Tuesday, April 26, 2005


This last week has been all about paper work, phone calls, and emails. There's so much to do to get ready for the summer. TFA sent me a three page "to-do" list of things they need from me. (I am quite proud to announce that I'm almost finished with the list!) I do have to say that as an organization, they are quite organized with the mailings and updates that they send us and they are really good about responding to emails ASAP.

Now the main thing I have to worry about is preparing for the NYSTCE exams that I have to take. I'm taking the LAST on May 14th. I still haven't received the prep book that I ordered from amazon.com but I'm trying to work with the online resources. Apart from the LAST, I'm particularly concerned about the CST (multi-subject) that I have to take in June because if I don't pass it, I won't have an opportunity to re-take it, and therefore won't be able to teach in NY. Stress I tell you! Anyone taken the exams and want to give me some encouragement?

Today I got the ball rolling on setting up the classroom observations that are part of my "independent work" that I have to do before the summer institute. Since I'm not getting back to the States until May 15th, I have to cram nine observations (and the readings that go along with them) into one week. The second to the last school week of the year. It should be interesting trying to accomplish all this in the jet-lagged state that I'm going to be in when I get home.

Well, only two more weeks until Sardegna starts to fade into a distant memory . . .

Friday, April 22, 2005

ESL. How does it work, exactly?

So far, all I know about my TFA assignment is that I am teaching ESL. I still don't know whether I will be teaching elementary or secondary.

When I applied to TFA I listed elementary as my first choice and I was 99% certain that I would be assigned to that since my degree is in Italian (therefore I'm not qualified to teach, say, science or history). Now, being assigned to ESL, there is a possibility that I could teach high school. I would still be OK with that, though I had imagined myself teaching 3rd grade (because I love that age) or 4th or 6th grade (because those were the years I had my two favorite teachers).

I'm not sure what it will be like to teach ESL or even what an ESL classroom is like since I've never been in one. I vaguely remember there being an ESL class in my junior high school. (For some reason we had a large number of Russian and Ukrainian families in our area). So, I imagine that in high school or middle school I would teach a few classes to a few different groups of students, but how would it work in an elementary school? Wouldn't ESL students be integrated with the rest of the students? Would I teach a "mixed" class such as that? Or, would I maybe be a sort of "floating" teacher working with students in other classes? I'm guessing that the situation is different for each school/district. How does it work in your schools? I spent some time today looking for a blog by an ESL/ELL teacher but didn't have much luck. Anyone know of one?

Monday, April 18, 2005

About Me

So, I thought I'd let all of my future blog readers out there know a little about me. I graduated from Arizona State in 2003 with a degree in Italian. Since then I've spent the last year living and working in Italy as an English teacher. I teach at a small private language school in Sardegna. I teach all levels of English, both group and private lessons and even an FCE test prep course. My students are great. They're mostly business people and a few who are supplementing their studies at university. They're very eager to learn. When you teach them a new structure, most want to use it over and over until they master it. And, it helps that Italians are generally very chatty so they like to talk, which helps in a language class. Although some are too busy with work to do the homework, they're paying good money for the course so they all want to be there.

I guess that it is this experience teaching English that influenced the decision to assign me to be an ESL teacher. I'm under no illusions, however, that next year will be anything like this year has been. So . . . Even though I've been teaching for a year already, next year really is going to be a new experience for me.

I just recieved my materials and paperwork from TFA today. There's a lot of stuff to get organized before the summer training starts. Less than a month until I head back to the States.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

First Post

Ok. Here goes. My first post ever! This blog, along with being about my adventures as a first year teacher in NYC, is also going to be (for me) adventures in blogging. Today I just got a crash course on Blogger as I spent all afternoon setting up my blog with comments and trackback and links to my favorite teacher blogs and then decided to see what my blog would look like with a different template and lost all the work I had done! Now finally everything is as it should be (just as I had it a few hours ago!).

So, yesterday I found out that I was accepted to Teach for America. Yeah! I have been tentatively assigned to teach ESL in New York. (From what I understand there's a possibility that this could change though.) I've only been to NY once (for my TFA interview). I've always wanted to live there and I can't wait. Three months ago I never would have guessed that by fall I would be living in NYC working as a teacher! I can't imagine what the year is going to have in store for me!
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