by Katie Dudek
A December to Remember
I cannot believe it is already December. At the risk of sounding cliché, it seems like it was just yesterday that I walked into Ms. Bucio’s classroom for the first time. It is very interesting to think about how my Spanish has improved since then, how much more confident I am in her classroom, and how much my relationship has changed with each her students. All of this was evident when I went to Booker T. Washington to volunteer this past Monday.
I arrived at the school at 12:45 PM like I normally do, put my things in the classroom, and walked down the hallway to where Ms. Bucio’s class lines up after lunch to go to the bathroom. The moment I saw them scattered on both sides of the hallway, I knew something was going on. Usually they are very obedient, lined up in a straight line against the wall, but that was not the case. Why? There was a substitute teacher. Though I have been a university student for a few years, I still know what having a substitute teacher means. It means that the kids act up, change their names, alter the class rules, and for lack of a better phrase, simply go bananas. However, when they saw me heading towards them, they began inching towards the correct side of the hallway, and lining up like they knew they were supposed to. Over the course of the semester, I had gained their respect.
My experience Monday was the best way I could have ended my volunteering at Booker T. Washington. Without Ms. Bucio there, the substitute relied on me to know who the kids were, what they were supposed to be doing, and what was the best way to go about teaching their lessons. At one point she gave me the teacher’s manual for their grammar book and asked me to explain to the class the exercise that we would be doing. As she did not have any Spanish-speaking experience, she was very thankful that I was there to help her, and expressed that she could not have made it through the day without my assistance. Though I am sure she would have managed, it was great to hear that I was able to be such help.
This has been an amazing experience for me. Although I have very much enjoyed working with the students on the academic tasks that are given to me, the thing that I have loved most is simple conversations I have had with the students about themselves and their interests. This is where I have grown the closest with the students and where I have been able to utilize my Spanish the most. For instance, while working on their essays for “free writes”, we often brainstorm ideas together about what they can write about. As a result of this activity, I now know that [Nancy] loves baking with her mom, especially cakes. She wants to be a cake decorator when she grows up. [Obdulio] is crazy about soccer. He always plays goalie during gym class and when he plays with his friends. [Gianni]’s favorite Christmas song is “Arre Borriquito” and sings it all the time, and [Marcos] loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books or “El Diario de Greg.” I will miss spending time with these students each week. This will definitely be an experience that I will never forget, and a December that I will always remember.