Una carta para mis estudiantes en su graduación / A letter for my pre-service and in-service teachers on their graduation

Una carta para mis estudiantes en su graduación / A letter for my pre-service and in-service teachers on their graduation

post by Carla España, Fellow of The Educator Collaborative, for her May 26 entry to #31daysIBPOC (31daysIBPOC.wordpress.com), a project hosted by Kim Parker and Tricia Ebarvia. Visit the project’s website for links to the full series.

Tuesday, at their graduation, I get to celebrate the pre-service and in-service teachers that I was honored to teach during their graduate studies in a Bilingual Teacher Preparation Program. Today, I sit with the memories and feelings from our courses together. The letter is in Spanish (most of my students are in our Spanish-English bilingual program) followed by the translation in English. You’ll also find resources from our Multicultural Education course at the end of the letter.

*all student names are pseudonyms

 

Una carta de gratitud y esperanza para mis estudiantes

Me tienen en llantos pensando sobre estos semestres estudiando y aprendiendo. Con mucho orgullo y alegría celebro sus logros y crecimiento. ¡Algunos de ustedes terminaron sus estudios en la U y el próximo més terminarán su segundo año enseñando en escuelas primarias e intermedias en la ciudad de Nueva York! ¡Para aquellos que nos vimos la semana pasada, les queda unas pocas semanas para terminar su primer año como educadores! Nuestras conversaciones en clase (Educación Multicultural) y en eventos en la U siguen impactando mi vida. Les quiero compartir unas últimas palabras de agradecimiento y esperanza ya que el martes durante la graduación no tendremos mucho tiempo entre los selfies y abrazos con familias.

Gracias por ser transparentes, honestos, vulnerables y abiertos a conversar sobre temas que muchas veces no se tratan en las escuelas o en nuestras familias. Aprendimos muchísimo cuando compartimos nuestras autobiografías. Momentos de trauma en nuestra niñez cuando no podíamos expresarnos completamente en escuelas o cuando no nos dieron la bienvenida que esperamos. Momentos de felicidad cuando familias se juntaban, pero sentimientos de frustración cuando personas que amamos nos defraudaron.

  • Cuando Miguel* compartió sobre el primer momento como niño que escucho alguien describirlo como un “mono.”
  • Yaslibel* describiendo los libros que leía en la escuela, diciendo “growing up we were not exposed to the books that represented us …I grew up thinking that light skin and straight hair were beautiful…growing up I felt that I was forced to choose between being Black and being Latina.”
  • Recuerdo también las palabras de Tatiana*, hablando en español en casa con su madre de Puerto Rico y su padre de la República Dominicana, pero frustrada cuando no podía compartir lo mismo en su escuela porque no permitían que hablara en español.

Gracias por hacer preguntas y compartir su incomodidad cuando pasaban incidentes en sus clases. Para sus 5 reflexiones, conectaron momentos de sus vidas antes de ser educadores con lo que está pasando en sus escuelas.

  • Glendalis* compartió su ejemplo del niño que dijo “I’m a boy, I don’t read that” cuando ella le pasó un libro con una bailarina en la portada.
  • Valentina* con su estudiante de primer grado que dijo “no soy gay” super disgustado cuando ella le dijo a los estudiantes que se miraran a los ojos cuando conversaban con su pareja de lectura.
  • Yaslibel* con la manera que habló sobre su identidad como Afro-Latina con estudiantes en sexto grado (uno Mexicano y otro Dominicano).
  • Joaquín* se dio cuenta que ninguna parte del currículo de estudios sociales durante el año escolar, representaba a los 19 estudiantes en su clase bilingüe.

Ya que escucharon bastante de mi durante sus estudios y algunos los visité en sus escuelas, les animo a que continúen cuidándose y creando comunidad. Tienen que continuar con su comunidad. Solo dos de ustedes (de un grupo de más de 50 educadores bilingüe enseñando en escuelas en la ciudad de Nueva York) dijeron que recibieron ayuda profesional/ desarrollo profesional en sus escuelas sobre temas de racismo, homofobia, y otras formas de discriminación. ¡Nosotros tuvimos cuatro meses para procesar, leer, compartir y aprender en esta clase y todavía no fue suficiente! Así que, como dice mi madre, a ponerse las pilas y pedir ayuda/compartir sus experiencias.

Sus prácticas lingüísticas importan mucho en el salón de clase. Como educadores bilingües, varios de ustedes expresaron una gran desilusión cuando el bilingüismo de sus estudiantes no fue reconocido como válido en la escuela. Algunas veces por sus propios colegas y a veces por la administración que consideraba la manera que sus estudiantes hablaban/leían/escribían era inferior a la manera que ellos aprendieron (o comparado al inglés). Gracias por compartir en esta lucha, creando espacios donde estudiantes puedan escuchar una lectura en voz alta en ambos idiomas, y puedan escribir libremente en sus clases bilingües. Me emociona mucho ver sus planes de lectura para sus estudiantes (todavía estoy comentado en ellos para sus trabajos finales así que paciencia con sus notas finales, please) y me trae mucha paz sabiendo que ellos verán esa representación.

Finalmente, no fue fácil. Nada de esta clase, de estos semestres, de enseñar mientras están tomando clases para su maestría es fácil. Les agradezco por estar presente en mis clases, presente con sus estudiantes, y por tratar de procesar estos temas y experiencias en inglés y en español. Casi todos describimos una infancia donde el español no fue considerado como parte de nuestro aprendizaje en las escuelas. Entonces a veces no nos vemos como competente en expresarnos en español y nos falta la confianza. But we tried. Tratamos de leer más y más en español y con nuestros book clubs, conversamos sobre los libros y actividades que queremos implementar en las escuelas primarias e intermedias. Reconocemos que la injusticia que pasamos como estudiantes no se tiene que repetir, y que estamos aquí para imaginar una pedagogía, unos libros, un currículo diferente, más justo, que reconoce la humanidad en todos nuestros estudiantes.

 

Gracias,

Profesora España

P.S. Si tienen libros que les presté durante el semestre por fa me lo devuelven porque el jueves enseño otra clase (Developmental Reading) y los necesito. Otra opción: ¡lo usan en junio con sus estudiantes y me invitan!

 

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A letter of gratitude and hope for my students

 

You have me all in my feelings thinking about these semesters we’ve been studying and learning. I celebrate your accomplishments and growth with much pride and joy. Some of you finished your grad studies and next month you’ll finish your second year as elementary or middle grade teachers in NYC! For those of you I saw last week at our last class, you only have a few weeks left to finish your first year teaching! Our conversations in our Multicultural Education course and events (Equity and Advocacy critical conversations at Hunter College) continue to impact my life. I want to share a few last words of gratitude and hope since Tuesday, when I see some of you at graduation, there won’t be much time for this in the midst of selfies and hugs with your families.

Thank you for being transparent, honest, vulnerable and open to discuss topics that we often don’t get addressed in schools or in our families. We learned so much when we shared our autobiographies. Moments of trauma from our childhood when we couldn’t be our full selves in schools or when we were never welcomed in ways that we hoped. Moments of joy when families were gathered but feelings of frustration emerged when a loved one disappointed us.

  • When Miguel* shared about the first time, as a child, he heard someone describe him as a “monkey”
  • Yaslibel* described the books she read in school, sharing “growing up we were not exposed to the books that represented us …I grew up thinking that light skin and straight hair were beautiful…growing up I felt that I was forced to choose between being Black and being Latina.”
  • I also remember Tatiana’s* words, speaking in Spanish at home with her Puerto Rican mom and Dominican dad, but frustrated when she couldn’t share the same in her school that didn’t allow her to speak in Spanish.

Thank you for sharing questions and the discomfort experienced during incidents in your schools. Across your five journal reflections, you connected moments from your life with what was happening at your schools.

  • Glendalis* shared her example from her second grade class when a student said, “I’m a boy, I don’t read that,” as she picked up a book with a ballerina on the cover that was on the floor beside the child.  A second grader.
  • Valentina* with her first grade student that said, “I’m not gay,” disgusted when she asked the students to look into their reading partner’s eyes. A first grader.
  • Yaslibel* with the ways she shared her own identity as Afro-Latina with students in sixth grade (a Mexican and a Dominican student).
  • Joaquín* realized that there wasn’t any part of the Social Studies curriculum up to this (May 2019) part in the school year that represented his 19 Latinx students in the bilingual class.

Since you’ve already heard a lot from me during your grad studies and my visits to your classrooms, I just want to encourage you to keep taking care of yourself and continue creating community. The community must continue. Only two of you (from a group of more than 50 bilingual educators teaching in New York City public schools) said that you received some kind of professional support or development in your schools on issues of racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination. We had four months to process, read, share and learn in our class and still that wasn’t enough! So, as my mother says, “a ponerse las pilas” and ask for help/share your experiences.

Your linguistic practices matter so much in your classroom. As bilingual educators, many of you expressed great disappointment when your students’ bilingualism wasn’t recognized as valid in your school. Sometimes it was your own colleagues or administration that considered your students’ language practices as inferior to their own (or compared to English). Thank you for being in the struggle, for creating spaces where students can hear bilingual read alouds, where they can write freely in your bilingual classes. I’m moved when I read your read aloud plans (still grading these finals though so be patient with me) and it brings me so much peace knowing that they’ll see this representation.

Finally, it wasn’t easy. Nothing of this class, these semesters, of teaching full time while taking graduate courses, is easy. I want to thank you for being present in my classes, present with your students, and for trying to process these topics and experiences in English and in Spanish. Almost all of us described a childhood where Spanish was not considered a part of our learning in school. Therefore, we don’t see ourselves as competent in expressing ourselves in Spanish or we lack the confidence. Pero lo intentamos. We tried to read more and more in Spanish and with our book clubs, we talked about books and activities that we wanted to implement in elementary and middle grade classrooms. We recognize that the injustice that we experienced as students does not need to repeat itself, and that we are here to imagine a more just pedagogy, culturally and linguistically sustaining books, a different curriculum, one that recognizes the humanity in all of our students.

 

Thank you,

Prof. España

P.S. If you have books that I let you borrow, please return them so I can use them this summer semester (I start on Thursday) in Developmental Reading course. Another option: read the book to your class and invite me to visit in June!

 

Figure 1:

Inspiration for “Autobiographical Multicultural Narrative and Presentation”

Authors: Poets: Teen Activists: Others:
Patrisse Cullors – Black Lives Matter co founder, author of When they Call You a Terrorist. Pedro Pietri (poet) – “Puerto Rican Obituary” poem Edna Chavez March For Our Lives speech Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor
Jason Reynolds (author, poet) on Trevor Noah (interview) Jacqueline Woodson (author, poet, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature) – interview on her Newbery award-winning book Brown Girl Dreaming Xiuhtezcatl Martinez TEDxMileHigh – (environmental activist) –  speech and song on environmental activism Carolina Contreras – (Miss Rizos Salon Founder) – “Untangling the Roots of Dominican Hair” (video clip)
Isabel Allende – (author) 2018 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters speech Jamila Lyiscott (researcher, speaker, educator) 3 Ways to Speak English (spoken word poem) Mari Copeny – (clean water activist) Little Miss Flint speech at Social Good Summit 2018 Sylvia Mendezon School Segregation in the Southwest (interview with Maria Hinojosa)
Gene Luen Yang (author, graphic novelist) 2014 National Book Festival Speech (on diversity in comics) Mayda del Valle (poet, author) Tongue Tactics (spoken word poem) Marley Dias (#1000BlackGirlBooks founder, diverse books activist, author) – interview Dolores HuertaVideo: “Dolores Huerta, Co-Founder, United Farm Workers” on Makers website.
Bill Konigsberg  (author)“Proud Fierce Papa Bear” speech (on homophobic incident at National Council of Teachers of English Conference in 2018) Rosario Ferré (poet) “Coming Up the Archipelago” / “Subiendo por el archipiélago” Students at Fieldston School in Bronx, NY on Protesting Racism on Campus – March 2019 Favianna Rodriguez (artist, activist) – “The Artist’s Life: Activist Favianna Rodriguez crafts multimedia career around social justice”
Matt de la Peña (author) 2016 Newbery Acceptance Speech Juan Felipe Herrera (poet, U.S. Poet Laureate) “Imagine” Blair Imani (Queer Muslim activist) story shared at GLAAD Gala San Francisco Ana Tijoux (hip hop artist) – interview on NPR

 

Figure 2:

List of Journal Reflection Topics and Readings

  1. Journal Entry #1: What is Anti-Bias Education? (Chapter 1 pp. 1-10) from Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves
  2. Journal Entry #2: Reflections on “Learning about Racial Identity & Fairness” (Chapter 6) from Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves
  3. Journal Entry #3: Reflections on “Learning About Gender Identity & Fairness” (Chapter 7 pp. 90-100) from Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves
  4. Journal Entry #4: Reflections  on “Learning About Different Abilities & Fairness” (Chapter 10 pp. 125-134) from Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves
  5. Journal Entry #5: Reflections on a reading of choice from Rethinking Ethnic Studies

 

Figure 3: Book Clubs

Option #1: Narratives (realistic fiction, historical fiction) Option #2: Picture Books – Biographies Option #3: Upper Grades/Middle Grade Novels in Verse
We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac

Cuando amamos cantamos/ When We Love Someone We Sing to Them by Ernesto Javier Martinez, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, translated by Jorge Gabriel Martinez Feliciano

Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina (translanguaging in text written in English with some words in Spanish)

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar (January 15, 2019 release) (in English)

Martí’s Song for Freedom/ Martí y sus versos por la libertad by Emma Otheguy (libro bilingüe español/inglés)

Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Eric Velasquez (in English)

Select one of the following:

The Moon Within by Aida Salazar (February 26, 2019 release) (translanguaging in text written in English with some words in Spanish)

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles (translanguaging in text written in English with some words in Spanish)

The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (en español pronto -vamos a leer la versión en español)

 

This blog post is part of the #31DaysIBPOC Blog Challenge, a month-long movement to feature the voices of indigenous and teachers of color as writers and scholars. Please CLICK HERE to read yesterday’s blog post by Benjamin Doxtdator (and be sure to check out the link at the end of each post to catch up on the rest of the blog circle).

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