught us where yarn came from and how it was woven. I also remember her favorite phrase was "I'm very disappointed in you" when she'd address the class for being naughty. That always made me feel bad and added an extra burden to my little self to be perfect and never disappoint (wow, interesting how that hasn't changed.) In second grade, we had a split class and Ms. Chung was our teacher. She taught us about Hawaii and we even had a luau in the cafeteria. I loved my teachers because they were so knowledgeable and nice. They made me feel warm and welcome. The students, well that was another thing. I didn't really have that many friends. I was still very shy. Come 3rd grade with Mr. Black, it all changed drastically from few friends to no friends. One of the leaders of our third grade class decided that I was not worth being friends with and turned everyone against me. No one played with me or talked to me, they were forbidden. So during recess, I always found an excuse to stay in class. Mr. Black finally suspected something and asked me why I didn't want to go to recess, holding back tears I told him I just didn't want. I knew that if I told on this person, this girl, I'd have worse reprocutions . . . So I said nothing. The second half of the year of third grade was a very lonely one, but I didn't care because I was moving to Mexico and I'd never have to see them again. Or so I thought.
Fast forward to high school. I had the same mentality I did when I was in 1st grade: impress and never disappoint. I had fantastic teachers, then too, who always adapted to the way I learned. One of my favorites that I had for 2 years was Ms. Wood, my English teacher. Like my 6th and 8th grade teacher back in middle school (Ms. Peizner), she was one of the few teachers that encouraged me to write and made me feel like I had something worth while to say, and that I was actually pretty good. I think my best writing was done in Ms. Woods' classes. Next, out of left field, was Mr. Smith, my senior math teacher. Math? I sucked I math! I even got a C in his class, but it was the best grade I'd gotten cuz I worked so hard for it. You see, I love math, I'm just not good with it and he understood that. At the time, I had noticed I was developing a sort of dyslexia with numbers, I'd keep flipping them, and he adapted to that and gave me credit anyway, even if the answer on the test was wrong. Because I told him of this dyslexia, he paid extra attention on all my work. Now that is a teacher that cares!
So now, here I am. I'm volunteering to each English to adults and I really enjoy it. I've always felt more at home with people that were older than me than my peer group or those that are younger. I feel that being older gives one more patience and understanding and since I have a tendency to be insecure, being around adults makes me feel like they're more willing to over look my faults.
So today, I have (hopefully) a fun class planned. I'm really into pop culture, tv, movies and television and I feel that people can learn a language by listening to what's around them everyday: tv, radio. I also learned from my university professor, Matt Garcia, how the melding of pop culture and history, can be used as a great teaching tool and I plan to always incorporate a bit of that into my teaching.
So today's lesson is in listening. My friend sent me a few of her 10-20 second radio news stories and I have the pilot for Ugly Betty ready to be watched, and listened to. Since most of my students are Latino, I thought it might be helpful and more motivating to see someone on television that looked a bit like them. I know I would have appreciated that. Then, today's homework will be listening to three songs I've burned on a disc for them, reading the lyrics along with the songs and answering questions I pose. It might be overwhelming for them, but in the end, I hope it will be helpful. Unfortunately, since I don't have a formal background, I'm just going on what I think will be fun and useful, but man, I'm so excited for when *I* actually get to take classes for this. I will learn so much and am excited to impart that knowledge to help others!

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Sounds like a terific lesson plan! How did it go? Let me know if you need any more news stories :) I'm glad you found something to do that you love, and also helps people!