Teachers are usually the first to comment, " I could write a book with all the stories about my classes!"
It is very likely that you have a story to share...
Perhaps one that is funny or one that is poignant...
One story that I'd like to share is about an ESL student, a first grader, who recently arrived from China...
The first graders were learning to sing the song, America, in music class.
I noticed that my student exited the room, welling with tears...
I pulled her aside and questioned why she was crying...
She sobbed back, "I don't want my father to die."
I was so concerned, "Is your daddy sick?" I asked.
"No," she replied..."The song said my father will die."
I was confused and questioned the music teacher...
Then I understood, she was upset about the words "Land where my fathers died..."
This became a "teachable moment"...in which I discussed concept of Pilgrims (children recalled this from studies of first Thanksgiving)...that they lived long ago and died...they were "fathers" in America...
She seemed somewhat placated, but I decided to contact the child's mom and share story. Mom thanked me; that night she further explained about the song and that there was no need to worry about father dying.
It is amazing, what goes on insided the minds of our "little ones"! Especially the ELLs who take all words so literally...
What stories do you have to share?
I am eager to hear them...
My favorite comes from a sophomore from Korea. I was teaching the class how to write and address a letter to the admissions office at a university. Since I'm in Michigan, I chose U. of M. I told the students that they should use the name of the person to whom the letter was addressed, if possible. After looking over the sample format and the address, my student began his letter: "Dear Ann Arbor." I really enjoy this story because it is a good illustration of how easily we are misunderstood by our students. It also shows that he was following the instructions as he understood them. This young man went on to study voice at Manhattan School of Music.
How fun to share stories!
My story involves me learning about cultural differences rather than just the English language.
When I taught 5th grade, I just couldn’t get used to the way my two Arab boys treated my Arab girl, who was the sweetest and smartest girl. The boys would always intimidate her. One example is at the end of the year we were having a swim party at the pool down the street. Permission slips went home and the Arab girl’s parents signed off that she could go. Her father was a professor and was open minded to the western culture. When the two other Arab boys found out her parents said she could go swimming, they insisted that she could NOT go because she was NOT allowed to wear a bathing suit. This poor little girl gave into their bullying and sadly told me she wasn’t going to go. I tried to talk her into it, but she refused. I was so upset, I ended up going over to her house to talk to her parents. They were so kind and invited me to stay for dinner. We discussed their frustrations with trying to belong to two different worlds. In the end, the girl ended up going swimming, but didn’t wear her bathing suit (she wore a t-shirt and shorts). She had fun without feeling too humiliated. I made the boys stay completely away from her and insisted they didn’t say a word to her or even look at her. The boys played on the other side and were so involved in their fun, they forgot about harassing the girl.
Wow, Tammy, great story...you are a true advocate/ambassador!
I recently entered an Egyptian brother and sister into my program. They are in the same group and I have witnessed similar behaviors on the part of the boy. Your story and insights are helpful to my understanding their interactions.
Thanks for sharing!
How interesting it will be for you to have siblings in your group from Egypt. You will grow to learn a lot about their culture. At my previous school, we ended up having to find a Arabic speaking male teaching assistant to keep some of our Arab boys in check because many of them would straight out tell the female teachers that they "didn't have to listen to us because we are women." On a positive note, it didn't take the boys long to adjust to the new societal norms and I would say within just 2 years, the boys were well behaved and respectful to girls in their class and to the female teachers.
I never realized that a district would have to go to such lengths to address cultural issues. It is commendable that your district took those steps to hire the necessary assistant!
Right now I am faced with my Egyptian twins who bicker much the same as typical American twins. I am keeping the boy in check and being sure that his sister has equal speaking time and attention - he is just so competitive!