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My Other Me

I grew up in a trailer-court mobile-home park, low-income. Through that struggle I saw beauty in what we were doing. I found beauty in my culture. My parents
always focused on, you know, education first. That was one of the main reasons why
they came to the United States: so that we can have a better education. The idea behind parents and families is that we need to send our students to
school to learn English so that they can be successful in life. But through that
we lose this part of us, this culture background, this language. Students or just anyone in general can’t go home at times and understand what their
relatives are saying. So how do we break that down and break it apart so that
that doesn’t continue to happen? And it’s through these dual language, bilingual classrooms that the students are really learning the language,
developing the culture and empowering themselves. Growing up primarily speaking
English but speaking Spanish at home, you never really get that language
development inside the classroom. It’s beautiful that we have this program
because they’re getting me in the classroom. What you would see in a dual-language
school is you would see the use of both languages in the classroom, kids using
both Spanish and English or using both Vietnamese and English or Mandarin and
English. Then you see even their families being involved in the teaching and
learning that’s going on in the classroom. You see all the signs, the list of rules or the list of classroom norms, books in different languages. You see the child being able to be himself or
herself by using both of those languages. We have to sort of get beyond seeing
bilingual education and dual language education as only about the kids
learning the languages. But that it is actually about providing kids and
families a value to who they are and their identities, and it’s also a greater
project about how immigrants are part and parcel of the United States. The goal is to actually do more
intentional work with teacher candidates. In our literacy and math courses, we’re going to be talking much more explicitly about, “Well, how do you do this
in Spanish? How would you do it in English?” And then we’re going to give
them a support system so they’re going to be in a professional learning
community. We’re also going to engage with them with sort of understanding
what their professional identity is, so, “What does it mean to be a dual
language teacher? What are the dimensions of your job that are different? This dual language experience and journey that I’m going to be experiencing, it’s the first
year that we have it here as a middle school, and I’m really excited to see
what the future years will bring to us as well.

About James Carlton

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