I began teaching in the Chicago Public School system where I student taught a 3rd Grade class after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in Education with a minor in Spanish.
Through a series of connections, I landed my first teaching job in a 2nd Grade classroom at an American school in Mexico. I was there for 2 years.
While there, most of my students were Spanish speaking. However, in the middle of the first year, a new girl from South Korea joined our class. My second year, the same thing happened. These girls came at different times and only spoke Korean. They didn’t speak any English or Spanish.
As a result, my teaching style had to be very visual, clear and consistent. Watching these girls progress in language blew me away!
After two years in Mexico, I returned home to Indiana where I was born and raised. I wanted to be close to family again. There, I got a job teaching ESL in the morning and a 1st Grade Sheltered English classroom in the afternoon.
In my case, Sheltered English meant all of the students were Spanish speaking, learning English. At the beginning of the year, instruction started off in their native language (Spanish.) It then gradually shifted to English. By the end of the year, I used almost 100% English during instruction throughout the day.
The Sheltered English class is where I met the teacher that has left the greatest impact on me. Her teaching was so simple, yet effective. At the start of the year, she put NOTHING on her walls. Her style was bold, but the methodology was ingenious. The walls were empty on the first day of school. She filled them, little by little, each day, WITH the children. From day one, the walls were alive and active in the minds of the children because they helped put the content up and they knew what was there.
She also introduced me to the idea of teaching reading and writing through sight word sentences. This is something that, 15 years later, I’m still using as I teach my own children to read and write.
After my first year in Indiana, this teacher left to be home with her growing family. I took over the Sheltered English class for the entire day.
After two years in Indiana, I had a strong urge to teach abroad again and landed at a public high school in China teaching spoken English to 20 separate classes each week. Each class had around 60 students.
All I had to work with was a chalkboard and chalk. That’s where I developed 130 lessons to encourage Spoken English. China is truly where I learned to create engaging lessons with very little.
I was there for 5 years and ONLY came back to get married. (When I went to China, I didn’t think I’d come back. I loved it there!) But marriage, the green of North Carolina and my 3 children (and 1 on the way) have captured my heart and I’m thinking, hoping I’m here to stay!
Here in North Carolina, I got a job teaching a Dual Language Kindergarten classroom. (You can read the detailed start of that in the binders post.). The class was made up of 50% Spanish speaking and 50% English speaking students.
The morning was taught in Spanish, the afternoon in English. I’ll tell you, I LOVED teaching Kindergarten!! Coming back to the states after 5 years, coupled with my first year of marriage and first time teaching Kindergarten made for a VERY DIFFICULT year. But, I LOVED the age, the kids, the beginning of reading and writing. It’s hands down my favorite.
I taught Kindergarten for 2 years before being moved to the Dual Language 3rd Grade classroom. I was there 2 years and then my 2nd son was born. That’s when I decided to leave teaching full time to be at home.
After 5 months of being home, my husband’s job shifted so he had Mondays and Tuesdays off. I decided to substitute teach those days to stay in the loop. I did most of my subbing at the bilingual school which I really enjoyed. I was surprised at how much I liked subbing. What helped, was knowing the staff and students ahead of time.
Over the course of that first year, a friend of mine who teaches after school art during the school year and half day art camps during the summer and holidays asked if I’d be interested in teaching an afternoon camp to go along with her morning art camp. I hesitantly agreed, wondering, "what should I teach?"
She and I had partnered with the Duke Lemur Center to write a book about Lemurs using children’s illustrations. Having just finished that book, writing was at the forefront of my mind. (You can read more about the history of our partnership and the book in the Lemurs Introduction)
I reluctantly suggested, “Writing? Should I teach writing?” The honest concern/question for me was, “What child goes to a writing camp in the summer? I like to write. But how many children actually like writing enough to want to spend their summer or days off doing it?”
And that was my first goal….to make it FUN!, to defy the assumption that the camps would be academic and dull. I’ll admit, my first few workshops and first full summer weren’t flashy. They weren’t great. But it was a start. And I quickly acquired ideas and the whole process became super fun for me and for the kids. I’ve been teaching those summer camps and year round workshops for 4 years now.
In the midst of all this, a sweet friend of mine shared with me about her homesteading blog. "A blog!" I thought, "that's a great idea!" That’s when I realized that I could blog in hopes of blessing teachers with super easy and fun writing ideas.
So here I am!
I truly hope to serve as a resource for you. If anything in the blog is ever unclear or you have questions about teaching writing, please don’t hesitate to ask!
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