Bilingual/ESL Student Organization hosts panel discussion for future educators

BESOWithin the next five years, it is expected that Texas will need 11,000 new bilingual/ESL teachers. Bilingual/ESL Student Organization (BESO) hosted its annual discussion for current and future bilingual/ESL education students who will help meet that need.

"We cannot possibly teach enough bilingual ESL teachers. The demand for producing a pipeline for great students who can man the workforce of the future is enormous, and K-12 is overwhelmed," Neal Smatresk, president of UNT, said at the BESO event on October 20.

UNT's College of Education is helping to meet the demand through its programs for bilingual and ESL education. The panel included Smatresk, Jerry Thomas, dean of UNT's College of Education, and Jim Laney, chair of the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, as well as former members of BESO who graduated and became teachers in local school districts. They shared experiences from their education and first year of classroom experience.

Melissa Mollick ('14), seventh grade ESL teacher at Coppell Middle School North in Coppell, spoke of her own experiences and the stress inherent to teaching and finding a job. She encouraged new teachers to find a support group that understands the terrifying thought of teaching; "avoid that second comfort donut on the morning of your first day of work;" and, more importantly, block out everything but the kids when you're in the classroom. 

Focusing on techniques directly related to the classroom, Jesus Lujan ('13), a third grade bilingual teacher at W.S. Ryan Elementary in Denton, spoke about tools and methods he found useful. With class design, he suggested a backwards design that begins with knowing the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards, then writing the tests, and finishing with writing the lesson plans.

Lujan also reassured College of Education students that they would be well prepared on their first day because "Most people only have a semester of student teaching, [UNT students] have a year."

Wendy Camarena ('14), first grade bilingual teacher at Cabell Elementary in Dallas, spoke of her experiences with UNT and BESO in particular. She faced the challenge of balancing full time work while earning her degree, but Camarena's professors helped her find the right schedule to fit both. She looked out to the audience and stated, "When choosing an institution for higher education, we made one of the best decisions in our lives to choose the University of North Texas[…] We are slightly luckier than everyone else, to have the most supporting, helpful and even loving professors…"

"The focus of our organization [BESO] is to advocate for bilingual and ESL education; our purpose is to encourage students to keep moving forward. Hard work and dedication is required to create events like this, but BESO will keep working annually to come up with bigger and better presentations for our future teachers," said Ruben Fuentes, president of BESO and student majoring in interdisciplinary studies.

Learn more about our undergraduate degree programs, graduate degree programs and certification programs in bilingual and ESL education. Find out more about BESO on their homepage and Facebook.

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By Jessie Laljer, UNT's College of Education Development and External Relations Office
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