Thursday, July 23, 2015

Procedures for an ESL Teacher

I mentioned last week that last year was my first as an ESL teacher.  I really had to rethink my usual procedures to make sure I squeezed every second out of my language groups.  Here are 4 procedures that I implemented to keep things moving.

The first procedure isn't rocket science-- but is so important.  I had to move from class to class.  This meant that if the classroom teacher ended a minute early, I was instantly a minute late.  If a kid broke his nose on the playground and I had to take them to the clinic, I was late.  I always made it very clear to the kids what they should work on as soon as group started.

I then gave them chances to practice without me there.  For example, I would "need" to ask another student in class something or "need" to talk to the classroom teacher.  I would only be gone 1-2 minutes.  This would get them used to starting group without me there to remind them.  If they remembered during this practice, I praised them and gave out our behavior tickets.  If they forgot, I reminded them and then gave them another chance later in the week.

Fry Word Cards- Free from TPT
Some ideas for this activity-- timed and graphed 1 minute word phrases in partners, rereading of last week's reading, workbook pages that relate to skills we have already practiced, or spelling practice with a partner.

Just a quick story to show this procedure's power-- last year I was called to be a substitute in another teacher's room.  I was absent the entire group but my group worked independently and had a lot to show for it!  In fact, the classroom teacher (who was in the middle of a guided reading group) didn't even realize that I wasn't there.   

Just like bellwork, the second procedure is one that I adapted from my work as a classroom teacher.  I used a timer for EVERYTHING as a classroom teacher and I still use it now.  I just did Kagan training this year and it's turned me into an even bigger believer.

If we are learning a new vocabulary word, I ask a question related to it and give kids 30 seconds to answer the question.  This time means my kids may have to add another sentence or thought to their original answer.  Way to stretch their thinking!   Conversely, if they have a quick project to research something, I will set a 5 minute time limit to make sure it doesn't take over our entire group!

My Amazon Link
I am somewhat obsessed with my timer!  If you are a teacher, you NEED this timer.  It can count up or count down.  You can enter in whatever time you need.  It has a magnet, a clip, AND a stand on the back.  It's lasted me for 6 years now (with everyday during the school year use) and is still working.  I lose things a lot but I haven't lost this timer-- that says a lot! 

Essential for English Language Learners but good for all learners are stated language and content objectives.  I know there are about a million ways to do objectives but the important thing is to do them.  Tell your students at the beginning of group what you expect them to do.  This gives their brain clues to look for throughout your lesson.

This is a very simple sample of my objectives for 1 day.  The content objective is the "What" I want my kids to do/learn.  This day they were working on summarizing.  I try to write as little as possible so the kids are really clear on what they are learning.  The pictures are for the 4 domains of language-- listening, speaking, reading, and writing.  These are the "How" they will learn.  Again, very simple. 

 This final procedure is one that I DIDN'T do last year, at least not intentionally.  I have heard so much about interactive notebooks the last couple of years.  I need to learn more about them and decide how they can work for me.  If you have any resources, I would love it!

I will say that we kept any written work we did in a spiral notebook and all of my groups surprised me by looking back and referring to this old work constantly.  I need to learn how to be more intentional and organized about this.

There you have my top procedures as a ESL teacher.  I'm linking up with Notes from the Portable and Snazzy in Second for this Back 2 School Link-up.  I can't wait to see your ideas!  

                                July 16 - Kickoff Week - Setting Up Classrooms (see my post)
                                July 23 - Procedures and Policies (this post)
                                July 30 - Getting to Know You Strategies and Games 
                               August 6 - Communicating with Parents