My colleague and I recently formed a bilingual parent group to strengthen our relationship with our Spanish speaking families. Parents repeatedly explained that the language barrier caused them to feel that they did not have a voice. Each parent expressed a desire to feel more connected to our school. Hearing this made me think, “How can we give a voice to the voiceless in our schools?” To overcome this barrier, we brought families together to record a video. Parents shared the importance of education in their families and then expressed what they wished teachers knew about them. The video has made such a strong impact in our community that it is now shown throughout Wisconsin.
I have always been passionate about reaching the student that no one else feels they can reach or the student that is typically considered the underdog. I began to lose interest in school when I was in 7th grade. I could study and do the work if I put my mind to it, but I lost motivation quickly. I did not get that motivation back until I was a junior in college. I finally realized that I needed to get my life together. I feel like there are so many students out there like me who are lost and looking for direction. I want to be the teacher I needed at that point in my life. I wasn’t stupid, but I needed guidance to reach my full potential. Having a relationship with your students and knowing them well enough to recognize and respond to their needs is so important.
“I can’t do this, Ms. Boomsma. I just can’t.” A student of mine said this to me while we worked in the back of the room. “Kimberly can, but that’s because she’s just smarter at this kind of stuff than me.”
“You are smart! You can do anything! We’ll keep trying and working!” I said with determination.
NWEA offers Educators for Equity Grants to foster academic growth among underserved students, including those who are economically disadvantaged and Englishlearners. Proposed programs should be equity-focused, evidence-based, culturally relevant to students served, and explicitly designed to improve academic opportunities and outcomes.
I was fortunate to spend the last few days in Tacoma, Washington, learning with folks from the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. I got to have conversations with lots of smart adults about ways we can support kids and how teachers, researchers, and policymakers need to work in partnership to do that work. But to be honest, the best part of the trip was when we drove to a local middle school to see the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative in action.