Wednesday, January 04, 2006

A day in the life of an ESL teacher

Today was a prime example of why it's so hard for me to get anything accomplished with my kids.

Just before the start of 7th period I went to go pick up my 4th graders for the last two periods of the day. The lesson plan for the day involved introducing a new book that we were going to be reading aloud.

I walked up to the third floor and went to the first classroom where I had three kids to get. Only one was there. Two had been picked up by the AIS teacher because she didn't come in the morning at her usual time. The one boy who was there was busy writing "I will not walk on the cafeteria tables" 100 times. Apparently he had gotten up on the table and walked the length of the lunch room. The security guard (who is a scary, scary lady) demanded that he turn in the 100 sentences to her by 3pm. His teacher told me that he had already finished his essay for her so she was letting him do it. I told her that I needed him to come to ESL and participate and besides it would be more punishment for him to do it at home. She agreed to give the security guard the 50 that he had finished and tell her that he'd finish the rest at home. I left the room, with him in tow, off to make two more stops.

I got the 5th grade room where I had one girl to pick up. My usual procedure is to open the door and wait in the doorway. The kids see me, grab their folders and come to the door. Neither I nor the teacher have to say anything. Well today the teacher (who I should mention has really weak management skills and is the third teacher to take over the class this year) starts yelling at the student to sit down she is not allowed out of her seat. She says that she is coming with me. The teacher yells at her again and then comes to me to tell me that kids can't just be getting out of their seats whenever they want. I explain to her the procedure but she doesn't get it. I say OK and ask her what she would like me to do. She decides I should ask her and she will tell the student to leave the room. I agree (I don't want to argue) and then she starts telling me about all the problems she is having with this student. Then she gets out her anecdotal log to show me all the times she has misbehaved today. I ask her if she can please give permission for the student to leave now because we are wasting class time. I leave the room with two students now, on the way to pick up the last two from the library on the second floor.

The two students wait in the hall as I go into the library. The AIS teacher was more than happy to give me two of her ten students. Then she asked me if I had them 8th period too. I said yes and she said "Oh, but they have gym. You can't deny them gym!" Even though this is the same schedule we've had for the better part of the year, the kids started getting all upset and saying "I hate ESL. You always pick us up."

Twenty minutes later I finally get to my room with all four kids. I open the door to loud music coming from the other side of the room. I get my kids seated and ask the coaches to turn off the radio. They turned it down but not off. (They also continued a loud conversation and cooked their lunch in the microwave).

I got started with the lesson. It was partially saved when I introduced a soft ball to toss around during conversation (only the person holding the ball can speak). They had participated well and mostly wrote to a prompt for ten minutes. The entire time they were counting down to two o'clock when they could go to gym though. At two I gave in an let them go back. There was no way I could do a read aloud with all the noise coming from the other side of the room, let alone how antsy they were.

I took them back to class. When I got back to my room the coaches had left and I had the room to myself for 8th period.

I can't win.

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Oh, yeah. Happy New Year. I had a great break in sunny Arizona!


Anonymous said...

hi where are you an esl teacher?? i have been an esl teacher assistant and im looking for a job in the city!

Anonymous said...

hello, i have loved reading your blog. i am interested in becoming ESL certified in NYS and was wondering if you might be able to offer me any help. i'd rather complete my masters in bilingual education, but i think that would render me unqualified to teach ESL if the opportunity arose. any help? my email is good luck and keep doing what youre doing!

Kjohnson said...

Thank you for your honesty. Good to know I'm not alone in the craziness that is esl or whichever acronym is considered the correct one these days