Back to the Fourth Grade
I still remember my first day of fourth grade. As my family had just moved, I was going to a new school. While I put my Airwalk sneakers on and placed all of my school supplies in my brand new monogrammed L.L.Bean backpack, I thought about how my day would go. I was very nervous about what my teacher would be like, if I would like the other students in my class, and more importantly, whether or not they would like me. As I prepared myself to volunteer in Ms. Bucio’s fourth grade bilingual classroom a few weeks ago, the same thoughts entered my mind. What would the teacher I would be working with be like? Would I get along with the students in her classroom? Would they enjoy having me with them in their classroom? Just like in the fourth grade, I had no reason to worry. Though I did not have my Airwalks or a backpack with my initials on it this time, I walked out of Ms. Bucio’s classroom after my first day feeling the same relief and contentment that I did when I was 10 years old.
Ms. Bucio’s class is made up of students with varying levels of English mastery. While her class is taught mostly in English, many times she explains herself once more in Spanish if her students appear to confused by the information. It is very interesting to see that while she may ask a question in English, a student will respond in Spanish, as it is the way they feel they can most adequately express themselves. There are some students that speak only in English, some who speak only in Spanish, and some who code-switch back and forth between the two languages.
My role in the classroom is to help with their reading aloud. As they are doing their literacy and writing classroom rotation, I help the students on the “reading carpet.” Though they are reading in English, I use my knowledge of Spanish phonetics and phonology to help them understand why words are pronounced differently between the two languages. For instance, many have trouble with words that begin with “h” as this letter represents a neutral phoneme in Spanish (which means it is silent).
Overall it has been a great experience. Ms. Bucio is very enthusiastic and very grateful to have me helping her. The students enjoy having me there as well. They are very eager to work with me, and love to show me how far they have gotten on the chapter books that they have been reading. I am very much looking forward to a great semester working with these students, and cannot wait to see what each week will bring.