Do you remember Gerson Bermudes?? This student is inspiring my current Newcomers to go around me and use technology to motivate each other!
Perhaps you saw his inspiring video in one of our Seidlitz trainings or here on this blog. If you haven’t seen it, take a few minutes to be inspired by this young man. You’ll no doubt want to show that video to your students. ELs and native speakers alike are motivated by how quickly a person can learn a new skill with focus, practice and a belief that it is possible to accelerate your learning. (That first video is embedded below. )
So just before the December holiday break, I dropped by Spring Woods High School to meet with Gerson. I know he had a successful first year in the US, but it was difficult for him as most of his family was not here with him. He was living with relatives and trying to navigate our school system, high school academics, and a new environment. I am so happy to report that Gerson is finding success as a Junior at Spring Woods HS here in Houston. He struggles with Chemistry – but he tells me that is common among many 11th grade students. 🙂 I’m editing the video but I wanted to offer you this 2 min reflection from Gerson. I think he says as few things here that are important for our beginners and our long-term ELLs to hear.
Thanks to everyone who asks about him. I told him that he had quite a following of students and teachers. He was astonished!
He was even more moved when I read him the questions from my high-school newcomers. He answered them all in the video that we are editing.
To me, this is where it gets even more amazing. One of my students, Sonbul, is in his 2nd year in the US after having to leave Sudan, Africa. Sonbul is working hard and is very motivated by Gerson. Sonbul took it upon himself to record a quick video for Gerson and send it to me. He did it on his phone in my class when we were finishing an activity. Sonbul really wanted Gerson to know about how much he appreciates his example and he obviously wanted to give something back to Gerson. Gerson loved it!
Can you imagine how much fun that was for me to share with Gerson?? Later that week I got an equally inspiring email from another ELL who was moved by Gerson’s courage. Wendhy is Intermediate to Advanced in her English but tells me that she struggles in academic classes because of language. She wrote me an email about Gerson and it became a back-and-forth with Gerson getting to read her expressions of gratitude.
I love this ripple effect because none of this was content-specific but these learners are obviously influencing each other to keep going and it is sure to have a tremendous impact on their motivation and their learning.
If you’d like to connect with any of these students, just reach out. I’m sure they would be honored.
PS: Here is the original video that we did a few years ago… the one that started it all. Gerson was only in US schools for 7 months but he took it upon himself to make sure he learned as much English as possible right away. Just try not to be inspired!
Update Dec 2016