This academic school year isn’t only going to pose a challenge because we are starting the year with a new teaching model, but also because I am a new EAL teacher. I relish in the thought of learning new strategies from colleagues and online courses; however, this will take time and patience. I include patience because another aspect of my life that will be difficult to manage with all of this ‘newness’ is the new addition to my family. Now, with two kids to watch full time, I am going to definitely have to allocate my time wisely. I guess ‘free time’ will have to be put aside for now.
I want to focus on some parts of the 5Cs that are going to help guide me to make the best decisions for my students as they continue to learn English as another language.
+ Care: This seems to be very important because a student will always have a difficult time learning if they don’t think they are cared for and safe. This is especially important when students are learning another language or concepts in another language as they are often embarrassed about making mistakes. I will teach and guide students to form a growth mindset, to face the challenges of reading, writing, and speaking in English, and to not fear others when trying out a new language. In my experience, students become quiet and reserved because of this fear. The way I will show care is to model a safe and comfortable learning environment and enforce the collaborative norms. For example, when a student is struggling to find a word, I will teach students to pause and let the student find the word themselves, to not blurt out the word for them. I will also eliminate common detrimental vocabulary that has plagued schools for a long time (‘easy’. ‘just-right books’, ‘good job’).
+Clarify: Another C that will be important to pay attention to is Clarify. We have been doing great to clarify learning goals through the COLOs; however, I think it is even more important to clarify for digital competence. Last shcool year, many of my students had difficulties using the online tools and platforms. This created unnecessary stress for those EAL learners. Also, for EAL students, I want to make sure that they understand what it is we are trying to learn. Basically, unpack the standard for them even more and explain the content in a more accessible way: start with cultural and prior knowledge of the subject, identify the language used for the concept in their own language, then finally, teach the ideas.
For this year, I hope to guide my colleagues in using WW and RW correctly. As this is a strength of mine, I hope I can help as much as I can. What I will need help with this year is strategies to get students using English more. For example, I know a couple of phonics strategies, but could definitely benefit from learning more. I am also interested in learning phonics strategies that can be used with older students so they don’t feel ‘childish’. I also would like to learn more related to EAL instruction. I plan to achieve these goals by attending online classes and collaborating with colleagues.