For a “language person”, few things can be as rewarding as working with beginning English learners.
Whenever Mark would tell people what I did for a living, he would often point out that I was the first teacher some of my students ever came in contact with after entering the U.S. And if you think about it, that can be an incredible responsibility.
I’m not saying this makes me anything special, but it was a responsibility I took seriously. And I had so much fun in the process!Mind you, I’m not saying it was all fun…and if you read “Fish in Progress” you will understand some of the challenges that come with teaching English learners (or anyone, for that matter). That’s Scout you see on the couch. She was my cat before Foster, and you can read about her in “The Way of Things”.Vocabulary was my favorite, because I got to draw. But notice the “Rules” poster to the right. Take a close look at #s 5-9 for an insight into my day to day life in 2011. In case the photo isn’t clear enough, here they are: #5. Do not complain. #6. Do not touch anyone else. #7. Do not call people names. #8. Do not tattle on others. #9. Do not touch Mrs. Tracy’s desk. It makes me laugh now, but at the time it was not funny. (And yes, for all you teachers out there, I know rules are supposed to be stated in positive sentences instead of starting with “Do Not”. But you’d have to have been there.)Going back to Rule #8 above, every few years I would have a group that needed a “Tattle Folder”. This is a typical “tattle” from around 2005. But surely I wasn’t the “respecter of persons” this makes me out to be? You’ve heard what they say about a clean desk being the sign of a sick mind? I’ve never had to worry about that one!Eighth grader Ekamjot wrote this in 2016, my last year before retiring. Amazing the faith kids can have in you!If you’re like me, a giant box of crayons is a teacher’s dream come true! Nobody got out of any of my classes (English or Spanish) without doing a sufficient amount of drawing.
I don’t remember whose these were, but I love the hair on top of the penguin’s head! You may recognize the penguin “template” from “Pets in Space”. One thing is for sure, if those kids don’t remember anything else from my classes, they will remember how to draw a penguin!This is Rocky’s “professions” poster from 2004. Rocky always wanted to become a police officer. I still believe he will, if he hasn’t already. The last time I saw him was several years ago. He was 19 or 20 and was working at McDonald’s while attending junior college. If he was 13 in 2004 I think that makes him about 27 now. (But don’t quote me on that – I was never good at math!)The year Mandeep and her brother Pardeep came from India (2008) just happened to be a couple of years after I had started studying Punjabi. So I was able to practice my Punjabi on them while they practiced their English on me. We had so much fun! In her Christmas card from 7th grade, Mandeep wrote that she would miss me over vacation.This was from Pardeep, who was in 8th grade at the time. It says “You are very good. You taught me very well. I will be bored during vacation.”
I have kept in touch with Mandeep over the years. The first picture of Mandeep and me (top left) is from December of 2008. The one on the right is from July of 2015. At the bottom left is Pardeep in March of 2009 and (right) in 2016. They are now grown up, working, and fluent in English. I can’t tell you how proud I am of them! (These pictures are used with permission.)
One thing I worked on extensively with my English learners was the flag salute. I didn’t want them standing in their first period class not knowing what to say during the pledge of allegiance. I also did the same with the national anthem. Below is Tengh’s response one year when I asked them to write the pledge from memory. I love it! Except for the “invisible” part, what else could we ask for?
Just this for all.