Since August 2013, I was in a privileged position of being the only certificated ELD (English Language Development) teacher in my public school district in Northern California. And how I relished this position! Starting from scratch with 24 students in a 0.4 position in 2013, I had moved on to a 0.6 position with around 45 students by 2017, changed classrooms 3 times, and gotten to really hone my craft of teaching English. My students represented India, Japan, Argentina, China, Israel, Ukraine, France, Costa Rica, Taiwan, to name but a few countries. Within my little United Nations, we challenged each other daily and pushed ourselves, while always maintaining a supportive environment and respect for all. Lessons were planned in advance, but we had the most fun when they organically changed with student input.
Why am I speaking about this in the past tense? It’s because I moved to New York City this June. A bittersweet move: excited about possibilities ahead but sincerely sad to have left my community of eager and hardworking learners behind. But I am consoled by the fact that more than learning English, they learned more about how to be persistent and confident, and that not knowing English is by no means an indication of that they are somehow lower in intellect or aptitude than their native-English speaking peers.