Bienvenidos and welcome! I wanted to show you the space that I share with amazing kiddos Monday through Thursday after school. This is my classroom for the Child Development Program at Centro Hispano de East Tennessee.
Here, I teach a flexible-attendance class of up to as many as 12 to 15 children (those make some crazy days!) while their family members are in other classes offered by Centro Hispano. My kids are between the ages of 3 and 7. We have another program (Educational Success) for children ages 8 - 12.
During their time in the program, I give the kids targeted foundational literacy support and school-readiness skills. We work really hard on a number key areas: alphabet, reading, vocabulary, speaking, social behaviors, separation anxiety, fine motor, math, and more! We also have educational centers that we rotate through, which include pattern blocks, whiteboards, tablets, Play-Doh (a fan favorite), puzzles... the list goes on!
The kids in my program come from a variety of backgrounds, and all but a few of our friends over the years come from homes where English is not the language spoken at home. I have the privilege to design the curriculum that we work through; over the years (I started in 2013) I have found that it is fun and productive to work through 'thematic units' that guide the theme of our reading, writing, crafting, and other activities. We are just now finishing up with our "Transportation" unit, and the next unit is...DINOSAURS! I can't wait until the end of March, which is when we begin talking about plant life and our treasured planet Earth.
The most challenging aspect of this job for me is maintaining a literacy-rich environment that is supportive of both developing English language skills while valuing and incorporating Spanish, which is usually the home language for my students. I am constantly questioning myself in this regard and trying to keep up with the Spanish language demands that I face when communicating with children and their parents. While I consider myself conversationally fluent, I run into things almost every day that I struggle with. Struggle is good, though... never stop learning!
One of my favorite features of our classrooms here is our CHILDREN'S LIBRARY!
I've always said that my first retirement job will be an ESL teacher, and my second will be librarian! It is amazing to watch and interact with kids of ALL ages and language levels come into the safe space of our library and classrooms to enjoy reading. We also recently opened the availability for our kids to check out books from our collection; this is especially important considering we have a high percentage of Spanish-language and English-Spanish bilingual books for kids!
I hope you have enjoyed taking a quick peek into my classroom! If you want more information about the services Centro Hispano provides or want to volunteer with the children or adult programs, please visit the website at https://www.centrohispanotn.org/. If you want to donate children's books for our library or supplies for our classrooms, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will quickly respond with a million THANK YOUs!
Thanks for reading!