My First Experience in Texas in the Education System

The Texas Story Project.

As a child, I always wanted to become an archeologist, but coming from a poor family I knew my dream had to become much smaller.  My family consisted of my mother and one brother and sister whom migrated from Mexico to the United States in the 1970s. We moved into a town by the name of Monahans, Texas and it was there that my family decided to place us into the education system. 

Having no skills in speaking English, my father and mother ensured we were registered in the school system as soon as possible to become proficient in English. My brother and I entered elementary school while my sister went to middle school in another part of town. My sister caught on extremely fast while my brother and I struggled to learn English.  It was not until summer school that I had the opportunity to slowly learn and started to understand the language. Mrs. Rodriguez, who accepted me as I was, spent time with me, and assigned daily homework. Which helped me to finally develop the concept of English. At the beginning, Mrs. Stevens, my third grade teacher, who did not want to spend time with me and ensuring I learned English, yet she had a huge impact in my life.  As a little girl, I learned to use a lot of my common sense while learning from her. I remember she use to belittle me in front of the class and laughed at how I pronounced my words. It was both, Mrs. Stevens and Mrs. Rodriguez, who influenced me to want to be better and do better for others with their abilities to learn.  So being said, it was this tragic event in my life that made a huge impact and made me decide that no child should be treated as I was and left to wonder about how to achieve their goals. 

It was Mrs. Rodriguez’s professionalism and compassion towards her students that made me want to become a teacher.  Her character was beyond reproach, because she had dedication, love, understanding, and so many other qualities that changed her students during the summer class.  There was no graduation for her students, but all of her students ended their summer speaking English and understanding what needed to be done for the next school grade. Her style of teaching was astonishing, because she would use a step-by-step method and paid attention to each student’s strength and weaknesses. She would use the strengths and weaknesses by pairing students together. It was this particular method that helped each student achieve each task in her classroom. Another method that helped each student to learn English was the ability of Mrs. Rodriguez having to be an ESL and English teacher while speaking Spanish and translating the words into English enabling each student to comprehend each word. Her approach was fun and artistic and her classroom reflected her personality. She would have her students draw certain English words into pictures and then posted around her room. It was a project or method she used to ensure the students understood and learned their lessons. She would have a section within her classroom for each project and had the student tape them onto the walls. Prior to attaching the picture drawings she would have each student present their projects in front of the class speaking in English. There were no right or wrong answers, but if the student had problems she would have their partner help them with their presentation. This was demonstrated every single time to ensure the strong and weak student were helping and learning from one another. Mrs. Rodriguez managed her class with love, understanding, excitement, and compassion for her students, because she was in her students’ shoes when she migrated to the United States herself. 

Mrs. Stevens’s character was not fun at all and all I can remember was her laughing at me and criticizing me in front of her class. She tried to praise me a couple of times, but her success of ensuring I learned English in her class was unproductive. The impression she presented to me as a child was contradicting, rude, racist, and unkind. As an English teacher, her teaching style was more towards her English speaking students and had no patience for those who did not speak or comprehend the language. Mrs. Stevens was confusing at times, because she would be nice towards me when some adult or school facility member would come into her classroom. After they left, she would be back to her normal attitude towards me. Mrs. Stevens managed her room in an aggressive manner and she would speak loudly and forcefully which made her students pay attention, but it caused fear within them. Our text book states, “The cultural differences model, in contrast, assumes that schools need to teach children of all groups. This is the American dream that has attracted people to the United States from all over the world. It is ideal that embraces difference as a strength and believes that people of all cultures and creeds are free to be themselves while getting their best education possible. Rather than arguing that culturally diverse children are unready for school, the cultural differences model argues that schools too often are unready for children.  It is the schools’ responsibility to teach all children without the ethnocentric moralizing (judging cultural differences to be personal failures or deficits) that upholds the cultural deprivation model. Teachers need to view cultural differences as strengths-as resources, or what Luis Moll famously calls ”funds of knowledge” – and always be on the lookout for ways to incorporate and build on those strengths” (Parker, Walter C and Beck, Terrance A., 2017). To my belief to Luis Moll statement is that as teachers we ourselves need to grow along with our students and accept the differences of others and learn new ways of enhancing our education in teaching and reaching out to future students and parents. 

What constitutes a good teacher is the question I asked myself as a little girl in 3rd and 4th grade.  My experiences in elementary school with Mrs. Rodriguez and Mrs. Stevens, really taught me how a teacher should be in the education system. There are seven educational teaching styles that any teacher can use with their students. These teaching styles consists of visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. The website identifies each teaching style as follows, “Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding. Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music. Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing. Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch. Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems. Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people. Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study (Advanogy.com (2019).  Any teacher will use five to six of these styles to teach their students, because each student has different learning skills. The only teaching style used alone is solitary, because the individual prefers to work alone and use self-study. Teachers must be able to work with each student’s ability and use a particular style to reach their students. There is always a high percentage of students who are able to take in all approaches without worrying.

During my years of education in school and college I had the opportunity of having two options for becoming a teacher in the field of education. My first option is to become an elementary teacher and my goal is to use all teaching style approaches towards my students and help them reach their potential. I do not want to cause their future teacher to re-teach a student who graduated from my class. As well, I am wanting to be someone whom is approachable, dependable, and understanding toward each of my students and their parents. The second option is to work for Central Texas College as a Spanish, English, and Math tutor. It was Professor Burrow and Professor Harris who started me on tutoring math to their students while I was taking courses to achieve on getting my Associate degree. As I tutored students in college, I realized I enjoyed the mentality of how college students’ behavior is so different from children. This experience led me to believe of having a different aspect of teaching other students and helping them achieve their goals at the same time.


The author is 52 years old and has been retired from the Army for the last 5 years. She is married and has a daughter who consumes her life, but she would not change it for the world. She spends her retirement time volunteering to help others and tutor at the nearby college with students who cannot offered assistance. She is a tennis mom and enjoys spending time with other kids while she runs a Booster Club with some other parents who have the same opportunities as she does. 

References

Learning-style-online, (2019), Overview of Learning Styles, Retrieved from https://www.learning-styles-online.com/overview/

Parker, Walter C., and Beck, Terence A., (2017), Social Studies in Elementary Education.

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