Teacher Tribute
Service-learning and ESL

Rachel Gelb, ESL teacher, Bache-Martin School

Rachel Gelb, English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Bache-Martin Elementary School, is a prime example of a teacher who adapted NID’s service-learning framework to meet the unique needs of her students. Rachel’s third, fifth, and sixth graders are English language learners who have varied schedules. This makes finding time for Need in Deed activities nearly impossible, because the group is rarely if ever together all at once. As ESL students, there was also additional time required for students to acquire the language necessary to conduct discussions and explore issues of interest.

Rachel came up with the idea to allow her Need in Deed ESL students to meet during their lunch period. She explains, “’Lunch Bunch’ enabled all of my ESL students to participate, and I asked each of them to bring a non-ESL friend with them. This was to encourage friendships, because sometimes ESL students can become isolated.”

The idea worked beautifully, and yielded many benefits. Rachel continues, “My ESL students were able to take on leadership roles through the Need in Deed work, and this was wonderful for them. They gained confidence, and their language improved immensely. Because they are excited to participate in Need in Deed and passionate about the issues we are exploring, they are highly motivated to acquire and use the language. They are writing and speaking better because this is an authentic experience, not a contrived, rote exercise.”

Unlike a traditional curriculum, Need in Deed’s My Voice service-learning framework is adaptable to a variety of settings. Teachers use this flexibility to determine what will work best for their students. Rachel concludes, “Need in Deed encouraged me to modify the program as needed and stressed that I did not need to follow it verbatim. They were great.”

Congratulations to Rachel, and best wishes for continued success!