Building relationships in the classroom with English language learners

By: Chesley Polk, Brunson Elementary School

We have had great start with ArtistCorps! ArtistCorps members are all around Winston-Salem performing arts integrated and instructive sessions.

I serve at Brunson Elementary School, working with English Language Learners (ELL) in kindergarten and with first and second graders. Our first few months have been challenging but so informative. We recently ventured into life cycles of different animals and provided an opportunity to meld performance with education. We are using the Theater Arts performance standards to cover a great deal of science standards and it seems to be making an impact. Overall, the students’ ability to recall has improved and we hope it will continue as we get more detailed and more creative with our planning. 

We serve with a kindergarten teacher who said that in her 29 years of teaching she's never had a class fully learn and understand the days of the week in English and in order. This is a small example of the victories our service with ArtistCorps can and will continue to accomplish. It's an amazing feeling to leave everyday seeing the learning that is happening in the children we serve. We get to encourage students to take pride in learning and show how fun it can be. I believe in the service we are providing and the change it can make. If you want to change the world, you have to start with the children. That is my goal. If ArtistCorps were in every town across America, imagine the difference we could make. 

Our children love seeing us everyday and the relationship we build is so different from the teacher/student relationship already in place. It is such a special relationship that is, while trying at times, so inspiring and invigorating. I cannot wait to see what the rest of this year holds for us! 

 November 3, 2015