When referring to my personal ideology for biliteracy instruction I believe that every student is individually and uniquely different from any other. I believe that every student deserves the opportunity to the best education available. It is my understanding that education does not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every student that you come across will be different and therefore require a different approach in their learning process. The idea that guides me with my biliteracy education approach is that the language that the students come already knowing from home and personal encounters, serves as the basis of where their learning can grow from and build upon. It has never been my approach or my mindset that the students come into the classroom not knowing anything and that the teacher must fill the student’s “brain” with information. I take an approach to my instruction as if I was a guide, coach, friend and resource to the students as they travel along the path of learning through inquiry, collaboration and hand on experiences.
One classroom example, that comes to mind in my ideology of practice is the constant: teacher to student, student to student and student to small group collaboration that takes place in the classroom. It is never just about the teacher standing in front of the classroom and lecturing the students about what they need know. In my approach, I like to give students as much time as possible to have them speak and listen to their classmates and therefore develop their speaking and listening skills. It is also beneficial for students to hear information from the words of their peers, and when a student can explain the concept or idea to a fellow classmate that means that they themselves grasp the concept. Another example, that comes to mind from my classroom that demonstrates my ideology practice would be a field trip where the students can get hands-on experiences. This semester my students were learning about sea life and the environment. My classroom of thirty students along with some parent volunteers were able to get on a boat in the San Diego Bay through the H and M Landing passenger fleet. What we did during this time was that we went out on the boat and the students were able to throw a fish net over the boat and later the guide showed the students what we had captured with the net. Some of the sea life that students were able to see and touch included: snails, shrimp, small crabs, lobster, slugs, small stingray, seahorses, and sea sponge. Additionally, the students were able to see plankton under a microscope from ocean water that the students fished out using equipment from the boat. Seeing the excitement and engagement from the students made it reassuring that the hands-on learning experience would be impactful and beneficial by providing opportunity of inquiry learning in real life situations.
In the book “Teaching for Biliteracy: Strengthening Bridges between Languages” by Karen Beeman and Cheryl Urow, we discover evidence that shows that there are benefits in seeing what your students bring to the classroom as a positive instead of a restraint. As educators in biliteracy it is essential that we are, “beginning with concrete and moving to the abstract, moving from oracy to literacy, integrating content and language instruction, explicitly articulating the language of instruction, and creating time for providing a Bridge between the two languages”. As instructors in the fields of education it is vital to our students that they be provided with opportunities to be able to create powerful and significant areas of study for our biliteracy learners. Only by doing this can we start to give Spanish the status and respect that it carries and deserves, and at the same time validate that our students are using both languages as they learn. Lastly, connected to my ideology that no students learning is the same and that each student requires special modification, attention and levels is the work of Jane D. Hill and Kathleen M Flynn in the book titled “Classroom Instruction that works with English Language Learners”. In this book it states, “By understanding your students level of linguistic proficiency you will become more competent at differentiating instruction to promote linguistic and academic achievement”. This is related to my ideology that you need to look at every student through their own lense, personal experiences and proficiency levels. By doing this you will be able to provide your student with the best opportunities to develop and scaffold while at the same time pushing the student to their full potential. Giving yourself the opportunity to look at your students as individuals who are eager with the potential to learn will give you the opportunity to fulfill your commitments as an educator in a biliteracy setting!
Beeman, K., & Urow, C. (2013). Teaching for biliteracy: strengthening bridges between languages. Philadelphia: Caslon.
Hill, J., & Miller, K. (2013). Classroom instruction that works with English language learners. Alexandria, VA, USA: ASCD.