Saturday, December 26, 2009

Student Reflection

by Katie Bednar

Fully Immersed on the First Day

On the first day of tutoring with the SOAR program, I walked into Booker T. Washington with very mixed feelings. I was excited to meet the student I would be working with, but I was also nervous and a little anxious. I knew coming into the program that I would be using my Spanish and that many of the students in SOAR were just beginning to learn English. I guess you could say that I just wasn’t comfortable with the idea that, in some way, the success of my student would depend on my ability to communicate with them in Spanish. My confidence with the language was not really where it needed to be. Needless to say, I was somewhat apprehensive as I walked into the 1st grade classroom for the first time.

After introductions in the first ten minutes, I was paired up with my student. Marisa* is a 1st grade student from the bilingual classroom. I introduced myself to her, asked her what her name was, and where she wanted to sit. Nothing. She kind of stood there, looking at me with a blank stare. At first I thought she may just be shy, so I led her to a desk and we began to work on the assigned activity. We were to make ourselves nametags and a notecard with pictures of our favorite foods, colors, etc. Many of the tutors around me were describing the activity to their students in English, and that is what I tried to do as well. It was not until about ten minutes in that I realized that Marisa was not shy, but unable to understand me. Marisa is a Spanish-speaking student that speaks little to no English. The moment that I realized this, I immediately began speaking in Spanish. Marisa’s eyes lit up, and we were able to learn a little bit about each other.

With all of my apprehensions and lack of confidence with my Spanish ability, I was forced to overcome that in order to connect with my student. I was taken by surprise by my ability to communicate and connect in Spanish when I really needed to. From that first day, I have only seen my confidence with the language and the quality of conversations with Marisa grow and grow. I am thankful that I was paired with a student whose primary language is Spanish. I am continuously learning and my comfort with the language continues to develop.

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