From ELLs to MELTs: Mr. Santana, Mr. Lara, Ms. Crispin, and Ms. Morrissett

I spent the past five weeks teaching the Catapult Learning Mathematics Level 6 program at my school‘s summer English Language Learners program. My students have transformed from ELLs to MELTs…Mathematics and English Language Teachers. As part of their final examination for the course, I required students to teach a problem to the class.  I have so much respect for my students because they are able to explain an abstract and complex cognitive task while speaking to an audience of their peers in a second language. In these videos, you cannot see the audience, but as an eyewitness, I can tell you that their listeners were fully engaged. So much so that they didn’t even notice when school ended fifteen minutes late, and neither did I.

Mr. Santana 

I have worked with Mr. Santana since he entered the 6th grade two years ago. Mr. Santana was able to engage the class through his sense of humor, eye contact, and clear demonstration. I love his emphasis on order – he even writes it on the board; isn’t that what mathematics is all about?

Mr. Lara

When I first met Mr. Lara at the beginning of the summer, he told me that he did not like me because I want to have everything my way and “that is just not always possible”.  I found his statement compelling and insightful. After all, it’s true that I cannot be in total control of other people, even my own students. He actually sounded just like me at his age. I told Mr. Lara that he did not need to like me, but he did need to meet my expectations in the classroom. Guess what? Despite some issues with tardiness, Mr. Lara turned out to be a wonderful student – smart and interesting. He made me a better teacher because his statement caused me to reflect on how I could let students have control of the classroom while maintaining a focus on the academics at hand. Mr. Lara’s video shows his capabilities with providing a clear and succinct explanation using academic English.

Ms. Crispin

Ms. Crispin began the last school year in a classroom for SIFE (Students with Interrupted Formal Education) students. Her video clearly demonstrates perseverance – although she was nervous and shy, reverting to informal English when her confidence waned – she got through this presentation. After the recording ended, she was so surprised when I told her that she had demonstrated the problem correctly. Ms. Crispin spent a lot of time studying the multiplication table this summer, and I am proud of how she integrated this knowledge into her presentation of division. Interesting Fact: Ms. Crispin loves anime, and she can speak some Japanese!

Ms. Morissett

Sometimes when I see myself teach, I feel really sorry for my students. I know how demanding I am, but I feel like I get great results sometimes. Ms. Morissett came into my class this summer with very limited skills, but she studied, studied, studied, and here she is teaching…after a pretty harsh warm-up. She is the very definition of persistence – even when she struggled and had some incorrect calculations, she was able to recover and self-correct. I absolutely love her determination. Watch out, world…here she comes!

In other news…

Rozzie Reads Poetry is TOMORROW! I will be reciting “A Dream Deferred” by Langston Hughes Check out my ad:

The best way to begin writing is to begin writing.

“The best way to begin writing is to begin writing.” – Mrs. Dines

Perhaps I wasn’t the first person to say that. But that’s what I tell my students, and I am taking my own advice. I have been pondering the idea of starting an education blog since April when I met Lillie Marshall, the author of Teaching Traveling. As a National Board for Professional Teaching Standards candidate-in-progress, I had been thinking of ways to improve my professional leadership and advocacy, and writing about my passions online – literacy, ESL, and special education – had not occurred to me.

In public education, expressing one’s perspective too strongly can sometimes backfire or be misinterpreted. I wondered how many educators would really put themselves out there in an honest and compelling way. After all, education is honest and compelling work  – teachers work with real live human beings who contain all the beautiful messiness of life.

I began searching for educational blogs, and I noticed how the teachers who write online sound professional, capable, and interesting….and resourceful…and people are truly interested what they have to say, based on all of the comments that their blogs receive. When I came across Shelley Wright’s article on blogging as the new persuasive essay, it made me consider the idea that blogging would help me model academic risk-taking for my students. And I decided it would be worth it.

I am fairly nervous to put myself and my perspectives on education out “there” on the “World Wide Web”. What if it gets too personal? What if I get “in trouble” for something I post? What if people criticize my ideas? Or, worst of all, what if no one cares? But, I am going to take the risk because my students might see me as a model of academic writing, other people might benefit from the resources I post, and I might have the potential to help somebody that I would not necessarily connect with in another way.

My goal is to post on here every day, so look for a little something from me daily, and perhaps I can make a change in literacy for someone, somewhere. There, I began!