Friday, December 10, 2010

this is America

Today was a triumphant day for me at work. We have an Iraqi immigrant in one of our math classes. I know she has lived through some horrific things, and I'm pretty sure she received very little schooling in her home country. Her English is very, very limited.

Like all our students from the middle east, she is respectful and hardworking. However, when I ask her, "what is one plus one", she often answers, "one", or "four". I can't figure out if it is a language barrier, or lack of background knowledge. I walk away frustrated most times, and I'm sure she does too. Math is supposed to be the universal language (all of our other immigrant students excel in this class), why is she having so much trouble?

Well this week, somehow, I was able to teach her how to simplify radicals. I taught her a process using an index card with the perfect squares listed, and with the help of a calculator, lots of pointing to buttons, she was able to do the steps.

I doubted she would internalize the concept without me being by her side to guide her through the process.

However, when she raised her hand for help on her quiz today, I was shocked when I saw she had already answered some of the questions correctly!

I touched her arm, and said, "You did it!" I think I was more excited than her.

When I graded her quiz, she earned a 75%. Usually, she earns a zero.

My heart was all warm. This is America, a place where she feels safe and can learn!

Now, if only my other kids had done so well.

7 comments:

Diana said...

Thats wonderful!!!

When I worked at this childrens hospital, we had Saudi Arbian children come to the hospital for kidney transplants. If the patient was a boy, the father stayed with him all the time and was a constant present. If the patient was a girl, the dad was hardly ever around. Sad! ( Only the dads came with the patients). Girls werent as important as boys. Truely irritating. Diana

Sara said...

Diana, that is sad.

Ricky the Sheltie said...

Wonderful story! I hope she continues to do well!

Priscilla said...

What a wonderful piece of news!!! You must be so proud of her :)

Dawn said...

This makes me smile. And I don't even know what simplifying radicals means!

betty said...

To your Iraqi gal, "Mashallah!"
To you, "Mashallah," as well.
(In Arabic, when you do something good, one says this to you.)

Sara said...

Thanks AUnt Betty, I will tell her that next time :)