Thursday, July 16, 2015

Push-In ESL Teacher and Organization

Last year I did something really drastic-- I changed jobs.  Now, I'm still a teacher like I have been for the past 10 years.  I changed schools (from the only school I had ever taught in) and positions.  See, I had always been a classroom teacher- mainly 4th grade.  I decided I was ready for a change and so became an ESL (English as a Second Language) teacher.  

My school was our town's original ESL school.  While there are now 3 other ESL schools in town, my school is still the largest.  Last year there were about 36 ESL kids just in 4th grade.  We have enough ESL teachers for about each grade- I worked with just 4th grade last year.   

This is a great position to be in. My job consists of working with the 4th grade teacher team to ensure materials are designed for our English Language Learners.  I create materials for the vocabulary for each unit.  I try to incorporate as many visual supports as I can.  I also try to incorporate some sentence stems to model language.  This helps many students, not just English Language Learners. 

I also had small groups focusing on language.  We hold "assessment review" meetings three times a year and decide who will be in these groups and what they will work on.  Some groups focus on building background knowledge, while others work on reading skills just as phonics or comprehension.

I am also in a couple of classrooms co-teaching math and writing.  What this looks like varies from room to room and it is an area I would like to improve on this year.  Again, I support all the students, not just the English Language Learners.    

Finally, we have a comprehensive 3 part system of interventions for both behavior and academics.  I am part of the intervention team.  This means that I may meet one-on-one with kids for 10-15 minutes (maybe once a week or once a day).  I also welcome struggling students to school and make sure they are ready for the day.  

My school was completely under construction this past year!  Half of the building was open the first part of the year and then we moved EVERYTHING and the other half of the building was open for the rest of the year.  In addition, there were no pull-out spaces at all to work with kids.  That means I was constantly shuffling to find space in classrooms.  I learned a couple of organization hints.  

I had some bright book bins that I used for student organization when I was a classroom teacher.  I repurposed them for my group supplies and to start color-coding each group.  Each student had a spiral notebook and a folder that was the same color as their bin.  I mainly kept these in the classroom but it helped me keep groups straight.  Plus, it didn't take up too much room in the classroom.  
Source- but this isn't exactly like my LARGE caddy
Do you remember shower caddies in college?  Well, that's what I used to carry things from room to room to my office.  I kept shared materials in this such as a set of white boards, a timer, and a container of pens and pencils.  It wasn't the greatest but I haven't found a better solution.  Other intervention teachers used bags but then they complained their shoulders hurt.  I will probably still carry it this year. 
Source- My Amazon Link
Now there are many days that I don't need my caddy but I need to carry a couple of things.  That's when I turn to my clipboard.  Maybe it's a field trip day but I need to keep track of a list of kids and then scavenger hunt papers/ pens.  It fits in here!  Maybe it's the first day of school and I'm just introducing myself but I want some paper to write some notes.  My black clipboard comes in handy!  Maybe it's bus duty time and I need a list of riders of each bus.  Black clipboard to the rescue! 
Source for picture-- this is really just my Amazon link to a case
My most useful hint may be my laptop.  My district just went to laptops for each teacher instead of desktops.  It is so great to be able to have all my lesson plans and visuals in just a laptop.  I constantly use it!  It deserves it's own post or two. 

There you have my top organization hints as a Push-in 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 
                                July 23 - Procedures and Policies 
                                July 30 - Getting to Know You Strategies and Games 
                               August 6 - Communicating with Parents


  1. Such great ideas! I really like the shower caddy idea. I know that change in jobs had to be hard, but I am sure it is rewarding.

    Notes From the Portable

    1. Thanks for visiting. Sometimes I feel like a college student in the dorms with my shower caddy but it works!