Becoming an ESL, Bilingual/Bicultural teacher one day at a time. This site is for future teachers and teachers of English Language Learners/ CLD. You will find resources in English and in Spanish that can serve as a guide in your journey.
Being a Non-traditional student often (if not always) means that most of the time you are the oldest in your classroom. Your classmates are dealing with different issues than you. You hear complaints about roommates, laundry, how they partied all night and feel sleepy. Some of these comments will make you feel out-of-place and will often push you to ask yourself “What am I doing here ?”.
I will always remember the day I stepped into a workshop, I took my son with me so we could tour UNC and get that college feel. It was a big deal for me. We were in line to get my student packet and the girl behind me said “You know families are meeting on another room” My immediate reaction was to look at my son’s face. When I told the girl I was a student, she looked at me astonished. Later that same the day another girl said to me “This must be weird for you”, in that moment I felt so mad and responded ” Is it weird for you? She responded by saying that she admired me for going back to school. I didn’t understand the term”going back to school” because I was a transfer student from AIMS Community college, I had been in college for 2 years already. I made a great effort to not react impulsively to her comments. I could see in her eyes that she was not used to see a non-traditional student. Many things came to my mind, one of them was to put myself in this girl’s shoes. She probably felt uncomfortable, and that was her way of expressing it. By doing this I understood that for her I was a mom and not a student. I understood that I was different from the rest of students.
At the workshop I had so many questions. I felt comfortable asking question nobody else was asking. Yes, I saw students looking at me like “Oh no, there she goes again” In contrast to freshman I knew what I wanted and I wanted to have a plan, because I felt I had no time to waste. I had to remind myself why I was in college and what my goals where.
On the other hand, my son was affected. He saw his mom being attacked and put down, but it was a reality check for me and him. My college journey would hard and these reactions where going arise on a day-to-day basis. I had to become stronger and confident about myself.
Non-traditional students have so much on their plate and so much to juggle in their lives. It’s hard, I won’t lie, but not impossible. You grow a thick skin and you to learn listen instead of judging. You learn to turn the negatives into positives. I decided to listen and not to judge, do my part and let things fall into place. With time and patience, I learned that in college we are all students, going though different situations and it’s okay to be who I am. I feel comfortable in my skin and I know I bring a different perspective to class discussion because of my experiences. I changed my mindset and more open and to listen, having in mind that from every situation I would learn something new. I have learned about English slang, about fraternities, what resident advisors do, what is not allowed at the dorms, what happens at parties, about the ups and downs of living with a roommate, college traditions and much more. I came to understand that I was there for another reason other than finishing my degree; my son will soon go to college and would live his life in a different way than me. Overall I changed my attitude, and took all the positive energy in from my course and things started to line up for me. As soon as I did this I was happier and enjoying my every day experiences; good and bad. I met knew people and little by little I found my place without loosing perspective of where I wanted to go. I started going to student events and clubs where I felt welcomed.
Now as a senior, I have learned to navigate UNC without loosing sight of my goal. In the process I know I have made friends and meet wonderful mentors and advisors. I have made the best of college journey and feel blessed. I wake up and give thanks that I can go to college everyday and learn.
To my non-traditional colleagues I must say, don’t give up, stay focused and strong on your goals. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to your teachers and classmates if you get stuck on something. Also, stay humble and open to learn from others. Be playful and be you. Don’t forget to use your classmates positive energy to fill your cup and keep going.
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"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire." - As W. B. Yeats never said
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