I have retired from the classic classroom but not from teaching. So I am in the process of reinventing myself as an online and social media ELL teacher.
I use different resources to help me kick-start into my new role. But more about that in future posts.
Over the years, Michael, one of our school’s tech experts, has helped me with my social media projects. The first one was this blog, Teach Well Tomorrow. After retiring, he suggested I morph the blog.
Finally, after a year and a half of searching for purpose and relevance, the ‘ah ha’ moment came to me this morning. I finished reading Pamela Paul’s wonderful article in the New York Times about allowing kids to be bored. Raising my eyes to the top of the page, I noticed Roger Cohen’s opinion piece: The harm in hustle culture on the homogenization of our lives. In Carol Jago’s teaching terminology, these articles would be ‘paired’ texts. I smiled.
As my grandson would say: “I got it!”
I find it hard not to open links to activities for the beginning of the academic year. I have always searched for new ideas on icebreakers and how to help my diverse students bond into a learning community in Room 463.
However, I always incorporated Jim Burke’s image analysis on what students can expect from the course, which I already posted about here.
Looking at the image, I thought it was a perfect metaphor for my new status, a word I can barely type – retire
I have so closely identified myself as an educator, specializing in ELL.
What is my new/renewed identity?
My plans for new beginnings are murky, as yet:
There is a need for volunteer teachers.
I have always dreamt of studying history of art.
I have a story line for a children’s book.
I’d like to collate the copious notes that I’ve taken throughout my career as a teacher.
And, of course, to travel off season.
I will even need a cane, since the first thing I have to attend to is a total knee replacement. However, I will get rid of that (the cane) very quickly.
3 Activities for the begining of the Year: setting the tone, building confidence
So I say good bye and thank you:
senior prank – upside down
But most of all I will miss the students who taught me so much over the years.
It was fitting that my final ELL Reading lesson should be taken from What’s the Big Idea by my long distance mentor, Jim Burke.
I followed Burke’s discussion plan. We held a lively ‘Conversational Roundtable’ on the relationships in Romeo and Juliet as a review for the final exam. The students could easily relate to the relationships: parent-child, romantic, friends and mentor-child. We looked for what rules were common to all the relationships. We discussed the differences. However, the harder question was how these relationships shape our identity. By then the students were getting a little tired, looking forward to their summer break.
I also used question prompts such as:
Does X have a right to …?
Why did Y behave as she/he did?
Early one morning on my way to class, tears began to slide down my face. I saw the olive tree; central to countless assemblies that so warmly celebrated the diversity of our community. I am leaving.
I decided to end my final year of teaching with a challenge for me as well as my ELLs. I hoped Shakespeare’s play with its eternal themes of relationships would act as a bridge for entering regular English 10.
It was fun. I taught out of my comfort zone, knowing the students would have to spend most of the time acting. The students rapped one of Juliet’s soliloquies, mimed cooking , ironing and folding laundry while acting. They certainly got into the rhythm of the play.
I invited Gadi for our second drama workshop to help my ELLs review the big ideas of the play for their final.
Students made a list of their favorite scenes, got into groups , rehearsed their scenes using the original text, and finally acted them out.
The directions were that when the students acted the scenes in chronological order, they would create a summary of the big ideas of the play. They had only 20 minutes to prepare.
Gadi asked them one guiding question:
What do the characters want?
As we were finishing Ishmael Beah’s powerful memoir A Long Way Gone; I remembered Picasso’s Guernica.
So I decided to guide our discussion of one of the final chapters (2nd draft reading (Kelly Gallagher) by using visible thinking prompts in order to analyze the painting:
What do you see, think and wonder?
Students worked in groups as they thoughtfully studied the painting, and responded to each other’s comments.
This was a different, rich pairing of texts.
I wish I’d had this Ted lesson to enrich and deepen the students’ understanding of the painting.
I plan to teach new material in the final couple of months of my career as an ELL classroom teacher. To this end I ordered 2 books.
1. So much has been written lately on learning how to learn and how to revise: the myth of the ubiquitous yellow highlighter and simply rereading the texts. I will present my ELLs as well as my 9th grade Skills class with a compilation of revision suggestions. In order to create a list of all lists, I have begun reading make it stick: The Science of Successful Learning.
2. My ELL Writing Workshop includes assignments such as composing a rambling autobiography, a poem to a friend, the perfect focused paragraph, as well as creating a compelling P.S.A. I decided that both my students and I need a new challenge – to write an essay. To help me with this I bought The Journey is Everything – Teaching Essays that Students Want to Write for People who want to Read Them. I look forward to our journey.