Sunday, November 22, 2015

Learning From Our Students

It's Sunday morning and I just watched a video that moved me to quickly reflect.  Do I take the time to learn from my students?  How often do I take the time to learn a skill from my students? As you watch this brief video clip (click on the link below), ponder on your own humility, the structures or routines you provide for students to teach you something new, and the frequency of the opportunities (formal/informal).

After watching the video, I paused and
 mentally scrolled through my recent year of teaching in the family center and my most taught class - ESL.  My first recollection  of learning from my students was in May 2015.  I teach and schedule daily courses and workshops for our school community.  One of the major ways we measure our reach and impact is by charting our daily attendance. I wanted to boost the attendance at our center by scheduling workshops taught by parent leaders - instead of me or community organization presenters. I thought the unique topic, personal relevance, and peer advertising would attract new families. Two of my regular ESL students are skilled at crocheting and balloon twisting and I often heard them talking about it. I asked them if they would present a workshop and they agreed.  It was dynamic instruction!

It gave me an opportunity to sit back and learn from two of the ESL students.  I asked them to present the workshop in English and practice their conversational English skills.  It was a challenge for them, but the casual environment  made it less intimidating.   

They saw me struggle with crochet.  These ladies are extremely talented and have had years of practice.  I could not get my fingers and brain to coordinate the repetitive motion!  In fact, one of the mothers had to come over and help me hand-over-hand.  I was that bad.  Something so easy to them was torture for me and they had loads of giggles as they watched me plead for assistance.  

I was a bit more successful with the balloon twisting class.  I was able to twist a dog and several flowers.  I learned to be delicate with each balloon that unexpectedly popped.  My ESL student was patient and really used her intermediate English to teach us her weekend work.  

These are two formal opportunities I provided at my center; but, each day I have multiple informal learning opportunities. As I try to explain English vocabulary I hear Spanish translation.  In the parenting classes, I learn nifty ideas for parenting my own children from other parents.  I can always learn from my attendees, students, and colleagues. If I listen. If I plan opportunities. If I am humble to realize that... 
"Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don't." - Bill Nye

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