By Eliana Rodriguez, Oct. 25, 2022
Being an English Language Learner early in my educational career has shaped my approach to learning. As a child, my dream changed constantly, as anyone’s would, but teaching was something that I always had profound interest in. Now, as a future educator, my teaching approach has changed to accommodate different learning styles.
I am currently in an internship on campus as a classroom assistant in an American Language course at Mt. San Antonio College with adult learners. This experience has given me a chance to put my own teaching approaches into practice but has also altered my own dreams of being a teacher in life.
This dream will help me create student-centered spaces where students have equal access to high quality education and learning conditions. This internship gives me a glimpse of how I can level the playing field for my students in the classroom by providing individualized support and resources for academic success. My motivation for becoming a successful educator stemmed from being focused on the idea that human beings are important.
I was nervous to embark on this new teaching experience because imposter syndrome has always been apparent in my academic career. This self-doubtmade me question whether I would be successful in this internship or whether I truly belong in academia.
The first week of my internship was an eye-opening experience because I learned how to put my skills and knowledge into a diverse classroom setting but most importantly, how it has reinforced my educational dream by hearing my students’ views on the American dream.
Students in AmLa courses desire to go to a four- year university, but many of them want to go to Cal Poly Pomona. Upon introducing myself to the class for the first time, I told students that I was a senior at CPP where I was majoring in English education and minoring in Spanish. I told them that, for the remainder of their course, I will be their classroom assistant and will hold individual and group sessions on the side to aid their learning.
I was welcomed with open arms to be a mentor to most of the students. In my perspective, students viewed me as someone they wanted to be, education wise. As a native Spanish speaker, I aspire to be an English teacher whose students find comfort and relatability despite how personal and intimidating learning a new language can be. As one student told me, having a classroom assistant in their course provided a sense of comfort, especially when asking questions or clarification on writing topics that the professor already went over.
During a previous class discussion, these Mt. Sac students were asked what they think the American dream is. Of course, the answer varied from student to student but usually fell along the lines of a better education and better financial and familial support. According to GeekWire, the immigrant perspective of the American dream stems from getting more opportunity for individuality.
These students view going to the U.S. for a better education as achieving the American dream. Being immersed in the classroom with these ESL students has made me realize how these students view our education system.
Most students view American education as receiving more resources and opportunities. According to The New York Times, by accessing higher education, students become a vehicle for upward social and economic mobility that will benefit themselves, children, and family.
As a course requirement, students are encouraged to practice their English language skills by participating with their groupmates and presenting or speaking aloud in front of the class. The students were tasked to share with the class: “What does the American dream look like to you?”
Sitting there, hearing the students’ answers, it was hard not to tear up. I thought about what the American dream meant to me, and I began to realize all the things I take advantage of, having been born in the U.S. and having adequate educational access.
After presentations, a Mt. Sac student came up to me and told me that his American dream was to go to CPP as a computer engineering student. Upon asking why, he informed me that CPP is not only a science-based school but receiving hands-on opportunities in the courses will allow him to become a better student and researcher.
This internship at CPP is important because it gives students the opportunity to build themselves both personally and professionally. However, what makes this experience unique is its connection to neighboring communities and exposure to different methodologies of learning English. Being a classroom assistant has been fulfilling in my attempt to bridge language barriers but also exposing me to necessary dialogue about educational equity.
As an aspiring educator, I have been given a strong introduction into the world of academia by gaining new perspectives through the curriculum, assignments and interpersonal relationships.
I have been able to put my dream into practice by helping make students’ American dreams worthwhile.
Feature image courtesy of element 5 Digital
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