Sunday, September 11, 2011

I'm a working girl now!

(I'm typing most of these entries after the fact, so they are not in chronological order- ahh- but I don't know how to backdate entries.)

I wasn't nervous starting work this year. I was cool, confident and collected, and ready to prove that I know what I'm doing.

Then we had two PD (professional development) days. After the first one, I realized that I was going to struggle a little bit, in terms of "catching up". I know the theories and practices that work, but I don't know the bureaucratic side, the "do this or our school will get shut down" side of things. The morning of the 2nd PD day, the principal asked, "How many of you slept well last night?" Mostly paras raised their hands. Then he asked "How many of you had nightmares last night?" A LOT of teachers raised their hands. I didn't raise my hand for either- I needed choice c- "How many of you didn't sleep at all last night?". All I did was lay awake and think about all the things I wanted to do, how they were going to correlate to the CCLS (Common Core Learning Standards), and how I was going to start the absolutely daunting task of trying to bring my class up to the 5th grade level.

I work mostly with ELLs- English Language Learners.  The majority of this class doesn't speak English as a first language, they count among them 6 different languages/dialects- Urdu, Arabic, Haitian Creole, Punjabi, Bangla, and Spanish. I have 5 that barely speak English. I speak none of those languages, but communication isn't the issue in our class. It's the vocabulary, and the prior experiences/pre-requisite knowledge. Most of them read on a 2nd-3rd grade level, with a handful on 4th grade, and maybe 2 on 5th grade level. 2 out of 29.  I obviously have my work cut out for me.

I started out this year with 25 students. Then 6 new students from other schools showed up. I have no shows- which may bring the roster down. One student was already discharged, but who knows about the rest of them. Some said they were going back to another country, some said they were moving, others had parents who wanted them in a Charter School, others just haven't shown up yet, but were chronic absentees last year. If the no-shows don't show up by Tuesday, my register will go down to 24, which is pretty incredible, given the number of students in the other classes.

My resources are limited, which makes me nervous. The library in the classroom has about 20 books that are lower level books, 3rd-4th grade level. These kids don't have books at home, they don't have library cards, and I have nothing to offer them. How am I going to teach them to read? How will they built up stamina reading at home each night?

How am I going to do this?!

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