Update on Georgine
Are you still teaching?
Yes, but for the past eight years, I have been a kindergarten or first-grade teacher at a different school.
Given that you are teaching ESOL classes at a different school, are you finding any differences in your teaching strategies from those in the past?
I now use many different tools to help students. For example, each child receives a teacher-made self-assessment book to monitor and graph their grades every two weeks so that they can determine where they need to improve before final grades are due. Technological tools that I now use include visuals and interactive activities, which the students enjoy. To launch whole class discussions as well as small group work, I often use creative activities from public sites such as Interactive Learning for Education or Miami Dade’s Discover Learning site. I also have access to the I-Ready software for reading and math that generates practice problems based on scores resulting from students’ diagnostic test. I continue to do a lot of group work because having students’ collaborating to help each other is very powerful.
Do you engage in professional development?
Yes, but I wish we had more time to work together and attend conferences.
Do you collaborate with other teachers to discuss effective strategies for the teaching and learning of students? If so, when and what are the outcomes of the collaboration?
My school has a policy of placing 30 students in a kindergarten class with two teachers. So I do get to collaborate with my co-teacher in that we plan together and decide best strategies for meeting our students’ need. On some days, she will teach a group while I work with a small group of students who needs help or vice versa. Such collaboration can be problematic, however, if the teachers have different viewpoints of best practices. As an example, I welcome students having discussions, whereas she sees it as disruptive and prefers silence while students work. We make it work, however, because we have to.
In general, what are your views toward the Common Core for ELL students?
I feel that Common Core and standardized assessments pose additional challenges for my students because of the focus on complex texts and higher-level thinking skills, which are difficult for most students but more so for ELLs who have yet to master English. While I do my best to promote both during class discussions and students’ participation in carefully chosen activities, my students still perform poorly on the state’s test where no assistance is permitted. A good thing is that my curriculum is aligned to the Common Core. However, the pacing guide is still too fast to allow my students time to develop deep conceptual understanding. In addition, parents find homework difficult, and many are not able to help their children since the material is different from the way they learned or their English is too poor.
Fairlawn Elementary School
444 SW 60 Ave
Miami, FL 33144