Friday, October 10, 2014

Clean-Up in Room 122...

One of the perks of being department chair is having full access to the online grading system.  In previous years, I had to either resort to contacting each of my students' teachers to find out their grades at progress report and report card time or standing like a sentry by my classroom door on release day and declaring that the day's price of admission was allowing me to see their progress report or report card.  Imagine my delight when I realized that my new access privileges allow me to view all of  the students' grades the morning after they are posted while sitting down and enjoying my (fourth) cup of coffee.

The previous principal's announcement last spring  that he was leaving triggered a mass exodus, leaving the school with a new staff.  The new staff is definitely enthusiastic about teaching and tackling the school's challenges.  However, most have not had prior experience teaching ESOL students  As I looked through the students' grades, it was clear that many are struggling in their core content classes.  From what I know, the administration has not looked at the ESOL students' grades as closely as I have and as the head of the ESOL department, this puts me in a tough place.  I need to help the students, yet earn and keep the teachers' trust at the same time.

While it is easy to simply schedule time a block of time to be in teachers' classrooms and try to assist, I have made it my mission to make that my last line of defense.  In the past, I have found that if I am in the classroom, teachers have little incentive to actually modify their lesson plan.  They just wait for it to fail.  Then, they expect me to rush into clean-up mode and re-teach the lesson to the students who did not understand it.

Therefore, I have created office hours.  I will dedicate time each week to helping teachers modify their lesson plans to meet the needs of their ESOL students.  This proactive measure before they teach the lesson will allow teachers to maximize their class period to benefit all students.  After a few sessions, it is my hope that teachers will feel comfortable modifying on their own as well as locating appropriate learning materials.  Of course, if it is determined during planning that teachers need me to model the lesson or co-teach with them, I will be more than happy to do so.

I informed the staff of this new initiative yesterday via e-mail.  I have already had several teachers complete the Google interest form.  One teacher even texted me early this morning to ask me to look over a test that he plans to administer before the first office hours session begins.  Things are looking good right now and hopefully this new initiative will help jump-start a new era of thinking about instruction.  Do stay tuned.

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