When I first started teaching here, I set the goal of making sure all my ELL students were literate in their first language as well as English. Now everyone in my school is able to read and write his or her first language in at least a rudimentary way. One of my students wrote a poem last week. I cried like a doofus. I had to pretend that one of my contacts was bothering me, which was a good lie until of the more observant little monsters pointed out that I wasn’t wearing contacts.
First language literacy isn’t part of our official curriculum, but it is crucial for both self-respect and for academic development, so I unilaterally decided to make it part of the schoolday. Probably there was some bureaucratic procedure I should have followed, but my watchword is WWJMD -What would John McClane do? (As you can probably guess, I am an AWESOME driver.)
I’m fortunate to have had something of a bilingual education myself, but I don’t speak the same dialect as my students, so I am not the ideal educator for this task. Still, the students are making progress. We really need to be home-growing more teachers. It’s good for students have a diverse assortment of teachers – gives them a wider perspective – but how many schools are there in this country where students don’t have a single teacher from their own community? Or only one or two over the course of their entire time in school?
Good gravy, was this a preachy post.