I'm doing something a little different today and offering two, instead of one, "questions of the week." They both relate to English Language Learners:
Anne Smith asks:
What is being done to help Long-Term English Language Learners and what does effective intervention look like?
Over the last few years, I've had quite a few students who have been in American schools since kindergarten. I teach at the Middle School level and some of these students cannot read beyond a 2nd or 3rd grade level. By the time they reach me, they feel feel they are "held hostage" in ESL and are very upset to spend ANOTHER year waiting to be released. They want to be in classes with everyone else, do not want to be identified as "ESL" and they tell me that they are stupid. What is really heartbreaking is when there are high school students in this situation. They give up, fail their classes and are at risk for dropping out of school.
In NYC we are learning by some half baked professional development, and drive by 10 minute observations as part of using the Danielson Rubric. It seems impossible to me that any ESL teacher could achieve any of the two highest ratings, both which require seeing a great deal of high-level student oral response and conversation.
Is the Danielson rubric being used in your school? Is it, along with the Common Core Standards, the national future? I believe she developed this for teachers to learn about improving their teaching. In a supportive environment, the potential as tool to encourage improvement is good. But for evaluating teachers it seems a poor fit.
I am getting rather unhappy teaching a beginning class of ESL and noting the near impossibility of getting either of the top two ratings. What have other teachers thought of that rubric? If verbal response is not easy, the teacher has failed to engage the class, it seems to say.
Please keep my identity anonymous if you choose this question to post. My school administration is using it to demoralize teachers.
The challenge of Long-Term English Language Learners in our classes is one facing many of us, and certainly the issue of teacher evaluation is a major national issue. Many questions remain to be answered, including ones about the effect of ELL's on different evaluation processes that are being used (and many districts are using the popular Danielson rubric).
Please share your thoughts in the comments, or, if you prefer, feel free to email them to me. What are positive classroom management strategies that you've used effectively with younger students?
Anyone whose question is selected for this weekly column can choose one free book from a selection of twelve published by Eye On Education.
You can send questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.When you send in your question, let me know if I can use your real name if it's selected or if you'd prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.