This post is a follow up to "Stories that Sparkle Powerful Conversations" - If you have not read it, I encourage you to read it since it provides the background you may need for this post.
My advanced newcomer English learners were assigned the picture book 'Refugees and Migrants' by Ceri Roberts. This book covers migration from its causes to what we can do to aid refugees. It covers life in refugee camps, about the application process for asylum.
You can see their presentation below. They did an excellent job providing important details, their thoughts, and visuals.
What you can't see in their presentation was the result of their presentation. As they were sharing their thoughts on the videos and the immigration topic, students began to cry all around the room.
You see, I have several students (including me) who immigrated to the USA just like the book and their videos showed.
Their presentation stirred up in us so many feelings we keep inside. Our immigrant experiences, regardless of what you experienced, mark our lives forever. Some feelings are happy, some are painful feelings, and some you can't even talk about.
When overwhelmed with emotions...tears help!
There was not a dry eye in the room. We all cried. We all hugged. We all shared. I even had a student share with me a video of him and his mother crossing the river to make it to the USA. THIS was when I lost it! I started thinking about how hard this particular student works EVERYDAY and how his teachers are only concern about his grades...when in his mind and heart THIS is what's going on.
Students hugged me and said, "Mrs. Francis, don't cry". But how can you NOT cry when you know your students are dealing with so much in their personal life.
We heard stories of concentration centers, stories of reasons why we left our home country. Stories of hope. Stories of resilience and strength.
From October 15th - October 26th, I had the honor and pleasure to lead a Twitter book study through #ELLchat_bkclub. If you participated - Thank you! - If you did not, I recommend you take some time and review our conversations on very important topics that are highlighted in Latina Teachers by Dr. Glenda Flores. Some of the topic we discussed are:
LIVE Book Chat
Newcomer ELs and students with limited or interrupted formal education (SLIFE) need a respectful and safe environment to function at their full potential. This session will provide culturally responsive pedagogy strategies to cultivate the environment diverse students need. Participants will discover that cultivating such environments needs to start from within. As a ripple effect, a commitment to culturally responsive pedagogy will transform our instruction, school culture, families, community engagement and (ultimately) our students.
"Before planning any academic content, it is important to get to know our students and try to put ourselves in their shoes." - Sarah Ottow
August 26th, 2019 was the first day of school for students in my county. What an exciting day to finally meet all our new freshman students and to see returning students. I was more so thrilled to finally meet our 2019-2020 newcomer students who enrolled in the USA school system for the very first time.
I am not sure how a high school schedule is set up in other counties/states, but at our school, we offer only one period class strictly for English as a Second Language (ESL) services. The rest of our period classes are inclusion classes where our ESL services are provided at the same time core instruction is provided. This means that for one period students come to my classroom and for the other three periods you'll find me in different classrooms throughout the building supporting English learners. The only class period we offer in our ESL classroom is the English for Beginners course.
This course is designed with newcomer English learners in mind. In this class period, newcomers receive the foundations of the English language as well as any cultural views and lessons students may need to begin a successful and strong year in the United States.
To get an idea of what my day looks like, check out my daily schedule here!
During the summer of 2018, I received an email from SIOP® senior project manager at Pearson, Allyson Newton, with an invitation of a lifetime. The email was an invitation to serve as a featured keynote speaker at the 2019 SIOP® National Conference in Portland, OR.
Wow! I wish you would've seen my excitement. No words can explain how humbled and honored I felt to be considered. Not only was I going to personally meet THE SIOP® author, (incredible women I admire for their work and passion,) but I was also going to share a national stage with them. An opportunity I couldn't miss!
This post was originally posted on https://ncedleaders.blogspot.com/ on July 3rd , 2019
When I started my teaching career, (15 years ago), my mother gave me this hanging sign that says “3 Reasons for Teaching - June, July, August”. I hang on to it just because my mother gave it to me; However, you’ll never see this sign in my classroom because summer breaks are not my reasons for teaching.
Now, don’t take me wrong, I love summer breaks and I always take full advantage to recharge and refresh before the start of another school year. But as good as summer breaks might be, they’re NOT my reasons for teaching
The path to the teaching profession was not an ordinary path for me. I immigrated to the United States at the age of 15 years old. I started high school with the hopes and desire to graduate and go to college to be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be. From day one, I embraced school and education. Breaking all sorts of barriers, I was able to learn the English language and get all the required credits for graduation. But unfortunately, everything fell apart when I failed American History - Regents exam. With disappointment and a heart in a million pieces, I took the bus home and never went back. In 1997 I became part of the Latino High school dropout.
Failing at school made me question everything I believed I knew about myself. I started working as a cashier where every time I scanned an item the beep was a constant reminder of my failure. I didn’t believe I was capable to do anything else.
Years later I decided to rewrite my personal narrative by returning to school. I found a local community college and obtained my GED. I went on from there to find success in college getting y associate’s degree, my bachelor’s and then my Master’s degree. Today, I am where I need to be. Inspiring students every day to reach their highest potential. You see, I had potential within me all along. What I didn’t have was someone who believed in me. Someone in my corner encouraging me to find my passion and help me fulfill my human potential. I strive to be an educator who will be for my students what I didn’t always have: someone to believe in them.
So, if you ask me what my reason for teaching is, I would say it is INSPIRING MY STUDENTS TO KNOW THEIR POTENTIAL and PURPOSE.
So here I am...reflecting on my first semester in High School! As you may know, over the summer of 2018, I made the switch from an elementary school setting to a high school setting. The decision was not a difficult one in the sense that I knew with all my heart I was going where I needed to be. Besides, the passion within me to serve English learners is always seeking out new challenges for improvement. But, to be transparent about my feelings, I must share the FEAR I was facing while making my decision.
Fear of the unknown.
Fear of failure.
High school is a radically different world than elementary school. It's like black and white. The only knowledge I had about high school was what I knew from my son since he is a HS student.
So, I was afraid. I was afraid of schedules, services for students, accommodations for testing, enrollment, co-teaching, etc. I was afraid of how I was going to fit in with Concord High School' staff and students.
Would they like me?
Would I meet their expectations?
Would I be a good fit?
These questions led to begin thinking about failing. What if I fail.
What if I don't fit in?
What if I mess up?
So many questions that for a moment became reasons to avoid venturing the unknown journey.
However, unpredictable journeys can only be lived by being willing to take risks. If we want to maintain a burning passion & seek out new challenges, we must accept the probability that things might not go as planned or as we would've wanted them to; but that's how change happens...and change is good!!
One semester. One semester is just enough time for me to realize how much I love working with high school students at Concord High School!
Do I know everything? NO.
Have I had failures? YES.
You see, that's the beauty of unknown and unpredictable journeys; That no matter what the journey brings our way...we stand strong on the heartfelt decision and risks.
I have SO MUCH to learn. I have so many relationships to build. I have so many more things to do. Meanwhile, I sit here - looking at the bulletin board with all our ELs' pictures (picture above)...and I smile thinking on the many - many more wonderful memories in the years to come.
"Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable." - George S. Parron
Thank you for reading & Go Spiders!
Over the summer of 2018, I took the first step to a great journey...I made the decision to transfer to Concord High School (CHS) after working six years at Irvin Elementary school. The decision was based on a burning desired within me to support students who are facing the same struggles I faced as a high school newcomer student and language learner. Read more about my personal experience as a newcomer here!
I got our classroom ready with so much excitement! However, I was more excited to meet my new students. I had already met a few of them during our ESL summer enrichment program, so I was thrilled to meet the rest of my students.