- Why I Say “Yes” to Santa - December 9, 2014
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? - July 16, 2014
- Demo Lesson Tips - May 28, 2014
- Changes that Need to be Made in ESL - March 6, 2014
- Olympic Lessons - February 13, 2014
- Myths About Snow Days - February 6, 2014
- He Said What?! Funny things our kids say... - January 30, 2014
- The Dawn of a New Era in New York City Schools - January 22, 2014
- Push In Versus Pull Out Strategies for English Language Learners (ELL) - December 26, 2013
- Project Based Learning: Giving Up Control - October 29, 2013
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When I became an ESL teacher I was not prepared for a lot of what happened my first two years. It is very true when they say that you aren’t really prepared to teach until you are actually teaching. It wasn’t that I wasn’t prepared to teach my students, it was everything else I wasn’t prepared for:
You will be doing more paperwork and testing than teaching at the beginning and end of the school year (and sometimes in the middle!)
There is more paperwork than any of your graduate or undergraduate classes will ever tell you about. The only paperwork you won’t have to complete is an IEP. Because ESL is a federally funded program, you are accountable for accounting for all the mandated students and how they are being served. You are also responsible for teaching parents about ESL. In New York, a parent orientation must be completed within 10 days of student enrollment. Depending on the school you are in, you might be the one completing these orientations and making sure the paperwork involved is accounted for. You will test these students to no end. Once testing season comes around you will see the frustration written on your students’ faces and you will feel the same and wonder why it has to be.
Your kids will make you laugh and cry.
You never know what an ESL student will say or do or what their stories consist of. When they tell you about a mom or dad that still hasn’t been able to join them you will be reminded of how resilient children can be. And you’ll laugh along with them about stories from back home and of the new friends they’ve made her.
You are these students biggest advocate and friend in the school.
No matter where you teach and what the policies are ESL students are not the most desirable students to have in the school. This is due to high stakes testing. These children are a part of a disenfranchised community and you are their advocate. Never forget that. You are the voice for students that do not have one.
State policy will almost never make sense when it comes to your students.
You will wonder why your students are required to take a state exam designed to test native speakers on their academic English. Only you can change this. It is up to ESL teachers to make it known that this is not reasonable and does not promote learning. ESL teachers need to work together to change the laws and make them reasonable for our students.
State testing will frustrate you and your students.
As a teacher there is nothing worse than watching students agonize over a test that they cannot read and understand. In New York if a student has been in this country for a year they must take the English language arts state exam. This is not realistic. No one in any country could take an exam that tests your ability to read and write academically. I’ve seen students copy the directions in lieu of writing an essay in an attempt to write anything. I’ve also seen students break down crying. It’s not fair and reasonable for them to take the exam.
Sometimes a curse word isn’t a curse word.
I’ve had students curse. Everyone has. However, you will be amazed at what native English speaking students will do for a joke. Several times I’ve had students curse at me or another students without knowing they’ve said a bad word. Usually they learn an impolite word or phrase for be quiet. One time I had a student mispronounce beach. I thought he was calling me a bad name until I realized it was because he hand’t learned the correct vowel sounds yet. We all had a good laugh and he left my room saying beach over and over again under his breath.
You will start correcting your friends' and family’s grammar.
Recasting correct grammar to your students becomes second nature. Recasting correct grammar to your boyfriend and everyone else in your personal life. This will annoy them to no end, but really they should know to use correct grammar around a teacher anyway.
If you didn’t care about immigration reform before, you will now.
Once you hear your students’ stories of how they or their families came to America you will be amazed. You will also hear of students with families that were split up because of the immigration process. I’ve heard of students that are missing siblings and parents. They live for the trips home to see the family they miss so much. When you hear these stories you begin to see what impact the laws have on everyday, hardworking people. If you didn’t realize the impact before, you will see it now.
Your appearance will be stared at by your kids.
If you look any different from the population than you serve you will be stared at. I’m blonde haired and blue eyed. My students crack me up with the comments I get. My students have asked me anything from what is wrong with your eyes, to did I color my hair with a crayon. I’ve also gotten comments on my makeup; anything from why don’t you wear more to why isn’t your lipstick more red? It definitely makes my day brighter.
The rewards outmeasure all of the negatives combined.
There is nothing more satisfying than hearing a student blossom into an English speaker overnight. You hear your students make progress daily. You are helping the next generation of immigrants become successful in a country founded and made up of immigrants.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]