Sunday, September 09, 2007

In Search of Students

At this point in the school year as other teachers are writing about how the first week of classes went, what their new students are like, and what they have been doing to get their students ready for the upcoming year, I am still doing administrative work and trying to sort out who my students are. I've written before about the long process of going over reports and test scores and rummaging through cumulative folders of new students to determine ESL eligibility. I swore that this year I was going to get through the process more quickly so that I could see students as soon as possible. So far my plan isn't working. There are always things stopping me from doing what I need to do. First of all, the main report that I need to tell me which kids passed last year's NYSESLAT and what proficiency level the other kids scored won't print (or show up on the computer). I've been trying all week! I finally figured out another way to look up the info but that only tells me if they passed or not (knowing the proficiency level is essential to forming pull-out groups).

Another thing is that the secretary, who is supposed to help me get the reports and student data I need is always too busy to help me. I understand that this is a busy time of year for her too but I feel like she doesn't realize that sometimes I can't do ANYTHING until I get a particular report from her. So when she just tells me that she can't do it now and doesn't tell me when she can, it gets really frustrating.

With all of the information that I've gathered so far, I can tell that I have a minimum of 47 students! That's eight more than I started with last year and I'm still not done finding students. Thirteen of those students are kindergarteners! (I think there will be at least a few more too.) That is sooo many. When I pick them up for ESL they won't really be in a small group setting but a class that is almost as big as their regular class. That's going to be a huge challenge. Also about five or six of the kindergarteners have a low level of English. Previously most of my students have just had low literacy levels but a fairly high level of spoken English. These kids don't know basic words that they need to understand or speak to their teacher. I'm definitely going to have to start rethinking how I teach my kindergarten class.

As for the rest of the administrative process, I still have to finish identifying new ELLs, get proficiency levels from last year's test, send out parent letters to all students who were tested in the spring or fall, and hold an orientation for parents of new ELLs. With the short week coming and who knows what unforeseen obstacles, I'm thinking end of next week before I'm finished. So much for getting done early.