“Leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders.” ~Tom Peters. This is one of my favorite quotes. It is something I strive to do for my students. The students I work with navigate between two languages. Being bilingual myself, I know it isn't always easy to find the right word in English, even though I know it in Spanish. I know that sometimes it’s easier to sit quietly than to struggle for words in front of classmates. My role as an ESL teacher is to help students build their English language proficiency in a supportive environment that builds up their confidence.
I taught the class about long and short “U” sound. I showed them how to look at patterns to help them determine if the “U” makes the long sound as in “rule” or the short sound as in “cut”. We took turns reading a list of words to practice looking for patterns. We drew pictures for some of the words to help us remember what the word was. At the end of the class, one of the students remarked that she finally “got it!”
The following day, I intended to ask questions about word patterns as a review for those students who were in the class and the one student who was absent the day before. I began with “Who remembers what we talked about yesterday?” The one student who “got it” the previous day asked if she could come up to the front to explain one thing she learned. Can you guess what happened? She ended up hitting all the points I had demonstrated the previous day. She explained what the symbols we used represented; she explained how to look for word patterns. Usually a soft spoken girl, she projected her voice so I could hear her from where I was standing. I couldn't have been more proud of her because she had the courage to lead the class in this activity. And as you can see by the smile on her face, she was very proud of herself as well!