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My Personal Pledges-Old and New

The foundation of my philosophy of bilingual education, and education in general, is the notion of social justice. As an educator, I can only hope that everything that I do to serve children, parents, school personnel and the community will have a positive effect towards making this world a better place for all children, including those who have been historically marginalized or under-served.

As the great educator Paolo Freire once said, “Teaching is a political act”.  Advocating for students who are often marginalized within the school system is not an easy task. The politics of bilingualism, immigration, racism, class, and other socially constructed categories can be divisive and volatile. Advocating for change in a system that tends to perpetuate the status quo is a never-ending struggle.

There are times when I just want to “throw in the towel” and give up the good fight. There are times when I just want to remove myself from the field of education and take on a new career. There are even times when I think that it is too emotionally grueling to constantly fight for the implementation of quality bilingual programs when it seems that so many other people don’t seem to care if programs are in threat of being dismantled. I wallow in self pity and exhaustion temporarily, yet I somehow seem to snap out of it.

Today I’ve decided to publicly document a few promises that I have made to myself over the years about my passion for bilingual education. I am also going to make a few new promises to myself, after having attended a conference about staying positive in difficult times.

My Old Pledges:

  1. I vow to always promote, defend and improve bilingual education programs even if I am the only person in the room who is doing so.
  2. I vow to help, nurture, and mentor teachers, parents, and administrators who are interested in multilingualism and second language acquisition. I would love to help every teacher that is out there, but my passion is bilingualism and second language acquisition.
  3. I vow to examine, dispel and reject myths, rumors, deficit forms of thinking and the distortion of research regarding bilingualism, bilingual education, and second language acquisition.
  4. I vow to teach people “the system” and attempt to make research, the school system, the law, etc accessible and understandable to people who might not have expertise in the field of education.

My New Pledges:

These pledges are as a result of a conference that I attended today about staying positive in challenging times. I’ve always known that I have the tendency to overextend myself when serving others and I therefore can be prone to feelings of burnout as well as feeling that I am not making a difference in the school system. Today was a reminder that I can only serve and love others if I am in the best physical and emotional shape to do so.

  1. I vow to take care of myself physically by eating well, exercising on a frequent basis, and sleeping well. My physical health affects my energy levels and my emotional health. My energy levels and emotional health affect my ability to accomplish my previously mentioned vows. I literally have over one hundred pounds to get rid of and I am ready to take the next step to do so. It is a bit hard to stand up in front of teachers all week for a forty hour training when my weight, lack of sleep and poor eating are contributing to lack of energy.
  2. I vow to surround myself with positive people who are dedicated and supportive to the field of bilingual education and bilingualism. While I may have to work often within systems that are not responsive to bilingual learners, I will continue to cultivate my face-to-face and online support systems in order to maintain my emotional health. When someone makes negative comments about bilingual programs, students or parents, I will not let it eat me up as it often does.
  3. I vow to begin traveling again. Removing myself temporarily from the  to day-to-day grind of the school system will allow me to return with a renewed sense of creativity and innovation.
  4. I vow to reach out more to monolingual teachers and people in the school system. As bilingual teachers, we often self-segregate ourselves as a defense mechanism because we have been isolated or mistreated. I vow to try to try to extend a hand more often to people who are not in the field of bilingual education.

Wish me luck!

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Categories: Bilingual Education
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