Nestled in the office of my apartment is a library of books on language pedagogy. Throughout their pages, I have been challenged, inspired, and intimidated by the seemingly endless list of research-based recommendations for my teaching they provide.
I have studied countless pages about the importance of authentic assessment, creating positive home/school connections, valuing students' home languages and cultures, allowing ELLs to share their "funds of knowledge," maintaining high expectations, and tapping into their multiple intelligences.
I have learned a lot from the pages in these books, but yesterday, something amazing happened. Yesterday, I saw my textbooks and their recommended strategies spring to life before my eyes.
I have recently been observing a currently-practicing ELL teacher at a local high school as part of the final class I must take before getting my TESOL endorsement. This teacher's classroom has been a flurry of activities for the last few weeks, as her ELLs have been working hard to create poster presentations about their home countries. The mission was for them to create these presentations in order to share information about their cultural backgrounds alongside native English-speaking peers at a school-wide celebration of cultures.
I attended this celebration yesterday and as I walked into the school cafeteria, I began to see the pages of my textbooks spring to life:
I saw ELLs engaged in an authentic assessment, boldly presenting information about their experiences right alongside their native English-speaking classmates.
I saw pride in their eyes as they shared their expertise.
I saw ELLs of all proficiency levels eager to talk about their cultural backgrounds with others.
I saw them taking risks with their language use.
I saw parents who stood off to the side, proudly watching their children.
I saw other parents who joined in the excitement and provided snacks, clothing, photos, and personal stories for their child's presentation.
I saw U.S.-born students delighted to learn from their classmates who were born abroad.
I saw the dissipation of labels.
I saw a room full of people excited about cultural diversity.
I saw all of the things my textbooks have told me to do...put into action.