On September 17 –18, 2021, we will be hosting a free two-day virtual conference to explore current teaching trends and the future of education technology. At this conference, you’ll connect with organizations and teachers, share your experiences and expertise, and help shape the future of English language education. This article is part of a series of posts introducing some of the conference speakers.
Meet Fely García López, an Educator Innovation Lead at Flipgrid. Fely will be joining us on September 17 to talk more about Flipgrid and the four language domains.
Fely has always wanted to be a teacher. She grew up in Mexico and learned some English in high school. After her high school graduation, she moved to the United States with her parents.
“I went straight to the university to ask what I needed to be a teacher in this country. I was met with countless obstacles. I was told—by an English teacher—that I was never going to make it in college, much less be a teacher. I struggled with the language and with the culture. Because of that, I decided to help others who were “labeled” as limited English proficient and empower them to overcome their obstacles. I was going to be the voice of the oppressed, the voice of those who couldn’t speak—yet.”
Before her current role, Fely taught ELAR and ESL for 15 years. For her first teaching job, she was a 6th grade ELA teacher.
“More than half of my students were English learners, some recent immigrants. I was supposed to be teaching reading comprehension and inference skills, but the curriculum wasn’t tailored to my students’ needs; my students couldn’t connect to the literature. So, I did what any other teacher does: improvise, adapt, and overcome. I began to find local stories and texts that appealed to my students, and still targeted the state’s student expectations. I found literature and photographs with characters and people that my students could connect with and had great success. I taught 6th grade for a couple of more years and then I went to teach 8th grade language arts, reading, and ESL to recent immigrants. I found ways to connect with my students and found ways for my students to connect to texts using real life experiences. I was always my students’ loudest cheerleader and biggest supporter.”
Fely gets excited about technology integration in bilingual education, English as a second language, and dual language classrooms.
“I feel that technology, when made part of daily learning practices, can knock down many barriers and obstacles as it helps lower the affective filter. I am excited about being bilingual and about promoting bilingualism! I am a fan of Spanglish, for I feel it’s part of my identity as a Mexico-Americana! Being bilingual vale por dos!”
Fely is also incredibly passionate about equity and inclusion.
“Sadly, there are many students who do not have access to the resources to help pave their way into higher education. There is not only a learning gap between the different socio-economic groups, but also an opportunity gap. For this reason, I feel that it is imperative that we find means and resources to level the playing field for all students, regardless of skin colour, culture, ethnic background, or social status.”
In 2015 and 2017, Fely went to a few different conferences. At all of these conferences, Fely saw a pattern.
“Educators would highlight amazing things that their students would do with all the technology they had. In all these fantastic presentations, there was not a single student of colour, not a single student who looked like or talked like the ones that sat in my classroom. My students could do the same things and create similar projects with similar impacts, but with much less resources. Since then, I’ve worked to highlight my students, their creativity, their veracity, and most importantly, their resilience as they fight battles that many can only dream of—well actually, nightmares! If my students can accomplish great things with limited resources, imagine their impact on the world if we provide them with the same opportunities!”
Fely also believes in “relationships before curriculum.”
“I always made it a point to learn about my students before they learned the content. Every child has a story to tell and to me it was, and still is, very important to listen to those stories. Students do academically and socially better when they know that their teacher cares about them and values them. That’s why I always spent time at the beginning of the school year building relationships before language acquisition started.”
To hear Fely speak, be sure to register for our virtual conference.
To learn more about Fely, you can connect with her on Twitter at @FelyTeachnology and on Facebook.