Do you know what the TELL minor is? Well, TELL is actually just the nickname! The official name of the minor is TESOL K-12. The goal of the minor is to discuss practices used to teach students who are learning English as a second language. All students completing the minor participate in a student teaching experience. We reached out to Mary Gillespie, a student in the Elementary Education program who recently completed the student teaching experience requirement, and asked her to share her thoughts on the TESOL K-12 minor.
"Going into my TELL Student Teaching, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect, and I worried I would not be able to help the English Language Learners (ELLs) in my class like I wanted to. I was also a little worried due to some rumors I had heard that doing your TELL student teaching in Utah was a “waste of time”... However, in the end, I found this wasn’t true! I had an amazing experience! I taught in a 6th grade class and had the opportunity to work with several ELLs... I worked with a specific student, helping him to complete assignments and work through anything he found confusing. I wanted to learn everything I could about him so I could complete a “Case Study” on him by the end of the month. I learned about his academic strengths, test scores, his needs in the classroom, his background in education and family life, and more. I then created a plan to help him succeed in several aspects of his education (cognitive, literacy, social, etc.). It was really cool to work one-on-one with a student while still teaching the entire class. It was even more impactful when our professors asked me to submit my case study to the school I was working in (to put it in my student’s official files). It was incredible to see how the school was excited to accept my case file and it made me feel like a true educator!"
Mary's Advice for Students Planning to Minor in TESOL K-12:
1. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches to teaching. As time went on [in my TELL classes], I realized that trying different approaches was really beneficial. I found strategies that helped some students that did not work for others... If I had stuck with just one “way” of teaching, I would have only been helping one part of the class. Don’t be afraid to try different approaches to teach your ELLs, because in the end it will only help.
2. Try to get involved. When I first started my TELL student teaching, I knew it was only going to be four weeks long. I thought that because it was so short, I would not be able to get involved as much. However, part way through my experience, my mentor teacher got sick, and my partner and I had to take over everything. We got involved in managing the classroom, teaching every lesson, and everything else that teaching entails...I started to notice how much I was learning about the students. I felt like I was really able to get to know the students in my class by being more involved in every aspect of their education, rather than just teaching some lessons and helping them with literacy. So, get involved! It helps develop relationships with the students and teaches you so much more than observing ever could.
3. Stay organized; there are a lot of assignments. I was not expecting the workload that was required of this student teaching opportunity. Most of it is something we had done before in our TELL classes, but it was all condensed down to 4 weeks!...Stay on top of your work. The professors were really amazing about helping, too. I am so grateful for their willingness to help and be flexible.
4. Just enjoy your time there! It really was an amazing experience…one that I will never forget. So, go in with a good attitude and enjoy it! Get to know the kids, be as involved as you possibly can, and just have fun!
Click here to learn more about adding to TESOL K-12 minor to your teaching major!