Growth Takes Time: A Reflection

FullSizeRender 2By Surabhi, 8th grade

When I first walked into an OWL classroom, I knew that my life would change. Spanish would no longer be a class, it would be a leisure activity. Of course, this concept was a bit foreign to me, since I couldn’t imagine having fun at school, while learning. However, within a few months, I was talking [somewhat] fluent Spanish, and could understand the occasional five words in my teacher’s directions. While this might sound like I was making more mistakes than not, it also means that I was following the OWL rules. Over time, I would not only grow in my confidence to make mistakes, and participate, but also in my ability to circumlocute and make inferences.

In 6th grade, I almost never participated. I barely talked, and the few times I was called on, no one could hear me. I wasn’t the only one who noticed. In my Diario for 6th grade, Señora constantly reminded me that I could improve my Spanish by participating more. She specifically states, “Participating more will surely help.”

While I didn’t pay her any attention at the time, I realize now that a big reason I became more outgoing in class, was because of how much Señora pushed me. By the end of 6th grade, I had improved tremendously, and was not only participating, but was a leader in class discussions. Señora responded to my last Diario of 6th grade, where I reflected my progress, with the following. “ I have loved watching you come out of your shell and find your voice.”  This is why you have made so much progress.”  This always stuck with me, since it is a very strong example of the bond that forms between teachers and students through innovative teaching methods like OWL.

Now, in eighth grade, I feel as though I have grown to become a big leader in everyday classroom activities. This extends to classes other than Spanish, and has really helped me to do good in school. I also know that leadership skills are going to be very valuable in my future, since they help me build confidence, and give me practice with general people skills. From my experience, they also give me advantages in class work Not only is this “leadership stage” a big improvement area for me, but it also demonstrates my move from a quiet, low key class member, to someone who isn’t afraid to share my thoughts and opinions. You could say that that I have become more of a risk-taker.

In addition to being a bigger participant in class, I have also grown to become a bigger risk taker. While both of these require a high level of confidence, risk taking involves more courage than the simple “I can do it” attitude that participation does. It is also plays a big role in learning. In the words of Michael Jordan himself, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”

My risk taking since 6th grade has increased for the same reason that my participation has increased: confidence. Becoming more confident with talking Spanish to my classmates was the result of an increase in how much more assured I was that they wouldn’t make fun of me. Seventh and eighth grade follow the same pattern as well. After sixth grade, it’s been only growth for me. In seventh grade, I talked all the time, and in eighth grade, I couldn’t stop. This steady growth of confidence not only affected my class participation and risk-taking, but my need to circumlocute as well.

Circumlocution goes a long way in Spanish class. It is, in fact, what caused me to improve so much within the three (more like two and a half) years I have been learning Spanish. However, I have noticed that as I learn more, I find less of a need to talk around the topic, and add pictures. For one thing, I spent countless hours drawing in my diario. I’m not kidding. I actually drew in my diarios. For those of you who don’t know, the Diario is a basically a Spanish “diary” which students are required to update with the responses to a different prompt every two weeks. For me, this was where I could show off what I had learned. The only problem is that, I became so underconfident in my Spanish, that I felt the need to tell Señora exactly what I was talking about. I even provided an English transcript the first time I wrote an entire Spanish Diario entry.

By seventh grade, however, I had tremendously improved. While I was very confident in my ability, I still drew pictures in my margins. However, they became less of an attempt to prove myself, and more of an additional piece of evidence, to support whatever I was saying. In eighth grade, I was incredibly confident. Very much like in seventh grade, I included pictures to support what I was saying. I know this, because I began to write more. In my quarter one writing prompt this year, I wrote four pages.

Through my career as an OWL student, I have found that have grown into a more confident person, in terms of participation, risk taking, and self-trust. I know that this confidence will be what will help me achieve my goal of an Intermediate – Mid Spanish speaker. This is basically someone who can sustain sentences, strings of sentences, and basic survival needs in a Spanish environment.  Yes, I know that I have a long road in front of me, but after experiencing what OWL has to offer, I know that the path will lead to nothing short of success.

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9 thoughts on “Growth Takes Time: A Reflection

  1. Wow, Ashley. I can only hope that one day I will be good enough to move a student so much, in both their proficiency and in their maturity. Thank you so much for sharing– it is inspiring

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stel was the “Sra.” in the story. I’m so thankful to work with her! We’ve both had the privilege of working with this student. Thank you for reading, it’s great to hear from you!

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  2. Surabhi-
    Thanks for sharing. It’s so wonderful to hear you reflect on your growth and the impact that the OWL classroom has had on you both in Spanish and across other academic areas, too. Keep pushing yourself to take risks and you’ll go far!

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  3. Pingback: End of Year Reflection | Desk-Free

  4. Wow. This reflection was very good. You explained everything about your Spanish experience, from 6th to 8th grade. In the reflection, you explained how you were timid at first, which was the same for me. You explained how you only came out of your shell because Senora pushed you. I am right now in 7th grade, and I am already 200 times better than last year. I feel much more comfortable in the Spanish room, and I am starting to talk more and more. Right now, it seems like my journey in learning Spanish is almost exactly like yours. I hope to be able to write 4 pages on my self reflection one day. 🙂 By reading this essay, I feel as if my level of comfort in Spanish has risen so much. Thanks.

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  5. I feel like you really tried hard. I happy that you could get more interactive and learn even more than before. You worked so hard and gained so much. I think that one day learning Spanish for you will just become so much more easy, and i sure you will help your peers come out of their shells just like you so that they can improve just as you did. After reading this I feel like now I’m going to come out of my shell and participate more in Spanish. I really feel that now I’m going to try so much harder to learn Spanish and come out of my shell. Thank you and I hope you grow even more as a Spanish speaker.

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  6. That was amazing. You started off so shy and ended up learning so much. I hope that you can keep growing to become a even better Spanish speaker. So many of your friends and even people who you don’t know are probably in the same state you are at or were before. I hope that you can show them the way to come out of their shell. I also feel that I can earn from you and come out of my shell just like you. I want to try harder and get more and more into the activities and participate more.Thank you so much for inspiring me and I hope I can become as good as you.

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  7. While reading this I kept thinking to myself about how I was the same way. I was never really confident in my own Spanish speaking at first, but now that I m in 7th grade i’m more confident in what I can do. So i can relate a lot.

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  8. That’s incredible. Its always nice to hear these successes stories coming from student who earning form the same learning system that I’m in. Its also a shame that other kids cant benefit from the same langue system that we students in these classes are lucky enough to benefit from. It is my opinion that this system should be much more wide spread than it is now, seeing as most classes learning language still use the textbook system. The OWL system has been proven to be much more effective, so if more classes used OWL, who knows how many students would be bilingual?

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