Saturday, February 26, 2011
Every now and then, I'm absent from school to participate in professional development, workshops, training, or conferences. Recently, I've signed on to work with my state's DOE on a special curriculum writing project. Specifically, we're writing exemplar ESL units that match up language objectives with content objectives. It's both interesting and intense.
What I appreciate most about this experience is the way in which it makes me take a closer, harder look at the way I teach my ELLs. I'm finding that I'm on target most of the time, especially in the way I structure my lessons - providing plenty of scaffolding at the beginning, having a "big idea" in mind throughout, and relinquishing control gradually as my students take on more responsibility for their own learning. At the same time, I recognize a few blind spots in my instruction, and I realize why they occur. The demands and goals of the general curriculum can often obscure the specific language needs of my ELLs.
I've been teaching for almost 21 years now, and while my eyesight has begun to fade ever so slightly, my vision for Bilingual Education has become clearer. I hope that, in spite of the negativity around me, I'll not lose sight of what matters. Good teaching, respect for kids and the way they learn, and ánimo will endure in my classroom.