Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's Starting to Happen . . .

A little over two months ago, I wrote about a new student from the DR who came to me speaking no English. She had a rough start, but quickly started feeling more comfortable in class. She has been trying so hard to follow along, copy from her neighbors, and come to me to give her more instruction when she doesn't understand.

Just two weeks ago we had parent-teacher conferences and her dad, who speaks perfect English told me that he was concerned her English wasn't progressing as quickly as he'd hoped (or as quickly as her older brother). He said he had to think about it, but her classroom teacher had suggested she may benefit from being held over a year. (Newcomers can't be held over in the first two years without the parent's request). I tried to assure him that her eagerness to learn along with the great support she is getting at home will go a long way towards helping her progress in her English and other subjects. I told him how hard she has been working and even gave anecdotes about "Willy" and his younger brother who had a similar situation and in two years have sprinted forward to the top of their classes. He seemed slightly reassured.

And all the sudden last week, it started happening. The first thing that I noticed was when she raised her hand to participate in class she said more than her usual irrelevant "boy" or "girl." Then I started noticing she was really able to understand me without translation from the other kids and could ask for help in sentences. When we learned new vocabulary related to "transportation" she mastered the words just as quickly, if not quicker, than the other students. Today, she came up to me to tell me something that another kid in the class needed help with (and that kid *speaks* English). Literally two weeks ago she could not have done any of these things. I was just telling her dad that children learning English often go through a "silent period" where they are not saying much, but taking it all in, and before you know it they are speaking up a storm. I literally saw her turn that corner this week. This is why I love teaching ESL, for these kids. They make it all worthwhile.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Snow Day!

I am still in shock that we actually have a snow day. Everyone knows that NYC does not get snow days. Even when I woke up and saw lots of snow on the ground I knew that we would still have school. (We even had a 7:30 am faculty meeting and our principal hadn't emailed to say that it was canceled.) Of course, I couldn't even check the news to make sure because my roommate just moved out and took the TV with her. I quickly thought the fastest way to find out out if there was a snow day or not would be to check Facebook as all my teacher friends' statuses would either be cheering or grumbling. One teacher from my school had written that she couldn't believe the mayor would have thousands of students traveling to school on buses while urging city residents to take mass transportation to school. So that meant there WAS school. I texted her to ask if at least there was a two hour delay and got in the shower. Just as I was getting out, my phone rang and it was her. "We don't have school! Don't you watch the news??" Still not believing her I said "No! I don't have a TV!"

That was a little over two hours ago and I am thoroughly enjoying my snow day so far. I drank my coffee, surfed the internet a bit, watched an episode of Friday Night Lights on Hulu and am now making a cooked breakfast. It's hard to believe school would have just started by now. As for the rest of my day I am planning a nap, more FNL, and some homemade soup for lunch that I made last night! Ahh, I want this happy day to never end! (And it is still snowing!)