|A photo I took from a Dr. Seuss illustration. I think it is a pretty good depiction of my route to Nashville (and current mental state!)|
|Headed to Nashville in a little over a week!|
What have I learned?
One of the things that I like about service learning (and really all service opportunities) is the opportunity to learn from people outside of the "ivory tower". Learning comes from doing, seeing, and interacting. I enjoyed working with the children at AMIS. Beyond learning about the children, I learned a lot about the Cincinnati Public School system. AMIS is the fourth CPS school that I have been involved with. I have seen the 'good, the bad, and the ugly' at all of these schools. All have improvements that need to be made---some more than others, but at every single one of these schools one thing was the same---there were children who needed and wanted to be supported, treated with respect, grow and learn. How do you do that? One of the things I have learned through our coursework and through working with CPS student is to learn about them.
In my last class today our professor said, "A teacher that I would trust to work with students--a teacher that I would hire--is one who can show and demonstrate a respect for children. It is not enough to say you love children. You have to respect them." I believe this directly relates to what we have learned this quarter. We need to respect children who are immigrants. We need to believe that they can learn and be as successful as any other child in this country. We need to respect the families of the children--even if their values and beliefs significantly contrast with our own. We need to respect the culture of the children we work with and most importantly we need to SHOW the children we respect them by listening, trying new things, and supporting them in any way we can. As a new teacher I know that there will be times when I will be under a lot of pressure to perform, to show significant progress in my students. I cannot let this pressure compromise what I believe to be a fundamental part of learning--an open classroom environment. For this reason I really identified with the Igoa text. It was easy to see how much work she put into creating a classroom environment. She let the children learn and open up at their own pace. She knew that children, especially those making the transition to a new country, needed to work at their own pace. This is a lesson that I will apply to my first year (and hopefully throughout my career).
Ironically, the very first page of the Igoa book (in the praise section), sums up alot of my learning in this course--the idea that children who are immigrants are individuals from complex backgrounds. To find out about them is to learn about many aspects of their lives--as we said in class, "What ISN'T important to know about working with immigrant children?" Jim Cummins presents my thoughts on this quite eloquently:
" ...at some level, all teachers of immigrant/culturally diverse students must become researchers if they are to teach effectively since no theory can supply the answers to the range of issues teachers are faced with in our increasingly diverse schools."