Shaunna Jeffries

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Shaunna Jeffries is a fourth grade teaching assistant in the dual language program at Carrboro Elementary School in Carrboro, N.C. She assists two teachers at Carrboro Elementary with both of their classes, taught in both Spanish and English. Because of her own experience in a dual language elementary school program, Jeffries decided to work in a dual language program herself. As a result, she has a unique perspective on how dual language programs have changed over the past two decades as the demographics of North Carolina are changing and schools are adapting to accommodate the influx of Spanish-speaking students. Jeffries describes her own experience in a dual language elementary school and how this influenced her decision to work in a dual language program currently. She describes the classroom as a “little family” because the students have been together since kindergarten. She particularly stresses that dual language students are “good kids,” but they have a bad reputation throughout the school because they appear rowdier and poorly behaved. Jeffries explains that this is because they have to change classrooms more than students in traditional classrooms because they must switch between Spanish and English several times a day.



Claire Archer: Ok. This is Claire Archer. I am here with Shaunna Jeffries at Carrboro Elementary School. It is Wednesday afternoon at 3:25 on March 27th. Ok, so thank you for agreeing to talk to me. I guess, like I said, I’m interested in dual language programs at Carrboro Elementary, so if you just start off and tell me what you do here, how you got started with this, like your personal involvement with the program, and all that.
Shaunna Jeffries: Ok, I am Shaunna Jeffries. I am a fourth grade dual language teacher assistant. I got started with this program because I actually was in a dual language program when I was in elementary school, so I thought it was neat that they still did that and I wanted to help my own, you know, vocabulary in school and reintroduce that, because if you don’t practice the language then you lose it. So, I pretty much started working here three years ago and it’s been great.
CA: So what subjects do you teach and what do you do on a typical day?
SJ: I assist in all subjects: math, science, social studies, reading. The Spanish side of it is social studies and reading, though. And science as well. A little bit. Because they have to do both, in English and in Spanish.
CA: So to get involved in the dual language program, do teachers need to go through special training, or are there additional requirements?
SJ: I think there is a special training class. I don’t think you have to, per se, but I think there is a special dual language class that you can take in college. I know one of my friends, she went through it, just to say that you’re certified to teach dual language and that you have a little bit of Spanish, at least under your belt, even if you’re doing the English side.
CA: Ok, and so you’ve been assisting in the classroom for 3 years. I guess I’m interested in the Hispanic student population at Carrboro Elementary. So, what can you tell me about the relationship between native English speakers and native Spanish speakers in the classroom?
SJ: Well, it’s actually funny. The dual language classes are – they get compared to the traditional classes, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a native Spanish speaker or an English speaker. In the dual language class, you all get looped together.
CA: Uh huh.
SJ: So it’s – they have a great camaraderie together, as far as working together. Like, they realize they’re stuck with each other for 3 years, then like hey, we’re dealing with it, you know? Like, we love each other. We know everybody’s family. So they’re very comfortable with each other. I don’t think I’ve seen any problems come about that had to do with being, you know, a native Spanish speaker versus being a non-native Spanish person.
CA: So specifically here, when do students enter the program and then what’s their trajectory, like, in the program? Just, all the details that you can provide, because I just would like to know as much about it as possible.
SJ: Ok. You have to enter the program by, I think, first grade, I want to say kindergarten. I think kindergarten, no later than that. They do offer pre-K here, but it’s not actually through the school, it’s a different program, but it is located in our school. And if you don’t start in kindergarten, then you have to prove that you do have knowledge of the language. I think you could probably – they could send their kid to take classes somewhere else in Spanish and then somehow get them in there. But I think they’re changing that for next year. You have to start the program in kindergarten. The trajectory for them, as far as the learning process is – we have, we split them. So your math and your science will be in English one year and then your social studies and your reading will be – that same year will be in Spanish. And then the next year we flip it, so your Spanish – your math and science will be in Spanish and vice versa. But there is a learning curve that happens as far as a lot of the kids don’t pick up on spelling. Like, we really don’t hamper on spelling as much as the traditional classes might because that’ll pick up in the long run. So they’re thinking like through middle school they’ll figure out how to spell it correctly. Even though we do work on it, it’s just not a big issue because some things they’re gonna pick up, it’s just more or less the usage of the language and knowing what this is and that is and how to communicate it back in the speaking part.
CA: Ok, and so what sort of contact does the program have with parents? In terms of materials sent to parents, what language are those in and how do parents get involved?
SJ: So we have – all of our stuff is sent home in English and in Spanish. It’s normally front and back, or if it’s a big packet, then it’ll be, you know, one packet for native Spanish speakers. If you parents speak Spanish – because I do have about 5 students who their parents want everything sent home in English, even though they’re native Spanish speakers.
CA: Uh huh.
SJ: So it works out both ways, however they, you know -- I have Hispanic children that their parents don’t speak Spanish, so it – they get – well, we actually have Karen papers, too, for anybody that – we have some Karen, Burmese kids.
CA: Oh.
SJ: So we have English, Spanish and Burmese available for the different languages.
CA: And why would the Spanish-speaking students – why would their parents request it in English?
SJ: Actually the lady who works in the front office [unintelligible, a woman’s name], her husband is – she’s Hispanic and her husband’s not and she doesn’t speak Spanish in her house because he doesn’t know it. I don’t know what the dynamic is or whatever, but she says don’t send anything home in Spanish, just send it home in English, because that’s what he speaks. And they don’t speak Spanish at the house, but she wants her son to have that background, the Spanish background.
CA: So what is the motivation for parents to send their children to this program?
SJ: the motivation is for them to get ahead in life, because you can – in any job setting, you can make more money by speaking two languages, and especially Spanish since we’re right here, you know, in the north side of Mexico. So, yeah.
CA: So then what is the process for parents enrolling their children?
SJ: The process is you have to come – I think you have to speak to the principal, which is Emily Bivins right now, but next year it’ll be Jillian LaSerna. And you get – basically get the tour, the walk-through and say, you know, “Is this for your child?” And there’s some papers you have to fill out. I think it’s like a little packet.
CA: Ok.
SJ: But you do have to apply to get into the language program.
CA: So in your opinion, how effective are the programs?
SJ: I think it is – as a product [laughs]
CA: [laughs]
SJ: – of the program, I think it is effective. I think that once you leave elementary school – because we didn’t have a follow-up middle school that was a dual language school as well. So this is back 20 years ago. I’m only 29 now. It sounds like a long time. But we didn’t have the follow-up middle school. Like, they’re gonna go to McDougal and then they’ll still have dual language classes, but it was kind of an elective when I went to school. You could take Spanish or not. It was a class you could pick, so it wasn’t reinforced. But the Spanish I do know today is from learning it in elementary school as a child, and, you know, a class here and there, but that’s basically it.
CA: And so how has – I guess, could you say more about how the dual language program has changed since you were –since you were enrolled yourself, just based on changes in the composition of the school system?
SJ: Yeah, definitely! When I was in elementary school, I went to South Graham Elementary, in Graham, and we actually had a Spanish teacher. He would come in – his name was Señor Fudge, which is the craziest name. He would come in and he would teach us for about an hour or two on whatever we were, you know, in the middle of. It wasn’t like project time or anything like that. He would – if it was math for that day or that morning, then he would come teach math for an hour. If it was whatever subject it was. He even taught us dances in Spanish, which was crazy. It was great, though. So, but now the kids have structure versus, you know, whatever you come in and teach whatever so long as it’s in Spanish. Now you have, like I said before, the math and the science in English one year, and then the math is in Spanish the next. So you’re getting the terminology you need, but you’re just – it’s not as – it was unorganized when I was in [laughs] elementary school. Let’s just put it like that. It’s more organized now. Well thought out. I think mine was a trial and error, see what happens with them.
CA: An experiment.
SJ: Yeah, it worked though. Definitely.
CA: And so now that the Spanish-speaking population in the state has grown, how do you see that affecting dual language programs between Spanish and English?
SJ: I think that more people are – are apt to enroll their kids in dual language classes, because you – you kinda have to have that to have a leg up in society. My sister doesn’t speak Spanish. She decided to take Latin through her school career. And I mean, that helped her with like medical terminology and stuff like that, but can you communicate with the person that is, you know, selling you something or, you know, whatever. The Farmer’s Market. So, yeah.
CA: And I know that last week the students had testing?
SJ: Testing, yes.
CA: on Wednesday. So what’s the nature of this test, and what, sort of, what does it determine?
SJ: The test was called the STAMP testing and it basically is a state-wide test. It’s – if you’re in a second language program at all, so it doesn’t matter if you’re Chinese – your second language is Chinese, is French, everybody had to take that test, I think, if you’re in fourth or fifth grade. It just tests to see how far along you are, to see what you should know at this point. And that’s about it. And there were some errors on our test, like the words weren’t right.
CA: the spelling of the words?
SJ: Yeah, the spelling. Instead of “nevando” it was “niviando.” It was like an extra “I” in there so it was weird. Maybe it was just a glitch, but there were a few words in there that weren’t right. So maybe they weren’t worried about the spelling, either [laughs]. They’ll catch up.
CA: How did the students do?
SJ: The students did well. They – they were kind of thrown off by the little errors there, but at least they caught on to it, so that was kinda cute. Yeah, it was neat that they did that.
CA: And so in terms of – you said that the dual language students are compared to normal classroom students, how is their performance different in like English subjects?
SJ: In English?
CA: Like, are they compared based on achievement?
SJ: They –they used to be, but they’re not anymore because, like I said, they don’t –we don’t do the same thing as traditional classes. We follow the same criteria, yes, but we don’t have spelling tests and we don’t have, you know, reading for an hour in one language. So it’s supposed to be whatever language you have for that year. Yeah.
CA: So what do you think, then, is like, the most difficult aspect of teaching in a dual language classroom?
SJ: Probably, to be honest with you, behavior. Because the dual language kids are moving, because they’re switching classes versus the traditional class: they have one classroom, they stay in that classroom the whole day long. And the more you get kids moving – so there’s 19 in one and 17 in the other class. Seventeen students in the other class. So we have to get them out of one classroom and then slide them through that little small door in the middle without anybody killing each other, without anybody fighting or anything like that. So I think behavior is a big thing. They’re not bad kids, it’s just that more opportunity to move around, more freedom – which, they’re fourth graders now, so they need to learn that. But, yeah, that’s about it.
CA: Ok, and so…
SJ: The word around school is that the DL kids are rowdier than the traditional kids.
CA: [laughs]
SJ: That’s the word. It might be true, but they’re not bad. It’s just the might have a little bit more movement to them.
CA: So, after this year, you’ll be teaching a new class of fourth graders?
SJ: Uh huh. So I have two different classes. Yeah.
CA: Ok.
SJ: Every dual language teacher – if Ms. Meunier – she teaches the math and the science portion. So not only does she have her kids that are in her homeroom, but she switches homerooms with Ms. Robledo, so you get two sets of kids if you’re in dual language. So I will have a new set of kids next year – well, two sets. So the ones that are in the English homeroom, and then there’s ones in the Spanish homeroom.
CA: Uh huh. And, I guess, going deeper into what I’m interested in with this topic. How do you see immigration affecting the Spanish-speaking students in the classroom?
SJ: As far as…?
CA: Do you – are their parents immigrants? Do they..?
SJ: Ok, so I do have parents that are immigrants to this country. I have some that are recent immigrants. My student, his name is Gerardo Medina Lopez – he was actually stuck in Mexico for about 8 years by himself because his mom came up here, and then she had another kid by somebody else, so she stayed here. And she was trying to get – we call him Alex, but it’s Gerardo – she was trying to get Alex up here, so I wanna say, December? No, no, no. October, he got – they finally finalized his papers and he was sent to Minnesota and he stayed in Minnesota for 3 months, with nobody there with him. They – some foster family or something held onto him for 3 months. Talk about being in a country – you don’t know the language at all, you haven’t seen your mom in 8 years, and then they finally got him in North Carolina to her, so that was a tremendous story. Yeah. So now he’s here and he’s one of our non-English speakers. He can understand a little bit, but only a little bit. So it helps that everybody has that background to say, “Hey, you know, it’s gonna be ok, Alex.” Or do this for me, or…
CA: And there’s – there are ESL programs in the school –
SJ: Uh huh.
CA: -- for students in the normal classrooms.
SJ: Yes.
CA: So how does that change if there’s a student like Gerardo who’s in a dual language classroom? Does he go through that first before entering the dual language classroom? Or…?
SJ: No, he’s just – since he was – there wasn’t really a choice for him, even though he didn’t enter the program in kindergarten, because he was a non-English speaking student – to put him in the dual language class. It wasn’t really an option for him to go to traditional because he would have been so lost and confused and would have hated school in the long run. But, the traditional students do have Spanish class, and they go to it, I want to say once or twice a week, for an hour. If it’s – it might be two 30-minute sections. But they, you know, they go over the colors and numbers and all the good stuff. And the conversation…
CA: And that’s in English?
SJ: For the traditional kids. The English kids.
CA: So do you -- I think you mentioned earlier that there are Spanish-speaking children whose parents don’t speak Spanish.
SJ: Uh huh.
CA: so is that because they are from indigenous –are they indigenous languages from Mexico? Or why is…?
SJ: Adoption.
CA: Oh, adoption!
SJ: Yeah, I’ve got one girl – her parents are white and she’s from Colombia and her older sister’s from Colombia too, but they’re not –they’re not blood sisters, but they both got adopted from Colombia and their parents. So their parents don’t speak Spanish at all, but they didn’t want to rob them of their heritage so they enrolled them in the dual language program. And she’s got an older sister that’s in sixth grade now, but I had her years ago, and she was kinda reluctant to speak Spanish, even though she was Hispanic, technically. So it’s different when you see that side of it. It’s like, no, this is the language, you -- you know know, if you were still there, you would have been speaking. So it’s just their environment, truly.
CA: And when you’re observing the students –because when I’ve been volunteering the classroom I sort of notice what language they chose to talk to with each other.
SJ: The one they gravitate to, yeah. The side language. When they have their little side conversations, they go for English. Yeah. The traditionally – the Spanish speakers, the native Spanish speakers, or the non-natives, they -- they gravitate to English and I don’t know why. And the method de nuestra clase es español, es hablar en español. So that’s the goal of the class to speak in Spanish, only when you’re in Spanish class, but they just ease it in there, and it seems like once one person starts, the whole ball gets rolling.
CA: Uh huh.
SJ: So, I try, but some things you just, you know. It comes out faster. I guess that’s the same thing for them.
CA: True. Yeah, that’s definitely interesting to see.
SJ: Yeah.
CA: And I’m just curious – what differences do you see between the male and the female students, if any?
SJ: As far as using the language? I wanna say my – the girls that are not native Spanish speakers, they use more Spanish.
CA: Uh huh.
SJ: In Spanish class. They’re more headstrong and like, “No, I’m gonna practice this. I understand it, I’m gonna use it, I’ll show you.” But the boys are just boys. They’re just like, “Hey, I just want you to pass me the blue marker. I don’t wanna say it in Spanish. It takes too long to translate it in my head.” You know? But the native Spanish-speaking boys – they’re awesome, because they help out the non-native speakers. Like, “Hey, how do you say such-and –such?” And they’re like, “Oh, I know how to say that!” And then they’ll actually walk over to them and say, “I can help you” – which is awesome! Yeah.
CA: What – what language do you use to discipline students if they have done something wrong? Is it --?
SJ: It depends on who I’m with. Yeah. So if I’m in the Spanish class, I’ll speak to them in Spanish. If I’m in the English class I’ll speak to them in English. If we’re at lunch or out on the playground, I’ll speak to them in English. Yeah. Unless they hold a conversation with me, which has happened a few times. “Ms. Jeffries…Hola, como está?” I’m just like, “You’re doing this right now?” [laughs] And then I’ll have a conversation with them, because they weren’t used to having an African American female speaking Spanish to them and they just like, lit up the first day. They were like, “You speak Spanish? Oh my gosh!” So it was so cute.
CA: I lost my train of thought.
SJ: So when I discipline them it’s mostly in English.
CA: Ok. And how’s the relationship between the other dual language teachers?
SJ: They – they have teams. They’re called PLC teams. I think they meet every now and then across grade levels but mostly we stay in the grade level and talk to the other teachers. So it would be Ms. Meunier, Senõra Robledo and Mike Henning – which Mike Henning is the traditional teacher, the traditional English class – so they basically stay in their own little grade level, but they get ideas from fifth grade and fifth grade gets ideas from fourth grade dual language teachers. And we’ve gone on some of the same field trips, so that’s, you know –
CA: What field trips do you take? Are they aimed at dual language, sort of, goals?
SJ: Are they? Let’s see. So, I think they’re more overall goals for the class. Like, we were learning about, you know, animals and agriculture, and we went to the North Carolina State Fair. So, we did have – what do you call them when you’re searching for stuff?
CA: Scavenger hunts?
SJ: Scavenger hunts! But one side was in English and one side was in Spanish, and if you were a native Spanish speaker then you have the English side. If you were a native English speaker then you got the Spanish version. So it was just like trading off. So, that was – that was cool. I don’t think we’ve gone anywhere that was specifically, like, Spanish. You know? Per se.
CA: And so what, then – how will the program change next year? Because I’ve heard that this program is ceasing to exist here and going –
SJ: It’s not ceasing, it’s fading.
CA: Ah.
SJ: It’s fading.
CA: [laughs]
SJ: It’s not ceasing, it’s fading. That’s what I tell people. The dual language here – Ms. Bivins, the principal, she’s moving to Frank Porter Graham. We call that FPG. She’s moving to Frank Porter Graham, so there are a lot of the teachers that will switch over and do – the whole school will be dual language at Frank Porter Graham. So it was kinda like a magnet school, but not magnetized as far as busing as, you know, busing and all that stuff is concerned. But this school will still have dual language, because some of the fourth graders now, they wanted to be grandfathered in to graduate from here next year. So they will still have fifth grade dual language and fourth grade dual language. The rest of it, I don’t know how that’s gonna work. I think they might have, you know – there’s a different program and I forgot the name of it here, but it’s like – it’s not dual language but it’s immersion. That’s what it’s called. Spanish immersion. And you just – it was kinda like my experience in elementary school where you get, you know, Spanish in your classroom but it’s not flip-flopping every other year.
CA: Right. So how do you think the program will evolve in the coming years, especially as the Spanish speaking population is growing?
SJ: I think that more people will be involved in what’s going on, because now it’s kind of, like, “Oh yeah, my kid’s in the dual language program. They can speak Spanish: look.” But you wanna actually see people doing stuff in the community and, you know, in the spotlight. I think that – I think that they will, we will have more field trips and that will go to native Spanish events, or something that is sponsored, you know – that is Latin. So I think that would be actually a good idea, because most of the stuff in America, North Carolina is English.
CA: Uh huh.
SJ: Yeah.
CA: Ok. And then, I’m just curious about your personal experiences as a teacher. So some what have been your most memorable experiences, maybe your most difficult? Tell me some stories.
SJ: Ok, so you’ll have to remind me of the second part of it.
CA: Ok.
SJ: But, most memorable. My birthday is a big deal to me – I’m kind of a narcissist. And one – Maria Cruz, she wrote me a card and it said, “Tu tienes la cara de un mariposa. You have the face of a butterfly.” Something supposedly sweet in Spanish, didn’t really translate that well to English, but I understood what she meant, and that was like a compliment, the utmost. So that was –that was super memorable to me. Like for her to even think, like, “Oh, she’s Ms. Jeffries, she’s beautiful.” You know? How cute. Most difficult … I don’t wanna say that it even happened in dual language. I wanna say it happened in traditional class. There was a fight out on the playground and I had to go break that up. So I don’t – I don’t – like, we don’t – my kids play soccer together, they would rather play soccer than to play football or basketball. That’s like an everyday sport for them out on the playground. They don’t really have scuffles or problems like that. They’re really good at using their words – surprisingly. You would think that they would resort to, you know, fists, but once, you know, you calm them down and say, “Hey, what’s going on?” They can explain it to you very easily what’s going on. “He said this about me and it hurt my feelings.” “Well, what do you think you should say to him?” “I should say I’m sorry.” “I’m sorry.” Like Lincoln. Lincoln and Virginia fell out today. Lincoln had marked on her hand with – what do you call it? – white out, and then marked on her shoe. He was going like, moving his arm up and down with a marker and he marked on her jeans. And so, instead of her like hitting him or attacking him or any of that, she said, “Ms. Jeffries, look what Lincoln just did to me.” And I was just like, “Lincoln, why did you do that to her?” “Well, I don’t know.” “But, do you think you should have done it?” “No.” I said, “Look at her pants, they’re probably ruined now. Have you apologized?” “No.” I’m just like, “So, what should you do?” “I’m sorry Virginia.” I said, “No, no, that didn’t sound like you meant it.”
CA: [laughs]
SJ: “I’m sorry Virginia, I should not have marked on your pants. I apologize.” And he said the whole thing out. And I’m just like “Wow!” Yeah. I know kids – my sister teaches at Wiley, Calvin Wiley Elementary School in Greensboro. And her kids would have knocked each other out if you would have written on their pants. There would have been no question about what was gonna happen next. That was a fight, you know. So I love the fact that the kids – they have been together for – what? Five years now? Even though they’re in fourth grade, so kindergarten too – they’re been together for a long time. And they know I’m not getting rid of you, you’re not getting rid of me, so we’ve gotta figure this out. It’s – they love each other and you can tell it. They’re like a little family.
CA: and they’ll continue all the way till middle school together.
SJ: Uh huh.
CA: It’s been a while since I was in an elementary school. I guess that’s how – in a traditional program, is that how it is?
SJ: No, no, no not in traditional. Well, I guess for here it’s the same thing, you’ll be with the same kids. But in other elementary schools you can switch classes. Like, whatever class you want to be in at Wiley. Well actually, all the different elementary schools, if you are having a problem with one student, you can move to such-and-such else’s same grade homeroom. So it’s a possibility of switching over and having new people n your class, but here it’s really not. Not unless we get new people in or people leave.
CA: And so, given that they do spend so much time together, what’s the relationship between parents like?
SJ: Oh, it’s great! When we go on field trips they – they carpool with each other and I don’t even have to give them phone numbers or say, “This person is this and they’re going, you should ride with them.” They’re just like, “I’ll just call her.” So they know each other very well. They know what kids have allergies, which is the craziest thing. I would bring cupcakes if we had food. We can’t have food at all this year. No food celebrations. But it’s like: “I would bring cupcakes, but I know Maria’s allergic to such-and-such, and I don’t want her to feel left out so I should get some gluten free whatever.” So I’m just like, “Wow! Like, you guys really know each other a lot.” Even though they might not hang out a whole lot, but certain ones do. And it’s not just, you know, English hanging out with English speakers or native speakers hanging out with native speakers. It’s like – it’s a mixture, it really is. Yeah.
CA: And so, is this the – the home school of these students? Or do they live further afield but come in because of the dual language program?
SJ: No, they live around here.
CA: Ok.
SJ: They live around here. I think that when it switches over to the new school next year – Frank Porter Graham – then it’ll be like a re-districting, re-busing type of thing. Yeah. But this is home school, walk to school, live in the area of Carrboro. Yeah.
CA: And you’ll stay here next year? Or are you going to Frank Porter Graham?
SJ: I have been summoned to go, Yes, I’ve been asked. I don’t know, I’ve already done my interview but I haven’t heard anything back yet, but I’m thinking I’m pretty much on my way over there. Even though I would love to see these kids graduate. Oh my gosh!
CA: And they graduate in the fifth grade.
SJ: Yes, fifth grade.
CA: Well, that’s really all I have for you.
SJ: Ok.
CA: Unless, do you have anything else to add?
SJ: No. I just – I want people to know that even though, like, my kids – they do move around a lot and they are seen more often because we shuffle then around so much – that in dual language it seems like they are more behavior problems, but it’s just because there are more of them and they’re grouped together and they’re moving around so much. So I don’t think that – because the word on the street is that the dual language kids are bad, but they’re not! They’re absolutely not They’re a joy. Yeah.
CA: Excellent. Yeah, I really enjoy working with them. They’re really smart as well.
SJ: Yeah. I call them the little crazies. You know how Einstein wasn’t exactly right? It’s kinda like that – like, you can see it in their eyes. They’re just, “Oh!” When the light bulb comes on that’s – that’s a teacher moment.
CA: I just have one question about Kyle. Is he – is he just shy, or does he not like to use Spanish?
SJ: Kyle and Cameron are twins. They’re in opposite classes though. So Cameron’s the more outgoing twin; Kyle is the shyer one. Kyle has focus issues, and he just started taking medicine Monday. So that’s more or less the reason, but he’s also trying to be like, “I’m not using my Spanish because my brother’s not using his.” And that’s why they had to split them up.
CA: Ok.
SJ: So Kyle just is -- it’s not that he can’t do it, because he’s capable of reading and capable of writing in Spanish. I think it’s more or less focus issues, because translating does take a lot of focus in your head, and if he can’t even sit still for a minute to -- to do, you know, written homework or whatever, then that’s going on in his head.
CA: Do you see that a lot of students do, sort of, hesitate to use Spanish as a – in a similar way?
SJ: Yeah. Ms. Bivins’ daughter Peyton. She will go get her lunchbox and eat during class. If she doesn’t wanna do something she’ll ask to go to the bathroom 18 times, if she doesn’t know what’s gong on. So it’s kinda like somebody like myself or Ms. Robledo will go sit beside her and say, “Hey, what is it you don’t understand? Let me help you versus you not doing your work, and going to the water fountain 13 times.” Because that is what Kyle will do, too. Kyle will get and move to the water fountain and look around, laugh at somebody, and go sit back down, and I’m like, “Kyle, really? I can see you.” You know. Yeah, but some of them – it’s out of the 20 kids that are in there, 3 of them might do that. The rest of them are serious about my work ,this is what I have to do, this is what language you expect me to say it in, and all that stuff. Yeah.
CA: And so what are the changes between – because, like, I’m sure it’s an enormous learning curve in kindergarten and first grade for the non-native Spanish speakers and then the non-native English speakers. And vice versa.
SJ: They pick up quicker. The younger the kids are they pick it up quicker. Of course, you’re not doing, you know, science projects that are, you know, 2-3 pages long. They’re simple. But the younger kids, they understand a whole lot more. Yeah.
CA: Have you ever assisted in the younger classrooms?
SJ: Second grade.
CA; So how was the teaching style different then?
SJ: There were a lot more visuals. A lot less writing, so they could understand and see what was going on. And it was – it was still like, the expectations were still the same as far as, you know, when you come in this class you speak Spanish, then you go in that class you speak English, and you don’t, you know – you don’t change it up. The expectations were still the same. I can’t say they were any different, but there were a lot more visuals to help you figure it out if you didn’t know exactly what it was.
CA: Ok, well, that’s all I have.
SJ: Thank you.
CA: Thank you.