What background information would have been helpful prior to your student teaching experience?
Information pertaining to the children’s educational background (whether in their native country or at their current school) would have been helpful. I also began teaching individuals, unaware of their current language development ability. This knowledge would have solved the problems, or should I say delays, of figuring out their level of ability. (EC)
Cultural values and family hierarchies and values. Also the educational background of the parents, i.e. are they literate etc. What was their motivation for being here? Are they in-migrant workers, refugees, etc. (KW)
Perhaps information that is not only specific to culture, but also to the region and school district. General information about particular ethnic groups, while sometimes of benefit, can lead to the perpetuation and creation [of] stereotypes. This information would be best if it could be ascertained from the district a student teacher is entering. (KA)
Were there any behaviors, specific to the culture, that are different from your own (i.e. eye contact, gestures, etc.)?
Through the children’s interactions with one another, I could see difference in cultures - although these students are so surrounded by American culture. Obviously the manner and style of speech is different. The children (boys in particular) are very close to one another when speaking, they are clearly more affectionate than typical American students. (EC)
I worked primarily with very young Hispanic in-migrant children. They ranged in age from 4 to 8 years of age. It was very important to them to have physical contact with each other and with me. The biggest reward was to be able to held teachers’ hand at recess. This was seen in both sexes but especially in girls. There was also a very big sense of dislocation among the group. They new they would not be in their school long. (KW)
Boys spoke in Spanish a great deal more that the girls. They used it amongst themselves to communicate in class whereas the girls used more English and seemed to have less of a problem with the language.
The girls were more confrontational that the boys. Where the boys may sit back and not do their work or not tell you when they didn’t understand, the girls would be more inclined to complain and tell you they wouldn’t going to do it. ( KA)
Did you find things that could be considered culturally inappropriate?
I cannot think of things in particular because I was not submerged into their culture. If I had been, I am sure many behaviors between myself and native teachers would be different. (EC)
My biggest problem was that I was not sure how to handle their need for affection and personal attention. I’d try to give in but then would find some felt ignored, so then I’d distance myself from the whole group only to give in again. I had a hard time finding my role as a teacher. (KW)
While there may have been some small differences culturally, I’m not sure I can differentiate them from simply stepping into a classroom for the first time. (KA)
Do you think that student teaching at a Hispanic American site helped prepare you for future teaching assignments? If so, how?
Yes, I did. It prepared me for a class of monolanguage (native) speakers. I do think it would have been better to have more language backgrounds in one class - it would help me to prepare for difficult situations. (MJ)
I think that this teaching experience has definitely helped me prepare. It has taught me that ESL [English as a Second Language] teaching is a cooperative learning experience in which the students, parents, and teachers all participate in the teaching and learning process. Teaching is more than just language, it is a partnership where both sides share themselves. (AMR)
It helps because it is actual hands-on stuff in an ESL classroom, but a couple of the teachers have not been trained as ESL teachers and the regular classroom teachers and a principal seem very intolerant like they wish these kids would have never shown up and disrupted their lives. (TAS)
This experience was a definite asset to my future because I’d like to teach in a highly Hispanic American populated area. It gave me first-hand experience, it was a vessel to hear, and at times use Spanish. (EC)
Yes. The Hispanic population influx is only going to continue to increase. It is very important to get as much experience to the culture as possible. (KW)
Yes. I hope to teach in a school that has a large Latino/Latina population. (KA)
What is missing? Please include any other information that might assist a person preparing to teach at a Native American site.
I decided not to have my classroom very grammar oriented and have a more relaxed atmosphere. We talked about history, drivers license (study for it), citizenship, and culture. The students didn’t really care for this at first they were frustrated because they felt they weren’t learning anything. [Later on] they found out it really was fun and they did learn something. (MJ)
Go in with an open mind; leave stereotypes at the door because the students will disprove them anyway!
Ask members of the students’ community to help out in your class as interpreters or aids. They bring prior knowledge of the group and act as a bridge between you and your class. They are also great role models!
A great way to help the American students to "adapt" is to have the ESL students or other community members share their culture with them. The children will get along better if they understand where each is coming from. (AMR)
At least for my site, the learning style of the students was very different then I had even experienced. They desired and learned best in engaging community and group based activities rather than teacher oriented classrooms. (KW)
I just think that any person preparing to teach at such a site needs to be sensitive to culturally different people. (EC)