Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bottom Line, It’s All Good

As an itinerant teacher, I have two classrooms and therefore two desks.  The contents of my drawers are similar, but one is more cluttered than the other.  The desk drawer at the middle school has fewer items in it, but it does have everything I need.  It is not super organized but not too scary either.  The high school desk drawer, on the other hand, to put it mildly is just rather full and things are a bit, well, cluttered.  
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I teach at the high school in the morning and head over to the middle school at mid-morning, ending my day there.  I never leave the high school unless I have cleaned up the “top” of my desk and since I’m usually in a rush to make my scheduled class at the middle school, I quickly put away my stuff and hide it nowhere else than in my desk drawer.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I care about the appearance of my desk, but I just hate arriving at school the next morning and finding a messy desk.  Although I don’t love opening the drawers, I quickly get over it because no matter how organizationally challenged I may appear, I always find everything I need.  

So what do my drawers say about me and my teaching?  The first thing I can think of is that when you walk into my classroom, it may be hard to figure out exactly what’s going on. With multiple levels of language proficiency in one session, it’s common to have five kids in one class period working on five different assignments. Because listening and speaking are an integral part of the ESL program, you will hear lots of noise and chatter, maybe even giggling.  We may be playing games and there may be some talking out of turn. You may not always hear the students using their manners, especially when some of them can't understand why we say “yes ma’am” to a woman instead of a man.  Some may speak rather loudly while others refuse to look you in the eye. I’m constantly being interrupted with questions that are totally irrelevant to what I’m explaining to the entire class because as much as I want them to learn academic vocabulary, these kids just need to figure out how to submit last night’s homework to their History teacher. You will see kids watching videos, listening to music or looking at pictures and wonder why they are off task.  To an outsider, my classroom and my teaching style may look like nothing short of a hot mess. There’s just lots going on at all times.

But....there is a method to my madness.  Students are learning, they are engaged and they are motivated.  They collaborate on projects and that collaboration leads to social interaction outside of class which enhances their school experience. Those relationships make them look forward to coming to school and prevents most from dropping out. For many of them, ESL class is the highlight of their day.  A place where they can let their guard down and not worry about people judging them based on the way they speak or dress.

So what do my desk drawers say about me?  Just like my teaching, I have everything I need to meet goals and achieve objectives. Regardless of what it may look like at first glance, when you get in and dig deep, it’s all good. 

Still the #BestYearEver

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