Around the World in 15 Hours
So I just finished my pre-service teacher hours in ESOL. I went to an elementary school (I don’t want to reveal the location, I’ll call it CB) that I know places an emphasis on diversity – both cultural, socioeconomically, and with regard to differently-abledness.
The difference between this school and the school at which I have completed the majority of my pre-service hours is astonishing.
At my other school (we’ll call it OG), there is very little difference between the children. When I say this, I’m talking about socioeconomically, racially, and in range of ability. AT OG, there are two children of color in my classroom. Neither of them are African-American. At OG, I have only seen a total of about 5-6 students who are not white. At CB, there is so much diversity. Every day I see a group of kids walking down the hallways with cochlear implants or hearing aids. The racial diversity is staggering. Don’t get me wrong, I love both of my schools. I think they’re both great. However, I think it is clear that CB has more challenges to meet, and I think that they meet them extremely well.
During my stint as an ESOL intern, I felt like I got to travel the world. I met students from 10 different countries – The Marshall Islands, Bosnia, Puerto Rico, Laos, Vietnam, Mexico, Russia, Germany, India, and Peru. Of these students, one of them is also hearing impaired and relies on hearing aids in both ears. I didn’t get to know these kids that well in 15 hours, but what I did see is that they’re struggling, but not for any of the reasons that conservative and even mainstream media would have people believe. They’re not lazy. They’re not stupid. They’re putting effort into learning English.
In one of these families, there are nine children to go along with the language barrier. In another, I suspect there’s just abject poverty. Another student has only been in the United States for 3 months.
Everyone always says they go into teaching to make a difference. So why is it that there’s almost always a shortage of teachers in fields like this? I see it in my program right now. People complain about having to put ESOL and ESE accommodations into their lesson plans. Yes, the lesson plans we have to write as student teachers are ridiculous, way-too-long, and time-consuming. That being said, ESOL and ESE accommodations should not be the first thing on anyone’s list to be taken out of the equation. I just think it’s so unfortunate that I can already see the bias and I’m only in my first semester. So what are these kids supposed to do when the system abandons them and the up and coming teachers, who so “love children” and “want to make a difference” don’t seem interested in making sure a difference is made for these kids who are struggling to make it in English-based instruction?
I just hate to see a broken system continue to perpetuate itself, but I’m not sure what I can do on my own to change it. All I know is that I think I like traveling, and if others don’t want to help these kids get the assistance they need when the deck is stacked against them, maybe I’m the one to do it.
I think once I’m out of this program that I’m going to pursue an ESOL track. It’s the least I can do for these little ones.