Quiet. That was how I would have described Cindy in the first five months that I knew her. She has a quiet smile, gives quiet looks, and has a quiet voice. To be honest, in the first five months that I taught her class, I never once heard her speak. In a class of twenty rowdy fifth graders, Cindy is exactly the kind of student who gets drowned out. When most of my class time is spent trying to get the class to be quiet and listen, it’s almost impossible to reach out to those who are already quiet and get them to speak up.
For the sake of Cindy and for sanity, I decided that this year, something had to change. I divided the class into four groups. While teaching in groups requires more of my time than teaching all the students at once, I would never go back. It took a couple of weeks, but in that time I got to see Cindy gain her confidence and finally utter her first sentence in English. It was quiet, and I’m sure I was the only one who could hear her, but she still said, “The zebra runs.” Now, two months have passed and in the new, smaller environment Cindy and students like her have flourished. She laughs, plays the games, and is visibly learning in each and every class.
No longer is she just the quiet girl in Quinto B; now when people ask about Cindy I still tell them that she’s quiet, but I know that she is also an incredibly smart, sweet girl who loves to learn and loves to write. Cindy is conscientious in her work and has a strong, internal motivation to succeed. She loves playing games but doesn’t care whether she wins. And she leaves me a note on her whiteboard at the end of almost every class.
Now, by using groups, I know each and every one of my kids better. And because I know them better, I can teach them better. English class has become a time when everyone is learning and no one’s voice, no matter how quiet, gets drowned out.