Biliteracy education “is the best way to educate emerging bilinguals to ensure that they reach their full potential. Research has shown also that students perform best when they feel good about themselves and about their learning” (Beeman & Urow, 2013, p. 8). It is important for me as an educator to establish positive relationships in the classroom and become familiar with the linguistic, cultural, and academic background of all my students.
I believe that establishing relationships with students in the classrooms creates a positive learning environment. “The more aware you are of your students, their surroundings, their culture, and their home life, the more connected they will feel” (Curwin et al., 2008, p.53). Getting to know more about your student’s background can help guide your instruction to assure the students reach their learning goals. During my student teaching, I took the time to get to know my students through interactive journals in which they wrote to me and I responded to most of their entries. I learned from the students and they learned more about me as well. Soon enough, I had come to learn a little about everyone and knew how guide instruction based on their likes and needs.
Learning about my student’s cultural and linguistic background allowed me to better understand the nature of the classroom. By learning about their background, I could understand the culture established in the classroom of the students and their ability to use language in the classroom to get their point across. To ensure that students reach their full potential I believe that “accepting and bringing attention to the linguistic creativity of bilingual student in the classroom is an important element in teaching for biliteracy, and it should be done with respect” (Beeman & Urow, 2013, p. 71). I became aware that code-switching was a norm in the classroom and this helped me better support my students when I met with them or when they shared out loud in the classroom. Students understood that I respected their ability to code-switch during Spanish only or English only to enhance their learning by asking questions or commenting through code-switching.
Curwin, R. L., Mendler, A. N., & Mendler, B. D. (2008). Discipline with dignity: new challenges, new solutions. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Beeman, K., & Urow, C. (2013). Teaching for Biliteracy: Strengthening Bridges between Languages. Philidelphia, PA: Caslon Inc. Publishing.