Teacher Networks in the Community

It has been my main goal as a teacher to bring the minority parent population of my district into the school community and let their presence be felt by everyone there.  I realized very early on, however, that if I wanted them to come to me, I needed to go TO them first.

I dove into the epicenter of the Hispanic community by seeking out La Comunidad Hispana, LCH, a non-profit human services center located in Kennett Square. What began as a few volunteer hours has turned into a network of resources that I turn to frequently.

LCH’s services that it provides the surrounding community are staggering.  They have an attached health clinic that supports urgent and prenatal care services, mental health services, lawyer services, GED, ESL, and Citizenship classes.  Everything that they provide is free to the community, and I invite you to explore more about them on their website and Facebook page.

I teach basic level adult ESL for LCH in the evenings, and the network of resources I have established is a direct result of my work here.  As one of the ESL teachers, I have gained access to face time with the Hispanic parent community two nights a week, September through June.  Not only do I now have their trust of school community through this, their commitment to their education and vibrancy of spirit reminds me to look past the paperwork and to-do lists and see the true reason of why I do what I do.

Besides serving me as a gateway into the Hispanic community, my bosses and my co-workers are a walking wealth of knowledge of the Hispanic culture.  I turn to them frequently while making plans for events and initiatives to ensure that I am aligning to their culture’s ideas of what is comfortable, appropriate, and familiar.    I take their information sessions and make them my own and use their relationships with outside agencies to find things such as clothing and emotional support for my students.

While the help and support that this teacher network provides would not serve to benefit all teachers in the same way as it does me, I invite you to find culture hubs around your schools this summer.  The idea that effective teaching is bringing the community into your school and into your practice translates across all classrooms, and before you bring culture in, you must first seek it out.

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2 thoughts on “Teacher Networks in the Community

  1. Hi Daryl,

    In going into my new job, I felt a huge gap between me and my students. As one way to try to bridge it, I went out into the community surrounding the school. Based on interviews with students in the school, I interviewed people in the community who impact youth and also did other research on the issues the community has faced. It really helped me feel closer to my students. Your story about how you connected with the Hispanic community is very inspiring. It shows how dedicated you are to your students and their families as a teacher.

    I was very interested in the description of communication issuesof many hispanic students between them and their parents and how it impacts their experience at school. A very high percentage of the student body at my school is hispanic and it is an area I have a lot to learn about going forward.

    BTW: One of the best classes I ever took at Arcadia was in ELL education. I have included the concepts and best practices from that class into my ideas of what consitutes good teaching in the content areas.

    Kathy

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  2. Hi Kathy! Thanks for sharing your similar experience!
    I suggest you connect with your school/district’s ESL teacher as a starting point into the issues surrounding their particular community. As far as the ESL community in a broader sense, I get a lot of my up-to-date information from following @MigrationPolicy and @RadioAmbulate (not all their podcasts are in Spanish!)

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