Day Twenty-Three: Educational Interpreters
The method of using interpreters while assessing a student that speaks proficiency in a language other than English was mentioned while I was going to school. I can't remember if it was brought to my attention while working towards my elementary degree, but it was briefly talked about during my graduate program. That is, it was brought to our attention that a person who speaks a language other than English, should have the option (and it's best practice) to be assessed in their primary language,with the help of an interpreter, and compared to the assessment done in English (that is to determine whether or not there difficulties are due to lack of understanding of the English language).
If someone would have told me when I was going to school that I was going to stay in North Dakota, teach students with special needs, AND have to work with interpreters on a regular basis, I would have laughed in their face. I mean, this is North Dakota. Right?!
Oh the things I never knew.
During my Grad school residency, I taught in a small town K-12 school with a heavy migrant population. That is, a good amount of our students attended school there until the snow came, and returned in the spring. Their parents worked for potato and beet farmers. I remember assessing a 4th grade student who struggled to learn early literacy skills, in his primary language - Spanish, with the help of an interpreter. He spoke some English and his parents were ablet o speak some English as well. That was an eye-opener.
Now, I have been working in this ever-growing school district for the past 3+ years and asside from being amazed at our cultural diversity in this part of ND, I continue to work with interpreters on a regular basis - Bosnian, Roma-Bosnian, Somalian, etc. It can be very difficult to find reliable adults that understand English well enough to interpret for us - some of them haven't been in the US very long, either. However, without these wonderful interpreters, I wouldn't be able to do my job to it's fullest potential. I wouldn't be able to set up meetings with parents, meet and discuss assessmsent results with parents, set goals for their children with the parents' input, etc. As much as I complain about how difficult it may be to add another wheel to the multidisciplinary team, and work with parents through an extra person, I am thankful for the hard work and willingness of the interpreters that i have work with to help me help a child. I am very thankful for them!