Mariba Jacobsen


My name is Mariba Jacobsen. I am a 4th grade teacher.

Interviewer: OK, Mrs. Jacobsen, I’m going to be asking you questions but the question won’t appear if we—if we use video segments from your discussion. My question won’t appear so if you just kind of repeat the question so it’s clear what we’re talking about without the question.

Mariba Jacobsen: OK.

Interviewer: Tell me a little bit about Daniel Lopez.

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Uh, Daniel Lopez came to me about six weeks ago. He’s from Mexico. His mother has just had a baby. When he came into the class he spoke no English. He’s a very bright student. Already he is reading from English books, a paragraph. He will always volunteer and raise his hand. He’s very social. The boys and girls really like him and he seems to enjoy being in uh my class. Um, let’s see. What else should I say?

Interviewer: Did if have a good education in Mexico.

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Yes. He’s a very bright student. He does very well in Math. He—he—I’m sure he was pre-educated.

Interviewer: Do you have any idea what his literacy level is in Spanish?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) I—I’m not sure. You’d have to ask Mrs. Monterrosa. I’m sure he’s very good.

Interviewer: So you’ve worked with him for a few months.

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) For about six weeks. Uh-huh.

Interviewer: And what kind of strategies have you used with him?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Well, there are—the first thing I do is try to let him know that I love him. I put my arm around him; I pat him on the head a lot. I have him sitting by a—a child in my class who also speaks Spanish and English to be a translator for me. I have sitting with two other little ESL students so that he feels comfortable. I call on him quite often. At first he was very quiet, but now he responds quite readily. Uh, like I—at the very first I had—I got some books from the Title 1 teacher. Just simple little uh preschool books and had him start reading cow, horse, and picking out the pictures. Now he can go through all those books very easily.

Interviewer: What kind of things does he do well in your class?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) He’s very—very good in math, he’s very good in art. He um—let’s see. He’s very good in computer. He goes into the—to a Spanish teacher for an hour a day for his social studies and language and then he goes to uh Miss Son—Miss Monterrosa for an hour a day. They help with his…

Interviewer: Is that an immersion class that he goes into?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Uh-huh. It is. It’s the Spanish immersion class. Mrs. Wilson teaches it.

Interviewer: What has surprised you about his development?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Well the thing that has surprised me about Daniel is—is how comfortable he feels in our class. He—he wants to try hard, he wants to be the leader in the games, he always volunteers. Um, reading—like I say, right after about the first two weeks he raised his hand to read. Now whether he knows what he’s reading, I’m not sure, but he at least tries the words and he feels happy. When he first started doing it we would clap uh—when he would read we’d clap for him and make a big deal out of it. And then that made it so Santiago, another little ESL student in my class, would start raising his hand to come along.

Interviewer: Great. Uh, what story stands out in your mind that kind of captures his experience in your class?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Hmm. Let’s see if I can think of anything. Probably the thing that I remember the most is the first time he read and how we clapped and how he just beamed and how happy he was that we had made such a big deal out of it.

Interviewer: Does he have quite a bit of support at home?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Yes. His parents are very supportive.

Interviewer: In what ways do they support him?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Uh, they have—one day a—a little boy in my class who speaks both Spanish and English told Daniel that I had said he had no brains. That—he was teasing him but I didn’t know what he had said. The next day his parents came to school, both his mother and father, very upset because Daniel had gone home crying. And I had to have Miss Monterrosa come and tell me what had happened and uh I—I said to Ramon, who had been my translator—he said, “I was just goofing around with him. I was just teasing him.” But his parents were very concerned and they had come to make sure. Also we had tried to maybe—after he had been in my room a couple of weeks, we wanted to put him in Mrs. Wilson’s Spanish immersion class. I though he would be happier there. And his parents said, “No, “ and he said, “No.” They wanted to stay in with the regular 4th grade.

Interviewer: What are some aspects of schooling that have been most challenging?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Uh, the most challenging to me is making sure that I am reaching—that I’m—that he doesn’t have his feelings hurt, that he is happy in class, and that he is learning to speak English. And he—he says a lot of words like ‘drink of water’ and ‘go to the bathroom’ and ‘my turn.’ He’ll say things in English.

Interviewer: What—what have you done to beat his biggest challenge?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) I would say his biggest challenge probably is making me understand what he wants. Uh, luckily we do have two or three other students in our class that speak Spanish that are in just regular English and that has been real helpful having both students able to translate back and forth for me, if they translate correctly. That’s a problem. I never know for sure if they are because a lot of times the kids will laugh with each other, the three little Spanish kids will laugh and I don’t know what they’re saying and I’m not sure that the kids tell me exactly what they’re saying.

Interviewer: So they’ve got their own special code?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) They do. And I’ve let them sit together. I’ve just recently last week put one on a different table so they can kind of emerge away from each other a little bit and still feel comfortable in the class.

Interviewer: Let’s talk about his abilities to seek opportunities using English.

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Um, whenever he speaks to me, “Can I have a pencil,” “I need a paper,” he’ll---he’ll always do that. And I’ll say, you know, if he comes up and says it in Spanish, I’ll say, “Try to say it in English.”

Interviewer: Does he—does he try to seek opportunities to speak English with the other kids?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Yes. On the playground. Another thing that I have tried to do—I speak no Spanish. So say, for instance, we’re going to be on page 11, I might say (speaks Spanish). And then they just laugh. They think that’s so funny and then they’ll tell me what the word is in English. That’s been fun for me too.

Interviewer: How is his self-confidence?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Very good. Has good self-confidence.

Interviewer: What about his goal-directed behavior?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) He’s—he’s um—he’s no behavior problem at all. I might once in a while have to remind him to stay on task and not to visit but he’s—he’s very nice to work with.

Interviewer: Does he work well alone?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Yes, particularly in math because they understand the math.

Interviewer: Talk about how he participates with the other kids in class.

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) One thing I did when they first came into the class and they couldn’t speak any English, I told you I got these books like from ESL, and I would have different little English students take them out in the hall and read these books with them. And sometimes I would let him choose the student that he wanted to go out and help him. Another thing that we have done is, I have made these little work books for them and whenever they have any free time or if I’m doing something in English that I think maybe they can’t understand, I’ll let them take magazines, cut out pictures, and they put the pictures, like this is a car, and they will label it in English. And they ask me or they may ask another student in the class, this is a doll. Let’s see, some of the pages uh—here’s a washer and watch. They seem to enjoy cutting these out, gluing, and then either asking me or another student, you know, what the word is. And then when they have time we go through and review the words in this book.

Interviewer: That’s great. Uh, what role do you feel his peers and teachers have played in his life?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) The peers are very supportive. All three of my ESL students, particularly with two little boys are very outgoing and very athletic and—so they’re always chosen. The kids have protected them. They watch out for them. My little girl in my class is named Shamila and she’s very quiet and she’s the hardest for me to reach. But she participates but she’s very quiet. Uh, both the boys are very outgoing and I think that they—they enjoy going to the classes. I—we have a—let’s see, we have a Spanish teacher, 5th/6th grade Spanish teacher, Elsa Muntzing and I’ve told them that if they ever get in trouble and they can’t find me they should go to Mrs. Muntzing and she will help them. And one—sometimes they’ll come to me and say, “Mrs. Muntzing, Mrs. Muntzing,” if they need to go with a problem they’ve had and it’s—and then we’ll go find Mrs. Muntzing to talk to.

Interviewer: Do you require a lot of homework?

Mariba Jacobsen: I have homework three nights a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. I only require the Spanish students to do it if it’s the math problems. I don’t have them do any spelling or language yet because their parents can’t help them.

Interviewer: What level of reading do they do?

Mariba Jacobsen: Oh, I would say they’re uh—in English they’re reading 4th grade. Uh, but I don’t know whether they understand it. Um, and—and they’re suppose to read 20 minutes a night.

Interviewer: And they’re getting support from their parents?

Mariba Jacobsen: Very supportive. Mm-hmm.

Interviewer: Tell me what the most significant or important thing you have learned about this?

Mariba Jacobsen: (referring to Daniel Lopez) Probably the most important thing that I have learned, when—when Daniel was first put in my class I was very confused and upset about it because I had never worked completely with an ESL student before that could speak no English. And I just did not know how I could reach him, if I could make him feel comfortable. It was a big challenge for me. But I have just loved having him in my class. I have learned that he’s a wonderful, intelligent boy and that he wants to learn and that they learn very quickly, more quickly then I do. And it has been a good experience for our class to rally around and helping when he wants something or when he says something. I think he’s been a real addition to our class.

Interviewer: Is there anything else you would like to say?

Mariba Jacobsen: I’m just thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to get to know uh these little—these children from—I have two from Argentina also. And to tell you the truth, I was very nervous; I didn’t feel comfortable with Latin Americans. Uh, this has made me feel way more comfortable. The parents have been so nice and so supportive and—and the kids have just been wonderful. It’s been a wonderful opportunity.

Interviewer: What would you like to say to teachers are training to deal with kids like this?

Mariba Jacobsen: The main thing I would think is to let them know that you care about them and they feel comfortable in your classroom. That’s what I would say.

Interviewer: Wonderful.

Mariba Jacobsen: OK.

Interviewer: Before you get up, will you hold that book up again.

Mariba Jacobsen: Yes. This is Daniel’s book. Um, he goes through—when he has free time he goes through magazines.

Interviewer: I need you to show me the same things as you showed before.

Mariba Jacobsen: OK.

Interviewer: The car.

Mariba Jacobsen: OK. B was a good one. We didn’t show you B, but B was good. Here’s the car. What else did I show? A—a doll on D.

Interviewer: I need you to hole it more towards the camera like you were.

Mariba Jacobsen: OK. Oh, this is I. (interruption) They go through magazines and cut out. (interruption) OK. Car. (interruption) Sorry. (shows Daniel Lopez’s free-time book)