All posts tagged: ESL

Hybrid Teaching

With the first week of hybrid teaching under my belt, I can officially say that I am exhausted and excited at the same time. This week has been great. Being around people and being social were things that I sorely needed. I could never have continued online teaching as a full time job. However, everything is different, and we are having to adapt to a new normal as we deal with masks, socially distanced seating arrangements and a never ending cycle of communications with our students as they transition to online learning every other day.  Occasionally I will watch the show Alone on the History channel. It always amazed me at how many people would drop out of the competition because of social isolation. Now I get it. Even though I was almost never alone at home, I missed all things social, even being in meetings. I never realized how much I needed to reconnect with people until after the first day. Even though I was physically exhausted, I was emotionally recharged by the the …

Teaching During Covid-19

Recently, I saw a post (I can’t remember who even reposted it for citation purposes) that discussed the language we are using during our online teaching. The post brought up an interesting point that I want to dig deeper into. What do we call what teachers are doing right now? Is it online learning? Is it distance learning? Why am I so hung up on what it’s called? What we name it matters. Just as with all language, the vocabulary we choose to use when discussing a subject can affect the process just as much as the physical change itself. The term online teaching or online learning carries a connotation of presence. Presence implies that teachers are live and lessons are synchronous. Distance learning, on the other hand, carries the connotation of sameness. It implies that the only difference between the classroom lessons and those online is the distance between the teacher and the students. Neither of these terms accurately defines what is actually happening in the virtual classroom.So what are we doing? What should we …

Small Successes

I was going to come on here tonight and blast away at my problems and issues. This online learning thing is overwhelmingly anxiety inducing. But as I was avoiding writing by doing some grading, I noticed a trend that changed my attitude. My students are flourishing with the current work I have given them. Last week I decided to try an experiment. I saw a post from someone about how to use the 5 Es (engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate) to create lessons online. I took those five components and made one module out of each of them. On top of that, I did some serious brainstorming before creating modules. I did this because creating modules is time intensive. If one doesn’t work, you have just wasted quite a bit of time. The first thing I did was I created a bland google slides presentation. In each slide, I put one of the 5 Es as base slides. In each slide I took notes for ideas. For example, in the engagement slide, I wrote down ideas to engage. …

Working on it.

I am feeling relieved. I have discovered some great tools; things that are possible leads on some potential classroom tech that I think will be very creative and helpful to my students. I have also come up with some backup lesson plans just in case I discover that the plans will not work. However, I think this idea will work at the very least in a rudimentary way. My first idea came after playing around with recording the narration of the text we are currently reading. As I was recording I noticed I was making mistakes and getting interrupted. Not only am I not a trained audiobook narrator, I’m also not a great audio editor. I’m sure with some practice I could figure it out and make it work, but the mistakes I was making were hindering me and wasting time, and right now time is precious. As teachers we are being asked to do so much work and my anxiety has not made that easy. As I’ve said before in previous posts, I’ve wasted …

Distance Learning: Day 5 (Still Planning)

After having spent a disproportionate amount of time stress eating and fucking off, as the Brits would say, I am finally feeling productive. It’s difficult not to think about the challenges that I still face as well as the incredibly labor intensive task that online teaching presents, but I am incrementally getting comfortable and checking off items on the to-do list. I think the one thing that has helped the most has been to see and hear from other teachers (in online meetings) that they too are struggling. Instantaneously, I felt better knowing that I wasn’t alone in the struggle. It also helped that we were tossing ideas at each other, you know, like a team, and discussed options for resources.  One challenge I now face is trying to find an app or another digital means for students to annotate text or take notes on and simultaneously read the text, from one computer. However, this will have to be something I tackle tomorrow as the dishes are piling up, and I’m hungry and need to cook …

Distance Learning: Day 1 – Planning

Technically, this is day 2. However, yesterday I had just enough anxiety to make me productive . . . at reading and phone games. I did get a few things done near the end of the day, but the entire idea of online learning and all the things that my district is placing on us for training in the meantime has me a bit overwhelmed. In communication with other teachers, they are feeling the same. In some ways I am learning. I am gathering ideas for what to do. In other ways, I wish I could just get to work on my own classes without being hindered by district trainings, meetings, and check-ins. From a critical discourse analysis perspective, the message the district is sending is that they don’t trust us. They think we are going to waste these 8 days the governor has granted and not do any planning, as if we would let our students down like that. At the very least, I am finding the district training to be at least moderately helpful and …

Comfortable Un-certainty

We are all stressed. Every teacher in the nation, no matter how adapted to using technology in the classroom, is now being ordered by their respective governments to provide all content through various forms of distance learning. Every teacher is now being tasked with not only handling their own families and anxieties but also with the added pressure of moving all curriculum online. Curriculum which was never designed nor intended for such a move. In Minnesota, we have been granted 8 days from the governor to adjust to this system. From the ESL perspective, this is a monumental task only overshadowed by that of the SpED teachers. How can we effectively provide services to students, especially those who are new to country? The answers remain to be uncovered in the weeks and months following this national experiment.  At this point in time, teachers are being asked to decide what items need to be cut. Mind you, these types of decisions are typically made at a district or state level by teams of people. Now, individual teachers …

Neologism

Today was pooptastic. I’m not sure if I am the first person to use that word or not, but I’m claiming it as my own. Hence the post title. Today was absolutely, 100% USDA Grade A, pooptastic. Today, I hit a breaking point. I could no longer tell myself to breathe and wait patiently for students to stop talking. Is it my fault? 100% Yes. There are a lot of things that I need to improve upon before I can even begin to point fingers. First, I think I need to synthesize all of my discipline methods into one comprehensive method. On their own, they all work. But they all solve different problems. I am guilty of dropping one method when focusing on the others. Next, we need to practice. We need to practice as many times as necessary before moving on to the next element in the classroom behavior expectations. In fact, I’m writing explicit plans right now for tomorrow. By explicit, I mean explicit. At first I wrote that I needed to model what it …

Breakthrough

This weekend was one of serious reflection and introspection. After the fight broke out in my class last week I spent a lot of time questioning my classroom management routines and set-up. I knew something needed to change. Nothing was being taught and nothing was being learned. Students were constantly talking, no matter who was in the room. Today, I hit my breaking point. My class is split by lunch. We get approximately 25 minutes together before the bell rings and the students disappear. Before lunch was an absolute chaotic display of my ill set routines. Yes, we did get through some of the lesson and worked through most of the vocabulary section of the notes, but it was loud. I must have waited for a quiet class at least 10 times in that short window of time. It was at that point that I broke. I sat at the table during lunch and immediately turned to one of my favorite resources, The Cult of Pedagogy. I knew that Jennifer Gonzalez would have covered at least something …

Access Testing (Again)

Every year, the state and federal government requires that we assess the proficiency of all ELLs in our district. At the high school level, this can be a nightmare to schedule, especially with such a large, populated building. However, this year we decided to run an experiment: to test all students on a day already designated for other testing. Each year my school district provides a day for high school juniors to take the ACTs. The building is basically closed with the exception of 11th grade students who choose to participate. Staff are then designated to proctor or assist proctors in rooms. It’s an incredible opportunity for the students to be given the time for such an important exam. Best of all, for them it’s completely free. After last year’s nightmare of Access testing problems, we came up with the idea of also having our EL students arrive on that day and take as much of the Access test as they could complete. For the weeks and days leading up to “Testing Day” my colleagues and I …