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Fired Up

I’m pretty fired up right now and honestly, I’m not sure why. I mean, I do understand what is running through my head that is making me run arguments in circles, but these things are not necessary at all. It’s all just a part of the OCD and trying to get out of the loop. 

Today went well on all counts. I think I have found my pacing with my classes and can continue to safely navigate the path forward. In economics, we are seeing a lot of growth and hard work. Tomorrow will tell for sure if what we have set up is working, but I have a few more tricks up my sleeve to ensure that our small discussion will run smoothly. I created a talking card for each student that gives the students examples of how to begin when addressing other students. Many students struggle with having an academic conversation. Last quarter, out of 33 students, only 2 used evidence from their articles to support their claims. Therefore, I have added that to the talking card. To help the students who need time to process for whatever reason (EL, SpED, or just people who need processing time) I have created a separate version with a backside for taking notes and writing ideas. Sometimes, language learners need more processing time and are intimidated by the speed of conversation in a large group setting. Even higher level ELs will sometimes be shy about their English proficiency and accent compared to the students who were raised speaking English. This causes their affective filter to get the better of them. Having a notes side and explaining how to use it will hopefully give them a strategy to overcome these nerves. Having a strong classroom culture of respect will also help ease them into a more comfortable position. 

EL 200 went great. We rocked the entire time working hard. The students did a great job. I was able to see who I need to pull for a smaller group tomorrow. I may even need to work 1 on 1 with some students as they need more processing time. The mistakes some of them are making are showing that their comprehension isn’t on the same level as their decoding skills. One student can clearly read every word in the text, but struggles when you ask him text based questions. For this student, I think that the issue may be solved by creating a routine set of steps to summarizing text. Hopefully, using our summary assistant will allow for these students to keep their thoughts organized and help them focus on the meaning in the text. I think I should print copies of the assistant graphic organizer to better help them. The only issue with that is having the students keep track of the organizer. I may need to purchase some folders. 

However, my day got all the more better when I had the time to read through an email chain that I was included in. As I said before, many students failed last quarter in classes where the teacher didn’t work with the students. Finally, this was brought to the attention of a higher level. Oddly enough, it was one of the teachers who was not accommodating who wrote the email. They stated that the class was “too academically rigorous for EL students at level 2 to attend.” They stated that students at that level shouldn’t ever be placed in that class. Ok, let me give some context. First of all, it’s a health class, not AP biology. I’m not saying it’s not a difficult class. But to say that you can’t accommodate is just saying you don’t care. I have combed through every state and national standard there is. None of them say that the lesson needs to be in English (Minus the ELA standards but even most of those don’t specify). Also, none of the standards have requirements about how you assess the information you are teaching. For example, nowhere in the standards does it say that students should write a 15 page essay to prove they know how the heart functions. The reality is, it’s more work for all teachers involved. Some teachers just don’t think it’s their job to dedicate that time. 
However, the reply from the assistant principal who makes the schedule totally made my week. He said (I’m paraphrasing here), All students are ours, not just theirs (EL Teachers). This is what we have been trying to push for a long time. To finally have someone come out and back us up in a much more meaningful way felt awesome. Now, we just have to keep building on that momentum. The teachers need training. The teachers need support. We can’t just leave the system the way it is and tell people to get over it. But we as EL teachers can’t do it alone. 

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