Ashley Guevara, BMC ’24

Celebrating Language in the Classroom

Semester: Spring 2023

Faculty Advisor: Alison Cook-Sather

Field Site: Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School (FACTS)

Field Supervisor: Lucinda Megill-Legendre

Praxis Poster:

Ashley Guevara_Praxis Poster_Final_resized

Further Context:

My Praxis course “Celebrating Language in the Classroom” focuses on uplifting multilingualism in schools and transforming English language education. After taking the course “Emergent Multilingual in the U.S.,” I felt inspired to go beyond the higher education sphere and apply my coursework in an actual educational setting. When designing my independent study, I also hoped to continue developing relationships at my field placement and observing different ways to celebrate students’ full linguistic repertoires.

This poster represents my journey and the many connections I’ve made throughout the semester. I commuted to Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School in Chinatown, Philadelphia, two times a week. I worked in an English Language Development classroom with 14 students and supported my host teacher by leading small groups and providing 1-1 sessions
focused on math, reading, and science. I’ve enjoyed my time at FACTS because of the school’s emphasis on community, the prioritization of content-based learning, and the encouragement of exploration in folk arts.

Working in a classroom presented many new challenges but simultaneously opportunities for growth as an aspiring educator. One of my biggest challenges was learning to differentiate when creating lessons since the students have a wide range of English proficiency levels and different exposures to content. Thankfully, my host teacher was very understanding and would meet with me to discuss strategies. Another challenge at the beginning of the semester was surpassing language barriers past my knowledge of Spanish and English. Over time, I was able to implement more non-verbal forms of communication, like body movement and drawing, to
help students identify vocabulary words. Stepping out of my comfort zone and normalizing the usage of gestures in lessons was instrumental in creating a bond with the class. Finally, I needed to familiarize myself with classroom dynamics which helped me later become a better mediator
and problem solver. Whether I assisted with student conflict or worked with parents, I used my understanding of classroom dynamics to be intentionally present.

Outside of my placement, I also grew by forming connections with my faculty advisor in our bi-weekly meetings. Although we specialize in different areas of Education Studies, it was always great to see mesh ideas and exchange pedagogical resources that are valuable in a multitude of educational contexts. Some of the topics we covered include the issues with
standardized testing, translanguaging practices, brave spaces, and the importance of trust. I am very grateful for having time to digest and process my experiential learning alongside Alison and for their continued support.

As I worked on my confidence across all aspects of my Praxis experience, I finally designed my own whole group lesson. Although I am not a history major or pictured myself teaching social studies, I led a lesson on the creation of the U.S. Constitution while centering the role of indigenous peoples. This work was especially empowering because my host teacher and I worked hard to emphasize counter histories while also unlearning things ourselves.

Although my Praxis course is over, I will continue to reflect on my experiences and the importance of applying pedagogy in the classroom. Working in an English Language Development space has taught me a lot about the need for bilingual educators and how translanguaging should also be present between student and educator. I’m excited to continue researching educational policy around emergent multilingualism in the United States and working on becoming a culturally responsive educator dedicated to uplifting students’ diverse experiences.