Elena Overvold is in her second year of teaching at an urban school in Portland. I think of her as Our Lady of the Lake and if you met her you would know why. I miss all of our nicknames we used to have for each other. Let’s bring them back! Here is her report:
We just spent the last two days holding conferences with students. I prepare students to lead their conferences and I wanted to share with you one student’s reflection. His reflection and comments very much mirrored what I saw in all of my classes.
Preston is a Pacific Islander and a 17-year-old junior in my Spanish 1-2 class. He is failing every class (except Spanish), has multiple learning disabilities and is not on track to graduate. We ride the same bus to school in the morning so I would see him early in the morning, yet he was showing up 45 min. late to our first period class. Then, one day in class he volunteered to be an actor. His whole face lit up when he was in front of the class and he could not stop smiling. He was SO HAPPY! After that day in class, he was bought in and started coming earlier and earlier to class. When I would see him in the hallway he would ask me things like–Ms. Overvold what is the homework again? (There is no homework, he just wanted to connect and let me know that he cared about class).
On the conference reflection, I ask students to describe what we do in class, what is easy/fun and what is difficult or challenging. He said, “One day I got to be an actor that was super, duper fun. I like acting in Spanish class.”
“Spanish class is really fun we do cool activities an learn another language.”
Goals for quarter 2: “I want to come to class on time every day so I don’t miss anything.”
I took a picture of his comments and writing that I’ll pass along as well. When I read this I thought to myself, this is a 17 year old boy saying all of this. People think high schoolers can be so tough but it’s moments like these where I can see how much they are still like children. They want to play and feel loved and smart. Using non-targeted CI has completely leveled the playing field in my class. Students like Preston who have been made to feel dumb and excluded from school, see that they belong in our community. I am so so grateful to have found your work and this way of teaching!!