Grade Level(s): 1st grade Transitional Woodbine Elementary, Cicero District 99
Subject/Topic: Science /ESL
Time Frame: 2 Weeks/ 45 min per session
My name is David Tormo. I am originally from Spain and this is my sixth year living and working as elementary teacher in Illinois Public Schools. I hold a Master´s degree in Translation and a certificate in Education and I am currently taking courses to get a Master´s degree in Curriculum and Instruction by the University of Concordia by the end of the next academic year.
I came to the United States thanks to a program called Visiting Teachers that hires teachers to work in bilingual and dual language programs in different school districts, all around the United States. The purpose of the program is to exchange teaching experiences, strategies, materials, and perspectives. It has become very popular, and currently there are more American educators teaching in Spain than Spanish educators teaching in American schools.
It has been a very good experience so far, and that´s why I have decided to stay longer. It´s hard to find educational programs in Spain where classes are taught in English and Spanish; -most of them are private and just very wealthy families can afford the tuition. On the other hand, there are international schools, also very exclusive, where total immersion programs are offered, also charging a very high tuition. The positive aspects for the privileged students that can afford these schools is that classes are taught by native speakers, groups are very small, the curriculum always meets the highest standards and there are a lot of after school activities.
I am currently working as a first grade teacher in Cicero Public Schools where I teach 50% my courses in English and 50% in Spanish as part of a Transitional Bilingual program. The elementary schoolwhere I work offers a kindergarten to third grade program and it´s one of thesmallest in the district. The size of the school helps us to partner and interact often with teachers and students from other grades and makes thelearning process more interesting for everyone. On the other hand, theeducational resources and support are very different from the ones found inEuropean schools. Nevertheless, Cicero schools are public and many students canbenefit from their transitional bilingual programs. Families are verysupportive, always willing to volunteer and staff is very dedicated andprofessional. The community is very multicultural and diverse, which makes the learning process very interesting and enriching.
I am also bilingual: I speak French and Spanish and I have traveled, lived, and worked in many countries, especially in Europe and South America. I have volunteered every summer since I lived in the United States working in schools in many Central American educational communities. I consider myself privileged to have received a great education and to be able to work in a job that I love. That´s why I feel it is my responsibility to share my free time with others who are less privileged. Schools districts in these countries always have many educators who are willing to learn and exchange curricula, ideas, and materials with me and it has been always a very positive experience that I look forward year after year.
Education is not just knowledge, but also values, and I try to be a good model for my students sharing all these experiences and passion for life with them. It is sometimes hard because I know all the challenges that they have every day in the communities where they live. Nevertheless, I keep telling them that education is the key to success and if they are good students and really fight for their dreams, they will go anywhere they want.