Maideli Garcia knows impactful ways to improve the reading skills of students from two linguistic backgrounds.
Garcia, now in her second year teaching 5th grade at West Liberty Elementary School in West Liberty, Iowa, serves as a dual language teacher. This skill comes in handy when teaching students valuable reading skills.
Dual language teachers are in great need in Iowa. This past fall, UI College of Education Associate Professor David Johnson said the number of English language learners in Iowa schools has increased by 452 percent over the past two decades.
Garcia, originally from Sioux City, Iowa, graduated from the Elementary Education Program at the University of Iowa College of Education. There, she also earned an endorsement in reading.
As a dual language teacher, there is a Spanish component to much of the curriculum that Garcia utilizes. She teaches both students whose first language is Spanish or English. Approximately half of Garcia’s students are native English speakers.
“It’s very neat to see those students reading novels in Spanish,” says Garcia.
When teaching reading skills, encouraging students of all ability levels is extremely important to Garcia. She says this is especially crucial for students who may be struggling with reading English. Garcia notes that seeing all of her students continuing to improve their reading skills is one of her overall goals in teaching.
It is valuable to have dual language teachers in the West Liberty School District for two reasons. First, there is a large Latino population in the district and, Garcia says, it is beneficial to the children’s social skills and ability to have a global outlook.
As a pre-service teacher at the UI College of Education, Garcia was mentored by Associate Professor Carolyn Colvin. Garcia credits Colvin with showing her how to teach elementary-aged children to think critically as they improved their reading skills.
Garcia also completed student teaching in the West Liberty School District. After graduation, Garcia said it “worked out perfectly” to begin teaching in the same district.