As a future educator one of my biggest fears is the prospect of having to teach ESL students. How am I supposed to teach them a language that they know very little of while I know very little about theirs? What If I try some sort of teaching method and it fails miserably? I fear that with the little experience that I have had learning about how to teach ESL students I will have very little ways to connect with students like these.
However, after reading the chapter “Literate Stirrings” in Mike Rose’s book Lives on the Boundary, I have a little more confidence in my future teaching abilities. This chapter of the book goes through Rose’s first experience teaching undervalued students whose reading and writing levels are not up to par with their grade level. He has them do a variety of writing activities but the part about this chapter that stuck me the most was the way in which he was able to connect with them four once-a-week class sessions with them. This chapter reminded me of one of my past English teachers and how I drastically improved my reading and writing abilities.
The thing that I really noticed about Mike Rose’s lessons with these students is how open ended he left the writing topics. A part from the basic idea of what he wanted his students to write about Rose pretty much let his students write about whatever they wanted to, and through doing so his students’ writing abilities improved drastically in their four weeks together. The part that really struck me however, is how much I could relate to this teaching method knowing how these open ended writing topics like these have helped me improve my writing in the past.
The part about educating that always resounds within my mind is motivating my students because without their motivation to learn I might as well be talking to a brick wall. These students in Rose’s class have probably formed a largely negative association with writing because of their constant reminder of their lack of ability and past writing assignments that they have very little interest in. At this point writing these students would rather shove their head inside and alligator’s mouth than do any sort of writing. By giving these students such open ended topics to write about Rose is deleting these students’ negative thoughts about writing and giving them a purpose to write that they actually care for. For the first time, the students in the chapter are actually enjoying writing and by the end of the four weeks, they look forward to their Thursday writing class with Mike Rose.