Today was the 1st day of school for me as a teacher, the start of my 18th year! When I was first hired, I had JUST graduated with my BA in Liberal Studies, with a concentration in English-Spanish bilingual teacher. It was the year that California passed the 20:1 law and needed a MASS quantity of new teachers hired. For the first 8 years of my career, I taught bilingual first grade. This meant that all of the reading and writing and ‘rithmetic were all in Spanish. I actually really liked it and I LOVED all of my students so much. (I still do). Eventually, politics got kind of ugly about the whole “teaching in Spanish thing” and we became an all English school.
I still have the same type of students, I just have to push them even harder now. I sometimes think the general public only see my students as statistics….most of them are English Learners, all of them are impoverish, and perhaps many of them are in The U.S. illegally? I don’t know, it’s not my job to worry about that, because they are just kids and none of that is their fault or their doing. What I DO know is that my students are often doing TWICE the work of typical students who live in “regular areas”. Not only do they have to learn to read, write and do Math like all first graders are expected to do, but they also have to learn English too! Many of them succeed, some continue to struggle and, of course, some fail, most are doing it with very little or no parent support. I have hope for them though. This is why I keep going back to work there. I don’t live anywhere near where I teach. I pay $12.50 a day to take a toll road to get to work on time each morning and back in time to pick up my own daughter from school. Some days are harder than others, some years are too, but it can also be very rewarding. These students are so sweet and appreciative and make the job worth it!