Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Welcome back everyone! Hope you all had a safe and fun-filled holiday break.

Some exciting news for me is I am now a TA in an ESL classroom. I love going to work everyday not only because it is giving me more experience and the teacher I work with is so knowledgeable, but because I really feel like I am making a difference in the lives of these students.

When the students come to the High School I work at, they are enrolled in ESL classes, Study Halls, Gym, Lunch, and Math. Besides ESL, Math is their only academic class. For this reason, part of my job is to go to Math with the students. I was always a good math student in high school and even continued to take Calculus I and Calculus II in my undergraduate studies, but this Common Core Math is hard to wrap my head around!

It seems as though these students have to go through ten steps and show all work to get the “correct” answer instead of possibly using just two steps to get that same “correct” answer.

The teacher I work with even commented saying in some education meeting in regards to the Common Core, legislators were given a 4th grade math problem to solve. Only one person got the correct answer; however when he was asked to explain how he got his answer he only used 2 steps. To get full credit on the question for the Common Core, he would have had to go through twenty-five steps!

Now imagine a student who does not speak English trying to complete this math problem. Even with basic math skills, to have the know-how to go through all of those steps is hard to grasp.

I am learning the math right along with these students in hopes I will be able to create methods of remembering all of the steps involved in solving each problem.

Wrapping up more than just the semester

Wrapping up more than just the semester



As the semester has concluded and days and nights filled with studying, reseaching, and writing final assignments, I feel a sense of relief as I can relax for a few weeks before starting my second semester here at Canisius College.

However, my stress level is still high as I am still running around finding the perfect gifts for my family members and friends. I love this time of year with the snow and Christmas lights and Holiday music, and I especially love baking. This year I am trying a few new recipes I have been given by some of my coworkers. With these I hope to expand the taste buds of the guests who come to my house for Christmas.

Here is the list of foods I will be attempting to make this Christmas:

queso de bola (Phillipines)

Christmas pudding (England- pudding is made weeks beforehand with dried fruit, spices, brandy and nuts, allowed to age then flambeed with brandy)

churros (Spain- fried dough with cinnamon and sugar)

various seafood dishes (Italy- the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve)

aebleskiver (Denmark- doughnuts with fillings)

babka (Poland- bread)

tres leches (Mexico- sweet cake)

Also I will just be making a variety of Christmas cookies, pies and other desserts to honor American culture as well.

Besides the gifts and the food, it is important to remember what this holiday season is all about- giving. Whether you are donating time or money to an oragnization or even just holding the door open for someone or even just smiling at a stranger- the little things sometimes can mean the most to someone.

No matter how terrible you think you may have it, someone else is struggling just as much or even more than  you are. Be kind and respectful to others. Enjoy this time of year and what we have left of it! As for the new year, make it count! Set a goal for yourself and accomplish it. My goal is to keep up my grades and graduate with a 4.0- I am already on the right path.

See you all next semester 🙂

Passing of a great man

Passing of a great man


After a long struggle with various health issues, Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95. An advocator for ending segregation and violence and a well loved and respected leader in South Africa for many years, Mandela has certainly left quite an impact on many.

Mandela stressed a huge importance on receiving an education, even stating, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” As per my last post, I am truly grateful for the educational opportunities I have been blessed to have.

In TESOL we are taught the importance of being tolerant of others’ cultures. Mandela is a role model to whom we, as future ESL teachers, can look to as he helped to have South African writings, songs, and other mediums distributed world wide. To this effect, Mandela stated, “Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them; one cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry or savour their songs. I again realized that we were not different people with separate languages; we were one people, with different tongues.” In this he explains how no matter our cultures of languages we are all human beings and should be treated the same.

Ultimately, we should all take a moment to appreciate the great country we live in where we do not have to fight on a daily basis for our right to attend school or our right to practice our religions or cultural traditions. Nelson Mandela made huge strides in South Africa for all he has done to help his people, and people to follow his lead and make a differences around the world.


Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks

Around this time of year people are always talking about the importance of being thankful for what you have, not in terms of material items, but for your health and your family. The one thing I am most thankful for is my education. We are privileged in the United States to have the opportunity, no matter your financial or social status, to be able to attend public school. Public schools in the United States do not discriminate against one’s gender or race as many other cultures do.

We learn throughout history how the United States was not always this way; back in early America girls were forbidden from attending school past a certain age because they were expected to tend to the duties around the house and get married and raise children. Also, schools used to not allow people of color to attend schools simply because of their race. Nowadays, we have come so far in our education system.

I would not be where I am today without the support from my parents as well who pushed me to do well in school. Even before I started kindergarten my mom and dad would work with my brother and me before dinner doing math problems and every night before bed we would read books together. I think this foundation of education helped me to achieve academically and continues to help me in my studies in the TESOL program.

I am very thankful for my job, even if I am still trying to obtain a full time teaching position, because I can help mold the minds of children as my parents and my teachers did for me.

Great Job

Great Job


Great job. Way to go. Oh yes, I am very excited.

These phrases are usually spoken and read as being positive; however, they can also be sarcastic where in fact the person did not do a good job on something and the person is not excited. The phrases change depending on the inflection a person uses to speak the words, or the context clues if the words are written down.

This common use of sarcasm in American culture through person to person interactions, movies, songs, and television, can be quite confusing for English Language Learners. ELL students are learning the English language in terms of particular word meaning with specific definitions. For example, in a soccer game if an ELL student missed blocking the goal and the other team scored for the win, a teammate might say, “Great job”. This would be confusing because the ELL student knows he did not do well, so why did his teammate say “great job”?

It is the role of teachers to show ELL students the various sarcastic phrases they may come in contact with and how the English language is ever changing with new generations. To do so, teacher can incorporate a variety of video clips from television shows or movies. I found a clip on YouTube to explain verbal irony and how it is used. It is part of a TED ED clip.

Students can then practice verbal irony they may use and show how the phrase they choose can be meant how it is suppose to, or how it could be said sarcastically to mean the opposite.

Veteran’s Day Reflection

Veteran’s Day Reflection

One of the final assignments for one of the classes I am taking is to research an assigned sect of refugee peoples in terms of why they leave their native countries, what type of education they receive while living in deplorable conditions, and what we can do, as teachers, to help students in refugee situations succeed.

As I am doing my research on the Burundi people, who flee their country for ethnic conflicts between the Tutsis and the Hutu peoples, causing war and destruction, I feel grateful for living in a country where I do not have to worry about such issues.

I am lucky to have grown up in a two parent household, with a roof over my head and food on the table every night. I am grateful to have received a high school, college, and now graduate school education.

However, I know this is not the reality of many other families and their children, even within the United States. As a novice teacher I have already encountered students with alcoholic, abusive, and absent parents; students who are homeless; and students who grew up in similar homes like mine, sitting right next to the aforementioned types of students with no idea what their classmates are experiencing. It is of the utmost importance to teach tolerance and show students how others may be living and what we can do to help them.

Everyday our soldiers are fighting to keep us safe as we sleep in our beds at night and I appreciate this with every ounce of my being. We as teachers need to act as academic soldiers and fight for our students and help them to succeed. Just as a soldier may think he knows what situation he will be getting into when he steps out of camp, or jumps out of a plane, he never could have fathomed the situation in reality.

The same goes for teachers. Every student, especially students who come from these refugee camps where who knows what awful things they have seen with their innocent eyes, needs to be individually attended to in terms of a specific academic plan helping the student to balance school and home life during trying times.

I would like to thank all soldiers, past and present, for their service to this country. You all make the United States a safe place for its citizens as well as for those, like the Burundi people, who come from unstable countries as refugees.