Friday, March 20, 2009

Student Reflection: The challenge of teaching

by Natalie Bodmer

The second week, I went to the school, looking forward to working with my student again. This week he greeted me with a big smile and told me right away, in Spanish, that he needed help with his math homework. This corresponded closely with the work we were doing in class. We had just reviewed all the vocabulary for the different math operations. So I felt confident that I would be able to help him with his math.

His math worksheet had one side in English and the opposite side with the exact same problems in Spanish. At first he flipped to the English side, and I told him that we could do the homework in the language he wanted, so he flipped it over to the Spanish side. I ultimately worked through his homework with him in Spanish.

The challenge was different than I was expecting. I was worried that I would not be able to teach a concept in Spanish, however, the challenge was that I had to come up with a way to teach a concept that I no longer even thought about the process of. I had to think of a way to explain multiplication, and come up with different ways of explaining it when he didn’t see it the first time. Speaking Spanish was not the issue.

The approach I took was to take his strengths and use them to explain a new concept he was having trouble with. He is really good at addition and so I decided to explain multiplication in terms of addition. It was really encouraging to see his progress and how he was improving so quickly.

I really enjoy this particular program that the course offered as an option to become involved in the community, because it allows for the independence to come up with creative ways to help the student on my own. This program also allows me to follow up with the same student each week and see the progress he makes.

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