This quote, recognizable by most people in the world of education, is one of my favorites from Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! This quote serves as a motto for countless organizations and educators, especially those concerned with reading and literacy. At SOAR there is a focus placed on reading strategies and comprehension, and this is something that I did try and work on with Marisa* throughout the semester.
Almost every day after finishing her homework, Marisa and I headed to the Booker T. Washington library to get a few books to read. The school’s library has a great section of Spanish and bilingual books, and this is where we would head. On the first day, after heading back to the classroom and beginning to read, I was blown away by Marisa’s reading abilities. She succeeds at reading not because she knows all of the words, but because she sounds them out letter-by-letter, word-by-word. When she gets stuck on a word she takes the time to sound it out, re-read it, and continue on. I was so impressed that she did all of this on her own initiative without any prodding from me. Since it was clear that Marisa had mastered many crucial reading strategies, I moved on to checking her comprehension. During our reading time I asked her questions about what she was reading, checking her understanding and encouraging her to think more about what she was reading. Towards the end of the semester I really started to see a change in the way that Marisa reads, taking time to process and think about what she has read. I hope that she has learned a lot, because I know I have!
Throughout the semester, my time with Marisa can truly be labeled a shared learning experience. Just from our reading times I have learned a ton of new vocabulary. Whenever I ask Marisa what a word means she tries to draw it out in a picture so that I understand. She is a great little teacher! In general, I have learned more than I ever thought I would about working with bilingual students, and the experience has encouraged me in my future career. And of course my abilities and comfort with the Spanish language have improved! I am going abroad next semester, and I know that what I have learned will benefit me there an when I come back, as well! I would love to come back to work with SOAR in the fall!