My two preselected activities relate to (i) my role as a teacher leader in the present diverse and evolving educational landscape relating to the diverse learning styles of students; and (ii) . The purpose of this activity is to enable a self-assessment of my values, beliefs, mission, and vision as well as my effectiveness as a teacher in the larger teaching profession context. Indeed, effective teaching today requires sound knowledge of the diversity in student population in order to devise appropriate teaching approaches that demonstrate an understanding of the different learning styles of individual students. This activity demonstrates my ability to work with diverse students to attain the best learning outcomes. During my early days as a teacher, I struggled with figuring out what works best for as a teacher. However, I have gradually gained understood my strengths and preferences over the last three years although I still regard myself as a novice teacher.
By definition, learning styles are the various theories explaining the differences existing between learning outcomes for individual students (Durán & Durán, 2006). I apply this definition in creating my lesson plans by focusing on the group diversities of my students. Experience has taught that diversity exceeds learning needs of individual students and therefore incorporate such aspects are race, gender, disabilities and leaning profiles. This knowledge has led to me to appreciate the need to urgently tackle the existing diversity and uniformity discrepancy to avoid continuous negative effects on instructors and students.
However, I still need to make more improvement in teaching ELL students with learning disabilities. This is as a result of their special needs that exceed their ELL disabilities. Teaching experience with my students Darisbeth and Destiny underscore the need to improve in this area. Darisbeth transferred to the American school system from Puerto Rico in September 2014, having no understanding of English language. I initially spoke to her in English and spent the first three weeks teaching her ABC’s, English basic fundamentals and basic communication skills. Darisbeth also suffered physical disability with a condition called “Gait Disorder” or simply known as “walking like a duck.” She was diagnosed with mild learning disorder, which rendered her unable to retain learned material. As opposed to reviewing material we had previously covered, I was forced to repeat the previous lesson all over again in a different way and thus unable to move on to the next lesson. The frustrations from this experience fueled my self-doubt on my abilities as a teacher. Attending Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings helped to me understand that such experience was normal in ELL classes. Furthermore, I learned the best remedy to this problem as teaching phonics to the students with learning difficulties and gradually involving them in class activities to ensure their full participation.
I use various approaches in teaching ELL students with disabilities. First, I start with the book called Language for Learning A/B where she is on lesson 35, she had to be started at Lesson one. The Language for Learning Book and Workbook A & B both offer a highly effective way to teach the basic vocabulary and concepts that students need to be successful in school (Lerner et al., 2015). “Language for Learning meets the needs of students who have less than adequate language skills for their age. Systematic, explicit lessons and ample opportunity for practice help students catch up with their more verbal peers. Program resources help teachers create a language-centered learning environment” (Carr & Bertrando, 2012).
The second teaching strategy I use is “Carousel of IDEAS, 4th Edition Core Program. Carousel of IDEAS is a comprehensive and systematic English language development program designed for K-5 English learners at all levels of language proficiency. Beginning with early to intermediate, intermediate to early advanced, and advanced. The program is based on scientific research on how children best learn a new language. Carousel integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing with major content areas – Sets 1 & 2 Picture & Word Cards with more than 550 full-color picture cards (displaying both illustrations and photographs) with corresponding word cards. Arranged by topic and language level” (Yadav, 2007).
The third strategy I use is Pre- Reading which is the process of skimming a text to locate key ideas before reading a text (or a chapter of a text) from start to finish. We were reading the book of “Pete the Cat and Baseball”. I already had a set of words that I knew were going to be hard to translate so I looked them up in a Spanish – English dictionary. At the beginning I was having her make predictions according to the pictures she saw in the front of the book. This is the time where I speak to Darisbeth in Spanish and English. I would use this skill for the whole story.
B. Self-assessment of content knowledge growth:
There are many ways I have grown as an educator; one is that the strategies that I use for my students are not a “One glove fits for all”. I have to design each lesson according to the individual student’s learning style as well as their individual needs. I am diligent when it comes to getting resources for my students to use. I look for resources online and resources from other school systems (which have a larger curriculum than our system does at this time) and from other ELL teachers.
The area in which I need to grow in is learning how to teach to an ESE student that is also ELL. I tend to forget that the IEP is there for learning disabilities and just teach as an ELL teacher; from time to time I find that I have to remind myself of the students abilities. I need to learn to incorporate ELL strategies along with the ESE strategies to be able to better help the student the best way I can.
I am passionate about teaching. I get to teach the lessons while the students have a good time learning. In the past, I was not concerned with collecting my students’ personal information, particularly anything not directly related to the classwork. Rather than collecting and evaluating information with the intention of gaining knowledge about my students, I was content to learn about them by developing an overview through analyzing their contributions to the class discussions. For instance, I would base my personal analysis of a student through evaluating his or her artwork, conversations with other students and teachers, comments from teachers and guardians, and IEP records.
Personally, I have developed a positive attitude towards learning and teaching. In fact, I have an open mind about other cultures, understanding that they are part of the society. Understanding of a student’s cultural background is very important. For example, Elad is my student from Israel. I was wondering why he was having a hard time reading. I researched and learned that in his first language did not have any vowels. That is why he was having such a hard time reading. Once I learned of this, I began to teach him the long and short vowel sounds. The result was that Elad’s reading of English texts greatly improved with a positive effect on his overall learning and performance. Making a student with foreign origins feel appreciated will ensure that he or she easily assimilates the English culture and is able to gain more opportunities for speaking the English language by making friends and associating more with others.
During this course, I have learned that as a teacher, I should be able to enjoy greater patience, empathy, and flexibility of thought, as well as the more precise ascription of responsibility to have a more genuine relationship with my students. This is because the nature of the relationship between any teacher and ELL student is important for ensuring positive learning outcomes. Besides that, the critical balance between the responsibility shared by teachers and students is ever changing during the school year. As such, I feel that anytime I learn something new about any of my students, I have grown as a teacher.
Carr, J., & Bertrando, S. (2012). Teaching English learners and students with learning difficulties in an inclusive classroom: A guidebook for teachers. San Francisco, Calif: WestEd.
Durán, E., & Durán, E. (2006). Teaching English learners in inclusive classrooms. Springfield, Ill: Charles C. Thomas Publisher.
Lerner, J. W., Johns, B. H., & Lerner, J. W. (2015). Learning disabilities and related disabilities: Strategies for success. Stamford, CT : Cengage Learning.
Yadav, S. K. (2007). Networks and systems. New Delhi: Discovery Pub. House.