Exploring Worlds with Literacy

As literacy advocates, all of us at Literacy First know that reading about new worlds broadens minds. This knowledge becomes even more powerful when we see it in our students. First- year tutor Aleisha Galindez tells us what that experience looked like for her.

By Aleisha Galindez, 2017-18 Literacy First tutor

One of my favorite parts about being as a literacy tutor is developing meaningful connections with my students. I truly believe that in the 20 to 30 minutes we work with them every day, we are contributing to their formation as individuals and thinkers. With our support and the examples we set, we are expanding their view of the world. I love witnessing them learn and discover new things, places, and people.

Earlier in the year, I was working with one of my second graders to read a story about George Washington Carver. My student and I share a passion for history and influential figures of the past, so I was thrilled to see her excitement as she read the story. I could tell that it was one of her favorites.

Austin is home to the George Washington Carver Museum, which is not too far from our school. I told her about it and suggested she visit to learn more about this innovative scientist and inventor. She was very excited and could not wait to tell her family. To my surprise, the Monday after we read the story, she told me that her mom had taken her to the museum over the weekend. She even bought a book about George Washington Carver and brought it to school, and we read it for a few minutes.

It was very rewarding to see her so invested in her learning. I was also very happy to see that she has her family’s support. The smile on her face was priceless, and I could tell that the experience had been very special for her.

A couple of weeks later, we read a story about P.T. Barnum. As we were discussing it, I told her about “The Greatest Showman,” a recent popular movie about P.T. Barnum’s life and work. The next morning, with a huge smile on her face, she told me that she saw the trailer, and that she was going to ask her mom to rent the movie.

It’s moments like these that make me realize how important our work is. Not only are we helping our students reach grade level in reading, but we are also helping them discover and understand the world around them. When we expose them to experiences that they can relate to their learning, the process becomes easier and more rewarding. With a simple conversation, we can open up a world of possibilities and opportunity for our students.


One Response to “Exploring Worlds with Literacy”

  1. Marie Douglas

    Bravo, Aleisha! I’m applying to become a tutor with Literacy First, but have been fortunate to already have experience with what you describe here: making connections with individual students, which, as you wrote, helps make the learning process easier and more rewarding, as well as opening up ”a world of possibilities and opportunity for our students.” For me, the most special connection happened with an English language learner student in 2nd grade, who clearly understood what we discussed in our small group sessions, but who declined to raise his hand or to participate by speaking English. He did participate in Spanish, occasionally. After a few months of getting to know each other as instructor and student, I gently asked him why he would speak only Spanish in our English learner class. He told me – in Spanish – that he was afraid he would forget how to speak Spanish, if he began speaking too much English. I was then able to explain that people never forget their first language, especially when they continue to speak it at home every day. After that, he began to participate much more, and in English, during our class. Prior to that breakthrough, staff had been considering that he might have some other, more intractable issue that was keeping him silent in class. So it was especially rewarding to help figure out that his only concern was to be able to maintain his fluency in Spanish, so he could always talk to his abuelita (grandma) on the phone, far away in Mexico. I’m also thrilled that Literacy First students get to learn about inspiring people of color such as professor and inventor George Washington Carver! He’s certainly one of my heroes.

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